Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

“Samuel Steward and the Pursuit of the Erotic” edited by Debra A. Moddlemog and Martin Joseph Ponce— Criticism and Commentary

Moddlemog, Debra A. and Martin Joseph Ponce (editors). “Samuel Steward and the Pursuit of the Erotic”, Ohio State University Press, 2017.

Criticism and Commentary

Amos Lassen

“Samuel Steward and the Pursuit of the Erotic” is a collection of essays that offers criticism and commentary that engages about some of the most pressing theoretical problems of our time. These include the increasingly apparent inadequacy of the concept of ‘sexual identity’ itself and is a wonderful look at interdisciplinary collaboration. It examines issues such as erotics of racial difference, pornography, BDSM, and sexual fantasy as the essays refocus attention on erotic practice. It also looks at Samuel Steward, a neglected figure whose life and work have a great deal to offer queer studies scholars. Stewards was one of the most fascinating sexual renegades of the twentieth century and the dealt with social, cultural, pedagogical, and erotic projects. The essays contained here are daring and controversial as we read about Steward as a writer, literature professor, visual artist, tattoo artist, sexual archivist, unofficial sexologist, and vernacular pornographer. In doing so, voice is given to some of the central concerns of twentieth-century U.S. gay culture and politics. Steward was as an associate and/or a lover of well-known luminaries and was a significant cultural figure in his own right, a man who sensed some of the current aims and methods of queer studies. Below is a look at the Table of Contents:

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Martin Joseph Ponce and Debra A. Moddelmog

  1. Archives: Indexing, Saving, Hoarding

1     Sam Steward’s Pornography: Archive, Index, Trace

Tim Dean

2     Ungilting the Gold Star Gay

Aren Z. Aizura and Emmett Ramstad

3     On Late-Life Samuel Steward

Scott Herring

  1. Writings: Sexology, Mysteries, Essays

4     Samuel Steward’s Autoethnographic Sexology

Debra A. Moddelmog

5     The Mysteries of Samuel Steward and Gertrude Stein, Private Eyes

Karen Leick

6     “Foibles and Fripperies, Reminiscences and Tributes”: Reading Samuel Steward’s Lost Chicago Essays

Jeremy Mulderig

III. Desires: Masochism, Race, Pornography

7     “Queerest of the Queer: Why Samuel Steward’s Masochism Matters

Jennifer Burns Bright

8     “Revisiting Racial Fetishism: Interracial Desire, Revenge, and Atonement in Samuel Steward’s Stud

Martin Joseph Ponce

9     “The Law of Pornography: John Rechy and Samuel Steward

Steven Ruszczycky

  1. Recollections

10     “Remembering Sam

Michael Williams

Bibliography
Contributors
Index

“The First Amendment and LGBT Equality” by Carlos A. Ball— The Contentious History of Equal Rights

Ball, Carlos A. “The First Amendment and LGBT Equality”, Harvard University Press, 2017.

The Contentious History of Equal Rights

Amos Lassen

The conservative opponents of LGBT equality in the United States often base their opposition on the claims of free speech, free association, and religious liberty. Many LGBT supporters see the First Amendment arguments with resistance to their cause as an answer to this. Carlos Ball tells us another story in his “The First Amendment and LGBT Equality” focusing on the First Amendment’s crucial but often forgotten role in the first few decades of the gay rights movement.

Between the 1950s and 1980s, when many of our courts were still openly hostile to sexual minorities, they did recognize the freedom of gay and lesbian people to express themselves and associate with one another. Successful First Amendment cases protected LGBT publications and organizations, protests and parades, and individuals’ right to come out. The amendment was wielded by the other side only after it the groundwork for major LGBT equality victories had been set down.

We see here the full trajectory of this legal and cultural history. Ball argues that while accommodating those who dissent from LGBT equality on grounds of conscience, it is neither necessary nor appropriate to depart from the ways in which American antidiscrimination law has decades, accommodated equality dissenters for decades. He also argues that as progressives fight the First Amendment claims of the religious conservatives and other LGBT opponents today, it is important to take care not to destroy the very safeguards of liberty that have allowed LGBT rights to exist in the first place

Ball examined the history in light of its theoretical implications. Realizing the growing hostility toward First Amendment claims by some elements of the LGBT movement, this is a very important book.

