Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

“All American” by Corbin Fisher— The Tenth Anniversary

corbin

Fisher, Corbin. “All American”, Bruno Gmunder, 2014.  

Corbin Fisher Celebrates His Tenth Anniversary

In an industry where so many brands and companies seem to come and go, celebrating a 10th anniversary is quite the achievement. When Corbin Fisher began in a modest home basement in 2004, our focus was on making it through to the next month; while we certainly worked towards establishing something that would thrive and last, we were not so presumptuous to even think about where we might be 10 years down the line. Here we are, though – marking our first decade online, looking forward to our next, and both thrilled and humbled these years have been shared with so many incredible performers, fans, friends and partners.

Corbin Fisher has gone from being simply a video site to a destination at which an entire experi- ence – centered around our young, American college men – is offered. Our name has entered the lexicon – “He’s Corbin Fisher material” is known to mean someone is the kind of all-American, youthful, athletic guy you see on the pages of this book.

What began in a modest basement in America’s heartland ten years ago has become a brand recog- nized the world over, one that is synonymous with the beauty and raw sexuality of young American men.

The men of Corbin Fisher have filmed thousands of video episodes. They’ve journeyed around and across the United States, from the rolling hills of rural Missouri to the beaches of Florida; from the mountains and deserts of Nevada to the cities and coastal cliffs of California. They’ve traveled across the world—over a dozen countries on four continents—with our cameras there to capture them every step of the way.

The journeys our cameras capture most of all, though, are those of young men exploring their own sexuality and experimenting with one another. Countless college men have come to Corbin Fisher and discovered just how sensual, lustful, and intimate they are and can be; as they explore one ano- ther, they learn so very much about themselves.

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Cameron Frost has been working professionally as a photographer for over ten years, seven of which have been as the principal photographer for Corbin Fisher.

He started his career in Los Angeles at the age of nineteen and soon found himself photographing models, actors, and celebrities in New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Costa Rica, London, and Copenhagen. Over the years his client list has included Jesse McCartney, Paris Hilton, Hollywood Records, MTV, Disney, and Warner Brothers, among others. He has published several books and calendars, and his work has been featured in magazines such as DNA, Popstar, DU&ICH, Instinct, Elle and People.

Cameron has also worked on the other side of the lens as a model and collaborated with several exceptionally talented artists: Greg Gorman, Howard Roffman, Richard Reinsdorf, Kai Feng, and Bradford Rogne. Much of his influence came from these artists, as well as Richard Avedon, Mike Ruiz, George Hurrell, Helmut Newton, David La Chapelle, and Mert & Marcus. Through his photo- graphy, Cameron has helped raise money for several charities, including the Trevor Project, Human Rights Campaign, and GLASS by donating framed prints and photo shoots for auction.

Cameron currently resides in Dallas with his French Bulldog, Milo. 

A Jewish Reading Guide for Pride Month

A Jewish Reading Guide for Pride Month

Rabbis, writers, and poets select essential LGBT titles for Jewish readers

By Wayne Hoffman|June 25, 2014 2:08 PM

When my Jewish- and gay-themed novel Sweet Like Sugar came out in 2011, I wrote a blog post for the Jewish Book Council listing other LGBT books I thought might be of particular interest to Jewish readers. I named about two dozen titles, ranging from novels to memoirs to nonfiction.

But that was just my opinion.

In honor of Pride month, I asked several other people who know Jewish LGBT literature (including some who wrote books I’d included in my blog post) to name three essential books that Tablet readers should know about. They could define “essential” however they wanted: most accessible, most overlooked, most influential, best written, etc. The only thing they couldn’t do was choose their own books.

Narrowing down the choices to just three titles is difficult. (My own, after much deliberation: Lev Raphael’s groundbreaking short story collection * Dancing on Tisha B’Av; Gad Beck’s remarkable Holocaust memoir * An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin; and David Feinberg’s searingly comic AIDS novel *(Eighty-Sixed.) Here’s what the other participants chose. If you have your own favorites, let us know in the comments.

*

Rabbi David Dunn Bauer serves as director of social justice programming for Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City, is the founder of Queer Spiritual Counseling, and writes and teaches on queer theology and erotic spirituality.

*Angels in America by Tony Kushner. Kushner’s two-part epic play is the greatest work of American religious art to emerge from the second half of the 20th century.

Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community, *by Noach Dzmura. The essential, historic first anthology of essays by transgender Jewish voices.

Changing Lives, Making History: Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, The First 40 Years, by Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen. The powerful and beautifully written history to date of New York City’s extraordinary and influential LGBTQ synagogue. (Its publication date is September 2014, but it can be pre-ordered now.)

Joy Ladin is a poet and professor of English at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, as well as author of Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders, a memoir.

*Let the Words: Selected Poems of Yona Wallach, by Yona Wallach (translated by Linda Stern Zisquit). During the 1960s and ’70s, when Israeli society was focused on conformity, Yona Wallach—often called Israel’s Rimbaud—wrote ecstatic, violent, sometimes hallucinatory poems that play with, intertwine, and overturn norms of gender and sexuality in order to expand the meaning of being human.

*Adrienne Rich’s Poetry and Prose, by Adrienne Rich—in particular: “Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity,” “Yom Kippur 1984” (poem), and “The Genesis of ‘Yom Kippur 1984’”. A pioneering lesbian feminist poet and thinker, Rich also wrote probing, moving examinations of her complex relationship to Jewish identity. As the feminist movement came to reckon with the ethnic and historic identifications of women, Rich spoke openly of being “split at the root” between her Jewish and non-Jewish identifications.

*A Few Words in the Mother Tongue: Poems Selected and New (1971-1990), by Irena Klepfisz (translated by Adrienne Rich). Born in a DP camp at the end of WWII, Klepfisz came to the U.S. with her mother as a young child, and grew up in a socialist, secular, Yiddishist community in New York. Her groundbreaking lesbian feminist poetry and essays, many written when the U.S. feminist movement was openly hostile to Jews and the American Jewish establishment was openly hostile to Yiddish culture, interrogate and embrace all her conflicting identifications.

Jay Michaelson is the author of five books, including the bestselling God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality, and a weekly columnist for The Forward and the Daily Beast.

*Queer and Loathing: Rants and Raves of a Raging AIDS Clone, by David Feinberg. Searing, angry rants from the depths of the AIDS crisis—and really good writing.

*Queering the Text: Biblical, Medieval, and Modern Jewish Stories, by Andrew Ramer. Inclusion is boring. Transformation is sexy. This is what LGBT Jewish writing should be: daring, creative, and provocative.

*A Queer and Pleasant Danger, by Kate Bornstein. Three or four amazing memoirs in one, tracking our trans Jewish heroine’s lives in Scientology, transition, and radical sexuality.

*

Lillian Faderman is the author of the award-winning memoir Naked in the Promised Landand, most recently, My Mother’s Wars, in addition to several classics of lesbian history including Surpassing the Love of Men and Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers.

*Nice Jewish Girls, edited by Evelyn Torton Beck. This anthology, first published in 1982, was the first book I’d ever read that discussed being Jewish and being lesbian in the same breath. Groundbreaking.

*Writing a Jewish Life, by Lev Raphael. This memoir traces the moving struggle of a gay man learning how to practice Judaism after growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust.

Beyond the Pale, by Elana Dykewomon (nee Nachman). This wonderfully-researched novel is about what it might have been like to be a lesbian living on the Lower East Side in the early 20th century, during the time of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the Henry Street Settlement House, when “lesbian” was barely a concept.

*

David Levithan is the author of more than a dozen young-adult books, including Boy Meets BoyTwo Boys Kissing, and (with Rachel Cohn) Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

Never Mind the Goldbergs, by Matthue Roth. Roth single-handedly brings a queer Jewish vibe to YA [young-adult literature] in this book (and in his other book, Losers) about a whole bunch of kids—queer and nonqueer—trying to figure out not just who they want to be with, but who they want to be.

I Am J, by Cris Beam. At the heart of Beam’s powerful novel is J, a Puerto-Rican/Jewish boy who feels he was wrongly born in a girl’s body.

*Openly Straight, by Bill Konigsberg. Rafe Goldberg is tired of being seen as “the gay kid”—so when he goes off to boarding school, he decides to pass as straight…in much the same way an earlier generation might have tried to pass as non-Jewish. The laughs here are plentiful, but have a bigger point to them.

