Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

New from Bruno Gmunder— Two by Michael Stokes

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Two by Michael Stokes



This is a 136-page, hardcover volume, showcases photographer Michael Stokes’ penchant for photographing “male erotic images and figure studies of fitness competitors, personal trainers, and body builders from around the world.” Following his massively-successful Masculinity and Bare Strength, Stokes—whose number of Facebook followers top an astonishing 700,000—has created a new, modern figure study of the male form. He is best known for his work with nude American soldier amputees-photos that have been banned by social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, many of which are featured in his book Always Loyal. Stokes’ photos have appeared on “The Today Show”, “Good Morning America”, “The View”, and “The Tonight Show”.

Pages: 136

Color: Full Color

Cover: Hardcover with dust jacket

Format: 10 1/4 x 13 1/2 inch (26,0 x 34,0 cm)

Preis: € 59,99/ US$ 99.99 / C$ 99.99 / £ 49.99

ISBN: 978-3-95985-013-1

always loyal

Always Loyal

Inspired by a chapter in his 2014 book, Bare Strength, which featured wounded amputee Marines, celebrated photographer Michael Stokes has created an entire photographic volume dedicated to U.S. Gulf War veterans.

Always Loyal, a large-scale, hardcover coffee table book, showcases the beautiful side of wounded soldiers, whose injuries and/or lost limbs are detailed in intimate, exclusive photographs and information that provide a highly unique appreciation for those brave souls who have fought for the United States of America. The goal of fitness photographer Stokes—who, inspired by a shoot with veteran and amputee Alex Minsky, wanted to put a different spin on how wounded veterans were depicted—was to create a book via crowdfunder The result of the book is pure art. Pages: 96

Color: Full Color

Cover: Hardcover with dust jacket

Size: 10 1/4 x 13 1/2 inch (26,0 x 34,0 cm)

Price: € 49,99 / US$ 79.99 / C$ 79.99 / £ 39.99

ISBN: 978-3-95985-014-8

“In the Vale of Cashmere” by Thomas Roma— A Four-Year Odyssey

in the vale of cashmere

Roma, Thomas. “In the Vale of Cashmere”, Power House Books, 2015.

A Four-Year Odyssey

Amos Lassen

Prospect Park in Brooklyn is a place where gay cruising takes place on the trials and in the wooded areas. It is known as The Vale of Cashmere by those who are aware of and familiar with the place that has become an “anonymous, secret meeting ground where scores of men, mostly of African American descent, find one another for sex where such encounters occur between men of all walks of life, many of them identifying not as gay but as heterosexuals, with children and wives—and a deep secret”. This book is the culmination of photographer Thomas Roma’s four-year journey there. With awkward and oversized hand-made cameras and other hard to manage photography gear, Roma who was sometimes unwanted and always uninvited walked into the midst of secret, clandestine sex where there was always a risk of danger and being caught by the police. Many of the men that Roma chose to photograph were not interested but there were those that were. After one agreed to be photographed, Roma would offer the men time and the opportunity to show him something of themselves that otherwise they might not have the chance to do.

When he began this, Roma planned to do a portrait project. However, the more time Roma spent in the Vale of Cashmere, the more the physical beauty of the Vale became inseparable from the portraits and the many landscape photographs were made to be included in the book. In addition to the landscapes, a custom modified miniature camera was used to provide sequential pictures showing the steady march of the solitary men as they cruised the Vale. These candid photographs, which run along the bottom of the pages of landscape photographs, are reproduced in small scale so as to make it impossible to identify anyone in them. Roma’s motivation for this came from his desire to honor the memory of a dear friend who died of AIDS in 1991 and who had introduced him to the Vale of Cashmere.

“Thomas Roma is a two-time recipient of Guggenheim Fellowships (1982 and 1991) and a New York State Council for the Arts Fellowship (1973). Roma’s work has appeared in one-person and group exhibitions internationally, including one-person shows with accompanying books at The Museum of Modern Art, NY and the International Center of Photography. He has published 12 monographs including: Enduring Justice (powerHouse Books, 2001) with an introduction by Norman Mailer, On Three Pillars (powerHouse Books, 2008) with text by Phillip Lopate, and his 2010 powerHouse Books publication Dear Knights and Dark Horses with an introduction by Alec Wilkinson. He has taught photography since 1983 at Yale, Fordham, Cooper Union, and The School of Visual Arts and in 1996 became the Director of the Photography Program at Columbia University School of the Arts where he is a Professor of Art. Roma lives in Brooklyn with his wife Anna and their son Giancarlo.”

