Amazon.com Delivers Gay Studies

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Amazon.com Delivers Gay Studies

gay-editor(AT)amazon.com
jeu. 14/10/99 7:31

* "Exile and Pride" by Eli Clare
* "Witness to Revolution" edited by Chris Bull
* "That's Mr. Faggot to You" by Michael Thomas Ford
* "The Kid" by Dan Savage
* "Friends and Family" by Dan Woog
* Amazon.com Presents the Best of the Century

"Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation" by Eli Clare At long last, an essay on the politics and poetics of queer disability. Eli Clare, a poet with cerebral palsy, movingly describes her attempt to climb Mount Adams--not, she points out, as a "supercrip," like the boy without hands who bats .486 on his Little League team, but just as an impaired person who loves to hike: a story about ableism rather than disability. Avoiding easy answers and journalistic sunshine, she recounts the story of the fight for disabled access, touching on the history of the freak show. She tracks the origins of her own tenacity and self-knowledge to her rural Oregon upbringing and the conflicting personality of her father--who sexually abused her but also taught her how to frame a house, how to use a chainsaw. "I think of the words crip, queer, freak, redneck," Clare remarks. "None of these are easy words. They mark the jagged edge between self-hatred and pride, the chasm between how the dominant culture views marginalized peoples and how we view ourselves, the razor between finding home, finding our bodies, and living in exile, living on the metaphoric mountain."

"Witness to Revolution: The Advocate Reports on Gay and Lesbian Politics, 1967-1999" edited by Chris Bull 

Among the radical magazines, news sheets, and bulletins that surfaced in the heady climate of the late 1960s, none can compare with the venerable Advocate, rightly described as "the world's premier chronicle of the lesbian and gay civil rights movement." In "Witness to Revolution," Washington correspondent Chris Bull compiles dozens of trenchant and timely articles on politics from the magazine's first 32 years, ranging from descriptions of bar raids and early, celebratory coverage of the first openly gay elected officials to some of the first (woefully belated) articles on AIDS and, later, the rise of the religious right. Among the selections: John Weir's acid reflections on a ubiquitous symbol of queer activism, "The Red Plague: Do Red Ribbons Really Help in the Fight Against AIDS?" "The ribbon," Weir contends, "has seeped into the national culture like the score from 'My Fair Lady.'" He even spotted one suspended in a glass ball on his mother's Christmas tree, and discovered that "she had traveled all the way to Greenwich Village to find it, sifting through sex toys at the Pleasure Chest. Any charitable gesture that places me at risk of encountering my mother in a sex shop is one that we as a community ought to reconsider."

"That's Mr. Faggot to You: Further Trials from My Queer Life" by Michael Thomas Ford 

 Michael Thomas Ford garnered lots of laughs in 1998 with "Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me and Other Trials of My Queer Life." The follow-up collection of pieces from his syndicated column, "That's Mr. Faggot to You," continues Ford's exploration of contemporary gay life; in the title essay, reports of a teenager who successfully sued his school district for failing to prevent physical and mental abuse by his classmates prompts Ford to recall his own traumatic high school experiences and lead him to recognize that, years later, "he is happier, more successful, and a great deal more attractive" than his classmates. In other essays, he discusses the you-and-me-against-the-world relationship Ford has with his black Labrador, proposes a new line of Christian-friendly action figures (including a Jonah and the Whale Play Set, "appropriate for bath-time use or fun in the pool"), and even manages, despite his uncertainties, to offer an adolescent nephew dating advice (concluding that "guy problems were guy problems, regardless of who the person creating the dilemma was or how many holes she or he had"). "That's Mr. Faggot to You" is a humorous slice of contemporary gay life that's bound at least to elicit a smile from any reader.

"The Kid: What Happened After my Boyfriend and I Decided to Get Pregnant" by Dan Savage 

 Best known for his syndicated sexual advice column, "Savage Love," Dan Savage shares his own story in "The Kid," a hilarious account of his efforts--along with his partner--to adopt a child. (Whoops, make that his boyfriend; Savage can't stand the "genderless" p-word: "Straight people and press organs that want to acknowledge gay relationships while at the same time pushing the two-penises stuff as far out of their minds as possible love 'partner.' I hated it.") Savage doesn't give an inch on the sexuality issue; it's hard to imagine that a homophobic reader would even pick up "The Kid," but if it happened, Savage's unapologetic presentation of his life would quickly scare that reader off. Which isn't to say that he paints a rosy picture of homosexual cohabitation--the very first scene finds Dan's boyfriend, Terry, locking himself in the bathroom after a fight over the music on the car stereo. The misadventures continue through each step of the open-adoption process, in which Dan and Terry get to know their baby's birth mother, and the first few weeks of parenthood. "The Kid" is a wonderful, charming account of real "family values" that proves love knows no limits.

"Friends and Family: True Stories of Gay America's Straight Allies" by Dan Woog 

Dan Woog's inspiring and in some cases astonishing stories of heterosexual activists will banish for a few hours those images of homophobes closing in with pitchforks that television coverage of gay issues so often conjures. Most of these friendly crusaders have conversion stories, moments when they were shaken from their complacency or prejudice, such as 80-year-old Frannie Peabody, who returned from her grandson's funeral in 1984 and helped found the AIDS Project of Portland, Maine. Tom Potter, the former chief of police in Portland, Oregon, announced at his swearing-in ceremony his commitment to fighting racism, sexism, and homophobia; his daughter, also a cop, had come out to him shortly before. Rabbi David Horowitz, whose daughter is a lesbian, keeps 17 gay-related pamphlets on his desk, just in case people want to talk about the issue. Described by one gay activist as "the mother of all moms," Carolyn Wagner sprang to her son's defense after he was beaten in the street, eventually suing the school he had attended and forcing policy changes. Not only have these people helped advance gay rights and visibility, but their involvement with the movement has in many instances helped them as well, they argue, providing a focus--a mission--they may not otherwise have found.

 


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