*

Rabbi Debra Kolodny is the executive director of Nehirim, spiritual leader of P’nai Or in Portland, Oregon, and editor of Blessed Bi Spirit: Bisexual People of Faith, and has been a queer activist for over 30 years.

*God vs. Gay? by Jay Michaelson. Jay does a wonderful job unpacking the clobber texts in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures via improved translation as well as cultural/historical/theological contextualization, helping the reader embrace a religious view of love, welcome, and respect for LGBT people.

*Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community, by Noach Dzmura. Notable for its wonderful reflections on life as a transgender Jew from multiple voices.

Gone to Soldiers, by Marge Piercy. I’d recommend every book by Marge Piercy, as her blend of riveting story line, political polemic, wonderfully drawn characters and explicit queer content—frequently bisexual characters—draws me in every time. Gone to Soldiers is one of her most explicitly Jewish novels.

*

Marjorie Ingall is a Life & Religion columnist for Tablet, where she writes about the best Jewish children’s books every year. She is also the author of The Field Guide to North American Males and the co-author of Hungry.

*The Purim Superhero, by Elisabeth Kushner, illustrated by Mike Byrne. A picture book with a non-didactic story about a boy who wants to be an alien for Purim even though all his friends are dressing as superheroes. One of his two dads draws gentle parallels with Esther’s choices about hiding and coming out as a Jew in the Purim story.

*Wide Awake, by David Levithan. A gay young-adult love story set against the election of the first gay Jewish president, pitting the Decents (with their policies of Denial Education) against the Jesus Revolutionaries (a new movement that actually follows Jesus’ teachings). It’s funny, fierce, wishful, and sweet.

Gravity, by Leanne Lieberman. A thoughtful, quirky, and moving young-adult novel about Ellie Gold, an Orthodox Jewish girl in Toronto in the ’80s who’s beginning to realize she’s gay. Just ignore the baffling, god-awful cover. (This author’s Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust was on my best books of 2013 list, and it too was nuanced and singular and had a terrible cover. Come on, Orca; there must be good book designers in Canada.)

*

Daniel M. Jaffe is author of the new Torah-themed novel The Genealogy of Understanding, and of Jewish Gentle and Other Stories of Gay-Jewish Living.

*Twice Blessed: On Being Lesbian or Gay and Jewish, edited by Christie Balka and Andy Rose. This was a ground-breaking anthology of autobiographical essays covering a broad range of LGB Jewish experience, and it inspired several other such anthologies afterward.

*Adrienne Rich’s Poetry and Prose, by Adrienne Rich, edited by Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi and Albert Gelpi. This Norton Critical Edition, which includes many of Rich’s writings on her lesbianism and Jewishness, captures the beauty, wisdom, and lyricism of one of the most insightful LGBT Jewish minds ever.

*Sacred Lips of the Bronx, by Douglas Sadownick. This is one of the few novels that boldly renders a man’s struggle to integrate his gayness and Jewishness in a multi-ethnic, highly sexualized milieu.

 Those marked with an asterisk have been reviewed at this site.

“Vernita Gray: From Woodstock to the White House” by Tracy Baim and Own Keehen— A Poet, A Writer, An Activist

vernita

Baim, Tracy and Owen Keehen. “Vernita Gray: From Woodstock to the White House”, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform,  2014.

A Poet, A Writer, An Activist

Amos Lassen

Vernita Gray has weathered several storms. As an African American girl from Chicago’s South Side, she has experienced the civil rights movement up close. In 1969, after attending the festival at Woodstock, she cane out as a lesbian. She learned of the Stonewall Riots and began a fight for lesbian equality and the entire LGBTQ community and this became her passion. She had already established herself as a poet and a writer as well as an important person in Chicago’s gay liberation movement and then became a lesbian separatist during the decade of the 70s.

In the 1980s she became a restaurant owner with her own place, Sol Sands. Then in the early 90s, she began what was to be an 18 year career with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Bt Vernita was not all work—she had fun as well. She found that when visiting the White House, the experience was so emotional that she often had tears in her eyes and of course, never thought that she would ever see an African American president (just like the rest of us). Obama’s election was very special to her because he was from her hometown. She was actually very lucky to have been present at the Democratic National Convention that chose him as the flag bearer. She was invited to the inauguration and the galas that surrounded it in Washington.

