The Real Rainbow Row: Explorations in Charleston’s LGBTQ History


Though Charleston has a reputation for holding onto the past longer than most other places, it could not avoid the shock of change. Much has been written of the city’s history of civil rights, and its rich African American, women’s, ethnic, and religious past. One of the minority groups long left out of the club has been Charleston’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and other sexual minorities community. It’s not that they haven’t been here all along, making history, contributing greatly to the creation of one of America’s most distinctive cities. But, even now, with so many people out and acknowledged, marching in the streets, being elected to public office, and marrying, there are still discrepancies. There are no statues to LGBTQ people (while some discriminatory statutes linger), and very few official mentions anywhere. While other pasts blaze brightly, there is just a flickering of knowledge about local LGBTQ history.

Historian Harlan Greene digs deep and uncovers a wealth of knowledge about Charleston’s LGBTQ past and present in this fascinating and informative book.

SKU: 978-1-929647-76-7 Categories: , , ,

About the Author

A native of Charleston, Harlan Greene is an award-winning novelist, archivist, and historian. He has served as Assistant Director of the South Carolina Historical Society, Director of the North Carolina Preservation Consortium, Archivist of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston, and is now Scholar in Residence at the College’s Addlestone Library. His novels include Why We Never Danced the Charleston, the Lambda Literary Award winner What the Dead Remember and the Lambda-nominated The German Officer’s Boy. He lectures frequently and has published books and essays on various aspects of Charleston history. A certified tour guide, he chairs the city’s Historical Commission. He manages the South Carolina LGBTQ Oral History, Archives and Outreach Project at the College of Charleston. He is married to Jonathan Ray.

Praise for The Real Rainbow Row

“Praise be Harlan Greene for this fascinating book on Charleston’s LGBTQ history! This lively, documented contribution to the recovery of local sexual and gender history is intriguing and important.”
– Jonathan Ned Katz, author of Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the USA (1976) and The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams (2021).

“Our famed Lammy winner once again has dug deep to excavate a surprising, compelling, and ultimately inspiring collection of queer histories, going back centuries. Harlan Greene’s rich understanding of and abiding affection for his birthplace are palpable, as are his righteous indignation and outright disgust at its phobias, prejudices, and brutal injustices. Both searing indictment and exquisite love letter, The Real Rainbow Row captures Charleston and the South in all their longstanding contradictions, customs, and dissidence.”
– John Howard, author of Truths Up His Sleeve and Men Like That

“Harlan Greene is uniquely qualified to write this book. He unearthed Charleston’s queer history with a novelist’s eye for color and drama, and a historian’s reverence for the truth. I couldn’t have liked it more.”
– Armistead Maupin, New York Times best-selling author of Tales of the City