JD Doyle Book

1981 My Gay American Road Trip:
A Slice of Our Pre-AIDS Culture


1981. Rich with promise and possibility, the post-Stonewall era saw queer Americans
standing up for themselves and each other like never before. With the rise of gay
newspapers, bars and businesses in cities all over the US, it was a time of hedonism,
activism, pride and community. A scene ripe for exploration and documentation, and
journalist JD Doyle hit the road to do just that, traveling through 27 states to create a
playful, intimate and profusely illustrated one-of-a-kind record of gay life, love, lust,
and liberation in the heady days before the devastating crisis that would change everything.

This is the trip he took.


"This book documents a remarkable journey through gay male life in the early 1980s,
when the post-Stonewall fervor for building community institutions made it the heyday
of gay bars, restaurants, sports associations (who knew Houston had 55 gay bowling
teams in 1981?), strip clubs, and easy hookups, just before AIDS cast a shadow over
everything. Doyle's journal is especially valuable because he takes us beyond the coasts
to highlight the vibrant gay scenes in large cities and small towns across the South and
West, including New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, Denver, Kansas City, and, yes, LA
and San Francisco, too. From close encounters with Grace Jones and Diana Ross to even
closer encounters with the men he met along the way, this book is full of insights and vivid
sketches of people and places in those pre-AIDS days."
George Chauncey
DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University
Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940

"In 1981-My Gay American Road Trip, JD Doyle offers a vision in the first-person of what
life looked like for many men traversing the gay recesses of post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS
America: free, joyous, and full of possibility, even amidst persistent stigma. Doyle's road
trip journals and accompanying commentary represent an important firsthand account of
a period in gay American history that is too often overlooked."
Eric Cervini, PhD
The Deviant's War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America

"Through both words and images, this book offers a window into a lost era of gay cruise
bars, restaurants, and bookstores-a time when a handsome young gay man with a mustache
could travel across the country and find a cornucopia of gay guesthouses, shops, cultural
events waiting for him in every city. And as 'new meat' in town, he often didn't even need to
book a hotel room. It also gives insight into the equally lost world of local gay journalism.
This was when scores of newspapers served local communities and were beginning to
organize nationally. It reminded me of Alan Helms' Young Man from the Provinces: A Gay
Life Before Stonewall.

David K Johnson
The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government and Buying Gay

"JD Doyle, producer of the radio show and website Queer Music Heritage, peoples'
historian and archivist extraordinaire, presents the diary of his 1981 road trip, south,
west, and north, age 34, across 24 states and 180 bars. The fabulous photos and valuable
text document just before the year AIDS hit, creating a chasm between a modern liberatory
era and a nightmare time. Recording visits with fellow liberationists, friends, and family,
Doyle documents a moment in his and our history. Thanks, JD!"
Jonathan Ned Katz
The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams
and Gay American History

"JD Doyle's road trip book is unique and valuable. His journal records his experiences as
a sexually active gay man in the 1970s and early 1980s in many cities in the USA, including
smaller ones. As a memoir, the writing is personal but it is also journalistic and reflects a
way of being that ended with the arrival of AIDS and the Internet. Think of this as a
fun-loving and adventuresome history book."
Allen Young
The Gay Report, Out of the Closets: Voices of Gay Liberation, and
Lavender Culture
(all co-authored with Karla Jay)