Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

“States of Desire Revisited: Travels in Gay America” by Edmund White— Going Back and Moving Forward

states of desire

Edmund White. “States of Desire Revisited: Travels in Gay America”, University of Wisconsin Press, 2014.

Going Back and Moving Forward

Amos Lassen

Any time a book by Edmund White is published it is an event and even if it is a new edition of an older book. “States of Desire Revisited” is an updated version of White’s original “States of Desire” published in 1991. It “looks back from the twenty-first century at a pivotal moment in the late 1970s: Gay Liberation was a new and flourishing movement of creative culture, political activism, and sexual freedom, just before the 1980s devastation of AIDS”.

In the first edition, Edmund White took us on a tour of gay America of the late 70’s and it was a tour that was filled with surprises. We see what happens behind the glitter at various nightspots and resorts and we learn of gay men in all of the professions. Here is new insight about what it was (and in many cases, still is) to be gay in America. He spoke with politicians who worked in the system in Washington, with radicals in New York and San Francisco, with masculine butch gay men in Houston and with the self-loathing Southern gentlemen of Memphis. He visited with the time warp in Kansas City, with progressive thinkers and conservatives in Portland and Minneapolis and Portland, with the rich and beautiful of Los Angeles. He visited a desert retreat for older gays and lesbians that has been in Santa Fe since the 1920s in Santa Fe. White frames those past travels with a brief, bracing review of gay America since the 1970s (“now we were all supposed to settle down with a partner in the suburbs and adopt a Korean daughter”), and a reflection on how Internet culture has diminished unique gay places and scenes but brought isolated individuals into a global GLBTQ community.

States of Desire Revisited looks back from the twenty-first century at a pivotal moment in the late 1970s: Gay Liberation was a new and flourishing movement of creative culture, political activism, and sexual freedom, just before the 1980s devastation of AIDS. Edmund White traveled America, recording impressions of gay individuals and communities that remain perceptive and captivating today. He noted politicos in D.C. working the system, in-fighting radicals in New York and San Francisco, butch guys in Houston and self-loathing but courteous gentlemen in Memphis, the “Fifties in Deep Freeze” in Kansas City, progressive thinkers with conservative style in Minneapolis and Portland, wealth and beauty in Los Angeles, and, in Santa Fe, a desert retreat for older gays and lesbians since the 1920s.

As we go from city to city and learn about the places we visit, we also get a bit of the autobiography of Edmund White. I get the impression that White is writing this to help straight readers understand gay men. He talks to men who are willing to share their lives with him be they homosexual Mormons in Utah or gay Cubans in Miami. We get quite a cross section of people but unfortunately (and I hate to use that word when writing about one of my literary heroes), the characters here just do not gain reality. White also tells us about himself but does not delve as deeply as I would have liked him to do.

The places he visited back then now have a review of how it was and how it has changed. White also looks at Internet culture and tells how it has caused the waning of “unique gay places and scenes but brought isolated individuals into a global GLBTQ community”.

The original book was written before the AIDS epidemic devastated our community and so the gay America of the 70’s was promiscuous and lives were filled with sex, drugs and rock and roll. This was an interesting America in which we do not learn about children or parents or even what the future is expected to bring. It was a country of now. The gay community was transient and it followed the best parties, the best bars and the best bathhouses. Random and anonymous sex prevailed and romance was fleeting. (I am sure there were loving relationships but those did not make it into the book). It was a nation that emphasized youth and beauty yet it was also a time of fear as anti-homosexual leaders began their rants.

Some things never change—there was the fear of aging and losing our good looks. White spends a good bit of time exploring fetishes and kinkiness and he gives us his own opinion on such activities.

White’s reflection of the men he saw includes not the most “kosher” descriptions and he notes that they are victims of their own self-delusions. Their lives seemed to be ablaze and they hate the thought of getting older; they live in the pursuit of their own definition of happiness and lust. This is not a sympathetic view of gay life but as one who lived through it, I must say that it is somewhat accurate.

