Professor Boyd Discusses Connections Between Paper Dolls, Gay Community

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

SLATE -- The most fascinating connection I came across is also the most mysterious. It’s the Paper Doll, sometimes called the Paper Doll Club. And it was a gay bar in San Francisco, or at least a kind of proto-gay bar, which was in operation since 1945, probably earlier than that, which is incredibly early for an openly gay space. ...

“It was like this place that was an incubator for queer entrepreneurialism.”

I talked to Nan Alamilla Boyd. She’s a professor of Women and Gender Studies at San Francisco State University. She’s one of the few scholars who's done work trying to find out more about the Paper Doll.

“How are these people who are shut out of these professions?” Boyd says. “‘What am I going to do with my life? Oh, I’ll open a gay bar. I’ll serve my people, for the sense of the people. I’ll serve my people in this way.”