Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

New in January from Bruno Gmunder

bruno

New in January from Bruno Gmunder

 pard

Dale Lavrov & Bo Revel

“Pardners”

A rakish Nashville country music stud goes shopping for a spectacular steel guitar with his entourage. In the guitar store, the dealer daddy also catches his eye. Turns out the guitar dealer is looking to buy what the country star is selling in his skin-tight jeans… Nu-Country and Ol’ Country meet and more than make nice in PARDNERS!

Illustrator Bo Revel renders Dale Lazarov’s wordless erotic fantasies with lines laid down so sensually you suspect they’re going to bed with each other between panels.” — Howard Cruse, author of  Stuck Rubber Baby and  Wendel All Together

Script and art direction by Dale Lazarov, Linework and colors by Bo Revel

Pages: 64

Color: Full color

Cover: Hardcover

Format: 7 x 9 1/2″ (17,5 x 24,0 cm)

Preis: US$ 24.00 / £ 14.99 / € 19,99

ISBN: 978-3-95985-058-2

berlin

Spartacus

“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.

Pages: 208

Color: Full color

Cover: Softcover

Languages: German / English

Format: 4 1/4 x 7″ (10,5 x 18,0 cm)

Preis: US$ 20.99 / £ 11.99 / € 11,95

ISBN: 978-3-86787-860-9

 

 

 

 

“Johnny Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger” by Brontez Purnell— One Man’s Thoughts

johnny would....

Purnell, Brontez. “Johnny Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger”, Rudos and Rubes Publishing, 2015.

One Man’s Thoughts

Amos Lassen

Brontez Purnell is a hard guy who is also an openhearted romantic. His life revolves around his desires for love, sex and community. His book “Johnny Would You Love Me…” is a series of essays, notes, vignettes, choreographies, and writing. It is all about how loving freedom for yourself and those around you can make one uncomfortable, disruptive and be able to move a great deal. Purnell seems to be saying early on “I don’t care how flexible you are or how well you can dance. I just want to see you move.” Purnell most definitely knows how to move around, as you will see here.

I do not recall ever having read a book that was paced like this one. It is if Purnell is telling us hat we can rest until we have both created and survived. He shares a lot with us and he relates his experiences that eventually lead to larger morals and truths.

There is piece about how he dealt with the way that other’s remarked about him after he posed nude on the cover of a paper in the Bay area. He simply got high and went to Whole Foods. If you live on the West Coast, he tells us that you need to face it head on. We live in context from which escape is impossible.

Purnell is a very sexually active gay man and he shares that and almost everything having to do with it. As we read, he shakes us. He also addresses AIDS and looks at it as a looming virus. He is HIV positive but before that he felt that he would have to fight hard to keep a negative status. Then he says that it was inevitable that he should be positive since we invite bad behavior into our lives.

This sense of the looming virus is something Purnell address in the book at the same moment he discloses. In a passage about bathhouses he writes,“[…] It was before I was positive and I felt like I was going to have to fight like hell to maintain my negative status ‘cause either I liked fun too much or had a death wish (it was hard to discern)…” He provides the story of AIDS he inherited (that it’s something inevitable that we invite into our lives through bad behavior) while doing the work too few others are doing: telling personal, embodied stories of AIDS now.

Purnell describes himself as “an HIV+, black, queer, creative, cis-man with hips and ass he loves to have loved” and he is working out his relationship with the virus and “the collateral experiences it brings, on the page, is of vital importance”. His writing is all over the page and he says that he went to an online bare-backing site and joined because he was out of ideas. What he writes about an experience he had as a result is not of weak people. Purnell writes to share—there are no ulterior motives, no theories, no dogma and no point of view. We need to understand that this relationship to HIV is simply his self-reflection.

His title shows that— he questions friendship and as you read, you will understand why. Purnell does not question the limits of love rather he lets us know how aware he is of the limits and then he walks away from them. He refuses to, adjust his expectations or change from being too much.

I am not sure how to classify this and I won’t try just as I cannot classify Purnell. He, however, is able to compartmentalize his days and does so by relegating them to certain subjects such as creative writing, STD hysteria, junkie lovers, Punk Rock, experimental dance, tour diaries, witchcraft, marijuana, and the pitfalls of restaurant work and so on.