To Edmund White, gay life is a mosaic that contains the elements of radicalism and renaissance, hedonism and extremism but we also see the possibilities for what can be. Our eyes are opened and we see the rainbow of gay men in all of their variations and choices. Reading this reminds us of the evolution we have experienced and I found that I was in the midst of reverie as I read. It is difficult to compare the world of then with the world of now and I am not even sure it can be done. White tries to do so in his epilogue which was just written and he does so successfully in terms of culture. When we look at how far we have come, it becomes astounding to think how far we have yet to go.

Note: I have incorporated my original review into my review of the new edition.

“Going Gay My Journey from Evangelical Christian to Self-Acceptance Love, Life and Meaning” by Tim Rymel— Finding Himself

going gay

Rymel, Tim. “Going Gay My Journey from Evangelical Christian to Self-Acceptance Love, Life and Meaning”, CK Publishing, 2014.

Finding Himself

Amos Lassen

Tim Rymel is an ordained evangelical minister who once was the outreach director of Love in Action, one of the oldest and most renowned ex-gay (reparative therapy) ministries in the world. During the heyday of the ministry in the 1990’s, he and is staff appeared on countless television and radio shows with their bogus message of “Freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ.” Rymel was considered to be a “success story” of the ex-gay movement but his world fell apart when his wife divorced him. He then went on a journey searching for self-acceptance and learning how to deal with faith and life.

For years he had been convinced that he had succeeded to come to heterosexuality through prayer and he went on toe marry a woman and hit the talk show circuit. This book is about that journey. “I want the conservative church to see the painful reality that many of their own believers go through to come to terms with their inborn homosexuality,” Rymel said. “I wrote the book ‘as one of their own’ to create dialogue and cause them to rethink what they believe and what the Bible says about homosexuality.”

Because of his past, readers may not buy Rymel’s story but it is a story to be read and thought about.and understand himself,” said Justin Lee, founder and Executive Director of Gay Christian Network. “In a culture where faith and sexuality seem often to be at war, the stories of those caught in the crossfire are critically important. Readers may not agree with all of Rymel’s views, but this is a story worth telling and a story worth understanding.”

Rymel reveals himself to be a self-loving, accepting human being and he even goes so far as to say that “God loves you exactly the way you are”  and these are important words for those struggling with their beliefs and with who they are.

Rymel is a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a Christian, a minister, a partner and basically just Tim Rymel. He had to struggle with dealing with  sexual preference and religious and political beliefs and ideas as well as the stereotypes that surround them but he is defined by so much more. It took his journey to understand this.

Tim Rymel has shared his story authentically and honesty and he is very clear about what he says. He admits openly that he sees the values in what he has gone through in the past and writes about how they have been responsible for making him the man that he is today. He has done away with feelings of shame and therefore is now able to live openly and honestly. I am sure that his journey to self-acceptance was painful and difficult and any of us who have ever been on a journey can agree with. After all, I would say that most of us are constantly looking for acceptance somewhere.

This is a real and raw story and we sense all of Rymel’s sufferings. We all need to know how to accept others and ourselves without trying to define us with a single word or concept. Anyone with a religious background that challenges his or her own acceptance (and I am not just speaking about sexuality) will understand what this man went through. I am sure that the writer had to struggle to write this book but he says things we all need to know.

“Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent” edited by Thomas H. Wirth— Writer, Painter, Illustrator and Popular Bohemian

gay rebel

Nugent, Richard Bruce. “Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent”, edited by Thomas H. Wirth, Duke University Press Books , 2002.

