Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

“Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change” by Arthur Goldberg— Providing False Hope

light in the closet

Goldberg, Arthur. “Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change”, Red Heifer Press, 2009.

Providing False Hope

Amos Lassen

It seems that all religions have some kind of aversion/ restorative therapy for those gay men who do not want to be gay or, better said, whose parents do not want their son to be gay. The new defunct JONAH  (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing) was run by Arthur Goldberg (who I suppose is now collecting unemployment or forming another bogus organization). JONAH claimed to be “ a non-profit international organization dedicated to educating the world-wide Jewish community about the social, cultural and emotional factors which lead to same-sex attractions, and the Jonah Institute of Gender Affirmation (”. Goldberg was once proud to sat that “Since co-founding the organization over a dozen years ago, through psychological and spiritual counseling, peer support, and self-empowerment, he has helped reunify families, heal the wounds surrounding homosexuality and provided hope”.  I say “Give me a break”. The blurb for the book and I quote says “Goldberg’s book, Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality and the Power to Change is a widely acclaimed book in the Jewish world on the topic. He has a J.D. degree from Cornell University”.

Behind the “compassionate” therapy there lurks the mentality of a fool. “If you (sic) have a self identified “gay” son or a son that always argues with his dad, you must read this book. Homosexuality is probably something you “think” you know about. Odds are you know nothing due to bogus influence by the media and Hollywood (sic)”. These are the words of one of the reviewers of this book who quite obviously has no idea of what she is talking about (and has even less an idea about spelling). She further states that the book is “written with Torah based wisdom, this information is mandatory (sic) for any religion”. She further chides us with this, “Do you child a favor, read this book”.

Today we know that any book on restorative therapy that claims to have any connection to Torah is a money making scheme playing on the shame foisted on gay people by certain Jewish communities.

We learn in the Torah that we have been created in God’s image so therefore we must treat all people the same. Psychiatry and Psychology have abandoned the idea of restorative therapy but religion has not been so quick to let it go.

I must say that I found the book to be appalling n every aspect—from writing style to research to conclusions but unfortunately not everyone agreed with me and there are glowing reviews for this pile of garbage on

 [Goldberg] … “gives me hope: there is healing available for those who seek it, as thousands have! The information he provides builds confidence and understanding and will help open lines of communication. The scariest thing to me as a parent is that this hope is not being publicized and just the opposite is being taught to my children in public school. This book is a must read for every parent! Shine the light of truth on this subject – read this book and share it with as many as you can”. Here we can only wonder where this person has been because this kind of therapy is all bogus and condemned by the medical establishment.

 “It is timely, given ongoing debates that have split U.S. voters as well as the Conservative branch of Judaism. It is thoroughly documented”. Now that Conservative Judaism ordains gay rabbis, which side did the conservative movement take? And I love this, “Goldberg thoroughly discusses the Hebrew Scriptures’ prohibition of lesbian behavior. Most people do not even know that such a case can be made, let alone made convincingly. Second, Goldberg draws a careful parallel between a spiritual path to gender wholeness and psychological steps to gender wholeness. There is nothing like this parallel in print anywhere; it applies to all of the monotheistic religions, not just to Judaism”. Lesbian behavior? Are we reading the same Hebrew bible—there is not a word anywhere in the Torah about lesbians and how they behave. And that parallel that Goldberg draws between a spiritual path to gender and psychological steps to gender wholeness is nothing more than doubletalk and means nothing.

The book, like its author is filled with errors. There was virtually no editing and the entire business is an embarrassment to religion and it should be an embarrassment to the author himself.

 Now here is a testimony for Goldberg: “There are many people (and I am one of them) for whom same sex attractions are an unwanted feature of life in that they incline us to a behavior that is inconsistent with our moral values. My experience in talking about these attractions with therapists has been to be told in a condescending manner that I need to learn to accept these attractions and consequent behavior as part of who I am. It is my beliefs and feelings about these attractions, my moral values, that are the real problem. I am deeply indebted to Arthur Goldberg for standing up and defending my right to seek healing and for shedding some light on the journey to wholeness”. (I’ll bet you can find the person who wrote this note in a gay bar somewhere). He further says that same-sex attractions are morally confusing situations. (Visiting a prostitute and paying for sex is morally confusion to me).

