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Synopsis

The writings that shocked America out of the 1950s

Blasting through the crew-cuts and conformism of their day, the Beat writers were queer in the fullest sense of the word: their fluid sexuality challenged all sexual and romantic conventions. Most shocking of their unconventional attitudes was their embrace of same-sex eroticism. At a time when gay people were considered mentally ill or criminal, the Beats celebrated spontaneity and freedom in thought, word, and action. Their highest value was nakedness-even before Allen Ginsberg stripped bare at a poetry reading to silence a heckler. They would try anything once, then write about it.

Queer Beats: How the Beats Turned America On to Sex traces, for the first time, the queer pulse that throbs throughout the Beats' writings-from William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch and Allen Ginsberg's wistful, boy-loving sex poems to Jack Kerouac's hero-worship of Neal Cassady-and Kerouac's denial of having sex with men, despite erotic encounters with Ginsberg and Gore Vidal: "Posterity will laugh at me if it thinks I was queer."

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