The Mafia historically controlled gay bars as part of their vice rackets in many cities across the United States including New York and Chicago due to their once illicit status. A common misunderstanding among the general public is that the wise guys were eliminated from the gay bars following the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City. However, organized crime kept a hidden hand -- often through violent means resulting in a few murders -- over many watering holes for the gay community at least into the mid-1980s if not later. Indeed, the Mafia even hijacked gay liberation for political cover and used so-called Auntie Gays -- the Uncle Toms of the gay community -- as frontmen for their bars to evade suspicion. The Mafia and the Gays provides a comprehensive look at the mob's involvement with gay bars from the post-war years through the mid-1980s when federal prosecutors targeted the Outfit in Chicago and the Genovese family in New York for their alleged protection rackets and skimming operations involving some establishments.
Phillip Crawford Jr. is a retired attorney from the New York bar. He attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine from which he graduated with a B.A. in English in 1985. At Bates he was President of the Gay-Straight Alliance in 1983, and spearheaded a campaign to oust military recruiters from the campus for their discriminatory policies against the LGBT community.
He attended George Washington University Law School where he was a Notes Editor for the Law Review. After graduating in 1988 he clerked for Chief Judge Judith W. Rogers on the D.C. Court of Appeals, and then with Judge George H. Revercomb on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. He practiced law for fifteen years in New York City including several years with the plaintiffs’ class action bar, and then retired after exposing his concerns about billing practices. Professor Lester Brickman characterized him in Lawyer Barons as a “whistle blower.”
Since 2009 he has been blogging about organized crime at Friends of Ours, and is the leading authority on the historic role of the Mafia in gay bars. His work has been cited in numerous books including The Mob and the City by Alex Hortis and The Village by John Strausbaugh.