Goldberg explores the political, sociological, psychological, religious, and educational aspects of the gay debate but he does so already with his bias and he finds what he wants to find or else alters something to make it fit his agenda. This is the worst kind of hypocrisy—we are speaking here bout human life. I maintain that Goldberg’s research is shoddy and in truth not research at all. [Goldberg] “gives hope to the vast numbers of Same Sex Attracted men & women who do not want to live a gay or lesbian lifestyle”. This is the worst lie of all.

“Coming Out to Play” by Robbie Rogers and Eric Marcus— No Secrets

coming out to play

Rogers, Robbie and Eric Marcus. “Coming Out to Play”, Penguin Books, 2014.

No Secrets

Amos Lassen

Robbie Rogers was a man with a secret and he was worried that if he shared it, he would lose his family and his career as a professional soccer player. The secret was tearing him apart booth in his personal and professional lives. Even though the world was changing, Rogers knew professional sports were not changing with the world. He felt that he could either be a professional soccer player or a gay man but not both.

Then something happened last year when he was twenty-five years old. He was very close to leaving soccer, a career that he excelled at (he led his team to an NCAA Championship, he won the MLS Cup, and competed in the Olympics). He decided that the time had come to tell the truth. He was not rejected as he feared he might be. Instead he was embraced with love by family, team, fans and friends.

In his book he takes us on his journey. We see him as a terrified teen who later came out of the locker room closet as a proud professional gay soccer player. He also embraced himself with his new identity as a role model and champion for those who struggling with their secrets. Here we see how those secrets keep is from living out our dreams.

 “Robbie Rogers started playing soccer at the age of four. He has played for the Columbus Crew, the U.S. Olympic national team, and Leeds United in the U.K., and currently plays for the L.A. Galaxy. Rogers is also co-owner of Halsey, a menswear brand, and is a cofounder of and ambassador for the Beyond “it” campaign. He lives in Los Angeles.

 Eric Marcus is the author and coauthor of several of books, including Breaking the Surface, the #1 New York Times–bestselling autobiography of Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis”.

“William Alexander Percy: The Curious Life of a Mississippi Planter and Sexual Freethinker” by Benjamin E. Wise— A Queer Plantation Owner, Poet and Memoirist

william percy

Wise, Benjamin E. “William Alexander Percy: The Curious Life of a Mississippi Planter and Sexual Freethinker”, The University of North Carolina Press, 2014.

A Queer Plantation Owner, Poet and Memoirist

Amos Lassen

 William Alexander Percy (1885-1942), was a queer plantation owner, poet, and memoirist from Mississippi. He is best known as a conservative apologist of the southern racial order but here author Benjamin E. Wise tells us so much more about him and we learn that was also a cultural relativist, sexual liberationist, and white supremacist. He was a member of a prominent family that had a troubled history. Percy had an elite education and he was a soldier during the First World War. He showed civic leadership during the Mississippi River flood of 1927 and he mentored writers Walker Percy and Shelby Foote, and the wrote and published his own autobiography, “Lanterns on the Levee” one of the first full length books I read as a child. Wise puts Percy’s life and his quest for meaning into the larger context of the Deep South and he also shares Percy’s experiences in the gay male world of the early twentieth century with us. It is interesting to see how these disparate worlds came together.

Having been a Southerner (born and raised) until quite recently, I understood Percy’s mind here. On the South we lives in two distinct and different worlds. It is important to understand that Percy was born into a prominent family—if he had not been, his life would have been totally different. People from the South remain Southerners their entire lives, regardless of where they might live. But a lot of the South depends upon who you and your family are. Wise gives us a Percy who is an attractive, glamorous figure for a gay readership. Indeed he is/was.

