Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

”The Way Out: A History of Homosexuality in Modern England” by Sebastian Buckle— An Incomplete History

the way out

Buckle, Sebastian. ”The Way Out: A History of Homosexuality in Modern England”, I.B. Tauris. 2015.

An Incomplete History

Amos Lassen

In Great Britain in 1957 over a thousand men were in prison because of homosexual offenses and today, fifty years later, homosexuality is part of mainstream life there. Homosexuality has itself come out of the closet and we see it on TV, in film and in literature and popular culture. Sebastian Buckle says that homosexuality as a public identity began after the Second World War, on the release of the Wolfenden Report which recommended gay sex be decriminalized, and from then on it has been part of society and in the public eye. He takes us back through the early images of homosexuality in the 1950s, the founding of the Gay Liberation Front, Section 28 and community radicalism under Margaret Thatcher’s government, the AIDs crisis of the 1980s, the e musical and cultural influence of gay subcultures and the partial acceptance into the mainstream of queer identities. The history of homosexuality in Britain is both complex and nuanced. In writing this history, we get a new look on the LGBT community’s the struggle for acceptance and fight for equality has been fought.

Buckle concentrates on the forty years from the decriminalization to the beginning of civil unions

in 2004. He looks at the print media, television, cinema and politics and writes how these impacted our history and identity concentrating on the complex outpouring and circulation of these public ideas and images and then shows their influence on individual and group identities.

There was a good deal of infighting over differences in the various British gay groups and this is one of his main focuses, He explains the controversial laws and politics and he does so in great detail.

He surveys popular media’s representations of gays and lesbians but he ignores literature and does not explain why. Pornography is also not part of this study and we cannot deny the important role it has played.

Buckle sees Britain as isolated and he ignores the outside influences on the culture. For this reason this is study is incomplete. There is just too much missing here to take this work seriously.



“Contesting Intersex: The Dubious Diagnosis” by Georgiann Davis— Looking at Intersex

contesting intersex

Davis, Georgiann. “Contesting Intersex: The Dubious Diagnosis”, (Biopolitics), NYU Press, 2015.

Looking at Intersex

Amos Lassen

Georgiann Davis is a sociologist who when a teenager, her doctors discovered that she possessed XY chromosomes and these marked her as intersex. They chose not to share this information with her and thereby withheld the diagnosis in order to “protect” the development of her gender identity. It was years before Davis would see her own medical records as an adult and learn the truth. There is nothing unique or unusual in Davis’ experience. Many intersex people feel isolated from one another and violated by medical practices that support the conventional notions of the male/female sex binary and throughout history these have caused secrecy and shame about being intersex. Today the rise of intersex activism and visibility in the US has called into question this practice of classifying intersex as an abnormality, rather than as a mere biological variation. This new shift in thinking can indeed transform entrenched intersex medical treatment.

In her “Contesting Intersex, Davis uses interviews with intersex people, their parents, and medical experts to explore and discuss those questioned views on intersex in medical and activist communities. She also explores the evolution of thought in regards to intersex visibility and transparency. What she discovers is that framing intersex as an abnormality is harmful and can terribly alter the course of one’s life. In fact, there is still great controversy over this framing as intersex has been renamed a ‘disorder of sex development’ throughout medicine. The reason this happened, Davis suggests, was as a means for doctors to reassert their authority over the intersex body in the face of increasing intersex activism in the 1990s and feminist critiques of intersex medical treatment. She argues the renaming of ‘intersex’ as a ‘disorder of sex development’ is strong evidence that the intersex diagnosis is dubious. Within the intersex community itself, disorder of sex development terminology is hotly disputed with some preferring not to use a term which “pathologizes” their bodies. Others prefer to think of intersex in scientific terms. As we can see, terminology is currently a source of tension within the movement. Davis hopes intersex activists and their allies can come together to improve the lives of intersex people, their families, and future generations. We must remember and take note however that in order for this to happen, the intersex diagnosis, as well as sex, gender, and sexuality, needs to be understood as a phenomena that is a social construct.  Davis’ book is a personal journey into medical and social activism and it gives us the author’s unique perspective on how medical diagnoses can affect lives profoundly.

