Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

“Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: Perspectives on Marital Possibilities” by Ronald C. Den— What Awaitas

beyond-same-sex-marriage

Otter, Ronald C. Den. “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: Perspectives on Marital Possibilities”, Lexington Books, 2016.

What Awaits

Amos Lassen

Now that the debate over same-sex marriage in the United States has ended, what awaits us in the future is uncertain. What marriage will be like in the future has moved from academia and if you remember, Supreme Court Justice Roberts said in his dissenting remarks in Obergefell that constitutionally-mandated legal recognition of same-sex marriage can possibly mean that the states may also have to recognize multi-person intimate relationships as well in order to avoid discriminating against plural marriage enthusiasts. Marriage could, and perhaps should, look very different than it does today. Instead of settling the question of whether states “ought to abolish marriage, make it more inclusive, contractual, or call it something else”, we see here that there are normative, legal, and empirical questions that Americans must address before “they can deliberate thoughtfully about whether to keep the marital status quo where monogamy remains privileged”.

In the essays contained in this book, we read opinions on marital reform that are written for ordinary Americans, their elected representatives, and judges, so that they can ultimately decide whether they want to continue to define marriage narrowly, make it inclusive to avoid discrimination, or have the state leave the marriage business. Included here are eight original essays that explain important but often-neglected areas of the marriage issue. We see why marriage equality should be considered the beginning and not the end of progressive thinking about the future of marriage. It is important reading for those who are interested in where we will next go regarding justice and policy in terms of marriage.

The tenets of liberalism— freedom, equality, and fairness, give a straightforward answer to the question of marriage equality for same-sex couples but following that is a slew of questions that could possibly arise. The essays here deal with the most difficult results of governing intimacy. Among other topics, we read about life in a modern Mormon family and we receive an analysis of liberal neutrality as well as an argument against legal recognition of plural marriage. “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage” gives us an overview of many of the complex issues raised “by polygamy, plural marriage, polyamory, and the family forms to which these practices give rise.” The scholars included here are Sonu Bedi, Janet Bennion, Mark Goldfeder, Yosef Razin, Diane Klein, Andrew Lister, Ameneh Maghzi, Mark Gruchy, Kristin McCarty, Maura Strassberg and Olivia Newman. Elizabeth Sheff wrote the forward.

 

“Appealing for Justice: One Colorado Lawyer, Four Decades and the Landmark Gay Rights Case: Romer V. Evans” by Susan Berry Casey— A Place at the Table

appealing-for-justice

Casey, Susan Berry. “Appealing for Justice: One Colorado Lawyer, Four Decades and the Landmark Gay Rights Case: Romer V. Evans”, Gilpin Park Press, 2016.

A Place at the Table

Amos Lassen

 Jean Eberhart Dubofsky came of age when there was trouble everywhere and this trouble was propelled by grave injustice. “Appealing For Justice” tells the story of Dubofsky, a shy, unknown woman found her place at the table and led the way breaking down barriers and helping shape the direction of history. Throughout her story we see that injustice, discrimination, and inequality were just beneath the surface of the country. Yet Jean Dubofsky made history in 1979 when she was the first woman appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court and then made history again in 1996 at the U.S. Supreme Court when she argued and won the landmark gay rights case, Romer v. Evans. “Her journey from helping to shape and implement the strategy that led to the passage of the 1968 Civil Rights Act, to bringing the first slavery lawsuit since the Civil War, and finally winning at the U.S. Supreme Court is not simply her story, it also is the a story of an entire generation”.

This is the story of one woman but her story was a pivotal one in a very important civil rights lawsuit and writer Susan Berry Casey shows that while this is a story about one woman but it is also the story of a generation and social justice. We see how change can happen when one is passionate and we clearly see how one person affects an entire movement. Below is the table of contents:

PART ONE:  

  1. Berlin  
  2. Stanford University
  3. From Betty Crocker to Capitol Hill  
  4. No Ladies Need Apply  
  5. The Tornado

PART TWO:  

  1. Washington D.C. 1968  
  2. Confronting Slavery  
  3. Heading West to Colorado  
  4. The Political Game  
  5. The First Woman Deputy Attorney General

PART THREE:

  1. The Witch Hunt  
  2. The First Woman Justice  
  3. Storm Clouds Inside the Court  
  4. The Accusation  
  5. Topeka. Again.  
  6. Professor Dubofsky

PART FOUR:  

  1. Equality or Hate?  
  2. A Stunning Election Defeat  
  3. The Battle for Gay Rights

PART FIVE:  

  1. Let The Trials Begin  
  2. A Risky Legal Gambit
  3. Appealing for Justice
  4. The Supreme Effort  
  5. Nine Justices  
  6. Waiting For History

 

“Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities” by Rogers Brubaker— Gender and Race as Forces for Change

trans

Brubaker Rogers. “Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities”, Princeton University Press. 2016.

