If there’s a predominant theme in Cole’s book on the history of gay fashion in the twentieth century, it’s that gay fashion is always imperfectly mimetic, a tangled mix of “passing, minstrelization and capitulation”, to quote sociologist Martin P. Levine (pg. 3)
Even before the trial of Oscar Wilde, there was the trial and acquittal of Ernest Boulton (aka “Fanny”) and Frederick Payne (aka “Stella”) in 1871, two homosexual men who were also crossdressers and sex workers (Pg. 15-16). Ever since, those three categories have been conflated in the public mind (sometimes with justification). Gay men have overlapped with and been in fashion dialectic with other marginal groups (sex workers, soldiers, sailors, aristocrats, police, punks, bikers, artists, etc) for a variety of reasons: camouflage, recognition both covert and overt, political statements, defensive intimidation, generational differentiation, heightening male beauty, conspicuous consumption, personal fetishes or parody.
Via Peter Tupper, Gracie Passette