As an undergrad, I was a history major and in one of my courses on The New South, we were told that Percy’s “Lanterns on the Levee” was required reading and so now a bit older I read it for the second time and as I did I realized why this book was important. We were to recognize and understand the struggle in post-Reconstruction South between the old or Bourbon whites and the new South force of demagogues who tied their hopes to racial fears. Now with this new biography, everything about this becomes crystal clear. Percy writes of his sexuality but in very veiled terms and now Wise has dared to say what Percy dared not to say. He gives us evidence of Percy’s homosexuality by sharing his letters, his poetry and his friends. In university this aspect of Percy was never discussed and it could be because it was a different time and my professor was a gay male. He probably felt that addressing it would pull him out of the closet as well (although we all knew he was gay but it was never spoken of).

Wise gives us a gorgeous book that challenges us. Percy was a complex man and writer Wise has taken him apart. He leaves us with the very core of the man, a man who lived in the margins of a society that was changing rapidly.

“After Woodstock” by Elliot Tiber— A Personal Look at Love

after woodstock

Tiber, Elliot.  “After Woodstock”, Square One Publishers, 2014.

A Personal View of Love

Amos Lassen

Some of you will remember Elliot Tiber as the author of “Taking Woodstock”. Now we have another volume of his memoir with “After Woodstock” which according to the author was when he had the best and significant experiences. In this book, Tiber tells us about a series of “madcap and often heartbreaking adventures” that happened as he went through the entertainment industry. Tiber is lucky to have a lot of nerve and that really helped him find his way. He used that “chutzpah”, his talent and just plain luck as a way to work in the industry.

Another section of the book is long relationship with Andre Ernotte, a Belgian playwright and director who is his lover and partner. Ernotte helped Tiber find his potential and he then discover ways by which hr copes with his dysfunctional mother and her demands.

Tiber also learned to love. His relationship with Ernotte was tested during the AIDS epidemic and his own professional and personal disappointments. The closeness that he shared with his partner was threatened. Tiber was propelled forward by search for love and meaning in his life and reading this can help us do the same.


“I’M A PORN STAR”— Famous on the Net

i'm a pornstat

“I’m a Porn Star”

Famous on the Net

Amos Lassen

There are people in my neighborhood and in yours who are famous but if we do not visit Internet porn sites we would not know it. Today there are about 370 million pornographic websites on the Internet. Porn is a thirteen billion dollar business. There is a good chance that people you know are involved in it to some degree. (It would be interesting to heart what the original Puritans would have to say about this.


This film is about guys who are porn stars and the term “porn stars” is an interesting one. By this I mean that there are people who work all their lives to be stars and it doesn’t happen. Yet someone who has sex on camera just one time is called a porn star. The four stars we meet here are Brent Everett, Colby Jansen, Rocco Reed and Johnny Rapid. They speak openly and honestly about their experiences in porn and how it feels to objects of lust for so many men. That must be the ultimate ego trip.
First we get a brief history of porn from actor-director-producer-author Charlie David. We get to see fascinating silent footage of some of the earliest homoerotic action staged on film, as well as the “men’s physique” magazines and reels of the 1940s and ’50s that provided “spank-bank material under the guise of appreciating “male athleticism”.” We see “the arthouse-appreciated flicks of the ’70s, the home video boom of the 1980s, the AIDS crisis and it’s effect on porn, the higher budgets of the ’90s and the keywords, special interests and star-focused sites of the internet age” All of this comes before the opening credits.

Colby Jansen is what is known as “semi-straight” (whatever that means). A former Marine and defense contractor, Jensen is working on his Masters of Business Administration and what he makes from porn pays his college tuition. He is marred to Gia Darling, a transsexual porn star.

Johnny Rapid is known as a “twink” and a power bottom. He has in the last year become an important stat and it is said that he is as cute as a “button”. (Now this is a term that I have never understood—I have seen thousands of buttons in my life and not once considered them to be cute).