Writer, Painter, Illustrator and Popular Bohemian

Amos Lassen


Richard Bruce Nugent (1906–1987) was a writer, painter, illustrator, and popular bohemian personality who lived at the center of the Harlem Renaissance. He was a protégé of Alain Locke, roommate of Wallace Thurman, and friend of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. For many years he was the only African-American writer willing to clearly pronounce his homosexuality in print. His contribution to the landmark publication FIRE!!, “Smoke, Lilies and Jade,” was unprecedented in its celebration of same-sex desire. A resident of the notorious “Niggeratti Manor,” Nugent also appeared on Broadway in Porgy (the 1927 play) and Run, Little Chillun (1933)

Thomas H. Wirth was a close friend of Nugent’s during the last years of his life and has assembled a selection of Nugent’s most important writings, paintings, and drawings—works mostly unpublished or scattered in rare and obscure publications and collected here for the first time. Wirth includes his own introduction providing biographical information about Nugent’s life and situating his art in relation to the visual and literary currents that influenced him. There is also a foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr. emphasizes the importance of Nugent for African American history and culture.

The book brings biography and works together. It is divided into five sections and emphasizes Nugent’s fictional and non-fictional work. The historical introduction gives us all the information we need to know about Nugent and the time in which he lived and the entire book is a who was who during the Harlem Renaissance.

Nugent’s writings cover a span of 50 years but the majority were written in the 1930s. The book is over 300 pages long and offers a comprehensive and compelling look at Nugent (1906-1987). In his foreword Gates writes that Nugent was “boldly and proudly gay” and that he “linked the black world of the Harlem Renaissance with the gay world of bohemian New York.”

Wirth’s fascinating 61-page introduction is full of photos and illustrations. Wirth looks at Nugent’s life and work and covers topics such as Nugent’s relationships to other Harlem Renaissance figures and his involvement with the periodical “Fire!!”.

A note to the reader tell us that the book includes previously unpublished work taken directly from manuscript. Overall there is a rich selection of material. Among the pieces included in this book are the short story “Smoke, Lilies and Jade,” an oft-reprinted piece described as “Nugent’s most important work”; poems; an essay entitled “On Harlem” which was written for the Federal Writers’ Project in the late 1930s; excerpts from an unpublished novel; and more. There are also many reproductions (both color and black-and-white) of Nugent’s artwork.

This is a wonderful contribution to both African-American studies and gay studies as well as a moving tribute to a major cultural figure that has been overlooked for too long.


“Primary Stein Returning to the Writing of Gertrude Stein” edited by Janet Boyd and Sharon J. Kirsch— The Focus is on Stein’s Writing

primary stein

Boyd, Janet and Sharon J. Kirsch (editors). “Primary Stein Returning to the Writing of Gertrude Stein”,  Lexington, 2014.

The Focus is on Stein’s Writing

Amos Lassen

Gertrude Stein was many things—author, art collector, celebrity, lesbian cultural icon, Nazi collaborator. Of late scholarship has concentrated on her politics, her art collection and her friends and while these might make us appreciate Stein the woman, we do not hear about Stein the writer. It is her writing that remains secondary to Stein, the woman. “Primary Stein” shows us that there is still a lot of Stein to look at, writing-wise, and while some of it is well known, there is a lot that has not yet been published.

The essays included in this collection use both cultural and historical contexts to enrich and complicate how we might read, understand, and teach Stein’s writing. For those of you who are familiar with Stein’s writing you know that she is not the easiest writer to read and Stein, herself, was aware of this. She also tried to shift the focus from Stein, the person to Stein, the writer. The writers look back at a wide range of her texts, including novels, plays, lectures and poetry. Each essay uses Stein’s primary works as “its core interpretive focus, returning scholarly conversations to the challenges and pleasures of working with Stein’s texts”. We have needed a book like this for so long and I am quite sure it will stand as a primary source for reading Stein. “Her work is unlike any other writing—funny, challenging, almost physical in its rhythms, rhymes, and patterns of repetition, and it covers many genres and modes of writing”. Here is a look at when we have here in this volume:



Introduction. A Primer for Primary Stein

Sharon J. Kirsch and Janet Boyd

Chapter 1. Make It Plain: Stein and Toklas Publish the Plain Edition

Gabrielle Dean

Chapter 2. Woolfenstein, the Sequel

Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Chapter 3. “Come too”: 1920s Erotic Rights Discourse and Gertrude Stein’s “Patriarchal Poetry”