Ball contends that First Amendment law, which once worked to protect LGBT citizens, now protects dissenting religious traditionalists. Settlements that were attained in previous times of conflict between equality law and religious freedom should guide constitutional actors today. Below is the Table of Contents:

  • From the First Amendment to LGBT Equality
    • Moral Displacement and Obscenity Law
    • Coming Together and Free Expression
    • Coming Out and Free Expression
    • Activism in and out of the Courts
  • From LGBT Equality to the First Amendment
    • The Race and Gender Precedents
    • LGBT Equality and the Right to Exclude
    • Marriage Equality and Religious Liberty
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

 

“Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism” by Camille Paglia— Building an Alliance

Paglia, Camille. “Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism”, Pantheon, 2017.
Building an Alliance
Amos Lassen

Camille Paglia is an advocate of gender equality and she is fearless. In this new essay collection that looks at feminism, she challenges us to build an alliance between strong women and strong men. From one of our most fearless advocates of gender equality—a brilliant, urgent essay collection that both celebrates modern feminism and challenges us to build an alliance of strong women and strong men. This collection are the essays that she considers to be her best. If you have read or seen Paglia, you know that she is outspoken, intelligent and independent.

Camille Paglia is an enigmatic brilliant intellectual and an excellent writer who will not be died to dogmas and conventions. Now that is nearing her 70th year, she has a life she can be proud to look back at.

She can look back on a lifetime of involvement in the intellectual movements of her time. She came of age as the sexual revolution was reaching a high and lived through the 1960s and watched others and herself leave behind stereotypes of the 50s.
Paglia was influenced by the first wave of feminists— the women who fought for all women to enjoy the fundamental rights to property ownership, employment, and voting and elective office. Paglia gives Simone de Beauvoir (The Second Sex) credit as the leading edge of second wave feminism that came to the brought to the United States with Betty Freidan in “The Feminine Mystique’. First-generation feminists had not been anti-male, and in fact were grateful to men for granting the progress that they achieved while the second generation perceived men as enemies obstacles to what women wanted to achieve. These feminists claimed that gender was a social construct that had been forced on women by men seeking to preserve a patriarchy. The transition was slow.

The first chapter of the book is challenging for most readers. Some of the selections were taken from Paglia’s “Sexual Personae” with many references to classical Greek literature. It is also a survey of philosophical trends and I found it quite brilliant as an undergrad and it still is. Paglia’s look at the evolution of feminism is classic (and classic Paglia). Paglia’s principal thesis is that modern feminism is an incredibly simpleminded take on a vastly complex topic. She claims that he ancients understood it better than we do. These passages from this first chapter of the book are important. Paglia maintains that sexuality and eroticism are the intricate intersection of nature and culture and that feminists oversimplify the problem of sex when they reduce it to a matter of social convention. She says that society must be readjusted and sexual inequality must be done away with. This is very Rousseau and he sees a new popularity in the 60s with the beginnings of the development of feminism.

Paglia says in the introduction to this collection of essays that “history moves in cycles” and looking at her early work, we see this clearly. The issues in the headlines as the same as the 1960s with rape on college campuses, sexual harassment, political correctness and her views on them are just as incendiary as ever. She spoke on date rape at MIT back then and she spoke about the tension between political correctness and free speech. A lot of people have not liked her representation of independent thought.
With the victory of Donald Trump, a man who is an unrepentant sexist and harasser over the first female major-party nominee proved that feminism has not yet completed its historic task. In Paglia’s view, elite academic feminism is doomed to failure because it has never truly come to grips with the biological imperatives of gender. The feminism that puts focus on sexual politics, doesn’t see that sex exists in and through the body. It is her understanding of the body that is the intellectual basis for her dissent from feminism. She came from academic obscurity to front-page intellectual celebrity with the publication of “Sexual Personae” her study of the history of sexuality in Western art. She posited an eternal conflict between the male, Apollonian principle and the female, Dionysian principle. Its view of human psychology was tragic, in the tradition of Nietzsche and Freud. She claims that by ignoring the productive tension at the heart of male-female relations, feminism becomes shallow, censorious, and ineffectual. She was particularly incensed by the anti-pornography crusade of Andrea Dworkin and has stated that “Pornography is a pagan arena of beauty, vitality, and brutality, of the archaic vigor of nature. It should break every rule, offend all morality.” This is how she sees her own intellectual life, which often breaks rules, frequently offends.“Sexual Personae” was rejected by seven publishers and five agents but it was what was instrumental in changing how university presses sell books.

