George Chauncey (born 1954)[1] is a professor of history at Columbia University. He is best known as the author of Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890–1940.

George Chauncey at "The Future of the Queer Past" conference at the University of Chicago in 2000

Academic career

Chauncey speaks in 2022

Chauncey received his bachelor's in 1977 in history and later his Ph.D. in 1989 in history from Yale University, where he studied with Nancy Cott and David Montgomery. From 1991-2006, he taught in the Department of History at the University of Chicago, rising from assistant professor to full professor of history. In 2006, he joined the Yale faculty. He subsequently joined Columbia University's Department of History in 2017.[2][3] Chauncey additionally spent time as the director of the Columbia Research Initiative on the Global History of Sexualities, focusing on literature that researched gender and sexuality. [citation needed]

In 1992, Chauncey spent time serving on the American Council of Learned Societies, a non-profit organization that provides fellowships and scholarships for young aspiring students in history and other educational fields. In 1996 Chauncey also spent time serving on the National Humanities Center, a non-profit organization that focuses on building the study of humanities at a national level.[citation needed]

Between the years 2005 and 2007, Chauncey was elected to serve as a member of both Society of American Historians in 2005, and later to New York Academy of History in 2007.[citation needed]

In his later years, Chauncey spent time working as a consultant on historical research projects as well as lecture series in New York City and Chicago.[citation needed]



Chauncey’s book Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890–1940 was published in 1994 to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. It combined social, political, and cultural history. Using newspaper accounts from a wide variety of mainstream and underground publications, the archives of reform organizations, police and court records, popular cartoons and caricatures, guidebooks, and maps, Chauncey argues that early twentieth-century New York had a thriving, open gay culture. According to Chauncey, it was not until the 1930s and afterward that a strict regime of policing gay male sexuality emerged. It was in this period, he contends, that homosexual behavior began to move underground. [citation needed]

The book was acclaimed [by whom?] for several original findings, among them the malleability of sexual identities, the use of house concerts as covers for sexual activity, a discussion of the "pansy craze", and the relative novelty of the category of "closeted" gay men.

Chauncey wrote a historical defense of gay marriage. [needs context]

In the 1990s he conducted interviews and collected material for a history of gay New York from the mid-twentieth century to the present. This work has yet to be published.[4]



Chauncey’s first national accolade was won in 1987 when he received the Samuel Golieb Fellowship in Legal History from the New York University School of Law. This fellowship awards young law students and historians research support to help fund their projects and literature work.[citation needed]

In 1997, Chauncey was the recipient of the Sprague Todaes Literary Award for his book "Gay New York", which rewards authors who create a powerful piece of work on LGBTQ+ history.[citation needed]

In 2000, Chauncey was the recipient of the first James Brudner Memorial Award in Lesbian and Gay Studies during his time teaching at Yale University. The purpose of this award is to bring the national spotlight to Chauncey's accomplishments and breakthroughs in the LGBTQ+ field of history.[citation needed]

In 2004, Chauncey received the Community Service Award, Lesbian Community Cancer Project in Chicago, which rewarded his work in offering support and one on one conversations with lesbian women battling cancer.[citation needed]

Expert testimony


Chauncey has testified as an expert witness in over thirty major gay rights cases, and was the organizer and lead author of the Historians' Amicus Brief in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which weighed heavily in the Supreme Court's landmark decision overturning the nation's remaining sodomy laws. In that brief, Chauncey argued for the historical specificity of understandings of sodomy, challenging the reasoning in Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) that antisodomy laws were an enduring feature of the American legal system. [citation needed]

Chauncey testified as an expert witness in the California Proposition 8 case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, on behalf of the successful plaintiffs.[5] The decision cited Chauncey's testimony on a dozen issues of fact or points of law that were relevant to the case.[5]

Chauncey also served as an expert witness in Romer v. Evans on May 20, 1996 in the state of Colorado. Voters in Colorado chose to instill the 2nd Amendment, which discriminated against members of the LGBTQ+ community by preventing them from receiving judicial or legislative action (protection) from the federal government. A gay civil rights movement ensued, and members of the LGBTQ+ community won the trial against the state of Colorado in a 6-3 decision. It was determined that the 2nd amendment was discriminatory against a certain group, therefore causing the supreme court to overturn the ruling. [citation needed]


  • Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890–1940. Basic Books, 1994. 478 pp. ISBN 0-465-02621-4
  • Why Marriage? The History Shaping Today's Debate Over Gay Equality. Basic Books, 2005. 224 pp. ISBN 0-465-00958-1


  1. ^ "The University of Chicago Magazine: August 2003". Retrieved March 5, 2012.
  2. ^ "Chauncey, George | Department of History - Columbia University". 11 July 2017. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  3. ^ "Chauncey, Gregg to leave Yale after 11 years". Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  4. ^ Chauncey, George (1994). Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Makings of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940. New York: Basic Books. p. 23.
  5. ^ a b Perry v. Schwarzenegger, at 20-21, 29-30, 71, 85, 93, 96, 97, 99-110, 134. Found at on MSNBC media website Archived 2011-06-14 at the Wayback Machine, at pp. 22-23, 31-32, 73, 87, 95, 98, 99, 101-111, 136. Accessed August 4, 2010.
  • Richardson, Kalia. 2022. "The Historian George Chauncey Wins the Kluge Humanities Prize."[1]
    • This source dives into Chauncey's achievements surrounding his LGBTQ studies.
  • Hond, Paul. 2022 "Honoring George Chauncey, a Scholar of Gay History". Columbia Magazine[2]
    • This source researches the life of Chauncey, and his work completed as a writer.
  • Stack, Brian. Boag, Peter. 2018. "George Chauncey's Gay New York: A view from 25 years later". Cambridge University[3]
    • This source provides a relatively non-bias viewpoint of George Chauncey's book Gay New York, and how it was received from an audiences perspective.
  • Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame. 1999. Lesbian Community Community Cancer Project[4]
    • This source provides information regarding Chauncey's time volunteering in the Lesbian Community Community Cancer Project.
    • Freedberger, Peter. NYU Law. "Golieb Fellowship in Legal History"[5]

Further reading

  1. ^ "'Lego' chemistry that joins molecules wins this year's Nobel Prize". AAAS Articles DO Group. 2022-10-05. doi:10.1126/science.adf1105. Retrieved 2022-12-09.
  2. ^ Cohen, Lizabeth; Chauncey, George (September 1997). "Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940". The Journal of American History. 84 (2): 685. doi:10.2307/2952659. ISSN 0021-8723. JSTOR 2952659.
  3. ^ Stack, Brian; Boag, Peter (2018-12-07). "George Chauncey'sgay New York:a View from 25 Years Later". The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. 18 (1): 120–132. doi:10.1017/s1537781418000622. ISSN 1537-7814. S2CID 165445652.
  4. ^ Boehmer, Ulrike (2015), "Breast Cancer in Lesbian and Bisexual Women", Cancer and the LGBT Community, Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 141–157, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-15057-4_9, ISBN 978-3-319-15056-7, retrieved 2022-12-09
  5. ^ "INTRODUCTION. Toward a Theory of Women's Legal History", Law, Gender, and Injustice, New York University Press, pp. 1–20, 2020-12-31, doi:10.18574/nyu/9780814773260.003.0006, ISBN 9780814773260, retrieved 2022-12-09