The Gay Metropolis is the definitive social and political history of modern gay life in America. Charles Kaiser is the first author to devote equal attention to the personal and the political, alternating between the intimate stories of people as famous as Leonard Bernstein and Gore Vidal and as little known as Sandy Kern, a young Brooklyn woman who first heard the word lesbian when a neighbor spied her with an arm around her girlfriend at the end of a wartime blackout. Beautifully written and meticulously researched, the book traces the gestation of the modern gay movement back to World War II, when the U.S. Army acted as "the great, secret, unwitting agent of gay liberation." Though it focuses on New York City, The Gay Metropolis visits San Francisco, Paris, and Egypt to capture wry, important, or novel tales. It covers the major social, political, and cultural events that have affected the way gay people view themselves and how they have been treated by the larger society.