Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

“The Male Nude” by David Leddick— The Beauty of the Male Form

the male nude

Leddick, David. “The Male Nude”, Taschen Books Reprint, 2015.

The Beauty of the Male Form

Amos Lassen

Back in print is David Leddick’s lovely “The Male Nude”. Taschen says, “While the female nude has long played a conspicuous role in western iconography, the male nude has not always enjoyed such adoration. This collection provides an overdue review of material that at one time could only be bought under the counter, beginning with the anonymous erotica of the 19th century. It features the pioneer homoerotic nude photographs of Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden, posing nude youths in classical postures at Taormina in Sicily. It includes illustrations from groundbreaking magazines such as Physique Pictorial, the leading organ of the mid-50s gay scene, and it covers the entire range from classic masters of male nude photography, such as Herbert List, George Platt Lynes or Robert Mapplethorpe, to the pin-up beefcake of the sex magazines”.

the male nude pic

“David Leddick has been an officer in the US army, a dancer with the Metropolitan Opera in New York and creative director of leading cosmetics brands. He has written and edited photographic books and has also been an advertising consultant. He divides his time between Paris, Miami Beach and Montevideo”.

“Uranism and Unisexuality” by Marc-Andre Raffalovich— A Study of Different Manifestations of the Sexual Instinct


Raffalovich, Marc-Andre. “Uranism and Unisexuality”, (Edited by Nancy Erber, William A. Peniston, Philip Healy, Frederick S. Roden), Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

A Study of Different Manifestations of the Sexual Instinct

Amos Lassen

I realize that this book is not for everyone and with its expensive price tag of $105, it is a bit more than most will want to spend. However, we must take notice of it and that is why I am including a small blurb about it.

“Marc-André Raffalovich’s Uranism and Unisexuality is a unique work of early sexology written in French by a gentleman scholar, poet, self-styled scientist of sexuality, and Catholic convert. Never before translated into English, this landmark 1896 study argues for the rights of homosexuals in society and its responsibility to them. Raffalovich draws on history, literature, philosophy, and theology to assert that not only is homosexual orientation morally neutral, it can in fact serve an ethical good”.

“Raffalovich, an acquaintance of Oscar Wilde who famously rescued John (‘Dorian’) Gray when the writer tired of him, was himself a homosexual who bravely transformed his voice to speak publicly at a time when same-sex acts were criminal. He corresponded with all the major specialists of his day and published in scientific venues. This edition provides an introduction, biographical note, and contextualizations for Raffalovich’s many references”.

“And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality” by Mark Segal— A Force for Good

and then I danced

Segal, Mark. “And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality”, Akashic, OpenLens, 2015.

A Force For Good

Amos Lassen

It is quite rare to see an author get wonderful reviews from the gay press and the straight press as well as from some of the major voices in gay activism and literature. Mark Segal certainly does this. Segal has quite a reputation as the dean of American gay journalism over the past five decades. He was there for the Stonewall demonstrations in 1969 to founding the “Philadelphia Gay News” in 1975, and he has entered into TV and politics with a commitment as a tireless LGBT advocate. He is respected by his peers for pioneering the idea of local LGBT newspapers and is one of the founders and former president of both the National Gay Press Association and the National Gay Newspaper Guild. Segal was recently inducted into the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association’s Hall of Fame and was appointed a member of the Comcast/NBC Universal Joint Diversity Board, where he advises the on LGBT issues. He is also president of the dmhFund, though which he builds affordable LGBT-friendly housing for seniors.

This is his memoir and in it he describes his firsthand experience as a teen inside the Stonewall bar during the riots. We writes about his participation with the Gay Liberation Front, and his encounters with celebrities and stars like Elton John and Patti LaBelle. I have read about Segal in other places but nothing is like reading about it as he tells it.

He lets us know that during the early days of the LGBT movement that is was not always easy with the personality conflicts and the different personal agendas. There was infighting over strategies and objectives and many, many challenges. Some of you might remember (I was out of the country but I certainly heard about it) that on December 11, 1973, Mark Segal disrupted a live broadcast of the CBS Evening News when he sat on the desk directly between the camera and news anchor Walter Cronkite and yelled “Gays protest CBS prejudice!” He was taken down to the studio floor by the stagehands on live national television and wrestled this ending LGBT invisibility on television. This was just one of his victories and there were many more battles to fight back then. Segal made it his duty to show the nation who gay people are and that they are our sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers.

