Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

“If I’d a Knowed: A Gay Writer Writes About Writing and Other Stuff” by Tom Beattie— A Personal Journey

  • Beattie, Tom. “If I’d a Knowed: A Gay Writer Writes About Writing and Other Stuff”, whatdoesitprofit Press, 201
  • A Personal Journey
  • Amos Lassen 
  • Tom Beattie, a man I do not know but should takes us on a personal journey of his self-discovery in self-publishing as he shares thoughts about the world and events he did see and of people he does not know. Since he does not know me either, I can feel free to say whatever I want about him and he will never know. I love his approach to writing especially since I get copies of so many self-published works that should never have been published but we live in a time when everyone writes a book and half of those actually do without realizing that they have no literary talent. I will go out on a limb and state that Tom Beattie does have such talent and I hope that he gets picked up by a legitimate publishing house one day.

The title “If I’d a Knowed” reminds me of the level of English of some college students I taught in Arkansas with the exception that here it has been written in fun. The book is basically a collection of nonfiction memoirs and essays written by Tom Beattie. Beattie always felt he was destined to be a writer and have his works published, but he was certainly ill prepared for what happened when he did publish “Ad Majorem: A Gay Man’s Spiritual Testament”, his autobiographical account of growing up in the shadow of his iconic hero and role model, St. Ignatius of Loyola. Reactions to his autobiography ran from being considered visionary to fanciful and Beattie looked at it in as a learning experience. With his own experience behind him, he chooses to let others know what to expect from the writing and publishing a book. Rather than being appreciative of his look at St. Ignatius , the Jesuits discredited the book. Beattie shares what seemed to work and what didn’t for him. We also get a look at how he feels about contemporary social issues as well as a delightful commentary courtesy of Mark Twain. Beattie concludes with questions over what the next four years may bring for LGBTQs and other minorities in this country.

Beattie is a good writer and I really enjoy the way he seems to make friends with the reader and draws him in. He has a lot to say and he says it well.

 

“Transitioning Together: One Couple’s Journey of Gender and Identity Discovery” by Wenn B. Lawson— Surviving Against the Odds

Lawson, Wenn B. “Transitioning Together: One Couple’s Journey of Gender and Identity Discovery” , Jessica Kinglsley Publishers, 2017.

Surviving Against the Odds

Amos Lassen

“Transitioning Together” is the story of a relationship that survived the odds. There is a difference of twelve’s years between Wenn and Beatrice Lawson, born almost twelve years apart in different countries with different cultures. They were both assigned female gender at birth. However, after nineteen years of marriage and four children, Wenn became part of a same-sex relationship with Beatrice. Beatrice did not know that twenty-two years later, Wenn would transition from female to male. This is a memoir that is unique and honest as it relates the story of Wenn’s transition and Beatrice’s journey alongside him.

Co-written by Wenn and Beatrice, who are both on the autism spectrum, this story gives us a rare look into an older couple’s experience of transition, with particular emphasis on how Beatrice really felt about the changes. We read the true and candid story of the conflicts, challenges and growing celebration can occur when a couple transitions together. Not much research about autism includes aspects of gender and sexuality. This book is a many-layered account of discovering sexuality, exploring gender identity and living with autism. It is the story of overcoming obstacles of two people to find each other and to find themselves and a way to move forward together. This is the love story of Wenn and Beatrice that, through the years, became an exploration of gender and identity. This is the story of Beatrice and Wenn overcoming personal battles to come together as a lesbian couple in the mid-80s (a time when such things were unaccepted); then years later they faced coping again when Wenn realizes that he is a trans man. With the trans movement gaining steam so quickly, this is a very relevant story. This is a candid and beautiful look at the evolution of a relationship.

 

“The Secret Life of a Black Aspie: A Memoir” by Anand Prahlad— Quite a Memoir

Prahlad, Anand. “The Secret Life of a Black Aspie: A Memoir”, University of Alaska Press, 2017.