Gender and Race as Forces for Change

Amos Lassen

The summer of 2015 brought us a couple of big changes. Olympian Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender and shortly afterwards, NAACP official and political activist Rachel Dolezal was “outed” by her parents as white thus causing a heated debate in the media about the fluidity of gender and race. We faced an interesting question. “If Jenner could legitimately identify as a woman, could Dolezal legitimately identify as black?”

Using the pairing of “transgender” and “transracial” as his starting point, Rogers Brubaker shows how gender and race which have long been understood as stable, inborn, and unambiguous, have opened up the forces of change and choice. Transgender identities have moved from the margins to the mainstream with almost unbelievable speed, and ethnoracial boundaries have become quite blurred. Paradoxically, sex has had a much deeper biological basis than race and choosing or changing one’s sex or gender has been more widely accepted than choosing or changing one’s race.

Few accepted Dolezal’s claim to be black, yet we now see that racial identities are becoming more fluid as ancestry (increasingly understood as mixed) and loses its authority over identity. As race and ethnicity, like gender have come to be understood not just as something we have but also as something we do. We have begun to rethink race and ethnicity by looking at the transgender experience that includes not just a movement from one category to another but positions between and beyond existing categories including “the malleability, contingency, and arbitrariness of racial categories”.

Gender and race are being reimagined and reconstructed and that is what “Trans” is about—it looks at new ways of thinking about identity.

Brubaker provides us with the wide-ranging exploration of tensions between givenness and chosenness in today’s identity discourse.

We are urged to think using the space that transgender reveals between culture and biology to understand how we experience race and ethnicity.

We now can rethink the politics surrounding those who choose racial and gender identities that go against the expectations of society. In asking important questions we see a new inquiry into why racial and ethnic categories are considered as more biological and less legitimately variable than sex and gender. Here is a very important and utile look at the directions that ‘transgenderism’ and ‘transracialism’.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

 

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction 1

Part One: The Trans Moment

1 Transgender, Transracial? 15

“Transgender” and “Transracial” before the Dolezal Affair 17

The Field of Argument 21

“If Jenner, Then Dolezal”: The Argument from Similarity 22

Boundary Work: The Argument from Difference 31

2 Categories in Flux 40

Unsettled Identities 41

The Empire of Choice 50

The Policing of Identity Claims 56

The New Objectivism 64

Part Two: Thinking with Trans

3 The Trans of Migration 71

Unidirectional Transgender Trajectories 74

Reconsidering “Transracial” 80

Transracial Trajectories, Past and Present 82

4 The Trans of Between 92

Transgender Betweenness: Oscillation, Recombination, Gradation 94

Racial and Gender Betweenness 101

Recombinatory Racial Betweenness: Classification and Identification 104

Performing Betweenness 108

5 The Trans of Beyond 113

Beyond Gender? 114

Beyond Race? 122

Conclusion 131

Notes 153

Bibliography 183

Index 229

“Queerly Remembered: Rhetorics for Representing the GLBTQ Past” by Thomas R. Dunn– How Change is Advocated

queerly-remembered

Dunn, Thomas R. “Queerly Remembered: Rhetorics for Representing the GLBTQ Past”, (Studies in Rhetoric/Communication), University of South Carolina Press, 2016.

How Change is Advocated

Amos Lassen

“Queerly Remembered” looks at the ways in which gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (GLBTQ) individuals and communities have turned to “public tellings of their ostensibly shared pasts in order to advocate for political, social, and cultural change in the present”. The LGBTQ community has learned that in communicating the past through the use of memory, is a very rich resource for looking at both the past and present opinions about the cause for equality. Thomas Dunn draws on the interdisciplinary fields of rhetorical studies, memory studies, gay and lesbian studies, and queer theory as he looks at the “ephemeral tactics and monumental strategies that GLBTQ communities have used to effect their queer persuasion”. He shows both

the challenges and opportunities that are posed by embracing historical representations of GLBTQ individuals and communities as a political strategy. The LGBTQ past has had to deal with the ravages of the AIDS epidemic, the attempts to silence the community and the often-divisive representational politics of fluid, intersectional identities. Our past has been filled with conflict even though today we have achieved rewards. By investigating rich rhetorical case studies through time and across diverse artifacts (including monuments, memorials, statues, media publications, gravestones, and textbooks), we see that the “turn toward memory” is a complex, enduring, and rich “rhetorical undertaking”. Dunn shows us that queer memory comes in many different rhetorical forms that recognize “queer monumentality” as a cultural value. We then see the promise and the problems of creating an affirming past that is politically salient.

