(American Culture and Institutions Through Literature, 1960-1969)

Crowley’s play, radically new in 1968, was extremely popular in its original New York City production and enjoyed another successful run in London before being released as a feature film in 1970. The play was enjoying commercial success as the Stonewall Inn riots launched the gay liberation movement in the summer of 1969 in Greenwich Village, New York City, and for many years the play was performed in regional, community, and college theaters around the United States as the gay rights movement gained momentum. With its significant popular success, The Boys in the Band set a precedent for stage and film honesty in succeeding decades, paving the way for sympathetic portrayals and increasing tolerance of homosexual characters and the homosexual lifestyle. For example, Terrence McNally’s widely popular 1994 award-winning Broadway play, Love! Valor! Compassion!, certainly has its roots in Crowley’s groundbreaking comedy. The Boys in the Band became somewhat dated in subsequent decades because of its politically incorrect caricature of Emory and its pre-AIDS tolerance of sexual promiscuity.