Because of Segal and others we have openly LGBT people working in the White House and throughout corporate America. He has helped make it possible for an entire community of gay world citizens to finding the voice that they need to become visible.

Mark Segal moved to New York at the beginning of the gay rights movement and his role in that movement, and his actions behind and in front of the scenes pushed our movement forward. Segal became a newspaper publisher of a major paper and a mover and shaker politically. Most of us will be able to identify with Segal’s story even though his was on a totally different level than most of us. We see how he was a man of determination who did not know fear. He is able to bring history and personal story together to tell the story of his life thus far and he knew how to work the system and did so to make our lives better.

He does tells us that we should never take anything for granted or become complacent about the rights we have. We owe Mark Segal a lot and the best way that we can repay him is to read his book and then hopefully find our place in the movement.

The Big Books for Fall 2015 from



Those with an asterisk have been reviewed here, the rest will be reviewed soon

*Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal by Jay Parini

It seems a new biography of Gore Vidal is released every couple of months, but Jay Parini’s draws on 30 years of friendship with the literary giant, offering a unique peek behind the glittering curtain of Vidal’s lavish life to reveal the complex emotional and sexual truths he kept buried under the surface.
*Then Comes Marriage: United States V. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA by Roberta Kaplan, Lisa Dickey and Edie Windsor

Get an insider’s glimpse of the fight for marriage equality in the United States from Roberta Kaplan herself, the litigator who argued against the Defense of Marriage Act before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. This book is heralded as the “definitive account of one of our nation’s most significant civil rights victories.”


Beards: An Unshaved Story by Kevin Clarke

Bestselling author Kevin Clarke looks at beards from the queer perspective. Need we say more?


*What Color Is Your Hoodie? Essays on Black Gay Identity by Jarrett Neal

Jarrett Neal delves into what it means to be a black gay men in the new millennium, examining classism, racism, representations of the black male body within gay pornography, and patriarchal threats to the survival of both black and gay men.


The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

Read the novel before you see the movie. Loosely based on a true story, The Danish Girl tells the tale of Lili Elbe, a pioneer in transgender history, and the woman torn between staying loyal to her marriage or to her own dreams and desires. Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction, this one is an absolute must-read.


*And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality by Mark Segal

Mark Segal made national news on December 11, 1973 when he interrupted a live broadcast of the CBS Evening News by yelling “Gays protest CBS prejudice!” at none other than Walter Cronkite. He was wrestled to the floor on live national television, an incident often credited as the beginning of the end of LGBTQ invisibility. In his new memoir, Segal looks back on that defining moment in history, as well as the many battles that followed.


*Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men by Jane Ward

From “bro-j0b” author Jane Ward comes Not Gay, a study that thrusts deep into a world where straight guy-on-guy action is not a myth but a reality. From fraternity and military hazing rituals, where new recruits are made to grab each other’s penises and stick fingers up their fellow members’ anuses, to online personal ads, where straight men seek other straight men to masturbate with, Ward examines the long and clandestine history of straight men having sexual encounters with other men.

Until My Heart Stops by Jameson Currier

Assembled from more than fifty works of narrative nonfiction written over a 30 year period, including many published during the height of the AIDS epidemic, this memoir ultimately depicts the story of an artist finding his voice during very difficult times and coming to terms with being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition of excessive thickening of the heart muscle for which there is no apparent cause or cure.
Binge by Tyler Oakley

Pop-culture phenomenon, social rights advocate, and popular YouTuber, Tyler Oakley brings you his first collection of witty, personal, and hilarious essays that will have you LOLing.


*Don’t Tell Me to Wait: How the Fight for Gay Rights Changed America and Transformed Obama’s Presidency Hardcover by Kerry Eleveld

Gay rights has been a defining issue of Barack Obama’s presidency. Former Advocate reporter Kerry Eleveld examines in fascinating detail Obama’s evolution on the matter, and explains how it took intense pressure from LGBTQ activists to evolve from cautious gradualist to the equality champion he is today.