 

“Dear Lupin…: Letters to a Wayward Son” by Charlie and Roger Mortimer— Father and Son

 

dear lupin

Mortimer, Charlie and Roger. “Dear Lupin…: Letters to a Wayward Son”, Thomas Dunne Books, 2013.

Father and Son

Amos Lassen

Roger Mortimer and Charlie Mortimer shared a wonderful correspondence that began when Charlie began studying at Eton after Roger learns that school is not his son’s first priority. When Charlie graduated and began to travel, he and father continued writing with Roger offering fatherly advice and news of the family. The letters were filled with humor and warmth and the two men seemed to be more like best friends rather than father and son and we are there as their relationship develops through the mail. Of course, we get the idea that Roger was trying to influence his son and guide him in the correct direction.

Roger’s letters are sometimes and sometimes resigned but always filled with humor, wisdom and emotion. We see the wonderful way the two men get along. Above all we see a father’s love for his son especially since we live in an era when letter writing is a vanishing art form. Not only do the letters capture the father/son relationship but they all provide a look at English society of the 1960s and 1970s.

Charlie has said that this book is a tribute to his father. Roger’s optimism in the most unpromising of circumstances will stay with you long after his last delightful letter is read.

We see Roger as he despairs for the destiny, or lack of it, of his wayward son and sense that it is unlikely that any of his advice will be heeded but he perseveres and gives it anyway. Roger’s intelligence is everywhere as is his support for his son even when he does not approve of something Charlie has done. All of us should hope that we can maintain the same kind of relationship with others.

 

“The Wedding Heard ’Round the World: America’s First Gay Marriage” by Michael McConnell and Jake Baker as told to Gail Langer Karowski— Historic Moments

the wedding

McConnell, Michael, Jack Baker as told to Gail Langer Karwoski. “The Wedding Heard ’Round the World: America’s First Gay Marriage”, University of Minnesota Press, 2016 .

Historic Moments

Amos Lassen

This has been quite a year for the LGBT community and we are and should be very proud. It was June 26, 2015 that marks the historic moment when the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. A whole new generation of LGBTIQ Americans will never have to worry like we did and there are those that believe that we have won our civil rights with this decision. However we cannot take anything for granted and that is why knowing our history is so important. simply take the legalization of same-sex marriages for granted; many LGBTIQ Americans already believe that their fight for civil rights ends with this ruling. This is why learning our history is so important. One way to look at that history is with this wonderful new book about Michael McConnell and Jack Baker who are the first known gay couple in the United States to apply for a marriage license. Their story is our story.

On September 3, 1971, Michael McConnell and Jack Baker exchanged vows in the first legal same-sex wedding in the United States. Here they tell their story for the first time and it is a fascinating account of the passion and energy that was the gay liberation movement in the sixties and seventies. To put this in proper perspective, it was a time that our movement was just beginning. In New York there was Stonewall and in San Francisco political activism came into its own. At the same Jack and Michael insisted on making their love for each other a legal reality. They already were activists—Jack had twice been elected the University of Minnesota’s student president—the first openly gay university student president in the country and his election was covered by Walter Cronkite on network TV news. They were featured in Look magazine’s special issue about the American family and received letters of support from around the world.

They were able to get through the complex procedures in order to obtain a state-issued marriage license. Their ceremony was conducted by a Methodist minister in a friend’s tiny Minneapolis apartment. They exchanged custom-designed rings and cut a wedding cake, Michael and Jack celebrated their historic marriage. After reciting their vows, they sealed their promise to love and honor each other with a kiss and a signed marriage certificate. Of course there were repercussions—Michael’s job offer at the University of Minnesota was rescinded, leading him to wage a battle against job discrimination with the help of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union. The couple eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court with two precedent-setting cases.  They are now retired from being in the public eye and they have forty happy years of marriage behind them. They now live in Minneapolis and are an example of a new American dream. they exemplify a contemporary version of the American dream. Because of all of the headlines about marriage equality and the decision of the Supreme Court, they have decided to tell their story and what they went through. “Time” magazine listed them among the twenty-five most influential marriages of all time and and they were recently profiled in a cover story in the Sunday “New York Times”. 

