Mapping the Gay Guides

Mapping the Gay Guides (MGG) is an in-progress collaboration between myself and Dr. Eric Gonzaba. MGG draws on the Damron Guides, an early but longstanding travel guide aimed at gay men since the early 1960s. An LGBT equivalent to the African American “green books,” the Damron Guides contained lists of bars, bathhouses, cinemas, hotels and cruising sites in every U.S. state. MGG seeks to associate geographical coordinates with each location mentioned within the Damron Guides and provide an interface for visualizing the growth. Made up of a public-facing and freely available web app as well as a series of digital vignettes that analyze the data using historical context, MGG stands to make a significant contribution to scholars understanding of the ways in which LGBTQ people negotiated and appropriated public space to form community.

Using a subset of the data digitized for this project, we will publish an article entitled “Mapping the New Gay South: Queer Space and Southern Life 1965-1980” in Southern History Quarterly in Winter 2021. In this article, we argue that the appearance and utilization of gay space as an integral part of southern life helped create what we refer to as “the New Gay South,” a robust but close-knit network of queer geography far from the gay meccas of San Francisco or New York.

Mapping the Gay Guides was awarded the 2021 Emerging Open Scholarship Award from the Canadian Social Knowledge Institute. The award recognizes open scholarship that incorporates open access, open data, open education, and other related movements that have the potential to make scholarly work more efficient, more accessible, and more usable by those within and beyond the academy.

Last modified: October 2, 2020