“A Taste for Brown Bodies: Gay Modernity and Cosmopolitan Desire” by Hiram Perez— The Role of Race in Queer Theory

a taste for brown bodies

Perez, Hiram. “A Taste for Brown Bodies: Gay Modernity and Cosmopolitan Desire”, NYU Press, 2015.

The Role of Race in Queer Theory

Amos Lassen

It is interesting to note that neither queer theory nor queer activism has fully dealt with race as part of its studies. Hiram Perez’s new book, “A Taste for Brown Bodies”, explores the development  of gay modernity and its “romanticization of the brown body”. His focus is on three figures with elusive queer histories—the sailor, the soldier, and the cowboy and he shows what he considers to be “heroic masculinity” and how these influenced and became the agents for the expansion of “the US borders and neocolonial zones of influence”.

Perez describes what he calls “an enduring homonationalism that goes back to the late 19th century and the “birth” of he homosexual. dating to the “birth” of the homosexual and shows that American imperialist expansion was visualized for and through gay men. He does this through the analysis of literature, film, and photographs from the 19th to the 21st  centuries. He looks at Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Anne Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain”, James Baldwin’s “Going to Meet the Man” and others as well as photos of abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison and proposes that modern gay male identity, often traced to late Victorian constructions of “invert” and “homosexual,” occupies not just the periphery of the nation but instead a cosmopolitan position that was necessary for projects such as war, colonialism, and neo-liberalism. Practices and subjectivities that we understand historically as forms of homosexuality have been since regulated and normalized as an extension of the US nation-state and show the complex participation of gay modernity within US imperialism. Ultimately Perez shows the coming together of cosmopolitanism and homosexuality. While this was written basically as a scholarly text, the beautiful prose and the convincing arguments make this readable for all who are interested. I am sure that this will engender debate.

Below is a look at the Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

  1. The Queer Afterlife of “Billy Budd” 25
  2. “Going to Meet the Man” in Abu Ghraib 49
  3. The Global Taste for Queer 77
  4. You Can Have My Brown Body and Eat It, Too! 97
  5. Gay Cowboys Close to Home 125
  6. Notes 153
  7. Bibliography 163
  8. Index 169
  9. About the Author 179

“Modernity’s Ear: Listening to Race and Gender in World Music” by Roshanak Khesti— Salvaging and Understanding Our Music

modernity's ear

Kheshti, Roshanak. “Modernity’s Ear: Listening to Race and Gender in World Music”, NYU Press, 2015.

Salvaging and Understanding Our Music

Amos Lassen

We are all certainly aware that the disappearance of indigenous cultures has forced twentieth-century American ethnographers to look to the phonograph to salvage native languages and musical practices.  These early “song catchers” were white women of comfortable class standing, similar to the female consumers targeted by the music industry as the phonograph became increasingly present in bourgeois homes. It is interesting that listening to music was once constructed as “a feminized practice, one that craved exotic sounds and mythologized the ‘other’ that made them”.

In this new study, Roshanak Kheshti examines the ways in which racialized and gendered sounds became fetishized and, in turn, capitalized on by an emergent American world music industry through the promotion of an “economy of desire”. Using a mixed-methods approach that uses both anthropology and sound studies, Kheshti locates sound as both representative  and constitutive of culture and power. By analyzing film, photography, recordings, and radio, as well as ethnographic fieldwork at a San Francisco-based world music company, Kheshti politicizes the feminine in the contemporary world music industry.  The use of critical theory to read the fantasy of the feminized listener and feminized organ of the ear, “Modernity’s Ear” ultimately explores the importance of pleasure in constituting the listening self.

The book gives us an astute look into the world music culture industry through the lens of ethnographic entrapment and phonographic subjectivity. We see an exploration of the nexus between bodies and sounds at the intersection of racial and gender identities and these make a crucial point about phonographic listening as “an important venue for performative and philosophical reflection.”- The book is an unsettling of the gendered and racial assumptions we make about sound and listening. By pushing the limits of queer studies and critical race studies, Kheshti opens the listening ear and retunes theoretical approaches so that we can consider not only the way race sounds but how it is configured as sensually ‘other.’  