What we have learned from the fight for marriage equality is that to insist for human rights for all American citizens is a fight for acceptance of all who live in this world and are not free. Michael and Jack’s story is inspiring and because of their personas, we feel like we are reading the story of someone we know well. We learn what being gay was like once and how we lived gay lives.

Now in Minnesota that I am sure would love to claim them as their own, their story begins in Norman, Oklahoma where they met at a gay Halloween party on October 29, 1966. They became a couple without role models and I was surprised that already back then, Mike knew what kind of man he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. He knew that he would marry the man of dreams long before any of us had ever heard of gay marriage. Michael was lucky enough to have parents his supported his life style while Jack was actually arrested at another gay party

and could have lost his job when the police contacted his employer who protected him. They had a good life in Oklahoma but Jack’s arrest drove them to activism. It was the Oklahoma police that turned them into activists because it showed “the pointless, hateful persecution of gay men by police and authorities”. Neither of them would ever give in to bullies and not to police.

However, after the arrest Baker who had received a honorable discharge from the Air Force was changed to general discharge. McConnell who was already a librarian, helped Baker research the rules and regulations behind these decisions but Baker decided it best to apply to law school in order to fight for LGBTIQ civil rights in the courts. He chose the University of Minnesota over the University of Oklahoma, as Minneapolis in 1969 was considered to be “liberal and progressive…with a lively gay community.” They moved to Minneapolis and it was there that they decided to marry and there our story of the legal battle for same-sex marriage in the United States begins. It took forty-three years before such committed relationships would be recognized in Minnesota but they were together and doing whatever they had to do in order to stay together. They have become role models in courage, love, and fidelity and they give us the inspiration to continue moving forward.

“Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law” by James B. DeYoung— Responding to Homosexuality via the Bible

homosexuality

DeYoung, James B. “Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law”, Kregel Academic & Professional, 2000.

Responding to Homosexuality Via the Bible

Amos Lassen

Using the Bible, Jewish literature, and information from ancient cultures, James B. DeYoung provides the knowledge necessary to respond with confidence, compassion, and honesty to the demands that Christians accept active homosexuality. His response is from a conservative Christian point of view, to the revisionist biblical studies of John Boswell, Robin Scroggs, William Countryman and many others. However, since DeYoung is not familiar with both the biblical material and the works of his principal opponents causing his book to be a jumble of textual argument, theological and ethical assertion and confused terminology. In striving for a comprehensive refutation of Boswell and others, DeYoung has produced a volume that will not only be too technical for all but that will also disturb scholars of every persuasion with its rhetorical and interpretive shortcuts. Many of his critiques, especially those of Boswell’s use of biblical and ancient material, have merit and are echoed in other recent scholarship, but they are presented with no regard for scholarly protocol. Totally absent is a central idea necessary to compete paradigms of the revisionists. DeYoung intersperses long quotations from ancient sources that do little to focus the reader’s attention. Even stranger are his wastes of time in brief, fictionalized narratives that speculate on the experiences of such characters as Lot’s wife, a Canaanite temple prostitute and a very strange future Christian ala Luke Skywalker. DeYoung should have saved the trees by not wasting paper on this—it is a complete and utter embarrassment both to him and to who he considers his readers.

It is interesting that not everyone agrees about this book. One reviewer says that this is “a scholarly, well researched and referenced work that can derail almost any pro-homosexual argument… Heavily footnoted, Dr. De Young derails the most popular pro-homosexual propaganda and does it on biblical, historical-ethical, and legal grounds”. He also has something to say about the negative reviews, “ I now believe the loud and negative reviews are directly proportional to the degree of unease and discomfort the pro-homosexual lobby has with this truthful tome”.

Another says, “The title of this book interested me because I thought the book would provide neutral, objective comparisons of older and newer translations of biblical passages. However, by the end of the introduction it was apparent that this was just another evangelical-Christian anti-homosexual book that fully subscribed to older biblical translations and was written principally to dismiss contemporary scholarly efforts to clarify them”. I have to agree that this book takes its evidence from

“older, long-held stereotypical views of homosexuals that have little to do with who these people actually are. In most cases, Mr. De Young uses biblical language against these people as Christianity has traditionally done, and he makes no effort to genuinely understand where past translations have been in error and have resulted in mischaracterizations and mistreatment of homosexual persons”.

We are aware that contemporary scholars have at times misinterpreted biblical passages. Re-examining them, we see that in several cases these scholars have also provided a much deeper and more accurate interpretation of them. For those who deeply believe that the Bible is a direct revelation of God, it is necessary to know what scripture genuinely means as intended by its author. Mr. DeYoung was not able to do so and this simply means that he is unable to accept his own challenge and his own biases and prejudices cloud what might have been honest and accurate understandings of biblical passages.

On the plus side, DeYoung discusses the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek terms “tovbah”, “bdelygma” and “anomia”. Both Boswell and Helminiak based their studies on the use of these terms. He refers to the Hebrew Bible’s view on homosexuality and he deals with the Apocrypha and Psudepigrapha texts. Sadly, however, this book is a waste of time even from a conservative Christian point of view. I hate when I prepare myself to like something and then find out that it is valueless to do so.

De Young gives us what he thinks is a readable yet comprehensible explanation of homosexuality as presented in the Bible and other ancient literature and law. I understand that he seeks to evaluate virtually every attempt to reinterpret the Bible and other ancient Jewish, Greek, Roman, and Christian literature on this topic. He arranges and critiques these reinterpretations under six or seven different groupings, including ritual purity, worldview, liberation theology, and moral argumentation. And then he blows it by first addressing why homosexual behavior is wrong. In the chapters that follow, he presents the witness on homosexuality as found in the Old Testament, the Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible which he incorrectly refers to as the Old Testament, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:8-10; Jesus and the Gospels, and in ALL the sacred and secular law codes from the ancient Near East. (The word “all” bothers me—I do not think he could have possibly examined them all). In the final chapter, he claims to give the answers to the twenty most important questions about homosexuality and gay rights (are there only 20?), and references these answers to longer discussions in the text. The book is readable if you have a very strong background in study of scripture, otherwise it is meaningless unless you want to go hopping back and forth between books. He also does something that some of you might think is cute—- he begins each chapter with a fictional (FICTIONAL???!!!) vignette that is set in the times and that focuses on the issue that each chapter subsequently unfolds. There are substantial subject, author, and scripture indeces (sic—no spell check?).

“Extraordinary Hearts: Reclaiming Gay Sensibility’s Central Role in the Progress of Civilization” by Nicholas F. Benton— Essays from the Press

extraordinary hearts

Benton, Nicholas F. “Extraordinary Hearts: Reclaiming Gay Sensibility’s Central Role in the Progress of Civilization”, Lethe Press, 2013.

Essays from the Press

Amos Lassen

 “Extraordinary Hearts” is an anthology of one hundred essays previously published under the noted column ”Nick Benton’s Gay Science” from October 2010 through September 2012 on the website of the “Falls Church News-Press” and in print in the “Metro Weekly”, prominent newspapers of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area LGBT community. Benton has covered the repeal of ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Broadway revival of Larry Kramer’s powerful play The Normal Heart, a President of the United States proclaiming gay marriage is a right for every American, and the positive progression of gay rights. His columns have contributed to the dialogue shaping LGBT identity and self-esteem going forward into a new world of equality for all citizens.

Because these columns are printed as they appeared, there is some repetition of points that allow the reader to think more deeply the brilliant and unique insights that this author has to say about the gay “community”. Because our community is so diverse, it is difficult to find one voice that speaks for everyone and while this may not be it, Benton is very close. We are not just like everyone else, and not all of us have good thoughts and intentions and we really see that in the essays about AIDS. Benton graduated from a seminary and is a career journalist who owns a newspaper. He is also an editor, who reminds us of when being gay was a dirty little secret and when no institution, college or religion would let us in. He also has unique insight into the lives of some of the great gay writers such as Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams and Christopher Isherwood. Now that LGBT studies is an accepted discipline, we must be glad that we have his voice that does not let us forget how things once were. Benton’s book is serious, scholarly, hard hitting and personal which of course makes it controversial.

