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How the Homosexuals Saved Civilization Hardcover – September 9, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 217 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; First Edition edition (September 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585423149
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585423149
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,753,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this "work of love from a fag-hag author," humor writer Crimmins (Where Is the Mango Princess? etc.) considers gay men's multifarious contributions to society and celebrates the "golden age of 'Global Queering.' " (Lesbians, she finds, have been too domestic to influence much.) In 10 brief chapters, she reflects on the culture of camp, the popularity of "gay expressions" ("butch," "breeder"), gay restaurants (they have "exotic ingredients and flamboyant presentations"), fashion designers, sex practices, Judy Garland musicals and 1960s game shows (with gay pioneers like Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly) and more. As Crimmins has it, gay men are responsible for the popularity of barbecue (James Beard, who was gay, popularized outdoor grilling) and Abercrombie & Fitch (fraternity boys sporting that brand are aping a gay lifestyle—without knowing it—by buying into photographer Bruce Weber's vision of male beauty). Friends, Frasier and Sex and the City had gay roots and gay writers, she says, and flaunted a code of gay allusion. Few would argue with the thesis that gay men have had a profound and positive cultural impact, but this volume may not be anyone's chosen proof. Crimmins's casual use of words like "fairy," "faggot," "homo" and "nelly" may prove a stumbling block to her readers, as might her persistent stereotyping.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Cathy Crimmins, bestselling coauthor of Newt Gingrich's Bedtime Stories for Orphans and The Gay Man's Guide to Heterosexuality, is one of the most savvy observers of pop culture writing today. Her previous book, Where Is the Mango Princess?, received the Outstanding Book Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors and is being made into a TNT movie featuring Julianna Margulies and Alfred Molina.

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Customer Reviews

I was not at all impressed by the author or the content.
jj14905
Likewise, we women do not all need to take our dressing and decorating ideas from gay men.
Tasha
More importantly, it is a book that the unenlightened SHOULD be reading.
Nelson Aspen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jerrel E. Towery on March 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Ok...I will be the bad guy about this book. Fluff is the word that comes to mind. Shallow stereotpypical fluff. I have to admit to having fun reading it, but am embarrassed to say so. (I also admit to eating fast food but that is not something that I am proud of either.) It strikes me as the book one would expect a straight woman to write about gay culture. It just strikes me as obviously coming from the pen of someone who is not gay but who is trying overly hard to identify and be the best buddy of someone who is gay.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Krakora on September 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have to agree with some of the earlier reviews that this book is on the fluffy side, that's is the literary equivulent of E! or Bravo TV. Basicly Crimmins talks about how much gays have influnced American cultural life. She does roll out the stereotypes; they are postivie ones for sure, but they're still stereotypes. The book is written breezily and you can read through it very quickly.

Crimmins says with the growing (and more explicitly stated) influence that gays have on American life and pop culture, more straight people will comsume those products, which will in turn make straight people more aware of gay issues and more open to gay rights. Actually it doesn't always work that way. One can consume gay-influenced culture and still be biased towards heterosexism; take for example the recent case of Miss Califonia, who obviously let a queen or two do her hair, makeup, and outfit, and yet she speaks out against gay marriage. Another example is Camille Paglia (okay a lesbian herslf, but still...), who credits gay men with creating culture and yet she dismisses them when they talk about politics, gay rights in particular. And then there's Nancy Reagan, who had a gaggle of gays to style her, and yet her husband president Ronald Reagan let AIDS spread unchecked because it was seen as a "gay" disease. Crimmins herself occasionally reveals the reality on how much can gay culture can (or cannot) influence straights to be more gay-positive; she writes about young men wearing Abercrombie & Fitch, which is shaped by a gay aesthetic, yet those same teenage guys were not afraid to use the word "gay" as a put-down. She also refers to Harvey Fierstein, who played in drag Mrs.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. Baumer on June 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ugh... i picked up this book (along with some others) as a gift for my Dad (who I recently came out to) for father's day. I thought it would be a great gesture to show that I'm letting him into that part of my life.

Good thing I read it first- I don't need to give my dad this book if I'm the one who is skeptical about most of what she has to say. Not to mention- this isn't about how Homosexuals saved civilization- it's about how Homosexuals created and fascinated America with a lot of the terrible celebrity worship and popculture phenomenon that destroy the value of mainstream media.

She should re-title this book immediately. Something like "Gay people are super super fun novelties."
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jean E. Pouliot on November 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
You don't have to be homophilic to recognize the enormous impact of homosexuals on American culture. Homosexuals, especially gay men, are deeply embedded in almost every element of our culture, including theater, movies, music, television, haute couture, food preparation, floristry and hair styling. Cathy Crimmins' thesis is that gay sensibility has long been at the root of much that heterosexuals take for granted in American culture.

"How the Homosexuals Saved Civilization" is no scholarly treatise, but a light and breezy overview of the seeming omnipresence of gays in American cultural life. Crimmins chronicles her own childhood awakening to the existence of gay elements in culture, explaining why she was attracted to the typically campy and over-the-top work of gays. She reminds us that straight America has danced, sung and fallen in love to the work of homosexuals, usually without knowing it. Cole Porter, Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, Little Richard, Johnny Mathis and Elton John are just a few of the gay artists that Crimmins names as having a deep impact on entertainment, and hence on American experience.

Crimmins covers the "Liberace Effect," in which gays and others deny the gayness of their work; the gay adoration of female divas like Garland, Streisand and Cher; the pre-gay-lib gay sensibility of Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly. Crimmins also describes gay influence on more recent media creations like "Sex and the City," in which gay writers put their own boy-to-boy frank conversations into the mouths of heterosexual women. Even shows like John Stewart's "The Daily Show" flaunt their edginess with references to gay culture and preoccupations. Crimmins also shows how certain trends (earrings and disco, flaunting or shaving of body hair, etc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Miguel L. Valdespino on June 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
There are lots of gay people that actually accomplished great things outside of simple cultural arts. Alan Turning literally defined what the computer you're using is. Actually, he defined it both literally and mathematically. He not only broke German codes, he figured out how to teach other people to break their codes. And his name isn't even mentioned.
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