Banned from California

-Jim Foshee-

Persecution, Redemption, Liberation ... and the Gay Civil Rights Movement


The life of Jim Foshee

Be transported back 70 years. This is the true story of a 15-year-old gay runaway who finds himself in the 1950s Los Angeles underground world of homosexuals and early queer culture. Experience Jim Foshee's adventures on the West Coast after hitchhiking from his home 800 miles away from a small Idaho town. Jim lives on the edge. Through his adventures and misadventures, he finds himself among kind-hearted strangers, kindred souls and drag queens as well as con artists, liars and ruthless cops.

At a younger age, Jim is institutionalized:

  • placed in an orphanage by his mother;
  • sentenced to a reform school because he runs away so much; and
  • committed to a mental hospital for diagnosed "sexual deviation and sociopathic personality."

Jim just wants to break away and live a simple gay life, but his destiny first includes run-ins with authorities, incarceration, and toiling on a prison chain gang. Be ready for a unique and personal journey you won't soon forget. Jim's vivid remembrances paint a first-hand intimate portrait of times now gone—times of McCarthyism, government hunts for homosexuals and routine firings; but also times of the beats, the hippies and liberation protests.

Experience this exciting part of history seen through the eyes of this gay American.


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This biography is an intimate portrait of gay life in the 1950s and beyond into a new millennium. It takes readers on a unique and personal journey through a part of American history experienced by Jim Foshee.



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Dreaming California: The Life of Jim Foshee

Steele draws you in with the first chapter, California Here I Come, taken out of an otherwise chronological context, describing Foshee’s first of many escapes from the confines of religious and heteronormative suffocation in a small Idaho town.

In Hollywood at 15 Foshee finds himself, if not his dream, only to be arrested and expected to finger an adult who befriended him.

But for Foshee the euphoria obtained by on-the-edge existence was a smack that smote him: flagellation, ostracization, incarceration, starvation, prostitution.

Banned from California has the quality of an oral history because of author Steele’s access to many interviews of Foshee that he conducted—and fact-checked. And so the book has a remarkable amount of detail; too much, some might say. There’s also a fair amount of repetition. But those are minor faults in a work that is quite readable on several levels. Students of history, culture, penology, sexuality (and fluidity), consanguinity, criminology, and the politics and compassion of resistance will want to pick this up. But don’t take my word for it. Steele has posted that gripping Chapter 1 on the book’s website

   ~ David Hughes, The Tangent Group


Amazing experience. One of the best LGBT books I ever read

LIFE changing story that took me back 60 years to Arizona, California and Texas to a time when young gay men were seen as second class citizens and the American Psychological Association still considered being gay a mental illness. This book is actually a TRUE story of a young gay Jim Foshee, put into a 1960’s prison chain gang and surviving the underground world being gay in the 1950’s and how Jim changed gay rights today. Kudos to the author for telling Jim’s amazing story and keeping the history and struggles of the early gay rights movement alive today.

   ~ Customer Reviewer, Emmanuel, San Diego


Wonderful Biography

Jim Foshee was an intrepid community-based researcher of LGBT history who, long before historic newspapers and books were digitized, read through them page by dusty page, and sent me amazing discoveries, enriching my own work to recover an unknown past. I’m delighted that Jim’s own fascinating, poignant history is now honored in this wonderful biography.

  ~ Jonathan Ned Katz, author, Gay American History, Gay/Lesbian Almanac and Love Stories


Very smooth and comfortable read

A fascinating adventure tale of a life with twists at every turn. Provocative, compelling and fascinating. What an incredibly open and honest connection with a culture that gets far too little exposure on such an intimate and personal level. Jim’s story is an adventure of a lifetime but one that came with many struggles and enlightenments. The flow between the narrative and Jim’s quoted messages made this such a fluid read. The photos added just the needed visuals to bring Jim’s life into even greater focus. It is people like Jim and the people he shared his life with that make this book really tough to lay down.

  ~ Charles, ebay reviews



This story recounts the life of a gay man born in the late 1930s. He is defiant and resilient, flawed and complicated. This touching narrative left me feeling that I belong to a lineage of older, passed, LGBT individuals who lived in the complex, troubled, gay humanity of the 1940s, 1950s and beyond—embedded with burden yet conquered through perseverance.

  ~ Dr. Ramon Silvestre, GLBT Historical Society, San Francisco


Banned from California: A Gay teen in the 1950s

1950s gay teenager runs away from home and begins an adventure that totally changes his life. He was part of the underground world of homosexuals and early queer subculture. His story reminds us that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.

   ~ Amos Lassen,



About the Author

Robert C. Steele served as a reporter and producer at various radio and television stations in Colorado and Arizona. He was a broadcaster at the Italian National Broadcasting Company (RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana) in Naples, Italy; was a reporter for Armed Forces Radio and Television along the coast of Vietnam, the Asian Western Pacific and Vicenza, Italy; was a volunteer and activist in the early gay liberation movement with the Gay Coalition of Denver and with two weekly gay radio shows in Colorado. Later, as a federal government public affairs officer, he served as a government spokesperson and managed media relations with reporters who worked for media outlets from across the USA and around the world.