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American Gay (Worlds of Desire: The Chicago Series on Sexuality, Gender, and Culture) 1st Edition

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226551937
ISBN-10: 0226551938
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The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice by Patricia Bell-Scott
"The Firebrand and the First Lady" by Patricia Bell-Scott
The history-changing twenty-eight-year bond forged between Pauli Murray and Eleanor Roosevelt that critically shaped Eleanor Roosevelt's, and therefore FDR's, view of race and racism in America. Learn more | See related books
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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

In this intermittently interesting study, Murray (Latin American Male Homosexualities, not reviewed) analyzes the roots of gay identity in America, focusing on various racial and ethnic differences within the gay community. In its mission to foster heterosexuality, contends Murray, society has misrepresented gay life in the media, identifying it almost exclusively with loneliness and death. Enduring same-sex couples are almost invisible, while ``representations of gay men with AIDS in the news media perpetuate the image of gay men necessarily cut off from humanity, dying alone and miserable.'' Relationships between gays are continually devalued and undermined. The care--both financial and emotional--that gay men have shown one another, particularly during the past decade, has largely been overlooked. Therefore, the author concludes, gays must demand acceptance and forge their own institutions. Citing sociological data, Murray draws a well-defined distinction between the terms ``homosexual'' and ``gay.'' Engaging in homosexual acts does not make one ``gay.'' To be part of the gay community involves a consciously chosen acceptance of a certain lifestyle and identity. Whereas all gays find themselves cut off from the mainstream, members of certain ethnic groups are doubly disenfranchised. Among African-Americans, for example, even the most progressive leaders, such as Jesse Jackson, have sought to keep the existence of gays ``invisible,'' while black studies departments have ignored ``African and African American homosexualities.'' Murray draws on sociological research to provide hypotheses about various racial and ethnic groups within the gay community. Asian gays, for example, are more likely to ``keep their gay world separate from their family/community world.'' Unfortunately, Murray's contribution to the field is marred by too many lapses into sociological jargon. (e.g. ``Homosexuality is more polyvalent than either realists or nominalists [particularly special creationists] suppose.'') But despite its ploddingly painful prose, this volume deepens our understanding of gay Americans and their particular challenges. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

American Gay is an investigation into how people have been gay or lesbian in America. Murray examines the emergence of gay and lesbian social life, the creation of lesbigay communities, and the forces of resistance that have mobilized and fostered a group identity. Murray also considers the extent to which there is a single "modern" homosexuality and the enormous range of homosexual behaviors, typifications, self-identifications, and meanings. Challenging prevailing assumptions about gay history and society, Murray questions conventional wisdom about the importance of World War II and the Stonewall riots for conceiving and challenging the notion of a shared oppression. He reviews gay complicity in the repathologizing of homosexuality during the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Discussing recent demands for inclusion in the "straight" institutions of marriage and the U.S. military, he concludes that these are new forms of resistance, not attempts to assimilate. Finally, Murray examines racial and ethnic differences in self-representation and identification. Drawing on two decades of studying gay life in North America, this tour de force of empirical documentation and social theory critically reviews what is known about the emergence, growth, and internal diversity of communities of openly gay men and lesbians. American Gay deepens our understanding of the ways individuals construct sexualities through working and living together. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Worlds of Desire: The Chicago Series on Sexuality, Gender, and Culture
  • Paperback: 345 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (June 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226551938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226551937
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,618,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Pulling together living in and writing about gay communities in Toronto and San Francisco, this book takes up many topics. Indeed, there are sentences that take up many topics!
The first part criticizes social theories while presenting an account of the de-assimilation of lesbigays and the misuse of AIDS to regain medical supervision of gay men's lives. The second part addresses social roles, same-sex couples, and "community" as that term is used by sociologists and by gay men. The third part looks at the unsatisfactory research on African-, Mexican-, and Asian-Pacific- American lesbians and gay men, relying heavily on memoirs and prose fiction.
Although not providing a unifed narrative -- Murray is perhaps overeager to embrace the fragmentatary quality of postmodern life -- this book provides much food for thought about minorities (sexual and other kinds) in North America, a mordantly critical sensibility, and a sometimes daunting command of the social science literature on lesbians and gay men (here, there, and elsewhere).
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By A Customer on December 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
Somewhere between a collection of essays on various topics relating to gay and lesbian experiences in 20th century North America and a developing narrative, it has a lot of ideas and citations, and many sentences as long as this one! The author is critical of much that has been written about lesbian and gay Americans and particularly contemptuous of those who think that enforcing respectability on wayward brothers and sisters will bring acceptance.

The last four chapters consider what has been written about Americans of African, Mexican, and Asian/Pacific descent. The Mexican-American chapter is very brief (there's more in his earlier book, Latin American Homosexualities), the two African American chapters extensive and provocative. Well, the whole book is provocative. Sometimes overeagerly?
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