Vernita made her first visit to the White House in June, 2009 for the Pride reception. She had already been diagnosed with cancer and her health waned. She was a fighter for at-risk LGBTQ youth and for marriage equality in Chicago. She died in March, 2014.

In this book by Tracy Baim and Owen Keehen, Vernita’s friends, partners and family share their memories of Vernita. The book was written before her death and it includes interviews with her as well as her poetry. She was a tireless activist who knew the meaning of love and she worked hard against sexism, racism and homophobia. Whatever she did, she did so with a smile.

 

 

 

“Secrets and Lives: A Senator, A Journalist, and the Politics of Gay Love in America” by Terry Mutchler— Telling the Secrets

secrets and lives

Mutchler, Terry. “Secrets and Lives: A Senator, A Journalist, and the Politics of Gay Love in America”, Seal Press, 2014.

Telling the Secrets

Amos Lassen

“Secrets and Lies” is the story of Terry Mutchler’s secret five-year relationship with Penny Severns, an Illinois State Senator. The two women faced many hardships and now that Penny has been diagnosed with cancer, things were not looking good. Yet this is a beautiful story that shows us a loving relationship. More important is that it shows the vast impact gay marriage legislation has on couples and families in America today. This is a personal look at how our laws affect our lives and has a great deal to say about politics, equality, and the changes that are now sweeping the nation.

It wasn’t always like that: “Imagine that you fall in love with and marry the partner of your dreams, but that you must engage in an elaborate ruse to keep your relationship secret. You rise at 4am each morning, sweep your long hair from the floor, and lint-roll the sheets so the cleaning lady will think your shorthaired spouse is single. You then drive 45 minutes to an apartment you keep for appearance’s sake. Imagine that you can’t take walks together in the daylight, and when you run into acquaintances, you must either flee like a fugitive or concoct a convincing explanation on the spot”.

“Terry Mutchler is an attorney and former award-winning journalist who was appointed as Pennsylvania’s first Executive Director of the Office of Open Records, ensuring government transparency. A writer for The Associated Press, she covered politics in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Alaska, and Illinois, where she was the first woman appointed AP Statehouse Correspondent. She won several Keystone Awards, Pennsylvania’s top honor for reporting, and was the AP’s state nominee for Young Writer of the Year.

 Mutchler clerked for the Supreme Court of Illinois and for the Executive Office of the President during the Clinton Administration. She was a Chicago trial lawyer at a major national law firm before returning to public service as a speechwriter and senior advisor for the Illinois Attorney General. Governor Ed Rendell appointed Mutchler to her current six-year post.

 Mutchler received her BA from Pennsylvania State University and her JD from John Marshall School of Law in Chicago. She was a Bohnett Fellow for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA”.

“Unfriending My Ex (And Other Things I’ll Never Do)” by Kim Sotlz— Connecting and Disconnecting

unfriending-my-ex-lg

Stolz, Kim. “Unfriending My Ex (And Other Things I’ll Never Do)”, Simon and Schuster, Scribner, 2014.

Connecting and Disconnecting

Amos Lassen

All of us know about social media and I am fairly sure that all of us use it. What we do not realize is how it has changed what friendship is all about. Think about it. No more fibs or lies because the world is so well connected now. Social media has changed us so much—we do business through it, we meet people, fall in love, break up, develop friendships and so on. We make decisions on what to eat and where to go and we build our identities through social media.

Kim Stolz brings us a very funny and very honest memoir about the online life and how we are so obsessively connected that we are disconnected. Friends are no longer important—it is more important to have followers. I, for one, could not wait until the 5000th person signed up to receive my website. Our of those 5000 people I know maybe 100 of them personally.

Kim Soltz had been a contestant on “America’s Next Top Model” and it was there that some of her identity came into being. (I don’t mean that she did not have an identity before that—it is just social media and reality TV helped to seal it). Soltz can hardly put her phone down she tells us. I know that is, Every time I get on the Boston Consumer Rail all I see are people looking at their phones, their iPads and their computers and sometimes all three at once. No one is speaking except for the very loud girl in the front of the car telling her friend about the great sex she had with this guy she met at Fenway the night before. (Like we have to know this). Stolz remembers how it was before the technological revolution but it is hard to remember that we once actually spoke to each other.