It became necessary to write in an autobiographical manner for a while, because I was such an unknown. University presses in those days did not employ the publicity techniques of major trade houses; my photo wasn’t even on the book. (Indeed, the commercial success of Sexual Personae was instrumental in changing the marketing strategies of university presses in the 1990s.) My positions were so heterodox, for example, that I was absurdly attacked as a right-winger by The Village Voice (to which I had subscribed for nearly 20 years)—even though I had just voted for the African-American activist Jesse Jackson in the 1988 Democratic primary. Throughout the first half of the 1990s, I did use autobiography but only as a secondary supplement to the main themes of my work. I am primarily a scholar—old-fashioned as that concept is in this period of robotic poststructuralist “theory.” My main influences are British and German classical scholarship from the late-19th to mid-20th centuries. The title of this new book suggests that the liberation of women involves, or depends on, the liberation of men.
Paglia says that Jewish-American women aggressively speak out and confront, without fear of loss of “respectability,” as it was defined and enforced by the WASP establishment code that once governed U.S. business, politics, and education. The Jewish marriage contract is unusual in guaranteeing women’s rights, suggesting the power that Jewish women have always wielded in the home and family. Paglia says that she was impressed by the abrasive vocal style of Jewish women when she was growing up and she even tried to imitate it. She further maintains that Jewish-Americans, in their zeal for legal studies, regularly challenged the status quo in ways that other Americans rarely did. Paglia’s revolutionary fervor for political and institutional reform come from Jewish tradition that she took on. Can we still learn from Paglia? You bet we can and we need to.

“Caspid: A Love Song” by Joseph Osmundson—An Essay on HIV, Desire, Science, Queerness and Love

Osmundson, Joseph “Capsid: A Love Song”, Indolent Books, 2016.

An Essay on HIV, Desire, Science, Queerness and Love

Amos Lassen

Joseph Osmundson is a scientist and writer from rural Washington State who is today a post-doctoral fellow in systems biology at New York University.

He describes “Capsid: A Love Song” as an essay “On HIV, desire, science, queerness, love.” This is a long-form essay that incorporates eight prose poems, each one inspired by a different phase in the life cycle of HIV. The person infected with a virus is known as the host, and that makes the virus a guest. That guest can sometimes be a friend and/or a friend who becomes a lover. Osmundson here explores the intimacy of the relationship between an HIV-positive person and his virus. He does so through his scientific perspective thus making this young gay man “an especially poignant singer of this love song”.

Because of that I am not going to share the content of the book because I believe reading it should be a personal experience as we go from the time he was first tested for HIV to where he is today. Let me just say that this is a read that you do not want to miss.

 

 

 

“Books for Living” by Will Schwalbe— The Power of Books

Schwalbe, Will. “Books for Living”, Knopf, 2016.

The Power of Books

Amos Lassen

With the Lambda Literary Award nominations announced today, I was shocked to see how many of the books on the list I have not read and now I really have to get to work. It seems that I missed some really good ones and “Books for Living” quickly moved to the top of my list. Since we were snowed in today, I got the chance to read it and wonder why I had not done so before. I am certainly aware of the fact that books shape who we are and how we think. Will Schwalbe reminds us of this throughout this book. I agree with him totally that reading is entertainment and that it allows us to understand the world we live in. Schwalbe is on a quest for books that “speak to the specific challenges of living in our modern world, with all its noise and distractions”. In each chapter, he looks at a particular book and he shares what brought him to it (or vice versa), the people in his life he associates with it, and how it became a part of his understanding of himself in the world.  These books span centuries and genres and include classic works of adult and children’s literature as well as contemporary thrillers and even cookbooks. Each book relates to the questions and concerns we all share. Schwalbe focuses on the way certain books can help us honor those we’ve loved and lost, and also figure out how to live each day more fully. He also shares stories and recommendations and if you love books as I do, you will love this as well.