Quite a Memoir

Amos Lassen

Anand Prahlad was born on a former plantation in Virginia in 1954. He shares his story in this powerful and lyric memoir. Living in silence for the first four years of his life when he didn’t speak, he managed to communicate with the world in which he lived in his own way. Ordinary household objects came to life and the spirits of long-dead slave children were his best friends. He lived in a magical interior world in which “sensory experiences blurred, time disappeared, and memory was fluid”. He emerged slowly, learned to talk and eventually became an artist and educator. His journey took place at the beginning of the consolidated civil rights movement and a turbulent time in America. Here we experience the heights of the Civil Rights Movement and the West Coast hippie movement with Prahlad and we get to a college town where he continues to struggle with racism and its border state legacy. Prahlad’s life is rooted in black folklore and cultural ambience. He gives us new perspectives on autism and more and his book is enlightening and inspiring as we learn what it means to live in the margins of human existence.

“Queer Difficulty in Art and Poetry: Rethinking the Sexed Body in Verse and Visual Culture” edited by Jongwoo Jeremy Kim and Christopher Reed— A New Look at Gender and Sexuality in the Arts

Kim, Jongwoo Jeremy and Christopher Reed (editors). “Queer Difficulty in Art and Poetry: Rethinking the Sexed Body in Verse and Visual Culture”, Routledge, 2017.

A New Look at Gender and Sexuality in the Arts

Amos Lassen

“Queer Difficulty” takes is to a new phase of queer scholarship in this quite expensive volume ($127.50). The editors look at silence, misunderstanding, pleasure, and the effects of phobia in artworks and texts in essays that propose new and surprising ways of understanding the difficulty and even failure of the epistemology of the closet. Instead of treating “queer” as an identity, the writings here see it as an activity and gives us a divergence from previous approaches associated with Lesbian and Gay Studies. The authors here refute the interpretive ease of binaries such as “out” versus “closeted” and “gay” versus “straight,” and see a more opaque relationship of identity to pleasure. The essays range in focus from photography, painting, and film to poetry, Biblical texts, lesbian humor, and even botany. In evaluating the most recent critical theories and introducing them in close examinations of objects and texts, this book looks at the study of verse and visual culture in new and exciting ways.

“Listen, We Need to Talk: How to Change Attitudes about LGBT Rights” by Brian F. Harrison and Melissa R. Michelson— Identity Politics

Harrison, Brian F. and Melissa R. Michelson. “Listen, We Need to Talk: How to Change Attitudes about LGBT Rights”, Oxford University Press, 2017.

Identity Politics

Amos Lassen

During the last thirty years, public support for gay marriage has gained a lot of support having risen from almost nothing to more than a tenth of the population of this country but we must be very careful because American public opinion tends to be impermanent. Although the news cycle might temporarily affect the public’s mood on issues such as abortion, the death penalty, or gun control, public opinion toward these issues has remained constant over decades. There are notable exceptions, however and these are particularly with regard to divisive issues that highlight identity politics.

Do we really understand why people’s minds have changed so quickly and so dramatically on the issue of gay marriage? It isn’t that just that older, more conservative people died and were replaced in the population by younger, more progressive people; people actually changed their minds.

“Listen, We Need to Talk” gives us a new theory, what Brian Harrison and Melissa Michelson call The Theory of Dissonant Identity Priming, about how to change people’s attitudes on controversial topics. Harrison and Michelson conducted randomized experiments all over the United States, many in partnership with equality organizations, including Equality Illinois, Georgia Equality, Lambda Legal, Equality Maryland, and Louisiana’s Capital City Alliance. What they found was that people are often willing to change their attitudes about LGBT rights when they learn that others with whom they share an identity (sports fans or members of a religious group) also support those rights, especially when told about support from a leader of the group, and if they find the information somewhat surprising.

“Fans of the Green Bay Packers football team were influenced by hearing that a Packers Hall-of-Famer is a supporter of LGBT rights. African Americans were influenced by hearing that the Black president of the United States is a supporter. Religious individuals were influenced by hearing that a religious leader is a supporter. And strong partisans were influenced by hearing that a leader of their party is a supporter.” This book provides us with a blueprint for thinking about how to bring disparate groups together over political issues that are contentious. This new theory shows that opponents of issues can change their minds when they listed to persuasive messages regarding disadvantaged groups. “Common social identities can reduce mutual alienation”. Harrison and Michelson give us a powerful explanation for why and how attitudes on same-sex marriage changed so rapidly.

