Thursday, August 22, 2013

YMCA aka why i'm so gay!

I forgot to say that I've started chapter six of A Queer history of the United States. Just to be clear, It started with the last two post. Now, aside from residing in boarding or rooming houses, residential hotels and flop houses young people had the option of the YMCA[young men's christian association], the YWCA or a settlement house. The ''Y's'' were/are Christian organizations that provided inexpensive housing, food, exercise programs and even job placement and counseling services for young people new to a city. But they promoted racial and gender segregation along with Christian moralizing.
    Another housing option for youth in the big city was settlement houses. They were more of a ''collective'' housing option for lower to middle class young people. They offered housing, meals, exercise, adult and children's education and cultural programs with no particular religious strings. Some of them provided space for political organizing, especially labor groups.
    I don't know what settlement houses did in terms of racial and gender segregation but they were more independent than the Y's, so their polices probably varied from city to city and region to region. They were most often run by Women with life long female companions. It is not known for sure if these settlement women, as I call them, were sexually involved or not but from the tone of their letters and the strength of their relationships it is highly possible that they were.
    The Y's were connected into the social purity movement. In their crusade to regulate sex, sexuality and morality, they had strict homosocial accommodations and That backfired on them in the short run and the long run! Nude swimming and calisthenics and sometimes two to three guys per bed was the norm at the Y. By the 1920's and 30's the Y was a well known cruising and social venue for Homosexual men. A running joke at the time was that YMCA meant ''why I'm so Gay!'' I think that thatVillage People song YMCA is really homage to the Y's Gay legacy.

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