Below is a look at the Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix

Preface: Playing by Ear xv

Introduction 1

  1. The Female Sound Collector and Her Talking Machine 15
  2. Listen, Inc.: Aural Modernity and Incorporation 39
  3. Losing the Listening Self in the Aural Other 65
  4. Racial Noise, Hybridity, and Miscegenation in World Music 82
  5. The World Music Culture of Incorporation 108
  6. Epilogue: Modernity’s Radical Ear and the Sonic Infidelity of Zora Neale Hurston’s Recordings 125

Notes 143

References 165

Index 173

About the Author 179

“Ace and Proud: An Asexual Anthology” by A.K. Andrews— Asexuality

ace and proud

Andrews, A.K. “Ace and Proud: An Asexual Anthology”, Purple Cake Press, 2015.


Amos Lassen

It was only recently that I ever heard of asexuality and the movement of asexual persons. A. K. Andrews defines an asexual as “someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy, which people choose, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who we are.” Here in this anthology we get seventeen true stories about asexuality and learn that it is no surprise that we have not heard much about it before.

This is an anthology of seventeen true stories by real people about asexuality — the invisible sexual (or in this case non-sexual) orientation that everyone’s heard of, but few actually talk about or understand.

Here is a synopsis of the contents of the book:

Foreword by Victoria Beth (AVEN Project Team)

“My Self-discovery, Thus Far”—Rebecca Nesor shares her experience as a 21st century asexual teenager, which involves an amusing anecdote about phone shopping and Minecraft.

“A Geeky Love Story”—Suma walks us through the romantic tale of how sie joined a comics group looking for friendship and good times, and ended up falling in love.

“Growing Up”—Phil Dalton offers a series of vignettes stretching over 30 years, from his childhood to the present day, about his attempts to fit into a sexual society.

“Coming Out”—Melissa Keller explains why she has chosen not to come out to her friends and family, and explores the struggles that many asexual people face when coming out.

“Being ‘Normal’ Is Overrated Anyway”—Ren describes how she discovered she wasn’t as “normal” as she’d thought, and how she’s come to embrace her asexuality.

“Finding Grace”—Betty Badinbed reflects on the 20+ years of relationships—brief and lengthy, platonic and romantic, failed and successful—which have helped her hone her gray-ace identity.

“Black Women Can Be Asexual Too”—Gabriella Grange explores her experiences as a black asexual young woman, including a sweet story about a handsome cellist and their shared passion for philosophy.

“Fixing What Isn’t Broken”—Emma Hopwood shares a humorous piece of prose poetry about how tough it is to be asexual in a sexual world.

“I Just Don’t Get It”—Jennifer Dyse offers insight into how hard it is to navigate school and relationships as an asexual, and the dangers that can come from trying too hard to be “normal.”

“An Asexual Teen”—Kaya Brown ruminates on her experiences as an asexual teen, on coming out to her mother, and on dealing with distrust from adults who don’t understand asexuality.

“Dream Guy”—Cionii shares a poem about inner beauty.

“It’s All Asexual To Me”—Jarrah Shub describes how learning about her asexuality early in her teenage years has helped her be more self-assured and happy with who she is.

“When I Grow Up”—Shannon Brown debunks the myth that “everyone wants to have sex,” and describes the various ways she’s come out to her high school friends.

“Just A Small Town Boy”—Cameron explains how growing up in a small town shaped his knowledge of sexuality, and how discovering asexuality has helped him better understand himself.

“Coming Out To Myself: Not A Piece Of Cake”—Ennis discusses her journey, as a young lady with Asperger’s syndrome, toward accepting her aromantic and asexual identity.

“Copper Weddings”—Martin Spangsbro-Pedersen explains why he cast off his gay identity to instead identify as asexual, and describes his experiences as an activist within Denmark’s LGBTQ+ community.

“My Happily Ever After”—Cecily Summers explains how her definition of her own “happily ever after” changed after she identified herself as asexual.

