City of Friends

City of Friends

A Portrait of the Gay and Lesbian Community in America

By Simon LeVay and Elisabeth Nonas





City of Friends offers a practical, intelligent, and well-informed overview of what it means to be gay or lesbian. The authors seek to help gay men and women, as well as their families and friends, to better understand the institutions and communities that make up the most culturally and ethnically diverse minority in America today. Beginning with basic concepts, LeVay and Nonas define the words "homosexual," "gay," "lesbian," and "bisexual" and discuss the various patterns of homosexuality in different cultures around the world. They relate the history of the gay and lesbian community in the United States, and its struggle for equal rights and social acceptance, before tackling the question—still highly controversial—of what determines an individual's sexual orientation. City of Friends describes the great diversity within the gay and lesbian community: Life in the "gay ghetto." Old lesbians in rural hideaways. Gay resorts. A "town without men." Gay and lesbian Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Native Americans—what it means to be a minority within a minority. Lesbian and gay youth, the elderly, the deaf. Bisexuals and transsexuals. Academics, drag queens, technoqueers, publishers, softball players—all make their appearance in these pages. LeVay and Nonas continue with a discussion of health issues (especially of the AIDS epidemic and the community's response to it), the law, and gay and lesbian politics. They describe the cultural achievements of lesbians and gay men—their art, literature, theater, music, and dance. Finally they take a look at the spiritual life of gays and lesbians, both within and outside of organized religion.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262121941 468 pp. | 6 in x 8.9 in


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262621137 468 pp. | 6 in x 8.9 in


  • City of Friends is an ambitious, comprehensive, and sensitive text that provides a thorough, multi-disciplinary introduction to the gay and lesbian issues. In their preface, the authors describe their goal as surveying 'what it means to be gay or lesbian.' The book fully delivers on this promise.

    Jon W. Davidson

    Supervising Attorney, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.

  • A mervelous book, with a clear vision for the future, that analyzes the gay and lesbian community in all its diversity. The authors are not afraid to take controversial stances, based on a wealth of information drawn from numerous sources. Not everyone will agree with all the views expressed in City of Friends, but everyone can learn something important from it.

    Walter L. Williams

    Professor of Anthropology, University of Southern California, and author of The Spirit of the Flesh

  • This book greatly contributes to the understanding of our gay sons and lesbian daughters and to the awareness of the broad diversity whithin the gay and lesbian community.

    Adele Starr

    First President Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

  • With their skilled blend of the analytic and the anecdotal, LeVay and Nonas, a scientist and a novelist, have crafted a resource both hugely informative and highly readable. It's a book for the classroom and for the casual reader, a primer for coming out and a solid reference point for where we find ourselves 25 years after Stonewall.

    Richard Labonte

    General Manager, A Different Light Bookstores

  • This book is an introduction and much more to everything we should have known all along about being gay... Perfect for the classroom, or anyone who wants to learn about gay and lesbian people.

    Lynn Witt & Sherry Thomas

    co-editors, Out in All Directions: The Almanac of Gay and Lesbian America

  • The extraordinary achievement of this book is that it takes the scope of America's gay and lesbian community beyond portrayal to illumination. Even gay people convinced that they know much of this history will find fresh perspective and clarity. Every minority group should have so cogent and insightful and up-to-the-minute a profile of the 'who, what, why, when, and where' of its presence in American society.

    Katherine V. Forrest

    author of ten works of fiction including the novel Flashpoint and the Kate Delafield mystery series.

  • This is the most up-to-date book I have read on the diversity of the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered community. Its description of where our community is at in the 90's is right on. This is a book that should be in every library and read by anyone who wants to know what our community thinks about itself.

    Rev. Troy D. Perry

    Founder, Metropolitan Community Churches

  • Between the barricaded fortresses of `essentialist' and `social constructionist' visions of human sexuality, this book comes as a breath of fresh air. Lucid and concise, it is at once a useful introduction to a complex subject and a learned exposition of what precisely is at stake in the debate. A superb choice for any lesbian and gay studies or human sexuality class.

    Jonathan D. Katz

    Chair, Department of Gay and Lesbian Studies,City College of San Francisco