It is scholarly and causes us to think about what we really know about our history. Benton was present at so many major events in LGBT history and he has something to say about each of them. There will be more books written and they might be more scholarly but Benton has set a standard for others to follow.

The Women of San Quentin: Soul Murder of Transgender Women in Male Prisons” by Kristin Lyseggen— True Stories

the women of san quentin

Lyseggen, Kristin. “The Women of San Quentin: Soul Murder of Transgender Women in Male Prisons”, SFINX Publishing , 2015.

True Stories

Amos Lassen

“The Women of San Quentin” tells the stories of nine transgender women who are incarcerated in the male U.S. prison system and who have never felt safe and are surrounded by others who tell them that they are abnormal and that they are living a mistake. Author Kristin Lyseggen has written this book with the hope that some understanding of the needs of people who are locked up will come into being. She actually started writing this book right after she moved to America from Norway and before Bradley Manning became Chelsea Manning. We see that most women with gender identity issues, when jailed, are put in male prisons with notorious predators. The only options for many of them in order to survive is to live isolated or become sex slaves for other inmates. Kristin Lyseggen had to gain trust from people she had never met and never expected to meet and the research for this book took her to prisons in East Oakland, California, San Francisco and to the Transgender Health Conference in Bangkok and to a clandestine LGBTQI advocacy conference in Nairobi, Kenya. She attended an event to raise funds for incarcerated transgender women in Oakland where one speaker was Angela Davis, a professor at University of California and she went to conservative Rome, Georgia and Montgomery, Alabama to a maximum-security prison in the Central Valley of California.

In every place the stories she encountered during this project were diverse and different from one another in ways that were surprising and often disturbing. She came into an almost inconceivable struggle heaped upon the usual stories of people incarcerated in US prisons. She learned why they are incarcerated and the feelings they have about their crimes. We are finally hearing about the terrible ways that transgender women are being held in men’s prison.

This book is a multi-genre— it is a book of photos, a diary, and journalistic look at the topic. Lyseggen is a non-trans journalist and activist who spent several years corresponding with the nine women included and she has taken her research and has written a book that is engrossing and that gets more interesting as it is read. It is filled with emotion.

It makes us want to know what compromises a person needs to make so he/she can find some kind of dignity. And why we are willing to accept the fact that abuse is part of today’s prison system. We also want to know about the “rehabilitation” that one supposedly gets in prison. Lyseggen’s wants to make sure that we never forget or lose sight of the humanity that she feels is in her subjects. The stories of how Janetta, Grace, Ashley, Donna, Shiloh, Tanesh, Jennifer, Jazzie, and Daniella became imprisoned, and their treatment while incarcerated is valuable information. Lyseggen’s self-interrogations are a part of what we read here and these are powerful. She questions whether or not to include Donna since she committed incredibly violent crimes as part of a white supremacist gang. Because we are uncomfortable with her crimes, she is a bit uncomfortable. The book does not compromise yet it is compassionate.

“Closet Queens: Some 20th Century British Politicians” by Michael Bloch— Gay Men in British Politics

closet queens

Bloch, Michael. “Closet Queens: Some 20th Century British Politicians”, Little, Brown Book Group, 2015.

Gay Men in British Politics

Amos Lassen

“Closet Queens” looks at gay men in twentieth century British politics beginning with Lord Rosebery and Lord Beauchamp in Edwardian times to Michael Portillo and Peter Mandelson in the present.

Since all and any homosexual activity was illegal until 1967, and exposure meant ruin and disgrace, such men were obliged either to repress their sexual feelings or else lead double lives, living secret gay lives while respectably married with children.

The need to cover up their sexuality, caused problems and disappointments and it also often sharpened their skills as politicians. These men were masters of secrecy and subterfuge, and knew how to take calculated risks.