“Sexual Minorities and Politics: An Introduction” by Jason Pierceson— A Comprehensive View

sexual minories

Pierceson, Jason. “Sexual Minorities and Politics: An Introduction”, Rowman and Littlefield, 2015.

A Comprehensive View

Amos Lassen

There have been heavy debates in this country about the political representation and involvement of sexual minorities. Although there have been legislative and judicial victories that have brought about e inroads towards equality for this growing population, members and advocates of these minorities, they still have to fight to against societal and institutional resistance as they navigate evolving political and legal systems. “Sexual Minorities and Politics” is the first textbook that gives students an up-to-date, thorough, and comprehensive overview of the historical, political, and legal status of sexual and gender minorities. With thorough analyses of the work done by political scientists, political theorists, and historians, Jason Pierceson explores the history of the LGBT rights movement, the building of political and legal movements and the responses to them. He examines philosophical debates within and about the movement, and then weighs the current state of the politics and policies concerning sexual minorities.In addition to carefully structured analyses and contextual explanations”, we are given lists of important and key terms and discussion questions in each chapter to aid student comprehension and fuel classroom debate.

As of today, this is the most comprehensive presentation of the literature on sexual minorities currently available for classroom use and it is the first text designed specifically for Politics of Gender and Sexuality courses. Concise and comprehensive, it provides a wonderful overview of all the major LGBT developments in the United States and presents history, theory, and empirical evidence from the latest research and does so in an interdisciplinary manner. While the book is about the United States, it also looks at the global movement for sexual and gender minorities.

“Shock Treatment”, (Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition) by Karen Finley— An Excoriation

shock treatment

Finley, Karen. “Shock Treatment”, (Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition), City Lights, 2015.

An Excoriation

Amos Lassen

“Shock Treatment” is a collection that includes Karen Finley’s most provocative and acclaimed performance monologues, essays, and poems. Taken together, we get an excoriation of misogyny, homophobia, abusive families, greed, and state coercion of bodies and minds. Finley hopes for a world informed not by hate and fear, but by truth and unconditional love. Even though “Shock Treatment” is already 25 years old it is still timely, relevant and crucial as it was when it was first published. Author Finley is an iconoclast who became an icon with this book that was targeted by religious groups and politicians.

The book is a “searing and necessary indictment of America, a call to arms, a great protest against the injustices waged on queers and women during a time in recent American history where government intervention and recognition was so desperately needed”. Twenty-five years later, it continues to shock and provoke readers and audiences in the way it demonstrates the powerful cultural and political impact her work has had on modern American art and performance art.

This twenty-fifth anniversary expanded edition features a new introduction in which Finley reflects on publishing her first book as she became internationally known for being denied an NEA grant because of perceived obscenity in her work. She also shares her journey from art school to burlesque gigs to the San Francisco North Beach literary scene. There is also a new poem reminds us of Finley’s disarming ability to respond to the era’s most challenging issues with grace and humor.

As a performance artist, Finley provoked debate and controversy. Take this for example from “Aunt Mandy”, ‘One day, I hope to God, Bush / Cardinal O’Connor and the Right-to-Lifers each / returns to life as an unwanted pregnant 13-year-old / girl working at McDonalds at minimum wage.’ We immediately feel the irony and if we simply change the names, what she has t say is still relevant. In America we are still fighting a culture war.

Finley writes with rage as she deals with the issues of homophobia, misogyny, racism, and casual violence and while she once sounded irate, today she sounds more astute. That rage contained grief, humor and “a passion for life that is profound. Her language is graphic but it not gratuitous. She uses vulgar sarcasm and contempt towards the society that allows her to publish what she does and her messages become loud and clear, once the shock wears off. Her essays are about the issues of sexual abuse, misogyny and corporate greed (and others) and she faces the bitter realities of society that many try hard to deny or keep out of the comfort zone of awareness. This is a raw uncensored cathartic tirade of a woman who deals with harsh realities and if one cannot take them then this is the not the kind of book to read. Sure, sometimes the profanity is excessive but the truths are there and they must be dealt with.