Jody Cardinal

Chapter 4. Long Dull Poems: Stein’s Stanzas in Meditation and Wordsworth’s The Prelude

Rebecca Ariel Porte

Chapter 5. tender buttons, notwithstanding

Neil Schmitz

Chapter 6. How to Read How to Write: Bothering with Gertrude Stein

Sharon J. Kirsch

Chapter 7. Framing Devices: Reading Background in the Sequence of Gertrude Stein’s Composition

Linda Voris

Chapter 8. Radio Free Stein: Rendering Queen and Country

Adam Frank

Chapter 9. “A Spare American Emotion”

E. L. McCallum

Chapter 10. “More light!—Electric Light.” Stein in Dialogue with the Romantic Paradigm in Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights

Sarah Posman

Chapter 11. Gertrude Stein’s Geographical History of Literature

Janet Boyd

Chapter 12. Modernist and Future Ex-Modernist: Postwar Stein

Kristin Bergen

Chapter 13. History, Narrative, and “Daily Living” in Wars I Have Seen

Phoebe Stein

Chapter 14. Mrs. Reynolds: Stein’s Anti-Nazi Novel

Steven Gould Axelrod

Appendix A: A Note on the Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers in the Twenty-First Century

Nancy Kuhl

Appendix B: “The Gertrude Stein Collection” reprinted from The Yale Gazette 22.2 (October 1947)

Donald Gallup


Notes on contributors

“Kids Gone Wild: From Rainbow Parties to Sexting, Understanding the Hype Over Teen Sex” by Joel Best and Kathleen A. Bogle— Looking at Our Teens

kids gone wild

Best, Joel and Kathleen A. Bogle. “Kids Gone Wild: From Rainbow Parties to Sexting, Understanding the Hype Over Teen Sex”, NYU Press, 2014.

Looking at Our Teens

Amos Lassen

The media seem to know everything about everything and sometimes they apparently know about an event before it even happens. As for the sex lives of our young people, they seem to be all  over the television and print media. Discretion in America seems to have “gone with the wind”.

Today we hear about teen girls “sexting” explicit pictures of themselves to boys they like and they even go as far as to wear sex bracelets that show how far they have gone and what sexual activities they like or will engage in. They go to what are called “rainbow parties” where girls have sex with boys who are willing in groups and they have take oaths with friends to all become mothers at the same time. It surely is different from when I was a teen and a girl who fooled around was an outcast.

Stories of our teens’ sex lives are everywhere but is this any kind of proof of what really is going on? Are most teenage—or younger—children really going to sex parties and having multiple sexual encounters in an orgy-like fashion?

Researchers who have studied this say that this is not the case and teen pregnancy is at a low number. If that is indeed the case, “why do stories like these find such media traffic, exploiting parents’ worst fears? How do these rumors get started, and how do they travel around the country and even across the globe?”

The authors of “Kids Gone Wild” use these stories to  look at what we know about contemporary legends and how the media and now the Internet keep these rumors alive. Authors Bogle and Best look at how these stories spread and then go back to their sources and follow their paths. What they find is that in American society, the idea and view of kids becoming out of control has unforeseen and drastic consequences. They give impetus to the sex education debate and actually affect decisions on everything dealing with sex from who is included in registers of sex offenders and the availability of the morning after pill.

What we see in this book is the truth behind the sensationalism we hear so much about. This book is honest and is a rallying point for our society that seems to relish hearing the worst about its young people.




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

a view from the bottom

Nguyen, Hoang Tan. “A View from the Bottom: Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation”, Duke University Press, 2014.