The true beauty of this book is its candor and its honesty. Because she is an insider, Davis can easily illuminate the debate about how to respond to this diversity of sex development in humans. The interviews go where few have gone before and Davis’ provides astute analyses and very readable language. She goes straight to the heart of the controversies about the way medicine looks at and manages intersex while at the same time she provides an intense look at the politics of intersex advocates and activists. The issues of gender and sexual identity are complex and therefore the medical profession has the obligation to help rather than disrupt.

“Pink Swastika : Homosexuality in the Nazi Party” by Kevin Abrams and Scott Lively—Ridiculous Theories with No Backup Proof

the pink swastika

Abrams, Kevin and Scott Lively. “Pink Swastika : Homosexuality in the Nazi Party”, Founders Publishing Company, 1995.

Ridiculous Theories with No Backup Proof

Amos Lassen

I am constantly stunned when I read ridiculous propaganda that is masqueraded as fact and this is the paragon of trash here. Just to give you an idea how much untruth is here, try to locate the publishing company that printed this book. It simply does not exist and if it ever did you can bet that the owners are laying low. The blurb tells us that his is a book about the hidden history of the Nazis, it documents in great detail that Hitler was a pervert of the highest order, “a coprophile”. Furthermore it also maintains that Hitler was, in his younger years, a rent boy “who frequented homosexual hang outs and that sodomy was rampant throughout the nazi (sic) machine”. The authors claim to have disturbing eyewitness testimonies of the concentration camp guards molesting and raping young Jewish boys. This is, according to them not the “whitewashed deception that’s fed to us via the media and so called educational systems. It documents that Hitler and Stalin were both illegitimate offspring of the Rothschilds”. If the book stopped right there it would have been enough but there is so much more fabrication that I could not keep myself from saying “no” after every sentence and thinking that if the authors had only done something constructive instead of writing this book we all might be better off.

The book goes on to expose “the Tavistock Institute in England in which Hitler got his original marching orders and brainwashing. Not mentioned in the book but of great interest to any truth seeker is the fact that The Beatles were also a construct of this most evil of institutions”.

The book reaches the conclusion that there was a Homo-fascist influence in the Nazi movement and ‘NO’ Homo-holocaust as to the level of Jew, Gypsy or Politic ! The assumption that most people knew that homosexuals were targeted as embarrassing nuisance rather than a active enemy of the State to be exterminated is therefore invalid and that the case was more like ‘Don’t ask Don’t tell’. Gays who were non-conforming were shipped off for re-programming in the work camps, murdered and abused but there is no evidence of a homo- holocaust. Can we therefore assume that many closeted gays operated in the regime because they were attracted to the butch uniforms and positions of power and used them for there own agenda? “The Pink Swastika” debunks the idea that gays were exterminated as well as debunks revisionist histories that claim Nazis opposed homosexuality. We are to see the underlying homosexual basis of Nazi ideology and this explains why so many homosexual organizations seem to operate along the same principles today. (How can anyone make something like this up?). What evil minds have nothing better to do?

The book itself is a complete joke, a compendium of hearsay and rumor, with no attempt at seeking out primary sources. The most offensive thing that it does is to use discredited innuendo to attempt to recast a holocaust victim group, homosexuals, as perpetrators.

 Scott Lively is a misleading fundamentalist nationalist theocrat who traffics in paranoia and misinformation and this book has been discredited from many quarters by numerous experts on the rise of Nazism. Holocaust historians have discredited the book everywhere so we have to wonder who reads this and gives it good reviews? For one, Glenn Beck loved it but let us not forget that he is nothing more than a former AM radio shock-jock, recovering alcoholic and former cocaine addict as well as a purveyor of countless conspiracy theories. He also cries when prompted and publicly. He loved the book just as did Lively’s comrades in the right wing fundamentalist nationalist Christian (small “c” intentional) subculture. This book is obviously an attempt to link Hitler and people who support gay marriage. By doing so, gays once again become an easy target for even more hate.

It is important to remember that the best hate material is always that which includes a number of facts in among the lies and distortions. It is true that some of the early Nazis were gay, such as Ernst Roehm. But to generalize from that to saying that Nazism itself was a gay movement is quite a stretch especially know how gays were treated by the Reich.

The real Nazis here are the authors and their pack of homophobic lies that make a joke of known history. Without doubt there were those Nazis that were heterosexual and that were homosexual. Nazism was a racist, German supremacist movement, and homosexuality had nothing to do with it. This is not history but slanderous propaganda. What we have here is a collection of really absurd theories from a guy who makes his living attacking gay people. During the recent Oregon ballot measures, Lively spread his absurd propaganda.

For good or evil, sexuality has nothing to do with a person’s character and actions. Morality applies to everyone. And here is Lively, a creature who tries to imply that there was evil, or more evil, in the Nazi party because some of the maniacs who were part of it happened to be homosexual.

Just today, July 18, 2015 we hear of one particularly ugly canard, drawn from Lively’s discredited 1998 book “The Pink Swastika” that claims that gay men dominated the Nazi Party ranks and instituted many of the horrors of the Third Reich. The notion is so absurd even Lively’s absurd employer, the far-right American Family Association, immediately distanced itself from that claim.  

The demonstrably false claim serves several purposes for antigay activists like Bryan Fischer, for example. For one, it turns gay men into jackbooted thugs rather than victims of the antigay right that they are today, not to mention in Nazi Germany, where tens of thousands were murdered or perished at concentration camps. It also justifies extreme antigay measures because we are defined as the moral descendants of the worst villains in history. Fischer and his far-right ilk view themselves as under siege, like Jews in Nazi Germany, but they also fancy themselves the conquering Army, led by General God. (is this surreal or what?).

New York journalist Garrett Glaser, one of the first out TV news reporters in the U.S. and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Hall of Fame award winner for 2009 came across one of Fischer’s old broadsides, ”The truth about homosexuality and the Nazi Party,” he thought to himself, “What a crock!” and did what good journalists do by seeking the truth. He sent the column off to the senior historian at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and requested an analysis.

A few weeks later, he received an email from historian Peter Black with a detailed destruction of the Fischer-Lively claims.

“This provides even more evidence that the Rev. Scott Lively and associates brazenly re-write history,” said Glaser. “What’s noteworthy here is the extent to which they will go” to defame us. Here is some of what Bryan Fischer had to say:

  • “…the Nazi Party began in a gay bar in Munich, and Ernst Roehm, Hitler’s right hand in the early days of Nazism, was well-known for his taste in young boys. William Shirer says in his definitive “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” not only that Roehm was “important in the rise of Hitler,” but also “like so many of the early Nazis, (he was) a homosexual.”
  • “Hitler’s Brown Shirts, the dreaded SA, better known as “Storm Troopers,” were the creation of another homosexual, Gerhard Rossbach, and Storm Troopers were almost exclusively homosexual. They also, sadly, comprised most of the leadership of the Hitler Youth, resulting in frequent instances of sexual molestation.
  • The Brown Shirts were Hitler’s enforcers. According to Nazi historian Louis Snyder, Roehm recruited homosexuals into the SA because Roehm felt Germany needed “a proud and arrogant lot who could brawl, carouse, smash windows, kill and slaughter for the hell of it. Straights, in (Roehm’s) eyes, were not as adept in such behavior as practicing homosexuals.”
  • “Most of Hitler’s closest aides were homosexuals or sexual deviants. This circle included not only Roehm but also the Hitler Youth leader, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Economics, Hermann Goering (who may not have been homosexual but who liked to dress in drag, paint his nails and put rouge on his cheeks), his personal attorney and his bodyguards. Hitler himself likely functioned as a male prostitute in the days of his youth in Vienna”.
  • “Heinrich Himmler, second in power only to Hitler, was publicly opposed to homosexuality but may have been a closet homosexual himself, and served Roehm faithfully and loyally until Roehm fell out of Hitler’s favor. Himmler was deeply immersed in the occult, as was Hitler, which led them ultimately to replace every Christian holiday on the German calendar with a pagan counterpart”.
  • “There of course is no question that the Nazis rounded up effeminate homosexuals and a great many of them died in slave labor camps as a result of mistreatment and disease. Historians estimate that less than one percent of Europe’s homosexual community died at the hands of the Nazis. While even one such death is too many, this pales in comparison to the 85% of Europe’s Jews who, unlike homosexuals, were sent to gas chambers”.
  • “Many of the guards and administrators responsible for concentration camp horrors were themselves homosexuals. Famous Nazi hunter Elie Weisel was sent to Auschwitz, where he discovered that the head of his part of the camp “loved children,” and observed that “there was a considerable traffic in young children among homosexuals there.”
  • “In some camps, SS guards would actually sponsor lotteries to see which of the “young attractive homosexuals” would go to whom, while at the same time, according to one historian, they “lashed out with special fury against those who showed effeminate traits.” A Pink Triangle survivor said, “The ones who were soft were the ones who suffered terribly.”
  • “Even today in America, it is chic in some homosexual circles for individuals to wear replicas of Nazi Germany uniforms, complete with iron crosses, storm trooper outfits, military boots and even swastikas”.

What follows is the response from the Holocaust historian, Peter Black, in full:

  1. With regard to the general thrust of the text that you sent us under the title, “The Truth About Homosexuality and the Nazi Party” there is no documentation to confirm that the Nazi policy towards homosexual acts (as they were labeled in those days) was governed by a Party distinction between those folks referred to in the text as “effeminate” and “masculine” homosexuals.

Even before the Nazis came to power, same gender sexual relations constituted a criminal offense under German law, though during the years of Germany’s first republic (1919-1933) only sexual intercourse or sexual exchanges aimed at a similar result constituted criminal behavior. In general, though not always, the police in the big cities, particularly Berlin and Hamburg, were relatively lax on enforcement of the law in cases that came to their attention, as long as the “offense” involved two consenting adults acting on their private time.

The Nazis shared the belief with many in the German population that same gender sexual relations were 1) unnatural and immoral; 2) undermined the cohesiveness of the family; 3) increased the habit and temptation to engage in other criminal behavior; 3) encouraged the seduction and corruption of minors; 4) and rendered public sector officials vulnerable to blackmail by foreign intelligence agents and (5) both public and private sector employees susceptible to using or demanding sexual favors in the workplace to obtain or grant discriminatory treatment in hiring, promoting, receiving assignments, rewarding and disciplining employees.

On a broader level, the Nazis also shared with many others among all classes of German society a notion that homosexuality undermined the vitality of the German male, and the capacity of Germans to stand up for themselves diplomatically or in war. Beyond this, the Nazis believed that homosexuals undermined the future of the German race by not devoting their sexual energy to reproduction. Even here, the Nazis had no exclusive ownership of this belief on this belief.

Hence when the Nazis came to power, over the first three years of Nazi rule, they 1) broadened the applicability of the law to criminalize even gestures without touching that might suggest a homosexual relationship or intent to engage in same-gender sex; 2) decreed stiffer penalties for persons convicted under the broader law; and 3) ordered more focused and consistent police enforcement of the law. Under Nazi rule, some 100,000 persons were arrested under the law; approximately 63,000 were convicted. Homosexual rights organizations were banned and their assets and publications confiscated, and past offenders, whether or not they had committed another crime, were sent to concentration camps, where hundreds, possibly thousands died under Nazi rule.

There is no reliable documentation that would suggest or confirm that, in applying the criminal statute the German judiciary and police made a legal distinction between the categories that are identified in the text that you have sent us.

Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer SS and Chief of German Police during the Nazi regime, believed that most homosexual activity was the consequence of experimentation or seduction and hence could be erased by discipline.

  1. Among the other notions in the text that you sent us that find no confirmation in the historical record or are simply incorrect are the following:

There are no records of 40,000 “confessions of Nazi Party members to having engaged in same-gender sex.

There is no record to confirm that the Nazi Party was founded in a so-called gay bar.

While SA Chief of Staff Ernst Röhm did place on his staff individuals who were homosexuals — primarily because he had known them for years and could count on their personal loyalty to him — neither he nor the SA commanders ever recruited on this basis. Moreover, the SA chief of staff between 1925 and 1930, when Röhm was in Bolivia, was not a homosexual and did not recruit on this basis.

Hitler’s reason for having Röhm shot was not Röhm’s disloyalty to Hitler, but the demand of the German Army leadership, which feared the replacement of the professional army

by a People’s Army promoted by Röhm and the SA commanders, told Hitler that his continued rule depended upon removing the SA leadership.

Though open as one could be in those days about his sexual preferences, there is no reliable documentation to confirm that Röhm engaged in sexual acts with minors.

There is no documentation that would confirm that the killers on June 30 1934 of Röhm and the other victims, were, as a group, homosexuals, either openly or “in the closet.”

The three main conspirators — Himmler, Heydrich, and Goring — were not homosexuals, nor were the best known of the executioners, Josef Sepp Dietrich and Theodor Eicke.

There is no reliable documentation to confirm the statement that Hitler thought homosexuals would make suitable SA men because of a propensity to violence or because of any other reason.

The size of the SA in 1934 was about 4.0 million.

There is no reliable documentation that would confirm that Baldur von Schirach (Hitler Youth Leader), Franz Gürtner (Minister of Justice to 1941), Otto von Thierack (Minister of Justice (1942-1945) Hjalmar Schacht (Minister of Economics to 1938), Walter Funk (Minister of Economics,. 1938-1945), Hermann Göring, Hans Frank (Hitler’s personal lawyer up to 1939, or any of his personal bodyguards were gay.

There is no reliable documentation to confirm that Hitler worked as a male prostitute in Vienna.

While there is plenty of evidence that both Himmler and Hitler were implacably hostile to the Christian Churches and denominations, in particular the Catholic Church, there is no documentation that provides confirmation that either was, as the article says, “a closet homosexual”.

Jews and Christian clergy were indeed targeted by the Nazi regime, but not, as the article opines, in like ways. All Jews were targets; only those Christian clergy who failed to comply with Nazi secular law or who engaged in public opposition to the regime were targeted and only for as long as they engaged in these activities.

There is no reliable documentation that “the masculine homosexual movement” as phrased by the article, was responsible for the formation of the SA. The Nazi Party and SA had separate beginnings; the SA came into the Nazi movement as a more or less equal partner in the early 1920s. After Hitler came out of prison in 1925, the SA was completely and absolutely subordinate to the Nazi Party and its Führer.

Two-thirds of Europe’s Jews were killed in the Holocaust; less than half of them died in gas chambers.

While there were acts of same gender sex among prisoners — some consensual, some not–the existing documentary evidence does not confirm that “many of the guards and administrators responsible for the concentration camp horrors were themselves homosexuals.” After 1941, conviction under paragraph 175 (sexual deviation) for an SS man meant at a minimum expulsion from the SS and could carry a death sentence.

For more information about the situation of gay people under Nazi rule, please visit our website (”

Is it not interesting that after reading Black’s refutation, the Nazis’ positions on homosexuality sound, like Bryan Fischer and Scott Lively’s.

Clearly, Fischer and facts have never been bedfellows, so will this refutation from a beyond-reproach expert finally shut him up? Probably not but he will certainly sound even more stupid than ever before.

Incidentally there is a new book out by Andrew Wackerfuss, “Stormtrooper Families: Homosexuality and Community in the Early Nazi Movement” from Harrington Park Press that I recently reviewed. Some of you might want to have a look at it.


“Defining Marriage: Voices from a Forty-Year Labor of Love” by Matt Baume— Personal Views

defining marriage

Baume, Matt. “Defining Marriage: Voices from a Forty-Year Labor of Love”, Matt Baume, 2015.

Personal Views

Amos Lassen

I find it almost unreal to realize that the definition of marriage has changed so tremendously in such a short period of time. I certainly never thought that I would live to see legal gay marriage. After all, until very recently, the definition of marriage was only for a male and a female and today it includes members of the same sex. ”Defining Marriage” looks at the evolution of marriage through the eyes of those who watched it change. Matt Baume a look at the private lives of “those who dreamed of marriage in the 1970s, the survivors of the 1980s, the audacious pioneers of the 1990s, the tireless soldiers of the 2000s, and the champions who won marriage today”.

We see here, via individual stories, what marriage has become and we read the personal narratives of how the act of defining marriage forever changed those who were involved in the fight. There is also Baume’s personal story as a marriage activist with no plans to marry his partner. The activists here include Dustin Lance Black, Dan Savage, Andrew Sullivan, Gavin Newsome, Rob Reiner, Ed Murray and many others from all kinds of profession and walks of life from members of the LGBT community and allies. We hear from Clela Rorex, “who in 1975 became America’s first government official to issue a marriage license to gay couples”. Molly McKay (who I once met in, all of places, Eureka Springs, Arkansas) who showed up at marriage counters and demanded a license every Valentine’s Day for a decade until someone finally agreed.

With so much new literature about marriage equality out there, it is a pleasure to read a book that is written about it from the personal angle. There is also a lot of behind-the-scenes information and we read of members of congress and other political leaders as they were locked into arguments. This is our story and we should never forget the struggle and how proud we are now that we have received what we fought for. However, we must all realize that the battles are still not over.

“New Desires, New Selves: Sex, Love, and Piety among Turkish Youth” by Gul Ozyegin— Social Transformations

new desires, new selves

Ozyegin, Gul. “New Desires, New Selves: Sex, Love, and Piety among Turkish Youth”, NYU Press, 2015.

Social Transformation

Amos Lassen

Turkey is moving ahead globally and has already found its way with neoliberal capitalism that has shifts in politics, religion and gender and sexual identity. Author Gul Ozyegin shows us how Turkey’s social transformation is being felt by the young citizens who are attracted by sexual modernity yet still want to be attached to the traditions, history and identity of the country. What we read here is the result of working with a spectrum of upwardly mobile young adults at a major Turkish university. Their biographies are linked to the history/biography of Turkey and we then see their creation of conflicted identities in their country that has not had an easy existence and has stood between East and West, modern and traditional, and secular and Islamic. For the young people, sexuality, gender expression, and intimate relationships in particular are important issues and the place to begin d challenging patriarchy and paternalism that was one of the hallmarks of earlier generations. “The quest for sexual freedom and an escape from patriarchal constructions of selfless femininity and protective masculinity promise both personal transformations and profound sexual guilt and anxiety.”

The case Ozyegin has built here uses important sociological issues. We read what Turkish youth have to say about their lives and aspirations while tremendous social, cultural, economic and political changes are happening all around them. What they have to say almost forces us to re-think everyday life in Muslim contexts and how we look at sexuality and gender. It is certainly not new that young adults construct their identities during times of great change—we certainly have seen that here in the United States on several occasions.

Here we see Individual biographies of men and women not only provide us with family histories but also with what they feel about their country. In effect, these students make a great deal of sense and they embrace both the old and the new. We do not have the ability to understand the intimate lives of the young adults anywhere and this is because of conformance to traditionally religious sex/gender scripts, or loss to modern global neoliberalism. Today, young Turks have to deal with desire in a social context that is changing very quickly. We see them here as they look again at conceptions of masculinity; femininity and romance, while at the same time are creatively rebuilding who they are.

New in August from Bruno Gmunder


New in August

Takeshi Matsu
Dr. Makumakuran – and Other Stories

Takeshi Matsu has been widely published in gay Japanese magazines and books. This manga features the science fiction-themed cover story Dr. Makumakuran and various other stories.

176 pages, black and white
Softcover with flaps, 6 ¾ x 9 ½“ (17,0 x 23,8 cm)
€ 19,99 / US$ 24.99 / C$ 27.99 / £ 19.99
ISBN 978-3-86787-843-2

red hotThomas Knights

Red Hot 100

On the heels of his hugely successful Red Hot exhibitions in London , Rotterdam , New York , and Berlin , photographer and filmmaker Thomas Knights created the ultimate bible for fans of hot ginger men: Red Hot 100. With a truly international feel, the book contains one hundred flame-haired guys from all over the world, captured topless against the iconic vivid blue background now synonymous with the Red Hot brand. Not only is it pleasing to the eye, the book also holds a mirror up to current perceptions of male beauty and asks the question, Why are there so few ginger heroes or heartthrobs in Western culture? This is sure to change after Red Hot 100. Now in a new format!

144 pages, full color
Hardcover with dustjacket, 8 ½“ x 11 ¼“ (21, 5 x 28 ,5 cm)
€ 49,99 / US$ 59.99 / C$ 69.99 / £ 390.99
ISBN 978-3-95985-022-3


Ronny Matthes
Spartacus Berlin Gay Guide
When elsewhere the streets empty for the night, the fun justs starts in Berlin . Even during the day it never gets boring. With the abundance of clubs, bars, museums, galeries, and theaters one can quickly lose the overview. But not with this guide. This completely revised edition includes many free tickets and vouchers to various parties and sights—a must-have for every Berlin visitor.

200 pages, full color, German and English
Softcover, 4 ¼ x 7” (10, 5 x 18 cm)
€ 11,95 / US$ 20.99 / C$ 18.00 / £ 11.99
ISBN 978-3-86787-860-9

“Talk” by Linda Rosenkrantz— Friendships


Rosenkrantz, Linda. “Talk”, New York Review of Books reprint 2015 (originally published in 1969).


Amos Lassen

Set in the summer of 1965, we meet Emily, Vincent and Marsha, three artistic and ambitious friends approaching their thirties. They are interested and invested in analyzing themselves and everyone around them. They discuss sex, shrinks, psychedelics, sculpture, and S and M in an ongoing dialogue where anything goes and no topic is off limits. Not just because of the topics discusses but also because of the way it is written, “Talk: was controversial upon its first publication in 1968 and today, some fifty years later, it is still fresh, lascivious, and laugh aloud funny. It is most certainly a very funny and irreverent look at what comprises our friendships— gossip, questioning, analysis, arguments, and revelations. At the time Rosenkrantz and her friends were living a hippie lifestyle before the hippie lifestyle even happened and they see themselves as creative intellectuals. The reader sees a realness to the way they relate to one another and the world.

Nothing is too sacred not to be talked about and the talk is open and up for grabs. Today it is no longer shocking or embarrassing. Rosenkrantz used a method of transcribing actual conversations she had with her friends and they became this book which is drenched in reality and realism. The characters are defined by what they say and this shows us how raw we can be. If for no reason than to see life as it was in the 60s, you should read this. When you think about what you have read, you begin to understand how America got to where she is today.

I looked up the original Kirkus review when the book came out in 68 and I am compelled to add it here:

“Talk. . .. nothing but loose talk? Yes, really LOOSE. There’s nothing these three won’t say. Aloud. It’s sort of a triologue between Emily and Marsha and Vincent–he’s a homosexual [really?], and they’re spending a very positive summer in East Hampton. They’ve been going to analysis for years. Did it help? Not noticeably, although most of this is couched in the Idiom. Well, does anything happen? Hard to say, except for Vincent’s anxiety attack on the beach. Mostly it’s blablabla about food and sex and their wallflowered adolescence and their deflowered thereafter and lots of people would agree with Vincent that he doesn’t want a woman who’s “”slept around the way you have and who uses the word —– so much.”” Oh, that’s just the “”prudistic ethic.”” But is it any fun? Now you’re being hostile, really hostile. But I guess you could say they do their thing with cheeky imperviousness. H. “”You just said something very profound and you didn’t even realize it.” Haven’t times really changed!!!!

We know that friendships are built on talk and we certainly see that here. “Talk” is a novel in dialogue. “The friends are ambitious, conflicted, jealous, petty, loving, funny, sex- and shrink-obsessed, and there’s nothing they won’t discuss. Topics covered include LSD, fathers, exes, lovers, abortions, S&M, sculpture, books, cats, and of course, each other”.

What we really see here is the fascination and significance of nonfamily ties in contemporary life.


“Bisexuality: Identities, Politics, and Theories” by Surya Munro— The “B” in LGBT


Munro, Surya. “Bisexuality: Identities, Politics, and Theories”, Palgrave Macmillan. 2015.

The “B” in LGBT

Amos Lassen

Bisexuality unlike the other letters of LGBT has never really come into its own. We really do not see or hear bisexuals being outing there fighting for equal rights; they have remained somewhat invisible. We do not hear much bisexuality academically and while we are aware that it exists most of us have never really known a true bisexual. With “Bisexuality:

Identities, Politics, and Theories” we get a new agenda for looking at sexualities and genders and we do this by focusing on the lives of people who are “bisexual or who have other identities that are not heterosexual, lesbian or gay, in an international context”. We are met with questions— “What are bisexual people’s lived experiences? How can these be understood using social and political theories? What are the implications of bisexuality for future theorizing and research?”

