What Were Once Vices...

Notable Gay and Lesbian Eyes

Sam Spade seemed to take some genuine pleasure in slapping around both Wilmer (that gunsel!) and Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon, and gays and lesbians (and transsexuals) have been treated more or less the same way in the genre for decades. When they weren't being reduced to campy comic relief, they were generally gender-confused homicidal freaks.

However, that all started to change in the sixties, thanks to Lou Rand's The Gay Detective (1961) and especially with the publication in 1970 of Joseph Hansen's Fade Out, featuring a tough-minded, middle-aged insurance investigator, Dave Brandstetter, who just happened to be gay.

Thank God.

Here, then, are a few of the more popular or significant gay, lesbian and transgender eyes...

Gay Men

Arguably the first gay private eye (1961)

And certainly the best. Still.

Lesbians

In tandem with the success of women sleuths in general in the eighties, came the rise of the lesbian eye. Who knew? While Kinsey, Sharon, V.I. et al were assaulting the mainstream bestseller lists, in alternative and women's bookstores, readers first began snapping up lesbian novels featuring lesbian P.I.s by the armful.

Mostly printed by small, independent presses (Naiad, Seal, Crossing, Womansleuth, etc.), lesbian private eyes were soon everywhere. The books weren't always great, and some seemed rather formulaic (by 1989, The Village Voice was snarking that "If it's a Naiiad book, you can bet she'll be in bed with some cute thing by, oh, page 120.").

Still, there was no doubt that the dyke dick had arrived.

  • Kat Guerrera by M.F. Beal

Generally considered the first lesbian eye (1977).

The first lesbian sleuth by a mainstream publisher (1978, in paperback).

One of the first, published in Britain, 1979

The first lesbian eye to be published as a mainstream hardcover (1991)

Transsexuals

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