Rocco Reed is a porn fence straddler acting in both gay and straight porn. He can tell a lot about these two worlds. When he is not on screen, he is a personal trainer who hopes to open his own gym when he retires from porn.

Lastly there is Brent Everett who has a great deal written about him and lately has made the transition from porn to gay-themed film (in which he keeps his clothes on).


The four guys share so much with us—their thoughts, their experiences, their hopes and what they like sexually. We learn about the cost of fame, how they get involved in porn and they tells us about the politics of the industry and what they like to do the best. They have worked with famous stars and have stories; how they stay fir, muscular and handsome, how they maintain erections for long periods. We learn what they get paid and how they have to behave to remain in good stead with government and they tell us how being a porn star has affected their lives and off-screen relationships.

This is a fun film that is fascinatingly interesting. We go behind the scenes (or behind the behinds) and see so much more than the average porn viewer.

WARNING: This documentary is meant for adults and contains scenes of graphic sexuality. Viewer discretion is advised.

“Catastrophe: Oy Vey, My Child Is Gay (and an Addict)” by Anne Lapedus Brest— The Discovery


Brest, Anne Lapedus. “Catastrophe: Oy Vey, My Child Is Gay (and an Addict)”, Jacana Media, 2014.

The Discovery

Amos Lassen

Here is the story of a Jewish mother who learns that her daughter, Angela, who she thought was well-grounded, talented and well-educated is not only gay but also a down-and-out drug addict, hopelessly hooked on highly addictive Cat, a synthetic amphetamine containing the substance methcathinone.  The family was close enjoying Shabbat meals together, shopping together, etc. but this news threw them into a dark world that they were to learn was full of lies and deceit and desperation. They discovered forged checks and visits to pawn shops and felt terror and shame. There were also the finances to be considered as well as the degradation that was to come and there was also the challenge of unconditional love.

While this book deal with South Africa where one in every people is addicted to something, it could have been set anywhere—geography really has to do with it. This is a call out to parents to learn about the signs of addiction and it gives practical help and insights to the loved ones of addicts to help navigate their way through it.

Overriding everything else in this book is a mother’s love for her child. This is an eye-opening account of how a South African Jewish mother faces the ordeal of helping her much-loved daughter, Angela, through years of drug addiction. It is written candidly and honestly. We read of the heartache and pain that a mother feels as she watches her daughter fall to drug addiction. The topic is sensitive yet there are no graphic details or explicit descriptions. We see how drugs have an effect on both the user and the family of the user.

But all is not dark here. There is humor when we read about the Irish-Jewish family background and also family life in Johannesburg. I believe that the most compelling thing we read here is the overwhelming will, support, belief and love that the mother has for her beautiful daughter—they share an unshakeable solidarity.

I have read so many books and heard so many stories about gay men and drug addition that I thought I was numb to it and then I read this and I wept with the family. That probably is because it is written as if I were part of the family and the conversation. Even though I already knew how important a family is to its members, we sometimes forget that we should be an integral part of each other’s lives and as we get older we realize that even more.

“God’s Nobodies: Misguided Faith and Murder in the Life of One American Family” by Mark Obbie— Tragedy to Tragedy

God's Nobodies

Obbie, Mark. “God’s Nobodies: Misguided Faith and Murder in the Life of One American Family” ADS, 2013.

Tragedy to Tragedy

Amos Lassen

Tim Ginocchetti’s father died a hero’s death fighting a fire and four years later Tim was in prison for having killed his mother, Pam. This is the story of a gay teen who was bullied….by his mother. He killed her in a momentary but irreversible explosion of rage. The author, Mark Obbie, shows us how a meek young man became a murderer, a young man whose only refuge was a childlike fantasy world of his own imagination. His family blindly was obedient to their minister who turned Pam Ginocchetti against her son, and then by turning the rest of Tim’s family against his loving grandmother, the one person brave enough to take a stand for forgiveness and truth after Pam’s death. This is a story that teaches “profound lessons about tolerance and the human spirit’s yearning for independence.”