Schwalbe takes us on a personal journey through a life of reading. But like any great journey and it is much more than just words. He gives us a map to those places deep inside ourselves where books can take us. We learn how stories and characters, inspire us, guide us and reveal us. Schwalbe uncovers lessons in and around books and these include lessons that have nothing to do with the content of the reading. What we need to remember is that each book we read is an encounter with another human soul and Schwalbe shows us how to truly experience that depth of different human connections. 

Do not be misled— this is much less an account of the specific books Schwalbe loves and cherishes and more of a little push to us to recall or seek out the kinds of books that will provide us with meaning, solace and enlightenment.

Schwalbe tells us the story of his life with the books he has read as inspiration for his remembrance of things past. He is a highly reflective person and his reading helps him to relive the sights and sounds of his childhood and adult life.

As a gay man he has learned the hard way what it means to reveal himself to others, but in his book he shares his most intimate thoughts and feelings with us and we love him for this. He speaks directly to us and tells us what is on his mind and he writes so naturally that it is easy to forget we are reading and not in actual conversation with him. We feel ready to share our own thoughts with him about the special books that have made a difference for good in our lives even though they may be far from the books he has chosen for his himself.

Schwalbe also shares examples of how to be a compassionate human by using shared reading experiences to enhance relationships and self-awareness. This is, quite simply, a beautiful gift from a beautiful man.

29th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists Announced

29th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists Announced

 Awards Ceremony: Monday, June 12, 2017 in New York City   

 Note: The number of finalists in a category is determined by the number of submissions in that category. Those marked with an asterisk have been reviewed here at reviewsbyamoslassen.com

 Lesbian Fiction

  • *A Thin Bright Line, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, University of Wisconsin Press
  • Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson, Amistad
  • Bull & Other Stories, Kathy Anderson, Autumn House Press
  • The Day After Death, Lynn C. Miller, University of New Mexico Press
  • Here Comes the Sun, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • Pretend I’m Your Friend, MB Caschetta, Engine Books
  • Tears in the Grass, Lynda A. Archer, Dundurn
  • They May Not Mean To, But They Do, Cathleen Schine, Sarah Crichton Books

Gay Fiction

  • *The Angel of History, Rabih Alameddine, Atlantic Monthly Press
  • *Black Deutschland, Darryl Pinckney, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • *The Cosmopolitans, Sarah Schulman, The Feminist Press
  • *Hide, Matthew Griffin, Bloomsbury USA
  • *Jazz Moon, Joe Okonkwo, Kensington Books
  • *Moonstone, Sjón, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • *The Rope Swing, Jonathan Corcoran, Vandalia Press
  • *What Belongs To You, Garth Greenwell, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Bisexual Fiction

  • *Beautiful Gravity, Martin Hyatt, Antibookclub
  • Marrow Island, Alexis M. Smith, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Mouth to Mouth, Abigail Child, EOAGH
  • When Watched, Leopoldine Core, Penguin Books

Transgender Fiction

  • Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir, Kai Cheng Thom, Metonymy Press
  • If I Was Your Girl, Meredith Russo, Flatiron Books
  • Small Beauty, jia qing wilson-yang, Metonymy Press

LGBTQ Nonfiction

  • *Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility and the Duty of Repair, Sarah Schulman, Arsenal Pulp Press
  • *Gay Gotham: Art and Underground Culture in New York, Donald Albrecht, Skira Rizzoli
  • Ghost Faces: Hollywood and Post-Millennial Masculinity, David Greven, State University of New York Press
  • *How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS, David France, Knopf
  • *Pride & Joy: Taking the Streets of New York City, Jurek Wajdowicz, The New Press
  • Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Duke University Press Books
  • *The Estrangement Principle, Ariel Goldberg, Nightboat Books
  • The Feminist Bookstore Movement: Lesbian Antiracism and Feminist Accountability, Kristen Hogan, Duke University Press Books