From what I can tell, “Unfriending My Ex (And Other Things I’ll Never Do)” is the first book to looks at social media and documents the humor of it from the inside out. What we see here is a life that has gone through our obsessive relationships with technology. What I love is that the book entertains us as we learn from it and there are several  “oy vey” moments with which we totally identify. Stolz looks at our deficits in empathy that have robbed us of our ability to pay attention for periods of time and yet, even knowing this, we do not dare leave home without our gadgets. I remember when we had to wait for someone to be at home before we could call them and that there were certain times of day that calling was verboten.

Life online is not life—as long as someone can hide behind a screen we never know what honesty is. My big question is why did it take so long for someone to sit down and write this book. The real technological revolution began in 2004 with the iPhone and here it is almost ten years later and this is the only book of its kind.

Anyone younger than 30 lives a life that is preoccupied with digital devices. They spend their time on Facebook and Twitter, constantly gaining new “followers” and becoming “enriched as writers and thinkers”. We have even had a government overthrown by social media so what can be the next horizon?

Stolz shares her digital addiction and how it enslaved her, fraying friendships, and attention spans, and making her and members of her generation less, not more, connected. “Unfriending My Ex” is a slap across the face as an attempt to wake us from our lethargy and to tell us that we need more balance in our lives.

I was so engrossed in reading this that I did not look at my phone more than twice in 15 minutes. We are now in the “me” generation and here we are reminded that it is possible to live without our phones. We also realize that it is okay to laugh at ourselves. Here is what other critics have to say about the book:

 ”As a self-confessed Web-aholic I am well aware that social networks have preyed upon humanity’s innate need to connect, and the result is nothing short of a planetary epidemic of info-addiction. We are not only content to live in the Matrix but are increasingly driven to be a cognitive cog in its functionality. Kim Stolz has the mind of a scientist in the body of Millennial. Her experiences on reality television and MTV have made her something of a Jane Goodall of digital culture: she lives among them, ever observant, to catalog and understand their behavior patterns while attempting to determine the landscape of Mankind’s future. On its present course, the signs seem to indicate ‘not great.’” (Chris Hardwick, host of Comedy Central’s “@midnight” and author of “The Nerdist Way”)

 “From reality show contestant to MTVU VJ to MTV News correspondent to blogger and tireless tweeter, Kim has been at the nexus of all the tech and cultural, um, ‘advances’ that make the 21st century so unique. I’ve always known her to have a keen sense of what makes her generation tick – the good, the bad, and the sometimes kinda ugly. Our endlessly opinionated, notoriety-seeking, web connected world. It’s hard to remember when it wasn’t this way. How did we get here – and where are we headed? Kim Stolz tackles it all in Unfriending My Ex.” (Ruby Rose, TV Personality, MTV VJ)

 “In Unfriending My Ex, Kim Stolz gives us a clear-eyed, exceptionally intelligent look at a phenomenon at once mystifying and unavoidable. The thrall in which social media holds us feels so enchanting, we may be losing control of the most valuable parts of our lives to it. The author, while respectful of both progress and of her generation, seeks to restore that control. Here is the work of a grown-up young woman, hip enough to live successfully in the world as it is, yet thoughtful enough to identify its follies and delusions. If our times may be defined by a smart phone, we should be grateful that Unfriending My Ex is a hell of a lot smarter.” (Roger Rosenblatt, author of Rules for Aging: A Wry and Witty Guide to Life)

 ”[A] lively memoir… [Stolz] investigates and considers the various effects of society’s (and particularly her generation’s) dependency upon technology, finding that texting and smartphones allow chatting without relationship-building, loneliness in spite of keeping in touch, and increased anxiety. (Publishers Weekly)

“Interconnections: Gender and Race in American History” edited by Carol Faulkner and Alison M. Parker— Essays on Race and Gender

interconnections

Faulkner, Carol and Alison M. Parker (editors). “Interconnections: Gender and Race in American History”, University of Rochester Press, 2014.

Essays on Race and Gender

Amos Lassen

In this collection of essays, we see “the critical shortcoming in both feminist scholarship and scholarship on race, namely, a failure to apply intersectionality theory comprehensively. The conception of this collection, as well as the integrity of its central theoretic concern, marks an important intervention”.

