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Date and Location

November 8, 2021
12:15 PM - 1:30 PM ET


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Abstract:  In the mid-twentieth century, gay life flourished in American cities even as the state repression of queer communities reached its peak. Liquor investigators infiltrated and shut down gay-friendly bars. Plainclothes decoys enticed men in parks and clubs. Vice officers surveilled public bathrooms through peepholes and two-way mirrors. This talk examines the tactics used to criminalize, surveil, and suppress gay life from the 1930s through the 1960s, and the often-surprising controversies those tactics inspired in court. More than simply disputes about the law’s proper treatment of gay people, the police’s antigay campaigns stood at the center of live debates about the nature of sexual difference, the authority of experts, and the institutional gaps between the police and the courts—debates that illuminate both the police’s role in shaping public understandings of gay life and the rich, unpredictable intersections between state regulation and public knowledge about marginalized social groups.

Speakers and Presenters

​Anna Lvovsky, Assistant p\Professor of Law, Harvard Law School


Additional Organizers

​Co-sponsored by the Graduate School or Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences