“What Do Gay Men Want?: An Essay on Sex, Risk, and Subjectivity”– Provocative Thoughts

Halperin, David. “What Do Gay Men Want?: An Essay on Sex, Risk and Subjectivity”, The University of Michigan Pres, 2007.

Provocative Thoughts

Amos Lassen

Many think of homosexuals as being sick and this has been the predominant answer since gay liberation has come to fore. Times, like everything else, change and doctors are again looking at the nature of gay men especially as regards their motives in taking risks while the AIDS  epidemic is still ongoing.. Suddenly a rethinking about                                                                                                                                                                                                           the issues of self esteem, “lack of self-control” and “various other psychological “deficits” has become popular.  In his essay, Professor David Halperin gives a new approach to describing the lives of gay men.

Halperin looks at the limits of desire and shows that they cannot be explained through the analysis of each individual psyche and instead proposes a “poetical-philosophical-political exegesis in smooth and sleek language which makes the book a small treasure in the field of gay studies. He looks at the idea of bare backing or unprotected sex and shows that the key to understanding is not in the realm of psychology because it attempts to hide moral assumptions on the nature of sex/ Instead he looks to the various disciplines of queer thought which provide extremely interesting possibilities for the exploration of what gay men really want and uses readings by both obscure and well known queer theorists. In this theory which he provides he shows that gay men use abjection to formulate alternative and non-moralistic models to think about the subjectivity of the modern gay male. What we get are creative and non-judgmental ways to hinder the spread of the AIDS virus as well as news to consider our lives.

I am sure that this sounds like heady stuff but Halperin writes in a way that everything is totally comprehensible and understandable. It’s good to have a voice like this to weigh in with a new opinion.

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