When Brooklyn Was Queer

By: Hugh Ryan
Narrated by: Hugh Ryan
Length: 11 hrs and 30 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.7 out of 5 stars (61 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The never-before-told story of Brooklyn's vibrant and forgotten queer history, from the mid-1850s up to the present day

Hugh Ryan's When Brooklyn Was Queer is a groundbreaking exploration of the LGBT history of Brooklyn, from the early days of Walt Whitman in the 1850s up through the queer women who worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II, and beyond. No other book, movie, or exhibition has ever told this sweeping story. Not only has Brooklyn always lived in the shadow of queer Manhattan neighborhoods like Greenwich Village and Harlem, but there has also been a systematic erasure of its queer history - a great forgetting.

Ryan is here to unearth that history for the first time. In intimate, evocative, moving prose, he discusses in new light the fundamental questions of what history is, who tells it, and how we can only make sense of ourselves through its retelling; and reveals how the formation of the Brooklyn we know today is inextricably linked to the stories of the incredible people who created its diverse neighborhoods and cultures. Through them, When Brooklyn Was Queer brings Brooklyn's queer past to life, and claims its place as a modern classic.

©2019 Hugh Ryan (P)2019 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about When Brooklyn Was Queer

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Incredible history

Fantastically researched and presented. So much historical and economic history I had no idea about. Not only gives perspective into historical queer lives, but gives economic and political perspective on how all of society changed and how New York as a whole changed through the decades. A good effort to touch on queer PoC history as well despite all of society's efforts to erase the evidence. I just finished this book and am eager to listen again right away. Please give this a listen. It has enriched my historical understanding so so much!

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A Love Letter

Truly, Mr. Ryan loves his topic because it was/is his home and he waxes eloquently, but in an instructive way worthy of top-notch historical research. History books and those who write them are never perfect. I always am skeptical of their truths presented because we readers are always at the mercy of the author's intent, accuracy and basically that any author of any history can distort, influence and take advantage of readers. Lie to them if they wish. Interpret in ways that can be deceptive. Make you think what they want you to think and not what really happened. Still, Mr. Ryan gives us the joy and the sadness. The triumphs, but also the failures. The cruel realities of post WWII gay America against how it "used to be" prior to the wars. What became of queer Brooklyn and then ends the book on positive notes. He writes with just a hint of or in the style historical fiction to make it just right entertaining. Conjectures of a conversation perhaps extrapolated. What the person he writes of might of thought or seemed to think from a diary note. I trust Mr. Ryan because he is not trying to hide queer folk as most histories have done for decades of time, trying to put queers back in closets. Mr. Ryan is trying to open closets, not close them. This now is the definitive history of Queer Brooklyn, perhaps indeed of queer America.

2 people found this helpful

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Fascinating book

If you are looking for a really good read for Pride Month may I suggest “When Brooklyn Was Queer” by Hugh Ryan. It is not JUST a queer history of Brooklyn but a comprehensive exploration of Queerness in America between the publication of “Leaves of Grass” in 1855 and Stonewall in 1969. It explores the changes in queer self understanding as well as the changes in societal understanding of Queerness over time. Also the intersectionality and NON intersectionality between race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and class, and ALSO the roll that wartime disruption played in the emergence and repression of queer culture and identity. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a history book as enlightening and intriguing as this!

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ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC

Ryan does a brilliant job reading his own well-researched (and entertaining) work. This may sound silly, but I really enjoyed his subtle sighs, which give the text an emotional depth I would have otherwise lost had I read this on my own. 13/10 would recommend.

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Great LGBT History Sadly Ruined by Mousey Narrator

This subject is rich but this audiobook is a perfect example of why authors are not good professionally voiced narrators. The subject is wonderful but the author has a very ineffective soft spoken mousey voice that was a waste of time trying to listen to. I'll ask Audible for a refund and just buy the ebook from Amazon.

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Amazing book

This book was engaging, interesting and inspiring. The author and the narration made it a pleasure to read. Highly recommend!

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Great historical read

This story was a great listen for me. It helped me see my country & its relationship to gender fluidity clearer. I am glad to understand that part of our history better. The narrator help bring the picture to life.

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This book is funny, sad, happy, smart, and fascinating! Buy it

I thought this book was well researched, well written, and well delivered. It’s story is not just important to gay culture but to all of humanity. However, it’s history belongs to us...

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Loved it!

An excellent and thoughtful overview of queer Brooklyn. The author does the reading and lends a life to the book that is enriching.

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Breath of fresh air

This sort of in depth look at our history just simply doesn't exist. Listening to recounts of stories from real queer people, how racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, white supremacy and the church affected queerness (and how it still does to this day) and how we have always been around was like a warm hug. We have been pushed out of the picture for so long and this book is just a reminder of how strong we are.