Known for his controversial first novel, City of Night (1963), John Rechy is a Chicano gay writer whose reputation as a documenter of the seedy sexual underworld of hustlers and tricks has set the tone for discussions about his work. Interrogating this characterization, the present article takes up the subtitle to Rechy's sixth novel, The Sexual Outlaw (“a prose documentary”), as a way to analyze the novel's generic and formal choices. While tracing the continuities between this text from 1977 and his earlier best-selling novels, the article locates this genre-bending novel in the context of the boom in LGBT documentaries of the time. Putting Rechy's text in conversation with the contemporaneous documentary Word Is Out (1977), by Peter Adair, the article establishes The Sexual Outlaw as both a response to and a parody of these landmark films, specifically by shedding light on the invisible and oft-forgotten outcasts of the LGBT community, those young outlaws of the working class who cruise and define themselves against the white and affluent “Mr. Middle of the Road” trope so exalted in Adair's documentary.
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Manuel Betancourt; Cruising and Screening John: John Rechy's The Sexual Outlaw, Documentary Form, and Gay Politics. GLQ 1 January 2017; 23 (1): 31–49. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-3672294
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