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Same-Sex Affairs

Same-Sex Affairs: Constructing and Controlling Homosexuality in the Pacific Northwest

Peter Boag
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Pages: 335
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  • Book Info
    Same-Sex Affairs
    Book Description:

    At the turn of the twentieth century, two distinct, yet at times overlapping, male same-sex sexual subcultures had emerged in the Pacific Northwest: one among the men and boys who toiled in the region's logging, fishing, mining, farming, and railroad-building industries; the other among the young urban white-collar workers of the emerging corporate order. Boag draws on police logs, court records, and newspaper accounts to create a vivid picture of the lives of these men and youths--their sexual practices, cultural networks, cross-class relations, variations in rural and urban experiences, and ethnic and racial influences.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93069-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    At the turn of the twentieth century, Portland, Oregon—nicknamed the Rose City—was among the most dynamic midsize urban centers in North America. From a population of roughly 46,000 in 1890, Portland blossomed to more than 300,000 inhabitants by 1930. As it grew and matured, the Rose City grappled with problems similar to those that plagued other American urban centers during this remarkable era: municipal corruption, uncertainty over utilities, political discord, urban planning, moral dilemmas, racism, economic turmoil, and so on.¹

    The issue of homosexuality also forcefully came to the attention of Portland’s citizenry during these years. In 1912...


    • CHAPTER 1 Sex on the Road: Migratory Men and Youths in the Pacific Northwest’s Hinterlands
      (pp. 15-44)

      Ted Gladden (figure 1) was born into a large Minnesota Methodist family on an early spring day in 1880. His father made a modest living as a wainwright while his mother stayed home to care for their nine children. Despite the large family and their limited means, Ted later remembered his parents’ marriage as a happy one. Tragedy struck in 1897, however, when Ted’s father died. Ted, who had completed seven years of schooling, remained at home just one more year; apparently after leaving he found work nearby and helped support his mother until her death in 1908. She may...

    • CHAPTER 2 Sex in the City: Transient and Working-Class Men and Youths in the Urban Northwest
      (pp. 45-86)

      In early April 1913, Portland authorities received a tip that the Monte Carlo pool hall, located in the very heart of the city’s transient working-class North End (see map 2), was acting as “a clearing house for immoral boys who pander to the passions of vicious Greeks who hang around the place.” The police chief promptly assigned the detectives R. H. Craddock and John Goltz to monitor the Monte Carlo. During their ten-day investigation, the two hauled into the district attorney’s office five teenage boys and exacted “some sensational statements” from them. The detectives’ biggest break came on April 18...


    • CHAPTER 3 Gay Identity and Community in Early Portland
      (pp. 89-124)

      The “Greek scandal” reveals much about working-class male sexuality as well as weighty middle-class Progressive-era anxieties regarding same-sex activities, race mixing, the supposed dangers of the immigrant male, and the vulnerability of the “American” boy. Yet another Portland male-male sex scandal, the one that occurred in 1912, is even more significant in shedding light on the history of homosexuality in the Northwest. It began by chance in early November when authorities apprehended nineteen-year-old Benjamin Trout for some petty crime.¹ Like so many other young frightened men who find themselves in custody, Trout probably began talking about more serious transgressions in...

    • CHAPTER 4 From Oscar Wilde to Portland’s 1912 Scandal: Socially Constructing the Homosexual
      (pp. 125-154)

      In the 1880s and 1890s, Northwest newspapers occasionally printed references to local same-sex affairs. In May 1889, for example, Portland’sEvening Telegramreported that George Morris, awaiting examination for the charge of committing a “crime against nature,” had mysteriously disappeared from the dock on the day of his hearing. “Where is George Morris?” the newspaper indignantly asked. The exasperated answer was that he “had made his escape, but when and how nobody could tell[.]”¹ As recounted elsewhere in this volume, other newspapers at the time referred to the Mark Weeks–John Goodock affair; the “crime against nature” that Jack Stafford...


    • CHAPTER 5 Personality, Politics, and Sex in Portland and the Northwest
      (pp. 157-184)

      Shortly after newspapers broke the story about native-born middle-class male homosexuals in Portland, many of those implicated fled the city. In time, three were arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia; two in Fresno, California; one in Los Angeles; one in Salem, Oregon; one in Medford, Oregon; one in Vancouver, Washington; and four in Seattle, where some of those involved lived. As they fled, a few of these individuals were spotted in small towns such as Aberdeen, Washington, and Forest Grove, Oregon, as well as in larger cities like San Francisco. Other Northwest and West Coast cities, including Spokane, Tacoma, Walla Walla,...

    • CHAPTER 6 Reforming Homosexuality in the Northwest
      (pp. 185-216)

      Two weeks into the 1912 scandal, Portland authorities prepared a brief about “newly” uncovered local homosexual conditions for submission to federal officials. They believed their evidence showed that members of the “vice clique” had used a secret “code” to maintain communications with others of “their kind” on the West Coast. In addition, Portland “inverts” reportedly had ties to a house of male prostitution operating in San Francisco. One journalist announced that the brief connected “the local ring [to] a monster ‘vice system’ in many other parts of the country, corresponding in some ways to the white slave traffic only not...

  9. Epilogue. Same-Sex Affairs in the Pacific Northwest: 1912 and After
    (pp. 217-222)

    Many men implicated in the 1912 scandal quickly departed Portland during the pandemonium that followed Benjamin Trout’s confession on November 8, but most eventually did appear before some level of the Oregon judicial system. Not surprisingly, after serving time, most of those who were convicted or who pled guilty to charges abandoned the city once again. For example, George Birdseye, onetime resident of the YMCA and a clerk in a Portland department store, soon found a home and employment in San Francisco. Credit man H.L. Rowe made his way back to his former home, Duluth, Minnesota. Of the forty-five men...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 223-282)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 283-308)
  12. Index
    (pp. 309-321)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 322-322)