 

“Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community” by John Chaich and Todd Ohlman— Moving Through Labels

Chaich, John and Todd Ohlman. “Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community”, AMMO Books, 2017.

Moving Through Labels

Amos Lassen

John Chaich and Todd Ohlman introduce us to twenty-nine artists who move through labels through the use of fiber and textile. They pay no regard to sexuality, society and the demands of art. Because the fiber-based handicrafts and filled with gender notations and power hierarchies, they are a perfect place to examine taste, role and associations with gay and lesbian culture. Here we look at crochet, embroidery, knitting, macramé, quilting, and sewing provide as the crafts and we check our relations to the traditional home and cultures in which we were raised.

The idea for this book came from an exhibition of the same name, that John Chaich curated in 2014 at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art in New York City. Leslie-Lohman is the first museum in the world that is dedicated to LGBTQ and has a mission to exhibit and preserve that art and foster the artists who create it. This exhibit at the Leslie-Lohman exhibition was the first time these works were shown together and with the purpose of specifically examining the queerness of the collection.

In order to examine how queerness informs each featured artist’s work in fiber and textiles, or vice versa, we have interviewers and interviewees from the worlds of music, fashion, media, dance, museums, and scholarship who are the makers and thinkers themselves. Many of these are members of the queer community and also powerful allies. The dialogues that we read are as fun, challenging, personal, and universal.

 

 

“Dear Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, And Transgender Teacher: Letters Of Advice To Help You Find Your Way” edited by William DeJean and Jeff Sapp— The Voices of Teachers

DeJean, William and Jeff Sapp, editors. “Dear Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, And Transgender Teacher: Letters Of Advice To Help You Find Your Way”, Information Age, 2017.

The Voices of Teachers

Amos Lassen

InDear Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, And Transgender Teacher: Letters Of Advice To Help You Find Your Way” we get the voices of queer educators and calls for educational leaders to be allies in their social justice leadership roles. Answering the prompt of “What have you learned as a queer educator that you believe is essential to the success of current or future gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered educators?”, queer professionals write personal letters to junior queer colleagues and what they write is thoughtful, powerful, poignant, and direct.

The collection of letters includes senior queer professionals, pre‐service teachers who were currently in university courses at the very beginning of their careers, PreK‐12 professionals at the beginning, middle, and end of their careers, administrators, counselors, teacher‐educators at the university level, community educational leaders, lawyers, and heterosexual allies. We hear from early childhood teachers, elementary teachers, middle school and high school teachers representing nearly every content area, special education teachers, GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) leaders, school counselors, university professors of education across various fields of specialization, and activists. Many races and ethnicities are represented as well as eight countries. There are rural professionals and urban professionals. There are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender educators represented. This group of letters represents the intersectionality of queerness in all of its rich splendor.

Table of Contents:

Series Editor’s Preface, Jeffrey S. Brooks

Introduction and Overall Framework, Jeff Sapp and William DeJean.

Queer Leadership, Jeff Sapp.

PART I: PRESERVICE CREDENTIAL CANDIDATES.

Introduction, Jeff Sapp.

Studying to Become a Teacher in a Rural Area: The Obstacles That Get in the Way, Michelle Butters.

The First, Frightening Moment I Came Out: A Diary Entry on a Cold and Rainy Day, Bernie Davern.

Out in the Staffroom, Erin P. Greaves.

PART II: PRE‐K–12 EDUCATORS.

Introduction, Jeff Sapp and William DeJean.

We Are Family: The Role of GLBTIQS Activism in Human Rights Education, Geoff Allshorn.

Coming Out Again, and Again, and Again, Melissa Ash‐Balá.

Transparency, Visibility, and Belonging, Hau Bui.

Come Out, Come Out, Where You Are: Bringing LGBT Matters Out of the Early Childhood Education Closet, Kathy Cloughessy.