Male Effeminacy and Its Radicalization

Amos Lassen

 Hoang Tan Nguyen presents a major critical reassessment of male effeminacy and its radicalization in visual culture in this new book, “A View from the Bottom”. It looks at portrayals of Asian and Asian American men in Hollywood cinema, European art film, gay pornography, and experimental documentary and with this Nguyen Tan Hoang explores the cultural meanings that have been attributed to sexual positions. Cultural fantasies around the position of the sexual “bottom” over determine and refract the meanings of race, gender, sexuality, and nationality in American culture in ways that both enable and constrain Asian masculinity and Nguyen shows how this has been done. He challenges the way “bottoming” has been associated in the past and gives us suggestions of new ways to think about the bottom position; ways that provide pleasure and afford agency. He goes on to show “bottoming” as a capacious conception—not only as a sexual position but also as a “social alliance, an affective bond, and an aesthetic form” that has the potential power “to destabilize sexual, gender, and racial norms, suggesting an ethical mode of relation organized not around dominance and mastery but around the risk of vulnerability and shame”.

In looking at “bottoming” in this way, we find it is put into a critical category that “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”.

 Here is the Table of Contents:

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  27

Bruno Gmunder— New in September


New in September





Thomas Knights




On the heels of his hugely successful Red Hot exhibition in London (successfully funded through Kickstarter), photographer and filmmaker Thomas Knights creates the ultimate bible for fans of hot ginger men: Red Hot 100. With a truly international feel, the book will contain 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!



144 pages, full colour

Hardcover with dust jacket, 10 ¼ x 13 ½” (26,0 x 34,0 cm)

€ 59,99 / US$ 89.99 / £ 59.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-767-1





Louis LaSalle




Louis LaSalle’s first book, Dawn of the Gods, was the unexpected success of 2013. Twilight of the Shadowsis this bestseller’s successor. LaSalle gained a large audience through the intensity and the genuine straightforwardness of his photography. His works are inspired by classical nudes, which he transforms through a passionate reinterpretation that goes beyond the boundaries of nude photography.




128 pages, full colour, explicit

Hardcover with dust jacket, 8 ½ x 11 ¼“ (21, 5 x 28 ,5 cm)

€ 39,99 / US$ 59.99 / £ 39.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-760-2









The brand-new Spartacus Sauna Guide informs all sauna fans, in 5 languages and 224 pages, about size, prices and opening hours. Services offered, customer profiles, and important features of each venue are also covered. A user-friendly icon system conveys information simply and clearly. Everyone is guaranteed to find their perfect oasis around the world. Whether in summer or winter, our handy guide should be in every travel bag!


Introduction text: English/German/French/Spanish/Italian

Information texts about countries: English/German/French

Sauna descriptions: English



224 pages, full colour

Softcover, 4 ¼ x 7“ (10, 5 x 18 ,0 cm)

€ 13,99 / US$ 23.99 / £ 13.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-796-1





Axel Neustädter




In, over and out? Not with the Gayma Sutra! This richly illustrated guide book will help spice up your sex life. More variety means more fun, and the variations are just about endless. Axel Neustädter has tested all the ways to play and found the ones to give you all the pleasure you’ve always wanted. He answers crucial questions about the most exciting sport there is: How to practice for the longest and most intense sex? What are the best positions for masturbation? How can two bottoms have an over-the-top experience together? And what toys can help make it even better? After reading this book, sex will never be boring again!

“The Lesbian and Gay Movements: Assimilation or Liberation?” by Craig A. Rimmerman— The Dilemma in American Politics

the lesbian and gay movements

Rimmerman, Craig A. “The Lesbian and Gay Movements: Assimilation or Liberation?”, Westview Press, 2014.

The Dilemma in American Politics

Amos Lassen

The American lesbian and gay movements have not been around for a very long time yet they have managed to endure searing conflicts over whether to embrace assimilationist or liberationist strategies. This book explores those conflicts—their sources and to what extent they have been resolved and how, if necessary, they might be resolved in the future. Author Rimmerman also takes on “the challenging issue of what constitutes movement “effectiveness” and how “effective” the assimilationist and liberationist strategies have been in three contentious policy arenas: the military ban, same-sex marriage, and AIDS. Considerable attention is devoted to how policy elites—presidents, federal and state legislatures, courts—have responded to the movements’ grievances”.

