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Honoring George Chauncey, a Scholar of Gay History
Honoring George Chauncey, a Scholar of Gay History

By:  Paul Hond -  Fall 2022

Historian George Chauncey was first summoned to court in 1993. He was thirty-nine, a little-known assistant professor at the University of Chicago, and a year away from publishing his groundbreaking book Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890–1940. As one of a small number of scholars in the US working on gay history, Chauncey had been asked to testify in a case  challenging a Colorado state constitutional amendment that banned municipalities from protecting gay people from discrimination.

The US Supreme Court ultimately struck down the amendment, and Chauncey became the go-to expert witness on the history of anti-gay discrimination.

Chauncey, who is the DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia (a chair previously held by Allan Nevins ’60HON, Richard Hofstadter ’42GSAS, and Eric Foner ’63CC, ’69GSAS), has long been a witness for justice. He grew up in the 1950s and ’60s in the South, the son of a Presbyterian minister who was deeply involved in the civil-rights movement. By high school, Chauncey was eager to see other parts of the country, and when it came time for college he went to Yale, where he came out as gay. He got his PhD in history at Yale in the 1980s, at the height of the AIDS crisis.
[Image: 51806835273_f5b3daba19_t.jpg]  <<< It's mine!

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