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Rocking the ClosetHow Little Richard, Johnnie Ray, Liberace, and Johnny Mathis Queered Pop Music$
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Vincent L. Stephens

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042805

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042805.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 05 August 2021

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Postwar Disorientation, Queer Community, and Queer Ambivalence

Chapter:
(p.29) Chapter One Visibly Hidden
Source:
Rocking the Closet
Author(s):

Vincent L. Stephens

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5622/illinois/9780252042805.003.0002

This chapter illuminates how Johnnie Ray, Little Richard, Johnny Mathis, and Liberace achieved mainstream commercial success by discussing the dynamic gender norms of the postwar era. Drawing on Wini Breines, the chapter frames the era as one of “disorientation”--notably, the outgrowth of gender conformity was pervasive alienation. These tensions generated spaces of gender rebellion that were stigmatized in mainstream media exposés and publicized simultaneously. This visibility reflected a public interest in deviance and helped gay men and lesbians develop an awareness of a community that catalyzed the Homophile and Gay Liberation movements. Parallel to these political movements was a subcultural movement among queer artists in film, literature, and popular music that is discernibly queer yet trafficked in sexual ambiguity at the time.

Keywords:   postwar gender norms, Wini Breines, disorientation, deviance, homophile, gay liberation, sexual ambiguity

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