The essays here build on decades of interdisciplinary work by historians of African American women as well as scholars of feminist and critical race theory. They bridge the gap between well-developed theories of race, gender, and power and the practice of historical research. This is an examination of how racial and gender identity is constructed from individuals’ lived experiences in specific historical contexts— westward expansion, civil rights movements, or economic depression as well as by national and transnational debates over marriage, citizenship and sexual mores. The essays consider the multiple aspects of identity, including sexuality, class, religion, and nationality, among others, but the main emphasis is on gender and race as the principal bases of identity and locations of power and oppression in American history.



The contributors: Deborah Gray White, Michele Mitchell, Vivian May, Carol Moseley Braun, Rashauna Johnson, Hélène Quanquin, Kendra Taira Field, Michelle Kuhl, Meredith Clark-Wiltz.

We are immediately aware of the amount of research that went into all of the essays and they are a welcome addition to the canon and to history.

“Out in the Union: A Labor History of Queer America” by Miriam Frank— Queer American Workers, 1960s-2013

out in the union

Frank, Miriam. “Out in the Union: A Labor History of Queer America”, Temple University Press, 2014.

Queer American Workers, 1960s-2013.

Amos Lassen

Miriam Frank tells us the story of queer workers in America from the mid-60s until 2013. This is a chronicle of labor politics alongside queer activism and identity formation. She shows us how unions began to affirm the rights of its LGBT workers as far back as the 1970s and 1980s. She further documents “coming out on the job and in the union as well as issues of discrimination and harassment, and the creation of alliances between unions and LGBT communities.

The book contains in-depth interviews with LGBT and labor activists thus providing an inclusive history of the coming together of labor and the interests of the LGBT community. We see the importance of the queer caucus in local unions and how it was responsible for the introduction of domestic partner benefits and union-based AIDS education for health care workers-innovations that have been influential across the U.S. workforce. The book also examines organizing drives at queer workplaces, Out in the Union also examines organizing drives, campaigns for marriage equality, and other gay civil rights and these issues show the enduring power of LGBT workers. 

We see here the contributions of the LGBT community to the labor movement as well as the complex challenges that the community faces. We read of the historical process through which the labor and LGBT movements, “at first wary of each other and under unrelenting attack from the political right, gradually developed a lasting alliance”.

Frank reminds us that there are stories and tales in our pasts about unions as it was in that forty year period that gay workers came out, formed caucuses, pushed for and achieved nondiscriminatory policies as well as domestic partnership benefits (through collective bargaining). Our community became a creative force for change in late twentieth-century America. Frank based her study on more than one hundred oral history interviews conducted with unionists two decades ago and she highlights the “likely coalitions that failed and the unlikely coalitions that held”. Below is the table of contents:

Acknowledgments 
A Brief Chronology of LGBT Labor History, 1965–2013

Prologue: Love and Work and Queer Survival

I Coming Out 
1. From Construction to Couture: Coming Out in Unionized Workplaces 
2. Outsiders as Insiders: Sexual Diversity and Union Leadership

II Coalition Politics 
3. From Common Enemies to Common Causes: The Labor Movement and the Gay Movement in Action and Coalition 
4. The Heart of the Matter: Union Politics, Queer Issues, and the Life of the Local

III Conflict and Transformation 
5. Organizing the Gay Unorganized: Talking Union, Talking Queer

Epilogue: When Connie Married Phyllis

Notes 
Bibliography 
Index

“The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out Is Good Business” by Sir John Browne— A Socially Critical Memoir

the glass closet

Browne, John. “The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out Is Good Business, Harper Business, 2014.

A Socially Critical Memoir

Amos Lassen

John Browne was the CEO of BP from 1995 to 2007, which he transformed into one of the world’s largest companies. He was the president of the Royal Academy of Engineering and is a fellow of the Royal Society, a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the chairman of the trustees of the Tate galleries. He holds degrees from Cambridge and Stanford Universities, was knighted in 1998, and made a life peer in 2001. In his new book which is part memoir and part social criticism he looks at homophobia that is still pervasive in corporations around the world and underscores the immense challenges faced by LGBT employees. He rattles business leaders by showing this. He uses his own experiences as a source as well as those of prominent members of the LGBT community worldwide. He also has insights here from

well-known business leaders and celebrities. Browne shows why self-disclosure is best for employees even with the involved risks and that this is also good for business at large. He lauds the companies that support their gay employees. He provides us with both inspiration and support and assures us that coming out will not hurt our chances for professional success.