To find out more about asexuality, please visit the AVEN website ( To find out about future Ace and Proud projects, please visit

“It’s Life Jim…. A journey to sexual and spiritual reconciliation via the road, of fundamentalist religion” by Jim Marjoram— The Conflicts

its life Jim

Marjoram, Jim. “It’s Life Jim…: A journey to sexual and spiritual reconciliation via the road, of fundamentalist religion”, A D S, Inc., 2015.

The Conflicts

Amos Lassen

Jim Marjoram has lived a life filled with conflicts and the most basic one that he has faced has dealt with the conflict of being attracted to his own sex and how his religion looks at that. He has had to deal with the traditions of fundamentalist Christianity while trying to find freedom and truth. He actually went through “reparative” therapy in an attempt to become normal and he became a leader and example of ex-gay ministries while knowing that they were ineffective. He married twice and those marriages failed as everything else around him seemed to be falling apart. He has discovered that self-acceptance, peace and love beyond the walls of religious dogma actually do exist.

In his book he takes us on his journey as he fights with homosexuality, self-hatred, religious obsession, suicidal desperation, guilt, shame, loss, and ultimately finds a world of unconditional love and acceptance. “It’s a spiritual journey that breaks through tradition and dogma to discover the depth of what it means to live loved”. Reading this is like sitting with the author and he tells us what he wrote. Here is another story of one who was rejected by his church because of who he dared to love. Jim made the error of thinking that the church and God were one and the same and that he had been rejected by God. Often people equate the Church with God and end up feeling rejected by God.

This is a story about how living by the rules can cause heartbreak and low self-esteem. We read a lot about issues that many of us have dealt with and how rebellion is the only way to walk away from them.

The beauty of the book is the honesty with which it is written. Jim’s experience was certainly not unique and he wrote this book to encourage others to accept who they are.

“Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family” by Amy Ellis Nutt— Understanding, Nurturing and Celebrating

Becoming Nicole

Nutt, Amy Ellis. “Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family”, Random House, 2015.

Understanding, Nurturing and Celebrating

Amos Lassen

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to se if I am dreaming or if America has really changed the way it feels about the LGBT community. Even living in Massachusetts where everything has been wide open for years now, it is hard to believe that it has really happened. Now we see the move to more transgender inclusion and more transgender people are sharing their stories—stories that some ten years ago few people heard or were even aware of. “Becoming Nicole” is an inspiring true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother and her family—an ordinary American family and its journey to understanding and acceptance.

Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical male twins and they thought that they would be a happy family and all would be fine. However, it did not quite work out that way. It did not take a long time before they noticed that there was a definite difference between twins Noah and Wyatt. Jonas preferred sports and trucks and many of the things that little boys are “supposed” to like while Wyatt liked princess dolls and dress-up and playing Little Mermaid. By the time they were toddlers, there was confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female and this began to tear the family apart. The Maines grew up at a time when gender roles were not questioned and kids did what their gender did. But now they saw something was not as it was expected to be and they came to think about their own views about gender and identity and eventually were able to accept and even celebrate Wyatt’s transition into Nicole. It was not easy and they underwent a transformation themselves and all of the lives of the members of the Maines family changed forever.

This book is a chronicle of the journey they took—a journey that just as easily could have destroyed a family but this time it brought them together. This is the story of a mother who sensed that her child needed love and acceptance and of a father, a member of the Republican Party and an Air Force veteran who was able to face his deepest fears and overcome them and become an advocate for transgender rights. It is also the story of a brother who stuck up for his sister and it is the story of a town that was forced to face its prejudices, the story of a school that had to change and rewrite the rules and the story of a community of transgender activists who were going to have their voices heard. Above all it is the story of Nicole, a girl who fought to be who she is.

I know that there are many who have a difficult time with transgender issues and I myself am one of those. As a gay male I really never understood the whole concept of someone being transgender and then my niece became my nephew and my mind was opened up. Because I had been out of the country for many years I only new my niece as a baby girl. Coming the states and meeting him now was like meeting an entire new person and I really had to work on myself to try to understand what he was going through (with the pronouns being one of the most difficult problems to deal with). Of course it was a good deal easier for me because I had not been around during the formative years but the shock was still great.