Bisexual Nonfiction

  • Black Dove: Mamá, Mi’jo, and Me, Ana Castillo, The Feminist Press
  • The Body’s Alphabet, Ann Tweedy, Headmistress Press
  • I Have Devoted My Life to the Clitoris, Elizabeth Hall, Tarpaulin Sky Press
  • Women in Relationships With Bisexual Men: Bi Men By Women, Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli and Sara Lubowitz, Lexington Books

Transgender Nonfiction

  • *Life Beyond My Body: A Transgender Journey to Manhood in China, Lei Ming, Transgress Press
  • *Outside the XY: Black and Brown Queer Masculinity, Morgan Mann Willis, Riverdale Avenue Books
  • Outspoken: A Decade of Transgender Activism and Trans Feminism, Julia Serano, Switch Hitter Press
  • Trunky (Transgender Junky): A Memoir, Samuel Peterson, Transgress Press
  • You Only Live Twice: Sex, Death and Transition, Chase Joynt and Mike Hoolbloom, Coach House Books

Lesbian Poetry

  • Bestiary, Donika Kelly, Graywolf Press
  • Complete Works of Pat Parker, edited by Julie R. Enszer, Sinister Wisdom/A Midsummer Night’s Press
  • Journal of Ugly Sites, Stacy Szymaszek, Fence Books
  • Night, Etel Adnan, Nightboat Books
  • play dead, francine j. harris, Alice James Books
  • Swarm Queen’s Crown, Stephanie Adams-Santos, Fathom Books
  • The Old Philosopher, Vi Khi Nao, Nightboat Books
  • You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, Arisa White, Augury Books

Gay Poetry

  • DIG, Bryan Borland, Stillhouse Press
  • Night Sky with Exit Wounds, Ocean Vuong, Copper Canyon Press
  • Primer, Aaron Smith, University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Rapture, Sjohnna McCray, Graywolf Press
  • The Halo, C. Dale Young, Four Way Books
  • The Taxidermist’s Cut, Rajiv Mohabir, Four Way Books
  • Thief in the Interior, Phillip B. Williams, Alice James Books
  • Trouble the Water, Derrick Austin, BOA

Transgender Poetry

  • even this page is white, Vivek Shraya, Arsenal Pulp Press
  • The Romance of Siam: A Pocket Guide, Jai Arun Ravine, Timeless, Infinite Light
  • Reacquainted with Life, Kokumo, Topside Press
  • Safe Space, Jos Charles, Ahsahta Press
  • Sympathetic Little Monster, Cameron Awkward-Rich, Ricochet Editions

Lesbian Mystery

  • Blood Money Murder, Jessie Chandler, Bella Books
  • Bury Me When I’m Dead, Cheryl A. Head, Bywater Books
  • Collide-O-Scope, Andrea Bramhall, Ylva Publishing
  • Final Cut, Lynn Ames, Phoenix Rising Press
  • Pathogen, Jessica L. Webb, Bold Strokes Books
  • Requiem for Immortals, Lee Winter, Ylva Publishing
  • Under Contract, Jennifer L. Jordan, Clover Valley Press
  • Walk-in, T.L. Hart, Bella Books

Gay Mystery

  • Bitter Legacy by Dal Maclean, Blind Eye Books
  • Homo Superiors by L. A. Fields, Lethe Press
  • Lay Your Sleeping Head by Michael Nava, Korima Press
  • Nights in Berlin by Janice Law, Head of Zeus
  • Speakers of the Dead: A Walt Whitman Mystery by J. Aaron Sanders, Plume

Lesbian Memoir/Biography

  • *A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain, Christina Crosby, NYU Press
  • A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder, Ma-Nee Chacaby, University of Manitoba Press
  • *Im Just a Person, Tig Notaro, Ecco
  • *Indomitable: The Life of Barbara Grier, Joanne Passet, Bella Books
  • The Wind Is Spirit: The Life, Love and Legacy of Audre Lorde, Gloria I. Joseph, PhD, Villarosa Media

