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Gay History – 1964: Four Years Before Stonewall The First Gay Cookbook Was Published

Four years before the Stonewall riots The Gay Cookbook by Lou Rand Hogan, a  280-page book “for that very special man in your life or for the jaded hostess whose soufflés no longer stand on their own.” was published and it that made no apologies in presenting an image of happy (if not campy) men cooking elaborate meals for their lovers.  

The book cover has a colorful illustration of a blonde man in a flower-covered apron, grilling steaks, while the back features a very hairy man in a red cocktail dress. 

Stephen Vider, an assistant professor at Cornell University who actually wrote an academic study of The Gay Cookbook states:

The line drawings by the freelance artist David Costain further contributed to the camping (sometimes purely silly) tone of the book. In an illustration for French dressing, Costain depicted Hogan dancing with two men in European corsets and skirts. Next to a paragraph about choosing beef grades, Costain drew Hogan as a matador taming a wild bull. In another the chef literally netted a muscular man in a bathing suit…

The book also overflowed with double entendres and sexual innuendos: “seafood” (sailors), “quickie,” “frenching,” “browning,” “chicken queens,” “crabs,” and “loose ends.” He titled one chapter “what to do with a tough piece of meat,” and warned against soggy canapés: “As you all know too damn well, a limp delicacy is neither pretty nor tasty.”

The Gay Cookbook is filled with the jokes and innuendo of the timeEven on the frontispiece, in the book’s first pages, a line reads “All rights reserved, Mary.” 

For it’s time of 1964, The Gay Cookbook received unprecedented publicity and was picked up by two mainstream publishers selling an estimated 10,000–12,000 copies.

The Gay Cookbook is still available today on Amazon.com

Homo Appétit!

The Gay Cookbook 02
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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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