LONG BEFORE STONEWALL AND GAY PRIDE, there was such a thing as gay culture, and it was recognized throughout Europe and America. Graham Robb, the brilliant biographer of Balzac, Hugo, and Rimbaud, examines how homosexuals were treated by society and finds a tale of surprising tolerance. He describes the lives of gay men and women: how they discovered their sexuality and accepted or disguised it; how they came out; how they made contact with like-minded people. And he includes a fascinating investigation of the encrypted homosexuality of such famous nineteenth-century sleuths as Edgar Allan Poe's Auguste Dupin and Sherlock Holmes himself. Finally, "Strangers addresses crucial questions of gay culture, including the riddle of its relationship to religion: Why were homosexuals created with feelings that the Creator supposedly condemns? This is a landmark work, full of tolerant wisdom, fresh research, and surprises.