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Life Outside - The Signorile Report on Gay Men: Sex, Drugs, Muscles, and the Passages of Life Paperback – May 6, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (May 6, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060929049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060929046
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,672,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Michelangelo Signorile was an outspoken advocate of gay culture whose brush with mortality after engaging in risky sex changed his outlook on life. In Life Outside, Signorile, a columnist for Out magazine, explores the changing lifestyles and mores of gay men through interviewing and surveying hundreds of gays--in the cities, in the country, and everywhere in between. In addition, he provides a fascinating history of gay culture, from the closeted '50s, when most homosexuals found sexual release by "servicing" straight men, through the '70s and '80s, when physical beauty and promiscuity became the hallmarks of gay life. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A columnist for Out magazine, Signorile (Queer in America, LJ 6/1/93) here urges gay men to shun what he calls the "cult of masculinity" that has been embraced by many gay men, particularly in the largest urban areas. In the first section?the best part of the book?Signorile describes the cult, traces its origins from shortly after Stonewall, describes the "circuit parties" firsthand, and documents the rampant use of steroids and other drugs among cultists. In Part 2, he posits recent trends toward the "deghettoization" and "deurbanization" of homosexuality, a move toward "postmodern monogamy," and a breakdown in the stereotype of the lonely old queen. Unfortunately, Signorile offers little reliable evidence for these trends and relies instead on data from an informal, unscientifically selected sample of several hundred men who are quoted or paraphrased at length. Also, many chapters read like expanded columns, good in themselves but not woven into an entirely cohesive argument. Overall, this is a good, readable book that could and should have been better. Recommended for larger collections.?Robert W. Melton, Univ. of Kansas Libs., Lawrence
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By P. Cello on September 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
....Of course this isn't dry and erudite social criticism; it doesn't pretend to be. What it does do is pose some very difficult questions and shed light on some behaviors that gay men (including myself) must address. I have to admit that there were certainly things I did not agree with in Signorile's book. And the repetitveness of terminology and thoughts ocassionally grated, but by and large this book made me pause and think. That, whether passing the muster of pretentious dialectic dogma or not, is a clear representation of the power of an author who is uncovering something that is worth considering. And the fact that many other gay men have responded to this book so powerfully means that it IS speaking to some underlying deep questioning that folks are doing about what we as gay men have become post-Stonewall. As an Ivy- educated young gay urban professional, I am more than capable of distinguishing between what I consider to be great writing or not. And Signorile is not my only choice in the panolpy of authors writing contemporary gay social critcism. However, he is one I will continue to read until the things he says no longer feel/seem relevant to me
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Knapp on March 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a gem. The words and ideas in it ring very true, at least from this writers perspective. The pressure to be "cut, ripped and pumped", and to escape "Life" with drugs and fun is REAL. It was well on its way to destroying me before I jumped off the merry go round in the early 90's. Signorile is not preaching, nor is he buying into the "Cult of the Circuit". He freely admits he works out. He wants to look good. But not at any cost. His dipiction of the flight over the desert and mountains to yet another "Circuit party" was oddly chilling and yet sad. Are we(gay men) so desperate to "blend" and yet be noticed that the cycle of attention seeking behavior will not end? I did find that the disparity between the two types of lives led (Parts One and Two) was a bit too stark, and difficult to relate to. Having been to NYC and Chelsea several times-that description was more than apt. The looks from the "Pumped" to the "Non-pumped" are amazing-very withering and pitying. Signorile hit this one on the head. I think he is saying it is time to wake up, smell the coffee, and work on ourselves from the inside out, and not the other way around.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a gay man who has lived in NYC since the 50s I found Signorile's picture of gay male life in the Fifties and Sixties and the judgements he made about those years to be a mass of threadbare cliches. Good God! Who did he interview to get such a narrow and crippled portrait of those years? He clearly lacks a knowledge of the broad range and nuancing of the gay male subculture of that era. This very poor beginning makes it difficult to take the rest of the book as seriously as Signorile clearly wants the reader to.
The "post-AIDS" era of the gay male subculture has been marked by a terribly uneasy attitude toward the preceding pre-AIDS era, and has seen the male subculture become something of a caboose on the train of feminism, with ambiguous and sometimes bogus issues of political correctness and the emulation of mainstream - white, middle class - goals and lifestyles being promoted as desiderata. Signorile's book is evidence of this interesting turn of events, but it is not much in the way of an analysis.
The entire work would have come off better if the author had skipped the assertions of research and simply done it as an confessional essay entitled something on the order of "Afraid of Ourselves."
George Chauncey's "Gay New York" was a credible study of the history and sociology of pre-WW II gay New York. We need something as fine and well done on the later years of gay American history. This book isn't it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 18, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Signorile is not a great author, but a journalist and as such unfortunately does not do justice to his topic, the cult of masculinity. Its an important book, one whose thesis is vital to the expansion and development of contemporary gay culture. We can finally look away from our sexuality as the only defining quality of our lives and look towards other aspects of our lives to find fulfillment, like loving relationships with one another. I appreciate Signorile's attempt here, although not his methods. the book is painfully redundant and simplistic. It doesn't adequately dive into issues like the historical development of this tendency towards "hyper-masculinity." The writing is simply too casual, perhaps he was aiming low at the reader demograph, the typical out magazine reader. the book reads too much like a long article, he would have done well to simply distill the information into a long essay rather than a book. I believe that this subject deserves a book, it can save lives, and more importantly enrich many more. It has been criticized as neo-conservative, but what's the alternative, complete promiscuity? please! we are finally too smart and too in control of our own lives to be reduced to simple sexual beings, sexuality is important but should not be defining. I believe that the future of gay culture lies not in the drug induced fantasy world of gay nightclubs (which i also visit from time to time) but in the lives that we form with our partners. Forming real relationships based on love, trust and yes even commitment is the real high and its unfortunate that too many of us can't see that.Read more ›
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