The essays here were written at a time when some religious leaders were referring to AIDS as a punishment from God. Finley compares the treatment of AIDS victims to the Holocaust and refers to the 700 Club as “America’s SS.” She writes with a tone of despair and she tells us that the “liberalism and idealism of the ’60s and ’70s has been replaced in the ’80s by yuppie materialism and religious fundamentalism”. Yes, she is shocking but she also has written sensitively about illness, death and grief.

Finley shatters taboos in this collection of monologues and we must appreciate what she has done here.

“Rupert Brooke: The Bisexual Brooke” by Kenneth Hale— Sorry No Review

rupert brooks

Hale, Kenneth. “Rupert Brooke: The Bisexual Brooke”, Watersgreen House, 2015.

Sorry No Review

Amos Lassen

I had really wanted to review this but the publisher told me that they do not have the budget to send out review copies so I can only relate what I have read about the book.

“Keith Hale, editor of “Friends & Apostles: The Correspondence of Rupert Brooke and James Strachey, 1905-1914”, here examines the bowdlerization of Brooke in existing biographies and looks into the poet’s self-proclaimed bisexual identity. Hale examines the same-sex relationships Brooke enjoyed with Michael Sadleir, Charles Lascelles, and Denham Russell-Smith as well as the poems Brooke may have written about these early loves. As with many boys of his generation, Brooke’s public school days affected him more profoundly than any period of his life. During his years at Rugby, Rupert was involved in romantic relationships with three boys. In order, Denham Russell-Smith entered Rugby in May 1902, age thirteen. Michael Sadleir followed in May 1903, age fourteen, making him and Denham the same age. Charles Lascelles entered in May 1904 at age fourteen. Thus, two of Brooke’s Rugby loves were two years his junior, and the boy he appears to have loved most, Lascelles, was three years younger”. I must say that it looks fascinating.

“Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway” by Michael Riedel— The Money and the Power

razzle dazzle

Riedel. Michael. “Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway”, Simon and Schuster, 2015.

The Money and the Power

Amos Lassen

“Razzle Dazzle” is a provocative look at the people, the money and the power that re-invented New York City’s Broadway and, turned its back alleys and sex-shops into the dazzling Great White Way. They also brought a crippled New York from the brink of bankruptcy to new glory. In the mid-1970s Times Square was the seedy symbol of New York’s economic decline. The famous Shubert Organization was losing theaters to make way for parking lots. Bernard Jacobs and Jerry Schoenfeld, two ambitious board members, saw that the crumbling company was ripe for takeover and staged a coup “amidst corporate intrigue, personal betrayals, and criminal investigations”. Once Jacobs and Schoenfeld solidified their power, they turned a collapsed theater-owning holding company into one of the most successful entertainment empires in the world and ultimately backed many of Broadway’s biggest hits, including A Chorus Line, Cats, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, and Mamma Mia! They also sparked the revitalization of Broadway and the renewal of Times Square.

Michael Riedel tells the stories of the Shubert Organization and the shows that were responsible for the re-building of the city in grand style. He gives us the backstage drama that often rivaled that of what transpired onstage. Here is gossip, rivalries, friendships and alliances that read like a novel. We see that Broadway is a business and here it was a bit of a battle between the various production companies. Yet, when Reidel writes about the 70s, 80s and on, the book is thrilling. Ticket prices are fascinating as it is explained that they rose from $7 dollars for orchestra seats to the hundreds that are now charged. Here is a love letter to Broadway and New York City.

“A Radical Life in Song” by Ronnie Gilbert–A Singer, a Playwright, a Therapist and an Independent Woman

ronnie gilbert

Gilbert, Ronnie. “A Radical Life in Song”, (Foreword by Holly Near), University of California Press, 2015.

A Singer, a Playwright, a Therapist and an Independent Woman

Amos Lassen

Ronnie Gilbert, along with Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and Fred Hellerman was one of the founding members of the folk singing group, the Weavers. In the late 1940s, she became a performer and an activist on behalf of social change. Her credits include the book and stage presentation “Face to Face with the Most Dangerous Woman in America”, detailing the life and work of Mother Jones; “Legacy”, a play based on the writings of Studs Terkel; and many recordings with the Weavers, Holly Near, and others. Her career was long and full— she was a singer, actor, playwright, therapist, and independent woman. Her lifelong work for political and social change was central to her role as a performer.

