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Elizabeth Armstrong
Sociology Department

Last modified: Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Emergence of gays as cultural force is topic of book by IU sociologist

The emergence of lesbians and gays as a cultural and political force in the United States is the subject of a just-published book by Elizabeth Armstrong, an assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University Bloomington.

Forging Gay Identities: Organizing Sexuality in San Francisco, 1950-1994 is the title of the 272-page book published by the University of Chicago Press.

"By tracing the evolution of gay life in San Francisco during this time period, I show how the lesbian and gay world grew from a tiny underground bar subculture into a sprawling array of hundreds of interlocking lesbian and gay organizations influencing all aspects of life in the city," said Armstrong, who studies social movements, sexuality and the sociology of culture.

She said the book should interest followers of San Francisco and American lesbian and gay history and others interested in American political culture. The book, which has received considerable critical acclaim, explains the forging and consequences of a gay identity movement.

"This study is a contemplation of American individualism," she said. "This work explores how it is that Americans are bound together in spite of (or perhaps because of) the intensity of our beliefs in individual self-expression. My hope is that the book conveys the general importance of the emergence of lesbians and gays as a political and cultural force in the United States in the second half of the 20th century."

For more information, contact Armstrong at 812-856-2063 or