Cherry Grove, Fire Island: Sixty Years in America's First Gay and Lesbian Town


Product Details

Duke University Press
Publish Date
5.1 X 10.0 X 0.9 inches | 1.2 pounds

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About the Author

Esther Newton is currently Term Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Michigan, and Professor Emerita of Anthropology and Kempner Distinguished Professor at Purchase College, SUNY. She is the author of Margaret Mead Made Me Gay: Personal Essays, Public Ideas, published by Duke University Press, Mother Camp: Female Impersonators in America, coauthor of Womenfriends: A Soap Opera, and coeditor of Amazon Expedition: A Lesbian Feminist Anthology.


"Groundbreaking."--Carl Luss "Gay & Lesbian Review "
"Esther Newton documents the town's history from its gay beginnings in the 1930s through the first decade following Stonewall, utilizing as her primary resource interviews with . . . Cherry Grove residents. All of these narrators . . . love their town, and repeatedly tell of their joy in first finding themselves there. . . . Although the Grove has had its share of straight-gay and owner-renter clashes, and has never been free of racism, anti-Semitism, or misogyny, it still emerges as a special place; Newton's affection for it is palpable." --Vera Wisman "Women's Review of Books "
"Newton foregrounds the role of lesbians and analyzes their invisibility and minority status in the community. She is also sensitive to how race and class function in the Grove, considering both the community's heterogeneity and the structures of exclusion that limit its boundaries. . . . The patience and love with which Newton . . . [has] acted . . . to make [her] narrators' histories heard provides a wealth of material for analysis." --Ann Cvetkovich "Signs "
"Cherry Grove, Fire Island stands as an important document of gay and lesbian life in the twentieth century. Newton makes a convincing case for Cherry Grove as America's first gay town and its influence on gay culture by describing the central place of drag in Cherry Grove history, the impact of the Arts Project as the first theater by gays for gays, and the need for a place such as Cherry Grove where gay men and lesbians could associate in public." --Karen Wilson "Lambda Book Report "
"A monumental achievement and invaluable contribution to gay and lesbian studies."
--Donna Penn "GLQ "
"An ambitious history. . . . Newton should be applauded for writing sympathetically about people who were remarkably resilient in the face of enormous homophobia."
--The Nation
"Life at the Grove is always viewed through the prism of history, showing how such events as the Great Depression, World War II, McCarthyism and, of course, the 1969 Stonewall riots, which marked the beginning of the modern gay and lesbian rights movement, affected gay Grovers. That attention, and [Newton's] obvious affection for her subject--and subjects--propels the book effortlessly through the decades."
--Boston Globe
"Newton shines, weaving stunning anecdotes of violence and humiliations among her descriptions of fabulous parties and sex. . . . Her empathy conveys the enormous integrity of people whose most radical gesture was to be fabulous in the face of hate."
--Village Voice
"Newton has written a soundly researched cultural history of this unique homosexual summer retreat. . . . Based on interviews with 46 former and current residents, [Newton] chronicles the colony's development from an isolated few cabins to a thriving, commercial, publicized community with Mafia-run discos and occasional police raids." --Publishers Weekly