Kirchick’s ‘Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington’

In her final Q&A Café interview of the season, Carol Joynt hosted James Kirchick, author of “Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington,” at the George Town Club on July 12. The author has written about human rights, politics and culture from around the world.

The extensively annotated book runs chronologically from Franklin Roosevelt’s administration through Bill Clinton’s. Kirchick calls the nation’s capital “simultaneously the gayest and most antigay city in America.”  The New York Times described the book as “sprawling and enthralling.”

A graduate of Yale with degrees in history and political science, Kirchick is a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council and his work has been widely published.  

Joynt mentioned Steve Martindale, who in the 1970s as a gay male sought to host soirees to rival such Washington hostesses as Pearl Mesta. He launched himself with a party for John Lennon and Yoko Ono. To cleverly lure important guests, he let it be known who else of their stature would be attending.  The “sexually nonthreatening” host succumbed to AIDs, and “no one came to his funeral.”

Georgetowner Joseph Alsop survived a Russian attempt to set him up for blackmail. First lady Nancy Reagan had a coterie of gay male friends, and Rock Hudson was photographed in the White House receiving line before it was known that he had AIDs.

The book contains innumerable insider revelations. A definite for the summer to read list!






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