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Laud Humphreys

Prophet of Homosexuality and Sociology

John F. Galliher, Wayne Brekhus, and David P. Keys

Publication Year: 2004

Laud Humphreys (1930–1988) was a pioneering and fearless sociologist, an Episcopal priest, and a civil rights, gay, and antiwar activist. In graduate school during the late 1960s, he conducted extensive fieldwork in public restrooms in a St. Louis city park to discover patterns of impersonal sex among men. He published the results in Tearoom Trade. Three decades later the book still triggers many debates about the ethics of his research methods. In 1974, he was the first sociologist to come out as gay. Laud Humphreys: Prophet of Homosexuality and Sociology examines the groundbreaking work through the life of a complex man and the life of the man through his controversial work. It is an invaluable contribution to sociology and a fascinating record of a courageous life.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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p. vii-vii

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p. viii-viii

The authors gratefully recognize the assistance of Clair Beller Hum-Farrell, Carole Case, Martin Weinberg, Nancy Turner Myers, Sarah David Pittman, John Hollister, Irving Louis Horowitz, William Yancy,James Henslin, Lee Rainwater, Dusky Lee Smith, Joseph Carrier, John Mitchell, Susanne Carter, and all those interviewed in the course of the...

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pp. ix-xii

In September 1967 I joined the University of Missouri–Columbia Department of Sociology as an assistant professor. Having also joined the Episcopal Church that year, I immediately began to hear about an out-spoken priest in the church who was forced out of several clergy positions because of his strident support for the Civil Rights movement....

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pp. 3-12

The justification for this book is unusual. Biographies of academics typically include only the most prominent faculty at the most illustrious universities. This biography, however, deals with a social scientist who wrote just a single research monograph, one short textbook, and a handful of journal articles. He was active in social science research for just...

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1. Birth and Beginnings

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pp. 13-18

Just as Coser (1971) imagined, the influence of Laud Humphreys’s family was of great importance in his life. Robert Allan (Laud) Humphreys was born on October 16, 1930, in Chickasha, Oklahoma, to Ira Denver Humphreys and Stella Bernice Humphreys. Laud had two brothers—William of Oklahoma City (who was ten years his senior) and Howard...

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2. Becoming an Instant Icon

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pp. 19-22

It is now central to sociology’s disciplinary folklore that Alvin Gouldner physically assaulted Laud in 1968. Gouldner sought revenge after finding an unflattering caricature of him on the Washington University sociology department bulletin board. He imagined that Laud had penned it because it was accompanied by Latin phrases, and he knew that Laud...

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3. Historical and Intellectual Context of Tearoom Trade: The 1960s and Washington University

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pp. 23-35

Laud wrote about the protracted conflict when “the New York City Police raided the Stonewall Inn, an after-hours gay bar on Christopher Street, on [Friday] June 27, 1969” (Humphreys 1972b, 5). “Confrontations with the police continued in the neighborhood for four more nights” (Humphreys 1972b, 6). The gay community was serving notice...

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4. Published Criticism and Use of Tearoom Trade

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pp. 36-64

The initial reviews were typically neither enthusiastic nor outraged. In the American Sociological Review Ira Reiss (1971, 581) noted: “My overall reaction to this book is rather mixed. . . . This unintended use of a public facility is itself a valuable contribution to the study of the urban scene” [and involves] “men of all social classes.” The problem is that the...

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5. Upward Professional Mobility and Continuing Activism

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pp. 65-83

Immediately after receiving his Ph.D. in 1968 Laud Humphreys accepted a position as assistant professor at Southern Illinois University(SIU) at Edwardsville. He remained in this position until 1970. James Henslin, his fellow graduate student at Washington University, finished his degree just prior to Laud and accepted a position at SIU. When an-...

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6. The Long (and Rapid) Road Down

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pp. 84-92

In 1980 Humphreys took a sabbatical and began a book on moral entrepreneurs, on what he referred to as the “breastplate of righteousness” (Miller 2001b). He never completed this book, and the manuscript, entitled “Immoral Crusaders,” is located in the One Institute and Archives in Los Angeles. The chapters and some of their content are sum-...

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7. The Legacy of Laud: Politics, Substance, and Professional Ethics

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pp. 93-104

Laud Humphreys’s life was always tumultuous, fast-paced, and full of risk-taking behavior, including his chain-smoking addiction and alcohol abuse. One could say he was also a risk taker of a different kind in his sociology, his activism, his teaching, and his preaching. After completing seminary training he was a priest for approximately ten years...

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pp. 105-108

There is no doubt that had Laud Humphreys not shortened his life by smoking cigarettes, Americans would be hearing from him today. It was recently noted that, in spite of the growing acceptance of homosexuality, in the new millennium tearooms and “cruising networks still generally resemble [what] Humphreys studied a generation ago” (Hoover...

Appendix A: Laud Humphreys’s Vita

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pp. 109-116

Appendix B: Laud Humphreys’s FBI File

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pp. 117-188

Appendix C: Poster from the Washington University Bulletin Board

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pp. 189-192

Appendix D: Systematic Observation Sheet

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pp. 193-196

Appendix E: Data Sources and Methods

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pp. 197-200


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pp. 201-212


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pp. 213-214

E-ISBN-13: 9780299203139
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299203108

Publication Year: 2004