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On Being Different: What It Means to Be a Homosexual (Penguin Classics) Paperback – September 25, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Forty years after Miller’s article and book his eloquent voice is still poignant, still relevant to the ongoing struggle, our struggle for dignity and equal rights.” — Jonathan Ned Katz, Founder, Co-Director, OutHistory.org

“Forty years later, the story Miller tells remains important and necessary to read, not only for both gay and straight readers to understand ‘the way it used to be,’ but because the issues Miller raised are still being discussed and argued about.” — Nancy Pearl

“Merle Miller’s On Being Different is a searing indictment of social hypocrisy, written with a quite but burning passion… This book is not only a valuable historical document about the gay civil rights movement, but it is an American classic because of the beauty it achieves through its unflinchingly honest portrayal of the raw pain of rejection.” — David Carter, author Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution

“Without indulging in sensationalism or special pleading but making it clear that he was writing directly from his own experience, [Miller] bridged the gap between the ‘straights’ and the ‘gays’ in a way that few recent writers on the subject have done. He also put himself on the line as a well-known writer, who was not afraid to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality.” — Publishers Weekly

“Brilliant, moving, and one is obliged to add, courageous narrative of personal homosexuality.” — James A. Wechsler, columnist

About the Author

Merle Miller (1919–1986) was an editor at Harper’s Magazine, Time, and the Nation, and was the bestselling author of several books, including the novel A Gay and Melancholy Sound and Plain Speaking, a biography of President Harry Truman.

Dan Savage is the internationally syndicated columnist of “Savage Love” and the author of several books. With his husband Terry Miller, he cofounded the It Gets Better project and edited the It Gets Better collection.

Charles Kaiser is an author, journalist, and blogger. His books include 1968 in America and The Gay Metropolis, which was a New York Times Book Review Notable Book. He lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143106961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143106968
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #347,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I stole this book from the local bookstore in Elkhart, Indiana, when it was new and I was 13 years old. The only reading material besides it available to me were books I ordered from the Psychology Today Book Club and that my mother eventually discovered. I distinctly remember hiding it under my jacket, probably an army jacket, which was still a fashionable item with young hippies just past the end of the hippie era. Along with Patricia Nell Warren's iconic 1974 novel `The Front Runner`, it was one of those two or three books that helped me make it through. It deserves to be remembered and I can't be happier to see it being offered again to a world very different, yet in many ways the same, as when Mr. Miller first published this book. I needed him and his book all those years ago, and they were there. Bravo. Mark/lgbtSr
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Format: Paperback
I remember the time I came out to my family. I had to. There was no other way. I could not live the way I was. Almost a double life. It does not work this way and it should not. I did not want to go through having to lie every time I had to step out or make any random excuse. More than this I guess, I wanted to live my life on my own terms. I did not know how it would be at eighteen though. Today I know better and also am aware that maybe our country has miles to go before homosexuality is accepted in all walks of life, without looking at it as something "queer" or "odd" or "different". We think we are okay with it. We almost would like to believe it. The story is however different. There are so many friends I know of who would never want their children to be gay. They cannot fathom that and they are okay with me being who I am. Which makes me think: Are they really okay? Would they even let me close to their children? And it was at this time, I read a book which made perfect sense to me and was a right read at that time - "On Being Different" by Merle Miller.

At the same time, it was not easy for the gay community back in the 70s, living in the United States of America. It was looked down upon. People were losing their jobs if out of the closet. There were no gay rights to speak of. In short, it was either treated as something that did not exist or something that existed but more as a mental disease than love between same genders. Merle Miller, an American writer, and journalist then decided to retaliate against an article written by Joseph Epstein for Harper's Magazine called, "The Struggle for Sexual Identity", in which Epstein publicly lashed out against homosexuals. Miller did not understand the article and why the hatred against homosexuals.
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Format: Kindle Edition
A short and quick read, it gives a good perspective on the progress of LGBT acceptance in the US. The essay in itself is very interesting, and reading the additional comments and stories adds a lot. Being gay, I'm versed in LGBT history but this book was still worth the while. I'd definitely recommend anyone to read this to get an insight. Much better than The Cross in the Closet, a book with similar aspirations that I read just after this.
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Format: Paperback
Climb into your literary "time capsule," and journey back to a time when the Stonewall uprising was still a topic of discussion, and Patricia Nell Warren was about to release a groundbreaking gay romance novel called "The Front Runner."

Originally an essay in New York Times Magazine in 1971, "On Being Different" was one of the first books that specifically addressed being gay in (then) modern America, addressing the homophobic stereotypes of that era, as depicted in magazine articles and films of the day. It also provided insight into the work of the Gay Activist Alliance (GAA), a group that began the fight for equal civil rights that - sadly - continue now, more than forty years later.

In this reissue edition, the foreword by Dan Savage and the afterword by Charles Kaiser put the late author's work into perspective, as something that has affected their own work as gay authors and activists. An important and vital addition to your library. Five stars out of five.

- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
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Format: Paperback
This is a slender volume filled with good writing, including a contemporary introduction by Dan Savage. The bulk of the book is Miller's 1971 New York Times Magazine essay, which was written in response to a blatantly homophobic article in another prominent publication.

It's interesting to read Miller's essay (and his afterword) from a modern-day perspective. Parts of it were true back in the early 70s, but are no longer so today; other parts are, sadly, as true today as they were back then. Miller's essay is followed in this book by an afterword by Charles Kaiser, which may give some perspective to younger readers. His afterword begins:

"If you were born after 1970, I think it is nearly impossible to imagine how it felt to open up The New York Times Magazine on a Sunday morning in January 1971 to discover a deeply personal and beautifully written piece in defense of homosexuality. Nothing like this had ever been printed in a newspaper like the Times before."

Whether you pick up this book for its historical place in the gay rights movement or because you want to read evocative and incisive prose that applies to gay civil rights today, this edition of Merle Miller's essay is an exceedingly worthwhile read.
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