Gay Memoir/Biography

  • *Books For Living, Will Schwalbe, Knopf
  • *Boy Erased, Garrard Conley, Riverhead Books
  • *Capsid: A Love Song, Joseph Osmundson, Indolent Books
  • *Cursed Legacy: The Tragic Life of Klaus Mann, Frederic Spotts, Yale University Press
  • *Lust & Wonder, Augusten Burroughs, St. Martin’s Press
  • *One Man Show: The Life and Art of Bernard Perlin, Michael Schreiber, Bruno Gmuender Books
  • *Proxies, Brian Blanchfield, Nightboat Books
  • *When We Rise, Cleve Jones, Hachette Books

 

Lesbian Romance

  • The Scorpion’s Empress, Yoshiyuki Ly, Solstice Publishing
  • Coils, Barbara Ann Wright, Bold Strokes Books
  • Finding Lizzie, Karma Kingsley, NineStar Press
  • Little Lies, Lila Bruce, Self-Published
  • Lost in the Starlight, Kiki Archer, K.A. Books
  • *Loving Eleanor, Susan Wittig Albert, Persevero Press
  • *Perfect Pairing, Rachel Spangler, Bywater Books
  • *The Liberators of Willow Run, Marianne K. Martin, Bywater Books

Gay Romance

  • Into the Blue, Pene Henson, Interlude Press
  • Pansies, Alexis Hall, Riptide Publishing
  • *Femme, Marshall Thornton, Kenmore Books
  • Rank, Richard Compson Sater, Bold Strokes Books
  • *Country, Jeff Mann, Lethe Press
  • Adulting 101, Lisa Henry, Riptide Publishing
  • Rented Heart, Garrett Leigh, Riptide Publishing
  • Caught Inside, Jamie Deacon, Beaten Track Publishing

LGBTQ Anthology

  • ALPHABET: The LGBTQAIU Creators from Prism Comics, Jon Macy and Tara Madison Avery, Editors Stacked Deck Press
  • *Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of Alaska LGBTQ Short Fiction and Poetry, Martha Amore and Lucian Childs, Editors, University of Alaska Press / Snowy Owl Books Imprint
  • *No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies, E. Patrick Johnson, Duke University Press Books
  • *The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Health Care, Zena Sharman, Arsenal Pulp Press
  • *Queer, David J. Getsy, MIT Press

LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult

  • Beast, Brie Spangler, Alfred A. Knopf
  • Girl Mans Up, M.E. Girard, Harper Teen
  • Gravity, Juliann Rich, Bold Stroke Books
  • Highly Illogical Behavior, John Corey Whaley, Dial Books
  • Not Your Sidekick, C.B. Lee, Duet
  • Our Chemical Hearts, Krystal Sutherland, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
  • *Symptoms of Being Human, Jeff Garvin, Balzer + Bray
  • The Midnight Star, Marie Lu, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

LGBTQ Drama

  • Barbecue/Bootycandy, Robert O’Hara, Theatre Communications Group
  • Freda and Jem’s Best of the Week, Lois Fine, Playwrights Canada Press
  • Perfect Arrangement, Topher Payne, Samuel French, Inc.

LGBTQ Erotica

  • Camp Rewind, Meghan O’Brien, Bold Strokes Books
  • Roped In, Marie Sexton and L.A. Witt, Amber Quill
  • Steel and Promise, Alexa Black, Bold Strokes Books
  • Soul to Keep, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Bold Strokes Books
  • Skyscraper, Scott Alexander Hess, Unzipped Books

LGBTQ Graphic Novels

  • Active Voice The Comic Collection: The Real Life Adventures Of An Asian-American, Lesbian, Feminist, Activist And Her Friends, Written by P. Kristen Enos with Heidi Ho; Illustrated by Derek Chua, Leesamarie Croal, Casandra Grullon, Beth Varni, Dan Parent, Furia Press
  • *The Case of Alan Turing: The Extraordinary and Tragic Story of the Legendary Codebreaker, Eric Liberge and Arnaud Delalande, Translated by David Homel, Arsenal Pulp Press
  • Wuvable Oaf: Blood & Metal, Ed Luce, Fantagraphics Books

