Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Before Stonewall, a Chef Published the First Gay Cookbook

The Gay Cookbook was a culinary trailblazer. COURTESY STEPHEN VIDER
The Gastro Obscura reports:

On January 21, 1966, Time magazine ran a story entitled “The Homosexual in America.” The anonymous author criticized the growing activism and visibility of gay people in America, noting that many of them “apparently do not desire a cure” for their sexualities. As an example, the author referenced advertisements for a new publication: The Gay Cookbook by Lou Rand Hogan, a book that made no apologies in presenting an image of happy men cooking elaborate meals for their lovers.

It was published on the cusp of a historic turning point, and copies of the book can still be found online and at many used bookstores. The bold cover has a colorful illustration of a blonde man in a flower-covered apron, grilling steaks, while the back features a hirsute person in a red cocktail dress. It was published years before the Stonewall riots ignited the gay rights movement in America, and at the time, widely advertising a cookbook for gay men was fairly edgy. But the author of The Gay Cookbook was no stranger to the gay publishing scene. In fact, five years before, he had published what is now believed to be the first detective novel with a gay protagonist, titled The Gay Detective.

Who was Lou Rand Hogan? One of the few things known about him is that his name was a nom de plume, says Stephen Vider, assistant professor at Bryn Mawr College and author of an academic paper on The Gay Cookbook.

The 280 pages of The Gay Cookbook are filled with the jokes and innuendo of the time. Even on the frontispiece, in the book’s first pages, a line reads “All rights reserved, Mary.” (An essential part of mid-century campy dialogue, Vider says, was the use of female nicknames among gay men: Hogan addresses the reader by many, including Myrtle, Mabel, and Mame. “Mary” also served as a sometimes-derogatory term for a gay man.) The recipes are lengthy and chatty. But while written humorously, the recipes often are complex and cosmopolitan.

See full article here.

Editor's Note: Used copies of The Gay Cookbook were available on Amazon as of publication of this post, but the starting price was $78.74.

1 comment:

Mike said...

A dear friend gave us his copy of this cookbook in 1977, a prized possession.