From one of Walter William’s finest students, C. Todd White’s Pre-Gay L.A. probably ranks as the best work on homosexuality yet published (University of Illinois Press). An anthropologist by training, White meticulously integrates individual biographies with institutional and social history in a charming and gripping narrative. The book is hard to put the book down because the splits and various movements in L. A. and beyond were so dramatic that one would not think it was published by a university press. It describes facts and personalities that scholars and young glbt people should want to find out about. It adheres to the finest traditions of objective scholarship; White excitingly describes how all of the major issues confronting the movement since Stonewall were discussed in depth and intelligently before that riot.
White focused more institutional history rather than the broad-ranging sensationalized Gay L.A: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics and Lipstick Lesbians (2006). It began with the Indian village on which the Spanish built, emphasizing movie stars and celebrities. White also downsized the exaggerated role assigned to Harry Hay in Gay L.A and corrected its misuse of the term gay for the ’30s and ’40s.