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.
Ed Scarpo, the blogger behind Cosa Nostra News and author of Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire, says The Mafia and the Gays is "a worthy addition to your library of books about the Mafia." The History Channel website cited The Mafia and the Gays in its excellent overview of the historic role of organized crime in New York gay bars. Crawford was interviewed by Helen Nianias for VICE and appeared on Mark McNease's podcast about his book, and quoted in an article by Logan Hendrix for the New York Press on the closing of The Candle Bar.
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 which received extensive media coverage including front page stories by John Preston for Bay Windows and Louis Berney for the Boston Gobe.
He attended George Washington University Law School where he was a Notes Editor for the Law Review. After graduating with highest honors as cin 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 Crawford has been blogging about organized crime at Friends of Ours.