Author Amy Ellis Nutt had access to personal diaries, home videos, clinical journals, legal documents, medical records, and the Maines themselves. She spent almost four years reporting as she immersed herself into the lives of the family members who were simply an American family confronting an issue that is at the center of today’s cultural debate. This is a book that speaks to anyone who has ever been a parent or felt that he/she did not fit the mold that society had prepared. It also speaks to those who have had to undergo a great shock and then embrace the result that had not been planned for. Here is a story about standing up for one’s beliefs and for him/herself.

While quite basically this is a look at a family struggling with a transgender child, it is also a look at acceptance—of one another and of ourselves in everyway possible. The journey that this family took was one toward both justice and authenticity and here we see what the goal of this great country should be— a nation in which all of its citizens—mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters find the courage and the love to be who they really are.

Nicole asks, “Why IS it such a big deal to everyone what somebody has in their pants?” There is a bit of irony in the question because in Nicole’s story it is important. We meet the Maines family— Nicole, her twin brother Jonas, mom Kelly, and dad Wayne and see them as a typical middle class American family. The parents work, the children go to school just like everyone else in the town where they live. But they also have had to deal with Nicole’s Gender Dysphoria, a medical condition whereby a person does not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. Wayne and Kelly Maines discover that they don’t have two sons at all, but a son and a daughter. This was really difficult for Wayne but his journey took him to love and acceptance for his daughter. His story is powerful and how he got to where he is today is important. There are other lessons in this book and all we have to do is be willing to read them and to try to understand. To do so is to be true to who you are and to those around you.

“Reframing Decadence: C. P. Cavafy’s Imaginary Portraits” by Peter Jeffreys— Influences on the Poet

reframing decadence

Jeffreys, Peter. “Reframing Decadence: C. P. Cavafy’s Imaginary Portraits”, Cornell University Press, 2015.

Influences on the Poet

Amos Lassen

In the 1870s, Cavafy was a young man who was in awe of and enthralled by the aesthetic movement of cosmopolitan London. During that time he came into contact with both the art and the personalities of the pre-Raphaelite painters (including Burne-Jones and Whistle) and the works of aesthetic writers who were bringing about a revolution in British literary culture. They used influences from France that eventually became part of a universal movement that was known for its decadence.

Peter Jeffreys takes us to this time of Cavafy’s life and he shows how this period influenced his work and how it shows what he owes to the avant-garde aesthetes of France and England. The impact on his was profound and while keeping this in mind, Jeffreys reappraises Cavafy’s relationship to the aestheticism of Victorian England as well as French literary decadence.

Cavafy was held captive by the decadence of the decline of Rome, the rise of Christianity and the end of the Byzantine Empire. Walter Pater who wrote about the Renaissance as well as essays on art influenced Cavafy’s views on classical and late-antique history by the overt use of homoeroticism. Cavafy took this from him and made it his own and in doing so he created an important

touchstone for his own historicizing poetry. Cavafy eventually moved beyond Pater and explored a more openly homoerotic sensuality but he never quite abandoned this rich Victorian legacy, one that contributed greatly to his emergence as a global poet. Jeffreys looks at Cavafy’s current popularity as a gay poet and his curious relation to kitsch as manifest in his ongoing popularity via translation and visual media.

Here we see Cavafy as a deeply culturally engaged cosmopolitan writer. Peter Jeffreys shows how Cavafy’s early stays in Britain and France gave him an intense foundation in an ongoing decadent that was becoming countercultural force in British and French writing, painting, and criticism. This book carefully explores “Cavafy’s fitful journalistic and literary career, the museum and gallery works he would have undoubtedly encountered during his London sojourn, and the contemporary texts he might have read as an exile in Britain.”

Until this book came along we knew very little about Cavafy’s adolescence in England and much of his creative life in Alexandria. Here we have a work that is held as true through genealogy and ethnography. We see here that Cavafy was raised in a place that shaped his technique and sensibility and encouraged him “to be sexually bold and shameless”.