This reader brings a social science perspective to an area hitherto dominated by the humanities. Through it, students will be able to follow the story of how sociology has come to engage with gay and lesbian issues from the 1950s to the present, from the earliest research on the underground worlds of gay men to the emergence of queer theory in the 1990s. It brings together classic readings and the work of younger scholars from throughout the English-speaking world. Separate sections cover: theoretical foundations; identity and community making; institutions and social change; and challenges for the future. Each section begins with a brief introduction which gives readers a guide to the readings in that section, contextualizes them and relates them to one another.