I’m not sure where these fall into gay history, but they are now a fascinating anecdote. I’m not a historian, but in a time well before the internet, this was probably one of the ways gay men could connect in the 50s and 60s.
Nowadays, many of them are humorous; and frankly, many seem filled with self-loathing. Which probably shouldn’t be much of a surprise for their era… although the fact they were published at all does imply there was an audience for this. Still, it does give you a sense of how far we’ve come since then.
I haven’t read any of these, but many years ago I found some postcards with some these designs on them, and I’ve since framed them and made them artwork at my house. Every once in a while, you can find books like these at used bookstores, and there are many websites that sell them. I’d imagine the stories are probably mostly sub par (although titillating), but really, it’s about the cover art anyway. I’ve also found these make fabulous wallpapers for my iPhone lock screen.
It is interesting to note that a few of them seem to have kinky and fetish-related content. And be sure to read some of those tag lines! “He was too gay for his own good!” has to be one of my favorites. And I think I may have to hunt down and read Adventures of a High School Hunk myself one day. If anyone has it, let me know!
I’ll post more of these next week, along with some content from vintage pulpy books I have actually read personally.