Gilbert was raised in Depression-era New York City by leftist, working-class, secular Jewish parents, Gilbert is best known as a member of the Weavers, the quartet of the 1950s and ’60s that survived the blacklist and helped popularize folk music in America. She possessed a beautiful contralto voice and had a vibrant stage presence that enriched the group and propelled Gilbert into a second singing career with Holly Near in the 1980s and ’90s. As an actor, Gilbert explored developmental theater with Joseph Chaikin and Peter Brook and wrote and performed in ensemble and solo productions across the United States and Canada. This book tells is about the political, artistic, and social issues of the times and does so through song lyrics and personal stories and through sixty years of collaborations in life and art that span the folk revival, the Cold War blacklist, primal therapy, the back-to-the-land movement, and a rich, multigenerational family story. It is so much more than a memoir— it is also a unique and engaging historical document for those interested in music, theater, American politics, the women’s movement, and left-wing activism. Unfortunately Ronnie Gilbert died before it was published.

“What an extraordinary, well-lived, lefty/Jewish life, complicated and engaged, a glorious weaving of art and politics: hootenannies to Red-haters, Carnegie Hall to Mother Jones, women’s music and love for a woman to the bombing of Gaza. Sing now to the heavens, dear Ronnie!” Penny Rosenwasser, author of Hope into Practice: Jewish Women Choosing Justice Despite Our Fears

A Radical Life in Song is an uplifting, bold, and adventurous journey with the resilient Ronnie Gilbert as she goes from challenge to challenge, from strength to strength, with gusto and heart.” Clare Coss, playwright and author of Emmett, Down in My Heart and Dr. Du Bois and Miss Ovington

“Ronnie Gilbert approached her memoir as she lived her life: with love, compassion, and forthright courage. Vividly written, this splendid book presents a life of stunning surprises, harmony and struggle, and the enduring realities of political and personal activism, from the Weavers to Women in Black.” Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt, vols. 1–2

“For those of us who thought that Ronnie Gilbert was JUST part of the legendary Weavers, this autobiography in an eye opener. Far from just being part of the Weavers, Ronnie Gilbert’s life has been a series of stepping stones, leading to new adventures in the arts and living”.

“She was part of the early protest song movement before the Weavers, and then came the Weavers, a group that burst on the music scene in the early 50s, only to be hurt by the McCarthy scare of the 50s – one of the dark periods in American history”.

“Yet her life didn’t end with the disbanding of the Weavers; instead, she became an actress and knew and worked with many of the famous directors and playwrights of the era”.

“She became a Primal Scream therapist out of her own need for help and renewal; lived in worked in British Columbia for a number of years, before returning to a more activist life”.

“Her activist life, begun with her mother’s devotion to social justice, is till not over – this is an amazing revelation for me, and demonstrates just how one can lead the active, socially conscious life well into old age”. Below is a look at the Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations

Foreword by Holly Near



  1. Songs Are Dangerous
  2. Family
  3. Making My Own Way
  4. The Weavers
  5. Moving On
  6. Theater
  7. Heading West
  8. British Columbia
  9. The Winter Project
  10. The Weavers’ Last Concert
  11. Women’s Music
  12. Women in Black
  13. Learning to Be Old



“The Uncollected David Rakoff”— The Best of the Previously Uncollected

the uncollected David Rakoff

Rakoff, David. “The Uncollected David Rakoff”, Anchor Books, 2015.

The Best of the Previously Uncollected

Amos Lassen

Bestselling and Thurber Prize–winning humorist David Rakoff was one of the most original, delightfully acerbic voices of his generation. Here, in one place, is the best of his previously uncollected material—most never before published in book form. These include the entire text of “Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish”.

We feel David Rakoff’s singular personality on every page of this witty and entertaining collection that includes travel features, early fiction works, pop culture criticism, and transcripts of his most memorable appearances on public radio’s “Fresh Air” and “This American Life”.