This new volume maps out under-explored territory and doing so tries to answer these questions by looking at topical themes, including sex and relationships, community, the co-modification of bisexuality, and activism. We also see how understandings of bisexuality can be used by the social sciences in fields such as identity construction, social inequalities, postcolonial relations, and citizenship.

There has been a lot of talk of late on sexual fluidity and this has certainly captured academia yet sexual identity categories remain the basis of identity construction and politics for most of in Europe and America. Author Surya Munro gives us an overview of bisexuality, something that has been long needed. In this, the first academic book for years to deal with bisexuality, it also synthesizes and integrates theories on sexuality in a way that is easy to read and understand while scholarly.

“Intersex, Theology, and the Bible: Troubling Bodies in Church” edited by Susannah Cornwall— Challenging the Binary

intersex theology and the bible

Cornwall, Susannah (editor). “Intersex, Theology, and the Bible: Troubling Bodies in Church”, Text, and Society, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Challenging the Binary

Amos Lassen

There are those among us today who are intersex and they challenge the binary sex system operative in Western societies. They have often been “pathologized, problematized, or altered via surgical intervention to make them less exceptional”. Doctors, parents, religious institutions have considered those with this “intersex” label to be trouble. In this new book, scholars come together and look at intersex from a range of perspectives, including constructive and pastoral theologies, biblical studies, and sociology of religion.

An interesting aspect suggested here is that intersex’s capacity to ‘trouble’ might also be understood positively since it challenges unquestioned norms and dubious assumptions in religion and beyond.

Susannah Cornwall shows here that intersex is a “critically important, theologically suggestive, and historically threatening category in the practice and study of religion”.

“Westerly Windina: Surf Champion Peter Drouyn’s Transformation into Westerly Windina” by Jamie Brisick— The Transformation

becoming westerly

Brisick, Jamie. “Westerly Windina: Surf Champion Peter Drouyn’s Transformation into Westerly Windina”, Outpost19, 2015.

The Transformation

Amos Lassen

Those of you who were around in the 60s and 70s may remember Australian Peter Drouyn who was one of the world’s greatest surfers. He was the person who began the “aggressive approach called “power surfing” as well as having introduced the man-on-man competition format, and charged giant waves in Hawaii”. Drouyn did many different things—he was a method actor, surf resort owner, wave stadium inventor, and modeling school founder among others but then about ten years ago some completely unexpected happened— Peter transitioned into Westerly.

In 2012 there was the trip to Bangkok for gender reassignment surgery but before that we read of Peter Drouyn’s odyssey from pre-teen prodigy to global surf god and then to embittered has-been who “struggles to rise again as the glamorous, phoenix-like, sixty-four-year-old Westerly”. Westerly’s story reminds of what it is to be human and flawed. The story here is much more than the story of one who goes through gender reassignment—it is also

a look at narcissism, of what makes a celebrity, and a look at the surfing world. We read how surfing moved from obscurity to the mainstream, and how one surfer went from fame to obscurity.

This is also the story of writer Jamie Brisick, and work at trying to understand what all of this is about. As he tells Westerly’s story he raises important questions that all of us deal with through our lives—“Who are we? Where do we begin? Where do we end? Is there such a thing as destiny? Are we riding the wave or a part of it? And as with the best books, in the end it’s our own lives we examine.”

I have never been interested in surfing but I must say that Brisick has written about it in such a fascinating manner that I found myself rereading those sections. He writes prose that not only draws the reader but that holds him there.

My own experience with gender reassignment comes from my nephew who was born as my niece. I have had great difficulty in understanding the “why” of his choice especially since he did at age 41 and then along came this book that cleared so much up for me. I had always thought of Madonna and Cher as master of reinvention and then I met Peter Drouyn/Westerly Windina in these pages and I began to understand what personality contradictions really mean. It is really exciting to learn how a person can be inspiring, brave, selfish and narcissistic at the same time. Everything about this book is first class and to read it is pure pleasure.