From a School Leader of the 21st Century to a Child of the Past and Teachers of the Future, Shaun Dellenty.

On Being a Teacher First and Transgender Second, Itsuki Doi. Know and/of Established Rules, Practices, and Policies, Dora J. Dome.

No More Schoolyard Bullies, Raul Duque.

I Am Free, Lorelei Estrada.

Ten Years of Inqueeries, Tara Goldstein. Advice From Beyond the Closet, Janna Jackson.

That Gay Teacher, Rebecca Langham.

The School Production and Queer Objects of Amusement, Jack Migdalek.

Find Your Bottom Line, Elizabeth Miline‐Kahn.

To Come Out or Not to Come Out: Is it Worth the Risk? Paul Chamness Miller.

Sleeping With a Mosquito, Olivia Noto. Confidence Is the Key, Ginny Taylor.

PART III: COUNSELORS AND MEDIATORS.

Introduction, Carol Sullivan.

Be All of Whom You Are Early and Often, Stuart Chen‐Hayes.

A Toast for Amber and Lauren, Erwin “Sino” Donato.

Coming Out With a Whisper, Osvelio C. Lastre.

PART IV: HIGHER EDUCATION. Introduction, Jeff Sapp.

Queer‐Care, Oxygen Masks, and Other Insights Into Caring for Yourself and Your Queer Students, Fiona J. Benson.

Some Reflections on Working Around Anger and Change for New Queers, Michael Crowhurst.

Who You Are Matters, William DeJean.

Delusions of Mediocrity: Queer Teachers and Business as Usual, Anne Harris.

Down the Rabbit Hole: Learning New Perspectives Around Diverse Genders, Sexes, and Sexualities, Terence Humphreys.

Crossing the Pacific Ocean: A Queer Man of Color’s Journey of Crossing Cultural Borders in Higher Education in the United States. Mitsunori Misawa.

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World: Telling Our Stories With Integrity and Passion, Mara Sapon‐Shevin.

I Wish I Had Read the Faculty Manual: Tips for Queers in the System, Jeff Sapp.

Queers Are Pioneers: Keeping an Open Mind About Education, Paul Venzo.

PART V: ALLIES, ACCOMPLICES, AND COCONSPIRATORS.

Introduction: Acts of Solidarity—Reflections of Ally Work Within Queer School Movements, Elexia McGovernReyes.

From Antiracist to Antiracist Racist, From Ally to Accomplice, Christine Clark and Doris L. Watson.

I Felt the Breeze as You Sprinted by Me, Paul Gorski.

Make Allies, Sonia Nieto.

Answering the Call: We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For, Lorri J. Santamaria.

Conclusion, Jeff Sapp and William DeJean.

About the Editors.

“New Intimacies, Old Desires: Law, Culture and Queer Politics in Neoliberal Times” by Oishik and Jain Dipika— The Last Fifteen Years

Sircar, Oishik and Dipika Jain, editors. “New Intimacies, Old Desires: Law, Culture and Queer Politics in Neoliberal Times”, University of Chicago Press, 2017.

The Last Fifteen Years

Amos Lassen

Great advances strides have been made in the last fifteen years regarding the rights of queer people. At the same times that the community has secured these rights, there has been “the rise of crony capitalism, violent consequences of the war on terror, the hyper-juridification of politics, the financialization of social movements, and the medicalization of non-heteronormative identities and practices” and the election of a president of the United States who is the head of the party that could destroy all of the gains. The LGBT community has to know how to critically read the celebratory global proliferation of queer rights in these neoliberal times.

“New Intimacies, Old Desires” collects answers to the questions that are raised. “The book analyzes laws, state policies, and cultures of activism to show how new intimacies between queer sexuality and a neoliberalism that celebrates modernity and the birth of the liberated sexual citizen, are in fact, reproducing the old colonial desire of civilizing the native. By paying particular attention to race, religion, and class, this volume engages in a rigorous, self-reflexive critique of global queer politics and its engagements, confrontations, and negotiations with modernity and its investments in liberalism, legalism, and militarism—all with the objective of queering the ethics of global politics”.