This is the second and updated edition of the book that was first published in 2007 and we have all witnessed the tremendous changes that have taken place in those seven years in terms of lesbian and gay movements and rights. This edition is thoroughly revised and includes updated discussion of LGBT movements’ undertakings in, as well the Obama administration’s response to, AIDS/HIV policy, the fight to legalize same-sex marriage and overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Rimmerman demonstrates “the limits of both assimilation and liberation as strategies pursued by the GLBTQ movements”. There is an analysis of the core strategies used in the most explosive public policy debates of the last 30 years—AIDS, Gays in the Military and Same Sex Marriage.  If you have ever wondered how  private decisions on sexuality became such a controversial political issue in American politics, you will find the answer here. It is a concise introduction to the development of the gay rights movement. It includes the historical development of the issues, “a recap of the varying political positions, and an analysis of the political and legal processes that led to today’s policies.” Here is the Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations


1 Introduction to the Core Dilemma

2 The Assimilationist and Liberationist Strategies in Historical Context

The Birth of the Homophile Movement and the Foundations for Contemporary Politics

The Stonewall Rebellion and Beyond

The 1970s and the Challenge of the Christian Right


3 The Conflict Over HIV/AIDS Policy

The Early History of AIDS in the United States

AIDS Policy in The Reagan/Bush Years

Response of the Lesbian and Gay Movements to the Reagan/Bush Years

AIDS Policy in the Clinton/Bush/Obama Years

Response of the Lesbian and Gay Movements to the Clinton/Bush/Obama Years


4 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Policy Perspectives on the Military Ban

Military Integration in Historical Context,

The Early Days of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Debates and Policy

Implementation of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy

The Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

The Case for the Military Ban

The Case Against the Military Ban


5 Jilted at the Altar: The Debate Over Same-Sex Marriage

Same-Sex Marriage in Historical Context

The Implications of the Marriage Debate for the Lesbian and Gay Movements

The Case for Same-Sex Marriage

The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage


6 The Movements’ Futures

The Assimilationist and Liberationist Strategies Revisited

Coalition Politics

Barriers to Building Coalitions


Appendix 1: AIDS Timeline

Appendix 2: The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Law

Appendix 3: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Christian Right Organizations

Discussion Questions





“Law and the Gay Rights Story: The Long Search for Equal Justice in a Divided Democracy” by Walter Frank— The Legal Road to Gay Rights

law and the gay rights story

Frank, Walter. “Law and the Gay Rights Story: The Long Search for Equal Justice in a Divided Democracy”, Rutgers University Press, 2014.

The Legal Road to Gay Rights

Amos Lassen

Most of remember what it was like in this country to live in fear of public exposure. There was a time when public exposure led to loss of job, blackmail and arrest. Times have changed as have attitudes but what we need to look at is what caused these changes.

Walter Frank gives us an in-depth look at court cases that helped turn the tide for gay rights. What we must remember that for every court case there was a person behind it; Frank tells us the stories of “those individuals who were willing to make waves by fighting for those rights, taking enormous personal risks at a time when the tide of public opinion was against them”.

The real beauty of this book is its accessibility—the complex legal issues are explained to us in language that we can all understand and Frank never abandons the human dimension of the law and the events outside of the courtroom that influence everything. We are looking at fifty years of gay and lesbian history and this book gives us the legal perspective on  events such as the Stonewall Riots, the AIDS crisis, and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” As a former litigator, Frank looks carefully at the constitutional issues surrounding same-sex marriage and closely analyzes the two recent Supreme Court cases addressing the issue. Frank is a strong advocate for gay rights but he is also able to give a critique of what he sees and this also includes the gay community as well. The book is comprehensive in coverage and in its explanations of the legal and constitutional issues involved in each of the major goals of the gay rights movement. These are  “a safe and healthy school environment, workplace equality, an end to anti-gay violence, relationship recognition, and full integration into all the institutions of the larger society, including marriage and military service”.  We can not help but be aware of the research involved in writing a book like this and of course Frank’s experience as a litigator gives him a special way to see and evaluate what he sees. He also shows us where we might go from where we are now.

