Monday, September 11, 2017

At Cooney's, by Delia Sherman

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(Time Travel) It’s 1968 and Ali likes to hang out with her college friends at New York’s Cooney’s bar. The bar was rather different in the 1920s, and Ali is about to see it first hand. (7,662 words; Time: 25m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"At Cooney's," by (edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas), appeared in issue 18, published on .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: Ali’s visit to 1928 seems very real. Even the way Sal takes her under his wing makes sense when we learn it’s a gay place; he thinks she’s a shy young man struggling to be brave enough to come in.

Con: Nothing happens in this story. Ali makes her trip to the past but is entirely unchanged by it. She still can’t tell Grace that she loves her.

Ali didn't need to travel to 1928 to get beaten up by police in a raid on a gay bar; that was still routine until the early 1970s.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Nice glimpse of two different time periods. Fun to have expectations flipped in seeing the Prohibition 20's be more liberal about gender and sexuality than the free-loving 60's, at least in this particular place.

    1. Before the gay movement started, most people had never heard of homosexuality. Lots of gay people lived their lives in the closet thinking they were the only people in the world who felt the way they did.

      This meant that people who did learn about it tended to make up their own minds. They hadn't grown up hearing preachers condemning us regularly.

      The police in big cities certainly knew all about it, of course, and you find references in literature all the way back to the start of the 20th Century, but it wasn't something most people talked about.

      By the 1960s, attitudes were starting to change. Partly due to the Kinsey Report, but also from the nascent gay rights movement. As you observe, this made things worse before they got better. It was probably late 1970s or early 1980s before the gay movement was a net win for gay people in the US.