Brother Frank Giuliano was the minister and his style was uncompromising and intimidating. Because of him families broke apart and romantic relationships  were destroyed. He claimed to have “visions” and “direct knowledge of God’s will”.

It is true that Brother Frank was considered the congregation’s “direct connect to God” and all of the members of his congregation who had life decisions went through Brother Frank. Many were so brainwashed that they believed whatever he said and houses, careers, schooling and even the fate of genuine relationships went through him for approval.

 Tim Ginocchetti was shunned because he was gay and for having a voice that was too high. It might seem hard to believe this in this day and age but their mothers who disown their children because of sexuality.  We have heard many stories about abuse in the Catholic Church but here we have a small, independent Pentecostal Church, led by the cult-like Brother Frank, who rules his congregation with an iron fist. Though there’s no sexual abuse in Mark Obbie’s account, there is plenty of psychological abuse, dogmatism, and authoritarianism. It’s the story of how Tim Ginocchetti, a meek teenage boy who frequently struggled just to literally have his voice heard, murdered his mother Pam after a lifetime of controlling parenting. The fact that Tim came out as gay certainly did not endear him anymore to the congregation after the crime. Brother Frank has denied that he or his cultish behavior were implicated in Pam’s mental problems, but author Obbie presents evidence that they clearly were. He also knows how to write a good story and he does so here with detail and character development.

 This is a very sad, well-researched story about a young man who murdered his mother and the influence of the church on the family’s relationships. The author creates a lot of empathy for the son and his grandmother, while not excusing or diminishing the son’s horrific actions. We can only hope that the son receives the mental health help he needs while incarcerated.

“Gay Is Good: The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny” edited by Michael G. Long— One of the Most Significant Figures in Gay Rights

gay is good

Michael G. Long (author and editor). “Gay Is Good: The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny”, Syracuse University Press, 2014.

One of the Most Significant Figures in Gay Rights

Amos Lassen

Those of us who have worked within the Gay Rights Movement are well aware of Frank Kameny (1925-2011) and that he was one of the most significant figures in the it. Already in 1958, he encouraged gay people to embrace their homosexuality as moral and healthy. “He publicly denounced the federal government for excluding homosexuals from federal employment and he openly fought the military’s ban against gay men and women, debated psychiatrists who depicted homosexuality as a mental disorder, identified test cases to advance civil liberties through the federal courts, acted as counsel to countless homosexuals suffering state-sanctioned discrimination, and organized marches for gay rights at the White House and other public institutions”. He was THE MAN.

In his book “ Gay Is Good”, Michael Long shares Kameny’s historically rich letters, and they reveal some of the early stirrings of today’s politically powerful LGBT movement. If you had ever met or heard Frank, you can expect these letters to be full of life and wit. He was loud but he was fair; he said what he felt and to whom he felt like saying it to whether it be the White House, the Pentagon or British Parliament. He spoke to federal agency heads, military generals, and media personalities and he wrote them countless letters. This book is a collection of approximately 150 letters that date from 1958 to 1975—this was a critical period in Kameny’s life. During it, he moved from being a victim to a vocal opponent of the law and actually he became the voice of the law.

Long arranges the letters in context and gives the historical and biographical information about to whom the letters were written and why. This book is a tribute to the man who advocated for our rights at a time when others would not speak up. Kameny was tireless and he is responsible for advocating the shift in social attitudes and practices and he opened the doors to our closets that will never be shut again.

 “Frank Kameny is an ideal subject for a published letters volume not just because of his important achievements as a Washington D.C. gay activist, but also because of his skill as a writer, in particular his ability to use language that conveyed rational analysis, rhetorical hyperbole, urgency, sarcasm, wit, and prescience all at the same time. The letters are a joy to read”. –Craig Loftin, California State University, Fullerton

 “The LGBT movement has been blessed with an amazing array of passionate, provocative, colorful, dedicated, and sometimes infuriating women and men. Frank Kameny is certainly one of the most important. Michael Long’s magnificent book captures the breadth of the movement and the specificity of Kameny s life and importance”. –Michael Bronski, Harvard University

 “Michael Long has provided a window into a time that’s already largely forgotten as seen through the eyes of perhaps the most transformative, persistent, and original thinker, mover, and finger-shaker in the history of the gay civil rights movement”. –Eric Marcus, Author of Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights

“My Queer Life” by Callen Harty— 30 Years of Activism

my queer life

Harty, Callen. “My Queer Life”, ADS, 2014.