While the right to marry has consumed us of late we cannot forget the other issues that got us to this point. Frank also presents a broad overview of the legal, political, and cultural changes involving gay people over the last fifty years and as he covers virtually every important gay rights legal case, he also brings in the compelling human stories that go with them and represent the “challenges and joys of being gay in America.” To see just how comprehensive this book is have a look at the Table Of Contents:


Part I The Freedom Struggle (1945–1992)

1 Isolation, Oppression and Emergence (1945–1969)

2 Stonewall (1969)

3 Invisible No Longer (1969–1981)

4 The AIDS Crisis and Its Legacy (1981–92)

Part II The Struggle for Legal Equality (1993 to the Present)

5 Three Key Developments

6 The Debate Over Gay Rights

7 The Workplace

8 Freedom from Violence; Freedom to Serve

9 The Public School Struggle

10 The Gay Family

11 The Movement’s Critics

Part III The Right to Marry

12 The State Constitutional Battles

13 The Supreme Court Confronts Same Sex Marriage

Suggested Readings


Cases Cited



“God’s Other Children – A London Memoir” by Vernal W. Scott— World AIDS Day

god's other children

Scott, Vernal W. “God’s Other Children – A London Memoir”, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.

World AIDS Day

Amos Lassen

World AIDS Day often causes us pain and tears for the goodbyes we have had to say to those who are no more. In this new book, Vernal Scott, a black gay Londoner and former head of HIV services gives us a look at the associated pain, stigma, and tears of World AIDS day. The book is shocking in that it exposes of raw prejudice and this is a powerful read. With its 500 pages and 57 reader-friendly chapters, the book starts out in “happy but poor 1930s Jamaica” but the story really begins when the author’s parents move to London in the 1950s.

 There are some very humorous moments but overall this is a serious, mature, and sometimes dark read especially when it deals with “love and loss; sex, sexuality and ‘coming out’; religion and homosexuality; domestic violence and borderline child chastisement/abuse; disease, death and dying; divorce; racism and homophobia; equality challenges at home and abroad; gay/lesbian baby-making and parenting; fathers and family court; and teen depression”. There is even voodoo and the paranormal (Did I leave anything out?) make a spooky yet convincing appearance.  The book is written as a novel but there are no fictional characters or plots. What makes the book such an interesting and fascinating read is that it totally the truly horrific impact of AIDS on both heterosexual and gay communities in the 80s and 90s. We meet and read about the notable English people who had a part and we see the author at the forefront of the then challenge as he describes the period as “a conveyor belt of death and dying.” Scott sees the HIV virus as one of equal opportunity, and the pain it causes as human: not gay, straight, black, or white.

Scott produces the statistics nationally and internationally and we see that 75 million are affected globally and is frightening to realize that we are speaking of people. We read about some of the affected people; it hurts to do so. We read of Scott’s loss of a child and that compounded with the deaths that he had seen caused problems for him. He questions his religion and finds the Bible scriptures to be inhumane.

There are wonderful photographs in the book: Whitney Houston, Dionne Warwick, and Gloria Gaynor and one of a speech on AIDS by HRH, Diana Princess of Wales. Scott writes with a passion and if we really want to understand the impact of HIV/AIDS on the Black Community of Great Britain this is the book to read. We get Scott’s most intimate experiences both professional and personal as he struggles to answer the call in the early days of the crisis. He shares very painful family losses along the way and his high profile celebrity friends who assisted him in his fight against ignorance and homophobia.

In the 80s & 90s we witnessed countless friends and family members fall to AIDS. It was a time of total indifference from our political leaders were fearful of the disease and hated the gay community. We read this with tears in our eyes but those tears also become anger. This is such an important book and am even more important read. We cannot let these issues die.