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    Historical Fiction and the Pansy Craze

    By Michele Karlsberg–

    As philosopher and author George Santayana stated, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The study of history is exceptionally important to the health and state of a nation and its people. Notoriously, American schools have focused on teaching students from an Anglo-Saxon perspective, presenting a biased survey of our country’s yesteryears. Marginalized groups such as African Americans, Native Americans, Latin Americans and the American LGBT community struggle to gain meaningful representation in all settings, especially scholastic institutions. 

    A recently passed New Jersey law requires schools to include LGBT history in their curriculum. (Editor’s Note: In California, the similar FAIR Education Act went into effect in 2012.) The Garden State is only the second in the union—behind California—to pass legislation of this kind. Advocates for similar laws purport that exploring the vast contributions LGBT people have made to the country will lessen the high instances of bullying experienced by members of the community. 

    It’s flooring how many Americans are unaware of the rich LGBT history that has helped to shape the country. Even revolutionary movements—like the “Pansy Craze”— have flown under the radar.

    The Pansy Craze

    The Pansy Craze is a pivotal, yet oft overlooked, period in the late 1920s to early 1930s. Gay clubs and drag balls were commonplace, and celebrated, in major U.S. cities. The popularity of these queer establishments facilitated an acceptance that LGBT people would struggle for decades to regain. 

    Not only is this time not acknowledged in schools, but also, it is barely covered in literature, magazines or the arts. It is time to shed light on a period that some would like to keep shrouded in darkness.

    In the City by the Lake

    The historical fiction novel In the City by the Lake seeks to illuminate life on the brink of revolution. Appropriately, In the City by the Lake was written by former high school teacher turned author Taylor Saracen. She has always loved to write, believing that life has the possibility to be its most beautiful when it’s portrayed on the pages of a book. Feeling the need to create and liberate in the midst of the political landscape, she began to pen novels that focus on LGBT protagonists, wanting to honor a community that deserves better representation.

    Narrated by a 21-year-old closeted mobster living in Chicago during the Capone days, In the City by the Lake tells of life during the Pansy Craze and The Great Depression that stalled the trajectory of a burgeoning LGBT movement. 

    While remembering the past is part of the remedy, the means to present it in a generally consumable way is imperative. Through the arts, advocates like Saracen can reach a broader audience, thereby expanding the understanding of times that might otherwise be forgotten.

    Taylor Saracen lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she is a wonderful mother to her 3-year-old twins, a hard worker for 13 Red Media, and a rather adequate wife. For more information:

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBTQI community. This year, Karlsberg celebrates 31 years of successful book campaigns.