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” above.
Historian, printmaker, Queer Ancestors Project founder and first-time novelist Katie Gilmartin reads from her book and talks about San Francisco queer life in days of yore on this week’s Out in the Bay. 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” in his later years.
Blackmail, My Love, is published by Cleis Press.
(This feature updated Jan 12, 2021)