A critical look at true crime stories in the years leading up to the Stonewall uprising, in which the figure of the queer man was both criminal and victim, offering readers tales of vice and violence that aligned gender and sexual deviance with tragic, gruesome endings.
Polchin...presents a reflective, thoughtful first book that perfectly blends true crime and the history of discrimination against gay men in the 20th century ... Polchin expertly uses men's stories between World War I and the Stonewall Riots to prove that the fight for equal treatment is not over, and that the history of the LGBTQ+ movement is not always one of activism and celebration ... This insightful history of crimes perpetrated against gay men is essential for social history fans. Readers who enjoy well-researched, deliberate social commentary will appreciate Polchin's enlightening and descriptive style.
...a grisly, sobering, comprehensively researched new history. The subject matter doesn’t make for light reading; Polchin admits to feeling 'haunted' by what he discovered in archives. But it’s impossible to understand gay life in twentieth-century America without reckoning with the dark stories. Gay men were unable to shake free of them until they figured out how to tell the stories themselves, in a new way ... Polchin’s historicizing observations seem valid and accurate, as far as they go, but, if a nineteen-thirties murder was a little more likely to start with hitchhiking, and a nineteen-sixties murder with a pickup in a bar, the variations seem minor compared with the transhistorical—almost ahistorical—sameness of the underlying pattern, a threat that seems to have been a constant presence in gay lives for most of the century.
Compact and powerful, Polchin’s social history of crimes against queer men in the first half of the 20th century coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City. An important book for an important anniversary ... I have no significant criticisms of this book ... this book is not light reading. Polchin describes these murders in graphic, heartbreaking detail ... Indecent Advances should be required reading. Highly recommended.