 

“My Gay New Orleans: 28 Personal Reminisces on LGBT+ Life in New Orleans” by Frank Perez annd Jeffrey Palmquist— Not What I Expected

my-gay-new-orleans

Perez, Frank and Jeffrey Palmquist. “My Gay New Orleans: 28 Personal Reminisces on LGBT+ Life in New Orleans”, LL Publications, 2016.

Not What I Expected

Amos Lassen

Being from New Orleans and having come out there I anxiously waited to read this book. After all, I was a part of the gay community there and knew many people. However, this was such a disappointment in many ways and it really does not reflect on the wonderful culture that New Orleans offers to its gay community. I suppose I was angered by the fact that of the twenty eight personal recollections included several were written not by New Orleanians but my people who have visited the city and who could not have possibly understood what being gay there really entails. The blurb states, “So what is gay New Orleans and what does it look like? These are the questions this book seeks to answer”. These two questions were by and large only partially answered and while the book claims to be made up of “in effect, love letters to a city”, I did not sense that kind of love to be present here. I also question the statement that “it’s easy to be gay in New Orleans”. Today it might be easier but growing up gay in New Orleans was not easy by any means. New Orleans is a Roman Catholic city and the church has a great deal of say about what happens there. I remember all too well when the church banned films from being shown even when one of the films was by Tennessee Williams who claimed that he was often at home in New Orleans.

This could have been the book that so many of us waited for so long but unfortunately it needed a proofreader and an editor. I found myself to be more embarrassed by some of what it written here and this is not a book that will sell New Orleans to others despite a couple of excellent articles by established gay writers (i.e. Jameson Currier).

I found myself correcting comma splices and misspelled words as I read but I realized that I would not finish doing that so I gave it up. It always hurts me to write a less than favorable review and it hurts even more this time since the book is about my hometown. I really tried to like this book. Fourteen of the twenty-eight articles included are by people who do not live in New Orleans and there are very few women represented here. Keep that in mind when you are deciding to either buy or read this or both. The picture I received is totally uneven and it is not unique to a city that is known for its uniqueness.

New from Bruno Gmunder— “The Matter of Absence”

gmunder

the-matter-of-absence

The art of Florian Hetz is provocative and stirs up controversy. His explicit imagery on the one hand and his approach of showing by not showing on the other hand make his work unique.

Through photography, Hetz explores the human body, the beauty in the ugly, and the ugliness in beauty. As his most important sense, he describes seeing since an eye disease runs in his family that might eventually cause him to lose his eyesight. “I suppose that knowing you might lose something makes it more precious to you,” Hetz explains.

Pages: 48

Color: Full color

Cover: Hardcover
Format: 9 1/2 x 12 1/2″ (24 x 32 cm)
Price: € 29,99 / US$ 29.99 / £ 29.99

ISBN: 978-3-95985-209-8

“Becoming Who I Am: Young Men on Being Gay” by Ritch C. Savin-Williams— Exploring Identity and Sexuality

becoming who I am

Savin-Williams, Ritch C. “Becoming Who I Am: Young Men on Being Gay”, Harvard University Press, 2016.

 Exploring Identity and Sexuality

Amos Lassen

We know we have come a long way when gay youth are proud and happy about who they are. Most of us can remember (and it was not that long ago) when it was not the case. Today, many adults, including parents, seem a bit skeptical about the change in perceptions and attitudes. Today, coming out as gay is easy but isn’t it supposed to involve a crisis or struggle? The young men that we meet here think that this kind of thinking must change.

Ritch C. Savin-Williams’ “Becoming Who I Am” explores identity and sexuality in today’s generation of gay young men. Using a series of in-depth interviews with teenagers and men in their early 20s, Savin-Williams shows how these life stories recorded here give us the promise of an affirmative, thriving gay identity. We get a contemporary perspective on gay lives viewed across key individual milestones (from awareness of same-sex attraction to first sexual encounters; “from the uncertainty and exhilaration of coming out to family and friends to the forming of adult romantic relationships”; from insights about what it means to be gay today to ideas and thoughts on what the future may hold). The men interviewed here come from different and diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, but as gay men they share basic experiences in common and they share them with us honestly.