Bloch also includes some well-known politicians such as Winston Churchill, for example, who was not sexually gay, but rather enjoyed the company of men, over the company of women. And others who were asexual and didn’t have sex with anyone. Gay men mostly hid their orientation, often marrying women as a cover. While some marriages were successful, sometime producing children, many of the marriages were unhappy as husbands could not come to terms with themselves. Even after the decriminalization of homosexuality, being gay was definitely a disadvantage in public life. Yet many men, who were active in public life this was what they wanted and they were successful in hiding their sexuality.

Bloch tells us that Conservative prime minister Edward (Ted) Heath was probably gay but he sublimated his sexuality to achieve his political ambitions. He is only one of many men Bloch looks at who had to do the same thing. We hit the question as to at what point does ambition triumph over sexual desire? This happens probably more often than we think. Many other British PM’s also had homosexual connections in their lives, either through their own actions or through relationships with others. The author has gone to great lengths to research detail but Bloch actually spends more time on the politics of the eras than on the men themselves.

Here we get the impression that British politics is filled with men who harbor secret desires for other men. The inclusion of Winston Churchill in its pages, based on his befriending of a very attractive young man whom he employed, suggests that he was amongst these Closet Queens. Bloch stresses that there is no evidence that Churchill ever had “sexual relations” with the boy so I cannot help but question why he is included here. It seems to be based on gossip which really has no place in this book.

Despite this, the book does show just how far the issue of homosexuality in Britain has evolved and lets us see the prejudices and stigma along with the breathtaking hypocrisy of so many who governed in an historical context.

Bloch shows that there was a far more extensive network of covert homosexuality than has hitherto been recognized, and there is no longer any need for reticence in admitting it.

“Being James Dean” by Paul Alexander—- The Man Behind the Myth

being James Dean

Alexander, Paul. “Being James Dean”, Rosetta Books, 2015.

The Man Behind the Myth

Amos Lassen

In just three films, James Dean became one of the most famous actors to come out of Hollywood. He was a man who inspired others and about whom stories are still being told. Already dead at age twenty-four, his legacy is vast and his popularity has never waned. If anything, it has grown stronger through he years. He has become “a cultural icon of youthful rebellion”. His three screen performances captured haunting pain with unprecedented intimacy. Dean died in an automobile accident sixty years ago and we still talk about what pained this young actor. Paul Alexander looks at the sources of that pain and we see that they included his mother’s death, his father’s absence, and his own turbulent sexuality.

Dean was known for the relationships he had with women and his relationships with men came to light in Alexander’s biography “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and these are still the subjects for debate. This new book brings new evidence on Dean’s sexuality, including reports from the people who knew him. It also includes his relationship Dean with legendary actress Geraldine Page.

We learn here a great deal about James Dean and his history. His early death remains a kind of tragedy and there are those who still fantasize about him. Books about him still sell and he has become a symbol of what was and will never be again.

“Blowing the Lid: Gay Liberation, Sexual Revolution and Radical Queens” by Stuart Feather— Looking Back

blowing  the lid

Feather, Stuart. “Blowing the Lid: Gay Liberation, Sexual Revolution and Radical Queens”, Zero Books, 2016.

Looking Back

Amos Lassen

One of the important books to be published in the next few weeks is Stuart Feather’s “Blowing the Lid”. It takes us back to the 1907s and the creation of the Gay Liberation Front that urged members of the gay community to unite around a simple set of demands among which were calls for an end to discrimination against homosexuals in employment, in sex education, in the age of consent and in being treated as sick by the medical establishment. The Front was a people’s movement for the LGBT community and it saw itself as socialist in its demand for social change, and revolutionary in its recognizing the rights of other oppressed minorities to determine the fight for their own demands. It was also personal. Stuart Feather is the first participant of the Front to write a history of the lesbians and gay men who joined Gay Liberation and through a process of Coming Out and radicalization initiated an anarchic campaign that permanently changed the face of this country.

Not only is this a history of the Gay Liberation Front, it is also an entertaining read and radical testimony regarding its time. It is important, however, to remember that this about gay liberation across the ocean in England and it shows how Britain has changed. Feather’s perspective allows us to see

the movement’s internal debates, divisions and problems. We see how a social movement emerges and works through internal differences.