From a 21st-century perspective, 1950s bar owner Helen Branson wasn't particularly progressive. The 60-something matron barred "the obvious homosexual" from her modest tavern, strongly preferred patrons who could pass for straight, and didn't allow sexual touching. But the onetime palm reader's spunky memoir about running a gay bar on a crime-prone stretch of L.A.'s Melrose Avenue, first published in 1957, is filled with warm affection for "my boys" and with an uncommon understanding of (and sympathy for) gays, at a time when California law prohibited "inverts" from gathering in bars, and vice squad entrapment of "deviates" was commonplace.
1950 → 1970
5124 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Attr — Gay Bar: The Fabulous, True Story of a Daring Woman and Her Boys in the 1950s by Will Fellows, Helen P. Branson