He states, “I wish I had been brave enough to come out earlier during my tenure as the chief executive of BP. I regret it to this day. I know that if I had done so, I would have made more of an impact for other gay men and women. It is my hope that the stories in this book will give some of them the courage to make an impact of their own.”


We are certainly aware there is more acceptance of gay men and women in the Western world and we enjoy greater acceptance and more legal protections than ever before. Nonetheless there is an alarming number of businesspeople that choose to remain closeted at work. Browne argues that whether a person is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or straight, it’s better for him/her and your business when he/she brings his/her authentic self to work.

This is a courageous and thought-provoking call to arms as it demonstrates that the hidden cost of hidden lives is far greater than we have previously thought.

“Homosexuality and the Crisis of Anglicanism” by William L. Sachs— The Crisis and the Chasms

homosexuality:anglicanism

Sachs, William L. “Homosexuality and the Crisis of Anglicanism”, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

The Crisis and the Chasms

Amos Lassen

The conflict over homosexuality in the Anglican Church has caused worldwide interest and divided the church. We know that conflict in Christianity is not new but what we don’t really know always is how it is dealt with. In his new book, William L. Sachs

traces the steps by which the crisis emerged, and reveals the deeper debates within the church that underlie both the current controversy and much earlier splits.. Sachs maintains that the present debate did not begin with opposition to homosexuality or in advocacy of it. He argues that, like past tensions, it starts in the diverging local contexts in which the faith is practiced, and their differing interpretations of authority and communion.

When colonialism came to an end, activists and reformers took on important and prominent roles for and against the status quo of the church. What the crisis reveals is a church that is searching for a new global consensus regarding the appropriate forms of belief and mission.

Sachs provides an extremely readable look at the church in crisis. With the approach that the rift actually began with the Anglican emphasis on local context, he shows that the global consensus is so very necessary if the church is to survive.

“A View from the Bottom: Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation” by Hoang Tan Nguyen— Reassessing Male Effeminancy

a view from the bottom

Nguyen, Hoang Tan, (edited by Lisa Lowe). “A View from the Bottom: Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation”, Duke University Press, 2014.

Reassessing Male Effeminacy

Amos Lassen

Hoang Tan Nguyen reassesses male effeminacy and its radicalization  in Asian and Asian American men in visual representation. The study looks at Hollywood cinema, European art film, gay pornography, and experimental documentary. Nguyen Tan Hoang explores the cultural meanings that are attributed to sexual positions. He shows how cultural fantasies around the position of the sexual “bottom” tend to “over determine and refract the meanings of race, gender, sexuality, and nationality in American culture in ways that both enable and constrain Asian masculinity”. He challenges the association of bottoming with passivity and abjection and suggests ways of thinking about the bottom position that afford agency and pleasure. This is “a more capacious conception of bottomhood as a sexual position, a social alliance, an affective bond, and an aesthetic form and has the potential to destabilize sexual, gender, and racial norms and suggests an ethical mode of relation organized not around dominance and mastery but around the risk of vulnerability and shame”. Looking at being a bottom as a critical category creates new possibilities for arousal, receptiveness, and recognition, and offers a new framework for analyzing sexual representations in cinema as well as understanding their relation to oppositional political projects.



This new look offers a compelling account of the aesthetic, political, and queer possibilities of radicalized forms of ‘bottomhood.’ This book is needed when categorizing the “complex forms of personhood, pleasure, and power that bottomhood braids into the meanings of race, nation, and sexuality.”

“Artist-scholar Nguyen Tan Hoang’s dexterous unpacking of a Hollywood classic, the oeuvre of a gay Asian American porn star, an international art house film, videos by gay Asian artists and the self-representation of online sex sites challenged me to radically rethink the terms and stakes for reconsidering the representation of Asian American masculinity. A profoundly insightful and provocative book.” The table of contents follows:

Preface  ix

Acknowledgments  xi

Introduction  1

1. The Rise, and Fall, of a Gay Asian American Porn Star  29

2. Reflections on an Asian Bottom  71

3. The Lover‘s “Gorgeous Ass”  111

4. The Politics of Starch  151

Conclusion  193

Notes  207

Bibliography  253

Videography  271

Index  275