'Blackmail, My Love' shows SF's sordid homophobic past | KALW

'Blackmail, My Love' shows SF's sordid homophobic past

Jan 12, 2021

Blackmail, My Love is a noir murder-mystery novel set in San Francisco, 1951 - "The Dark Ages of Queerdom," as author and illustrator Katie Gilmartin puts it - when cops raided gay and lesbian bars, beat up patrons and demanded "protection" money, and when lesbians and gay men were so afraid of public exposure they were easy blackmail targets.  The book is illustrated with 21 of Gilmartin's original prints, including "Miss Double Strand" here.

10pm Tuesday on KALW, historian, printmaker, Queer Ancestors Project founder and novelist Katie Gilmartin reads from her book and talks about mid-last century San Francisco queer life.

Blackmail, My Love character Miss Double Strand
Credit Katie Gilmartin

We also hear "The Widow Norton" herself (aka the late José Sarria, one of just two true-life characters in Blackmail, My Love) sing the 1950s anthem "God Save Us Nelly Queens" just a year or two before his passing in 2013.