This is the full story that shows the more positive aspects of gay youth experiences and we are reminded that these guys live proud and happy lives. The stories we once heard that were filled with tragedy have become celebrations of joy and happiness for many. We are provided with valuable and important data along with analysis. Have a look below at the table of contents:

Preface

  • Anthony
  • Tell Our Stories
  • Why Am I Gay?
  • First Sexual Memory
  • First Arousal
  • Sex Play
  • First Crush
  • Who’s That Girl?
  • Who’s That Boy?
  • The Joy of Puberty
  • The Good, the Bad, the Porn
  • OMG! A Wet Dream
  • Masturbation
  • First Girl Sex
  • First Boy Sex
  • I’m Gay—Probably, Certainly
  • Something to Tell You
  • Hey Mom, Dad, Bro, Sis
  • Mostly Gay
  • First Love
  • He’s My Soul Man
  • Being Young and Gay in America
  • Postscript: Anthony’s Return
  • Appendix: Methods
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

“Real Queer?: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Refugees in the Canadian Refugee Apparatus” by David A. Murray— Claiming Asylum

real queer

Murray, David A. “Real Queer?: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Refugees in the Canadian Refugee Apparatus”, Rowan, 2016.

Claiming Asylum

Amos Lassen

How one proves he or she is gay is the central question for many refugees who are claiming asylum on the basis of sexual orientation persecution. We have to ask the questions of what are the inherent challenges in obtaining this proof, how is the system that assesses this predicated upon homonormative frameworks and nervous borders, what is the impact of gender, race and class and what is an ‘authentic’ sexual or gender identity and how can it be performed? “Real Queer?” is an ethnographic examination of the Canadian refugee apparatus and analyzes the social, cultural, political and affective dimensions of a legal and bureaucratic process predicated on separating the ‘authentic’ from the fake LGBT refugee. Using interviews, conversations and participant observation with various individuals (ranging from refugee claimants to their lawyers, Refugee Protection Division staff and local support group workers), we see the ways in which sexuality disrupts and is part of the nation-state’s dynamic modes of gate-keeping, citizenship and identity-making, and the effects of these issues on this category of transnational migrants

The state is deeply invested in the regulation of migrant/refugee sexuality, but conventional discussions usually pay no attention to these issues and their consequences for border-crossing. “Real Queer?” shows us the human dimensions of the queer refuge experience, as it shows that refugee queerness is as much about obedience and privilege as transgressive sexuality. It examines the

challenges, triumphs and failures of LGBT asylum seekers in Canada. We clearly see the ambivalences and shifting contours of the refugee system. Below is the table of contents:

Acknowledgments / Introduction

  1. Queering the Queer Migration to Liberation Nation Narrative
  2. Becoming an ‘Authentic’ SOGI Refugee
  3. How to be Gay (Refugee Version)
  4. Producing Documentation for SOGI Refugee Claims
  5. Discourse and Emotion in SOGI Refugee Hearings
  6. National Documentation Packages and Expert Witness Reports
  7. The Challenge of Home

Conclusion: The New Normal

Bibliography

“Darling Days: A Memoir” by iO Tillett Wright— “Punk, Poverty, Heroin and Art”

darling days

Wright, Tillett iO. “Darling Days: A Memoir”, Ecco, 2016.

“Punk, Poverty, Heroin and Art”

Amos Lassen

In his memoir, iO Tillett Wright shared that he was born in New York in the 1980s and came of age at the intersection of “punk, poverty, heroin and art”.

New York then was “a world of self-invented characters, glamorous superstars, and strung-out sufferers, ground zero of drag and performance art”. iO’s mother, Rhonna, was a showgirl and young widow, “and a mercurial, erratic glamazon”. She was also iO’s fiercest defender and only authority in a world with few boundaries and even fewer indicators of normal life. This is the story of the relationship between a fiery kid and a domineering mother who shared a bond that was defined by “freedom and control, excess and sacrifice; by heartbreaking deprivation, agonizing rupture, and, ultimately, forgiveness”.

“Darling Days” is much more than a memoir; it is also an examination of culture and identity, of the instincts that shape us and the norms that “deform” us, and of the courage and resilience it takes to listen closely to your deepest self (Something many of us have a hard time doing). When a group of neighborhood boys refuse to let six-year-old, female-born iO play ball, iO instantly finds a new persona and becomes a boy named Ricky and her parents support and celebrate. Here was the start of a profound exploration of gender and identity through the young years, and the beginning of a life that was invented and reinvented at every step and whenever necessary. The beauty of this book is that it is constantly moving back and forth between the “harrowing and the hilarious” all the while remaining as a candid and honest memoir of a young person in search of an authentic self as family and home life become chaotic.

People will have mixed feelings about the memoir because Wright tells it like it was and her honesty is brutal as well as shocking at times. She has been an artist, an activist, and a survivor and approaches life with a fierceness that we do not often see. She also happens to be a great storyteller with a true story to tell.