Take the Young Stranger by the Hand: Same-Sex Relations and the YMCA

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University of Chicago Press, Oct 1, 1998 - Religion - 267 pages
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Now associated with family health clubs, the YMCA's bland image is the result of relentless outreach and the studied avoidance of controversy. But, as John Gustav-Wrathall shows in his revealing social history of the organization, the life of the YMCA has been filled with strife, tragedy, and irony, a life that itself reflects the struggle over the shifting societal mores regarding masculine friendship and intimacy. Take the Young Stranger by the Hand presents the YMCA as an institution of profound contradictions, reflective of society's views of same-sex love and sexuality.

"Gustav-Wrathall's book offers an in-depth history of the origins and purposes of the Young Men's Christian Association and how it evolved into—and out of—a gay playland."—Arnie Kantrowitz, Lambda Book Report

"The book's absorbing exploration of the sometimes schismatic, sometimes synergistic relationship between spirituality and sexuality is a fascinating addition to the growing body of social history."—Jim Van Buskirk, San Francisco Bay Guardian
 

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Take the young stranger by the hand: same-sex relations and the YMCA

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The ubiquitous, mundane YMCA seems an unlikely subject for a scholarly study, but Gustav-Wrathall reveals that the Y has had a complex and fascinating history at odds with its bland public image. The ... Read full review

Contents

From Urban Pietism to sex education
9
Intense Friendship
45
Singleness and the Consecrated Secretary
70
Marriage and the Sacrificial Y Wife
91
Women and the Young Mens Christian Association
116
Getting Physical
140
Cruising
158
Epilogue
180
Analysis of Quantitative Sources on YMCA Secretarial Martial Status
185
Methodological Problems Silences the SpiritBody Split and the Denial of Cruising
191
Notes
197
Bibliography
237
Index
255
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About the author (1998)

Gustav-Wrathall is an independent scholar in Minneapolis.

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