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On Being Different: What It Means to Be a Homosexual (Penguin Classics) Paperback – September 25, 2012
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“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is a searing indictment of social hypocrisy, written with a quite but burning passion… This book is not only a valuable historical document about the gay civil rights movement, but it is an American classic because of the beauty it achieves through its unflinchingly honest portrayal of the raw pain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
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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found this a fascinating read, recommended by Dan Savage, often outspoken columnist and frequent guest on Bill Maher. Read morePublished on January 28, 2014 by James D. Held
Very thought provoking book on what it was like to be gay in the early gay movement. Even though I was born nearly 50 years after him, I still went through many of the same trials... Read morePublished on September 13, 2013 by skywalker
This is a great story and so very true. Thank you. Hopefully people who read it, get it and understand.Published on September 2, 2013 by Joan S. Parsley
If you are interested in this topic, essentially the Rights of Man, then you must read this book, including the supplementary foreward.Published on March 15, 2013 by dan
Miller delivers a message that is at once heart-felt, cynical, optimistic, and unflinchingly honest. Read morePublished on February 18, 2013 by Jonathan Errol Van Kempen
Dan Savage's long forward did not sufficiently contextualize the historical essay that follows.He only covered one point, simply that gays are not usually insinuated as being child... Read morePublished on January 10, 2013 by Petronius