These writings show Rakoff’s transformation from a guy who did not fit, meekly arriving for college in 1982, to a proud New Yorker bluntly opining on how to walk properly in the city. We see his unparalleled ability to capture the pleasures of solitary pursuits like cooking and crafting, especially in hard times and times of trouble; as well as the ups and downs in the life-span of a friendship, whether it is a real relationship or an imaginary correspondence between Gregor Samsa and Dr. Seuss (co-authored with Jonathan Goldstein). 

The writings switch between humor and very moving and sensitive pieces and this collection highlights the many facets of Rakoff’s huge talent and shows a great deal about his remarkable career.

The foreword is by Paul Rudnick.

“Violence against Queer People: Race, Class, Gender, and the Persistence of Anti-LGBT Discrimination” by Doug Meyer— A Look at Violence

violence against queer people

Meyer, Doug. “Violence against Queer People: Race, Class, Gender, and the Persistence of Anti-LGBT Discrimination”, Rutgers University Press, 2015.

A Look at Violence

Amos Lassen

We read and see a lot in the news about violence against lesbians and gays but it is not always accurate since it seems to concentrate on only one segment of the LGBT community—white, middle class men. The rest seem to be ignored and that is where there is a larger share of the violence—against racial minorities, the poor, and women.

Sociologist Doug Meyer offers the first investigation of anti-queer violence that focuses on the role played by race, class, and gender.

Meyer draws his study on interviews with forty-seven victims of violence and shows that LGBT people encounter significantly different forms of violence—and perceive that violence quite differently—based on their race, class, and gender.  What he shows is that the other forms of discrimination includes racism and sexism and these shape LGBT people’s experience of abuse. He shows that lesbian and transgender women, for example, have often described violent incidents in which a sexual or a misogynistic component was introduced, and that LGBT people of color sometimes weren’t sure if anti-queer violence was based solely on their sexuality or whether racism or sexism has also played a role. With the many differences in how anti-queer violence is experienced, the present media focus on white, middle-class victims greatly oversimplifies and thereby distorts the nature of anti-queer violence. What we really see is that attempts to reduce anti-queer violence that ignore race, class, and gender run the risk of helping only the most privileged gay subjects. We also see that even though the struggle for gay rights has largely been accomplished and the tide of history has swung in favor of LGBT equality, yet there is still a lot more to do and a lot further to go. Meyer argues that the lives of many LGBT people—particularly the most vulnerable—have improved very little, if at all, over the past thirty years.

The book clearly shows why it is important to study violence against LGBT people who are also racial minorities, women, and/or working class. Below is a look at the Table of Contents:


1          Introduction: Social Inequality and Violence against LGBT People

2          More than Homophobia: The Race, Class, and Gender Dynamics of Anti-LGBT Violence

3          “I’m Making Black People Look Bad”: The Racial Implications of Anti-Queer Violence

4          Gendered Views of Sexual Assault, Physical Violence, and Verbal Abuse

5          Race, Gender, and Perceptions of Violence as Homophobic

6          “Not That Big of a Deal”: Social Class Differences in Viewing Violence as Severe

7          The Home and the Street: Violence from Strangers and Family Members

8          Conclusion: Anti-Queer Violence and Multiple Systems of Oppression

Appendix: Methods




“The Male Nude” by David Leddick— The Beauty of the Male Form

the male nude

Leddick, David. “The Male Nude”, Taschen Books Reprint, 2015.

The Beauty of the Male Form

Amos Lassen

Back in print is David Leddick’s lovely “The Male Nude”. Taschen says, “While the female nude has long played a conspicuous role in western iconography, the male nude has not always enjoyed such adoration. This collection provides an overdue review of material that at one time could only be bought under the counter, beginning with the anonymous erotica of the 19th century. It features the pioneer homoerotic nude photographs of Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden, posing nude youths in classical postures at Taormina in Sicily. It includes illustrations from groundbreaking magazines such as Physique Pictorial, the leading organ of the mid-50s gay scene, and it covers the entire range from classic masters of male nude photography, such as Herbert List, George Platt Lynes or Robert Mapplethorpe, to the pin-up beefcake of the sex magazines”.

the male nude pic

“David Leddick has been an officer in the US army, a dancer with the Metropolitan Opera in New York and creative director of leading cosmetics brands. He has written and edited photographic books and has also been an advertising consultant. He divides his time between Paris, Miami Beach and Montevideo”.