Gay by the Bay cover

Gay by the Bay: A History of Queer Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area

A fabulous montage of word and image, this is the first book ever to chronicle the origin and evolution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender culture in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“If San Francisco’s status as the ‘Gay Capital of the World’ was secured by the time Life magazine featured photos of two local gay bars in its 1964 article ‘Homosexuality in America,’ the city’s history as a queer place began long before that. Because the greater San Francisco Bay Area has been at the forefront of artistic, political, social cultural, and sexual queer activity since World War II — and has queer roots stretching back into the 19th century — it is surprising that there has never before been a book-length chronicle of this ‘gay mecca.’… we feel we have taken an important step toward telling the exciting story of what lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people, and gay men in the Bay Area have accomplished.”

— from the Introduction

Capturing the international center of the gay experience as never before, and published to coincide with the opening of the Gay and Lesbian Center of the new main San Francisco Public Library—the only publicly funded archive of its kind in the world—Gay by the Bay contains over 200 full-color and black-and-white photographs of historical memorabilia, including correspondence, posters, buttons, and other artifacts.

With anecdotes about Bay Area gay luminaries, past and present, and a foreword by acclaimed author Armistead Maupin, Gay by the Bay offers a scintillating look at a continually dynamic and evolving community.


“San Francisco, or Sodom by the Sea, as it has sometimes been called, has had a thriving gay and lesbian community for as long as people have been inhabiting the Bay area. Published to coincide with the April 18 opening of the Gay and Lesbian Center of the San Francisco Public Library, Gay by the Bay offers a deluxe tour of the city’s queer history in words and many, many pictures. From fantastic 16th-century accounts of Amazon warriors to the radicalization of the Castro in the 1960s to the rallying cries of Queer Nation and the broad-based diversification of the gay and lesbian community in the 1990s, this title lovingly captures the flavor of a city most queers call home. Because of the limited geographical scope of the book, purchases will probably be limited to the Bay area, although it should be required reading for any gay or lesbian studies student and should be a necessary purchase for libraries with strong gay and lesbian collections.”

— Jeffery Ingram, Library Journal