New From Bruno Gmunder— Coming in March

New From Bruno Gmunder

Coming in March

The international travel guide for gay and bisexual men: the Spartacus International Gay Guide, now in its 46 year, offers tourists not only a worldwide list of bars, hotels, saunas, beaches and self-help groups but also provides an overview of the applicable laws on homosexuality around the world.

The Spartacus International Gay Guide 2017 is published by the Bruno Gmünder publishers and offers on 980 pages around 21,000 useful listings: from bars and hotels as well as saunas to trendy shops in over 135 countries. All the tips, where gay and bisexual men can feel at home on their travels are researched and updated.

Once again at the beginning of this year’s travel and holiday season all of the listed hotels, guest houses, resorts and other accommodation possibilities have been newly researched. More than 900 accommodations in 85 countries came under close scrutiny.

The guide provides extensive information and is richly illustrated. In addition the proven and acclaimed pictogram system helps the reader quickly find information with ease. The bilingual guide is popular world-wide and combines concise information texts with sophisticated colour photography. Each entry contains information on prices, opening and season times as well as full address and contact information. This makes the Hotel Guide near to unrivalled.

 

Beautiful, sensual, and emotional: David Vance’s newest large-scale photography book Emotion – Photographs by David Vance is an homage to the male physique in all its beauty and sensitivity.

 

Bodies, sweat, and a look in the eye: strength, courage, and doubt. Right away, Piero Pompili’s visual and emotional alphabet indicates an œuvre characterized by images of captivating intensity. For fifteen years, the artist has been passionately photographing the world of boxing, frequenting the gyms and practice rings of the borgata in Rome or Naples.

My Brother and His Brother tells the story of 18 year-old Jonas, who throughout his teenage years has been trying to find out about Paul, the brother who died before he was born. Eventually, Jonas discovers that Paul had an intense love aff air with another boy during the last year of his life. His search for truth is related like a mystery where there are loose ends, clues and cliff hangers. A love story that continues.

 

“The Bloomsbury Reader in Religion, Sexuality, and Gender” edited by Donald L. Boisvert and Carly Daniel-Hughes—The Interaction and Influence of Religion, Sexuality and Gender

Boisvert, Donald L. and Carly Daniel-Hughes, editors. “The Bloomsbury Reader in Religion, Sexuality, and Gender”, Bloomsbury, 2017.

The Interaction and Influence of Religion, Sexuality and Gender

Amos Lassen

I have hoped to see a book on religion, sexuality and gender for a long time now and here it is, totally living up to all of my hopes and expectations. It is made up of the key texts in the field and looks at how religion, gender and sexuality interact and how they have impacted, and continue to impact, human culture. It was designed as a textbook for use in a classroom setting but that does not mean that individuals cannot gain a lot from it— it offers thought-provoking selections of some of the most compelling and timely readings available today.

Three are three parts to this volume— Bodies, Desires and Performances and each part thematically looks at the ways in which people have made sense of their religious and sexual experiences, the ways they imagine and talk about gender, sex and the sacred, and the multiple meanings they ascribe to them. Those traditions represented here include indigenous spiritualities, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Asian traditions and new religious movements. There are readings that are more theoretical or historical in nature and these give us wide-ranging contexts for reflection and discussion. Isn’t that what reading is all about?

There are extensive introductions to the book as a whole and to each of the three parts, as well as short paragraphs that contextualize each of the readings. These introductions are extremely helpful in providing context and orientating the reader to some of the broader questions and relevant issues. Each section includes discussion questions for classroom or discussion use; additional readings and resources and there is a glossary of key terms. It is the ideal book about religion and sexuality, religion and gender, or religion and contemporary culture.

The readings come from feminist, gender, and queer studies and we get an introduction to historical and contemporary conversations in these key areas within the study of religion. Dealing with the attitudes of different religious traditions toward sexuality and gender, we have a wonderful introduction and place to start off from. “Bodies” looks at the ambivalent ways in which they have been and are viewed; “Desires” looks at how they are expressed, repressed, and normalized in religious discourse; and “Performances,” which underscores the performative nature of gender and its inherent instability. The readings are all considered “classics”.