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Social Science Gay Studies


Underground Gay Graphics From Before Stonewall

by (author) Thomas Waugh

Arsenal Pulp Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2002
Gay Studies, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2002
    List Price

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Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.


Gay male representation of sexuality has a long history of varied visibility and acceptance, but the 100 or so years of queer life before Stonewall were a period of unprecedented self-identification as well as renewed pressure to hide and suppress the erotic imagery of gay men in western culture. Out/Lines features a resurrection of erotic gay images, once virtually buried and invisible, that circulated in clandestine communities whose sexualized visibility was a potentially devastating risk--a wealth of approximately 200 previously unpublished "obscene" images from the queer pre-Stonewall underground.
Drawn mainly from American, German, Italian, and French sources, these images will both broaden and tantalize our view of queer culture with a surprising range of historical styles and motifs. While many of the artists remain anonymous or unknown, some have begun to have increasing notoriety in the erotic gay market. Works include images from a 1945 booklet of 20 unofficial illustrations for Jean Genet's Our Lady of the Flowers; the British artist known as "Hank," whose steamy couplets called "Homo Hotel" featured hot, horny sailors and Cliff Richards haircuts; the increasingly well-known American artist Neel Bate, whose nom de crayon was "Blade"; and numerous contemporaries and admirers of the legendary erotic artist Tom of Finland.
Waugh's narrative considers both fantasy and history by exploring the cultural and erotic dynamics and the social context in which these secret, sexualized images were created and collected. Historically rigorous and aesthetically explicit, Out/Lines is sure to shock and astonish.
Honorable Mention, Outstanding Book Award, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America
Runner-Up, Independent Publisher Award, Best Gay/Lesbian Book
Finalist, Lambda Literary Award, Best Visual Arts Book
Now in its 2nd printing.

About the author

Thomas Waugh is the award-winning author or co-author of numerous books, including five for Arsenal Pulp Press: Out/Lines, Lust Unearthed, Montreal Main: A Queer Film Classic (with Jason Garrison), Comin' At Ya! (with David L. Chapman) and Gay Art: A Historic Collection (with Felix Lance Falkon). His other books include Hard to Imagine, The Fruit Machine, and The Romance of Transgression. He teaches film studies at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, where he lives. He has published widely on political discourses and sexual representation in film and video, on lesbian and gay film and video, and has more recently undertaken interdisciplinary research and teaching on AIDS. He is also the founder and former coordinator of the Minor Programme in Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality at Concordia.

In addition to the titles below, Thomas is also co-editor (with Matthew Hays) of the Queer Film Classics series.

Thomas Waugh's profile page


  • Short-listed, Lambda Literary Award

Editorial Reviews

. . . a solid balance of education and entertainment.
-Mom Guess What Newspaper

Mom Guess What

Here, whether campy, romantic or hard core, there's room for any kind of desire.


This is a heartbreaking collection, beautifully produced and preserved.
-CD Syndicated

CD Syndicated

Out/Lines is a pleasure for those who like porn and enjoy thinking about its significance.
-XTRA! West

Xtra! West

Thomas Waugh has a knack for sexy scholarship.
-Front Page

Front Page

Waugh's tone throughout his writing. . . is perfectly pitched. . . It's a delicate balancing act of serious history, the risibility of lust and the tenderness of desire.


[Waugh's] sense of fun and and exitement is never far from the surface, and the pictures reproduced are by turns funny, hot, strikingly composed and historically fascinating: . . . the crème de la crème, so to speak.


It is smartly written, but never alienating. . .
-Portland Mercury

Portland Mercury

Historical, erotic, and instructive. . . A fascinating read.
-Genre Magazine

Genre Magazine

It is a coffee-table book for most readers, although for students of queer history and art it should be a valuable and treasured resource. It's a gorgeous volume. . .
-Gay People's Chronicle

Gay People's

With a charming combination of learned art-theory essays introducing each chapter and amusing captions situating each drawing, Waugh honors the iconic erotic power of fleshy graphic fantasties with discerning zeal and un-ironic relish.
-Richard Labonte

Richard Labonte

[One] of the best picture book histories of homo doodles. . .


[A] must-read. . . The book features 200 beautifully documented erotic drawings. . . from an era where pornography--much less gay pornography--was not tolerated.
-Hour Magazine

Hour Magazine

Waugh is rather like a demented DeMille, assembling an epic cast of beefcake and bikers, soldiers and sailors for our viewing pleasures. The fact that such material was perfected at the time of its creation--and still a bit raunchy by some standards, even today, makes the whole effort all that more delicious.


[Waugh provides]. . . a witty and knowledgeable introduction. . .
-Uptown Magazine

Uptown Magazine

A great book.
-Lambda Book Report

Lambda Book Report

[Thomas Waugh's] Out/Lines and Lust Unearthed are ravishing, titillating, and theoretically engaged; a pair of joyfully written reflections on the hardcore, the softcore, and everything in between. And while the world of leather daddies, swishy bellhops, and precocious sailors-on-leave might seem a far cry from the lofty theoretical debates that coloured my meeting with Waugh, a careful reading of this wonderfully depraved stash lends it an unexpected and, I think, timely, political gravity.
-Art Threat

Art Threat

Other titles by Thomas Waugh