LGBTQ SF/F/Horror

  • *All Good Children, Dayna Ingram, Lethe Press
  • The Devourers, Indra Das, Del Rey
  • *Irish Black, David Lennon, Blue Spike Publishing
  • Kissing Booth Girl, A.C. Wise, Lethe Press
  • *Lily, Michael Thomas Ford, illustrated by Staven Andersen, Lethe Press
  • A Little Queermas Carol, Sassafras Lowrey, PoMo Freakshow
  • Style of Attack Report, By Ras Mashramani, Rasheedah Phillips, Alex Smith, and M. Eighteen Téllez, Metropolarity
  • Will Do Magic for Small Change, Andrea Hairston, Aqueduct Press

LGBTQ Studies

  • Asegi Stories: Cherokee Queer and Two Spirit Memory, Qwo-Li Driskill, University of Arizona Press
  • *Homintern, Gregory Woods, Yale University Press
  • Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community, Andrew J. Jolivette, University of Washington Press
  • Melodrama: An Aesthetics of Impossibility, Jonathan Goldberg, Duke University Press
  • Not Straight, Not White: Black Gay Men From The March on Washington to the AIDS Crisis, Kevin Mumford, University of North Carolina Press
  • *Out in the Periphery: Latin America’s Gay Rights Revolution, Omar G. Encarnación, Oxford University Press
  • *Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics, Timothy Stewart-Winter, University of Pennsylvania Press
  • Sex Museums: The Politics and Performance of Display, Jennifer Tyburczy, University of Chicago Press

“Boystown: Sex and Community in Chicago” by Jason Orne— The Importance of Sex to Queer Communities

Orne, Jason. “Boystown: Sex and Community in Chicago”, University of Chicago Press, 2017.

The Importance of Sex to Queer Communities

Amos Lassen

“Boystown” is based on three years of ethnography in Chicago’s gay neighborhood and examines the importance of sex to queer communities. Today it seems that Boystown is swapping its radical sexual culture for normality, transforming into a “gay Disneyland” due to commodification by business owners. “The “sexy communities” that embody radical sexuality foster racial diversity by building sexual kinship through ritual moments of collective effervescence, what I call ‘naked intimacy.’”  Orne maintains that “Boystown”is “really about the power of sex to connect across racial boundaries, the commodification of gay male culture, and the “intersectional knot” that supports respectability (a word with a very fluid definition.  

All over this country, formerly gay communities and neighborhoods are reaching new standards of “normalcy” although I an not quite sure what normalcy means. As straight people buy into these “gayborhoods”, the gays leave. I had already seen this happen in New Orleans’ French Quarter where rental rates have risen steadily and the straight people who consider themselves to be intellectuals have moved in

There are scholars who label this assimilation, and some argue that all of us, gay and straight are reaching a “post-gay” period. We have already seen the shift in public opinion about gay people and this could very well be the result. Orne, however, maintains that this is not “post-gay” but rather “post-queer” and that America is losing the radical lessons of sex.

Orne takes us on a detailed, lively journey through Chicago’s Boystown, which serves as a model for “gayborhoods” around the country. The neighborhood has now become an entertainment district where people get lost in the magic of the night. Originally, “gayborhoods” created differences that are now celebrated. By having a space outside the mainstream, we could develop an alternative culture—“a queer culture that celebrates sex”.

Orne spent three years doing fieldwork and finding ways to ask new questions about the “connective power of sex and about what it means to be not just gay, but queer”. This book is the result and it is replete with street photography by Dylan Stuckey. Today people are using the bar scene to forge what Orne calls “naked intimacy.” Orne takes us to the Boystown where sex is the vital center and an “antidote to assimilation”.