30 Years of Activism

Amos Lassen

 “My Queer Life” is a selection of one activist’s writing over a 30-year period. This book follows his life as a gay man living in a straight world. The author is a well-known community activist in Wisconsin’s queer community. Here we have his speeches, poetry, essays, monologues, and journal notes on a variety of topics with the central theme of living an authentic queer life. Include is material from an early tentative coming out journal and a note to a speech delivered before more than a thousand people at a pride event. We have Facebook notes and blog entries about today’s issues as well selections from produced plays, published essays, and more. Everything focuses living life as an out and proud gay man.

The author writes of coming out in a conservative small town, of losing friends to the hate and violence perpetrated on gay men or on themselves in suicide, about getting sober, of surviving sexual abuse as a child at the hands of a relative. Harty writes thoughtfully about finding the best in himself and in others. The essays are brief but they say a lot.

“The Diverted Verdict” by Lance Solomon— A Personal Story

the diverted verdict

Solomon, Lance. “The Diverted Verdict”, Creative Space Publishing, 2014.

A Personal Story

Amos Lassen

This is a story that is so fantastic that I had to do some research to understand what really happened and honestly, I am still a bit shaken by what I learned. Lance Solomon lived in Corunna, Michigan, a small farming community. He comes from a middle-class family and his mother suffered from a Bipolar disorder. When she suddenly died, many questions arose and went unanswered. He and his mother were very close probably because his father worked long hours and what happened here occurred after he had retired from the automobile industry. Solomon was concerned about learning the truth about his mother’s death and he asked his father and siblings to make him the legal representative for the family. He had no idea how much this would change his life forever.

His mother’s death was ruled as suicide but when the answers to some of the unanswered questions would later come out brought about a wrongful death lawsuit against a psychiatrist. The defendant brought out secrets introduced a new theory of her death. Solomon’s mother had been murdered. His mother’s death changed Lance’s life forever. When the murder theory was revealed, some family members tried to stop the lawsuit but were unable to. Murder has been just a theory but suddenly it became very real and the outcome of the jury trial surprised and divided the family.

Years passed and we move forward to 1999 at which time Lance told his family that he was gay and the family found his lifestyle to be unacceptable. Nonetheless, things were going good for him and he fell in love and was happy. But then strange events began and Solomon began to lose control as his life headed toward rock bottom. There were custody battles, lawsuits and governmental agencies.  It was obvious that someone was pulling strings behind the scenes and new questions arose. Was it possible that his mother’s suicide/murder theory as well as his own destruction were part of some strange master plan? He exposed secrets that the family did not out in the open. It was now sixteen years after his mother’s death and it had never been solved. Today it is still unsolved. Solomon is now at work writing about the rest of the story and we shall just have to wait.

The book he is writing now , “Investigation 47” will pick up where this book ends. It deals with his rise and fall after being diagnosed HIV Positive then spiraling down and loosing everything. He tells of his battle to pick himself back up from being homeless and sexually abused by a group of men. This led to his being put in dangerous life threatening circumstances only to realize it was not just a personal struggle. He was being treated like a sexual servant and loosing his civil rights in the community. This led to suicide attempts but after he met a man with his own pre calculated plan to destroy him.

 Solomon is correct in his thinking that someone behind the scenes was working against him. After reading this I was and still am unsure about what to believe. Solomon is not a writer but his story is interesting to the point that I could stop reading. I have no conclusions and I am sure that there are those who read this that indeed do have conclusions. I am just not sure what to think.