We meet characters and they add to the narrative here as we learn about race, class and gender. Orne manages to walk the line by keeping this foray into urban sexuality rigorous with a light touch.” While this is an ethnographic study of Chicago’s Boystown, it is also a rallying cry against the dangers of centrist LGBT politics, of assimilation, and of the threat of “queernormativity as ideology and practice”. Orne sex to be brought out of the private and the focus become one about pleasure. These communities illustrate the ways how pleasure, can be at the center of social change and it is a challenge to inequality. Orne puts himself into the neighborhood and see that those who do not do so, are left out.

“Love is Love”— Honoring Orlando

Various. “Love is Love”, IDW Publishing, 2017.

Honoring Orlando

Amos Lassen

There are some dates that I will remember forever—the day John Kennedy was assassinated, the day I served for the first time in the Israel Defense Forces, 9/11 and the date the Orlando gay community was attacked and we lost so many lives. Now the

comic book industry has come together to honor those killed in Orlando. From IDW Publishing, with assistance from DC Entertainment, this oversize comic contains material from some of the greatest talents in comics that mourns the victims, supports the survivors, celebrates the LGBTQ community, and examines love in today’s world. We sense the love with which this was put together. We read here of parents trying and others trying to understand and explain what happened, of people dancing together and having no cares and we see the effect of unsuspected violence that took forty-nine people from us. Composed of shot stories that all share the message of love, it replaces no one, but it is something to remind us that there are still people who would rather see us gone and enjoying life.

“The Yelp” by Chase Compton— A Broken Heaet

Compton, Chase. “The Yelp: A Heartbreak in Reviews”, Skyhorse, 2016.

A Broken Heart

Amos Lassen

Chase Compton shares the story of meeting the love of his life at a dive bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and while was enamored, he really had no idea where this relationship would take him. Soon he and his partner were eating in every nice restaurant, café, and drinking in every bar in downtown New York City. It seemed that the attraction of the two was based upon hunger but once the appetite was spoiled so was the attraction. Chase was left to deal with the broken relationship. Not really knowing what to do, Chase turned to Yelp and soon his way of surviving a broken heart was detailed in Yelp reviews.

It seemed that every meal and cocktail he had shared with his partner reminded him of the time he spent with his unnamed boyfriend. As he writes about the food he has eaten and the beverages he has drunk, he writes of the passion of that relationship. This is a memoir of personal transformation and self-realization as it played in Manhattan’s culinary scene. The book also includes the original twenty-eight Yelp reviews and narrative chapters that give context and insight to Chase’s story.

The Yelp reviews have very little to do with the places themselves but they tell us about the wreckage of a relationship. And that wreckage is attributed to a well hung man who cared nothing for monogamous relationships. He wanted love and sex with no strings attached.

Chase Compton wanted to find a man to love and when he thought he had found it, he holds it tightly and is not willing to let go. He soon realizes that he is in a masochistic situation and seems delusional about the guy. We really never learn too much about the guy he loved and lusted for but that makes no difference because what the book is really about is coping with loss and learning to move on.

New York City is a character in the story. Many of us lived through something like this (aside from Yelp). The narrative takes us through his love and heartbreak and shows how these they impacted him emotionally.

 

“Charlatan: A Biography of MILO YIANNOPOULOS” by Lucas Goodwin— Why?

Goodwin, Lucas. “Charlatan: A Biography of MILO YIANNOPOULOS”, ADS , 2017.

Why?

Amos Lassen

When Milo Yiannopoulos suddenly appeared on the scene with his “Dangerous Faggot” tour, people naturally wondered who he is and why was he has risen so fast. Behind his outward appearance and outrageous act lies a murkier story. Some of those stories involve prostitution, bankruptcy and lawsuits. He has had failures, reinventions and burned along the way. We hear from people in London to LA who knew the man before he was considered to be “the internet’s most fabulous super villain”. Here we have the secrets he won’t tell from his real name to who gave him a push up in the media industry and who really cares? He is yesterday’s news now and I do not believe that he will be hearing about him again anytime soon. He might have been the self-appointed free speech but he blew that too.

Here is his history of pathological lying, unpaid debts, unstable behavior and dispassionate opportunism. Anyone who was shocked over Milo’s comments about underage sex is not familiar with his work and don’t realize that he is a media whore who relies on shock factor. Besides there is nothing here that can’t be read by googling.