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Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society Paperback – October 1, 1994


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Conservative cultural critic Bawer's canny appraisal of the gay rights movement calls for a more equitable place in American society for lesbians and gays.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Positing that negative stereotypes of homosexuals are the result of both right - wing propaganda and the high visibility of "radical gay activists," Bawer, a self-proclaimed spokesperson for the "silent majority of gays," attempts to absolve "mainstream gays" of responsibility by criticizing "subculture-oriented gays," including but not limited to Donna Minkowitz, Paul Monette, Edmund White, members of ACTUP, and those involved in Gay Pride parades. This heartfelt if misguided meditation cum manifesto is provocative, but the author's self-righteous generalizations and misrepresentation of the ethnic, socio economic, and geographic diversity of American lesbians and gays, as well as the lack of either an index or citations for the many sources, undermine the divisive diatribe.
- James E. Van Buskirk, San Francisco P.L.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671894390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671894399
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bruce Bawer is a highly respected author, critic, essayist and translator. He is the author of several collections of literary and film criticism and a collection of poetry. His political journalism is widely published in print and online journals and he reviews books regularly for the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, and Wall Street Journal. Visit his website at www.brucebawer.com. He lives in Oslo with his partner.

Customer Reviews

You might also want to check out the books by Jack Donovan.
Zoltan Carnovasch
The best way to show this is to attend everyday community functions and even (for some people) oft-dreaded Pride parades held each year.
"seg153"
Read it, and then please, please get your straight friends and family to read it too.
Allen Smalling

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
Every gay youth who is struggling to retain essential values and characteristics after coming out should read this book. It is not necessary to dye your hair, go clubbing, and pierce yourself to be a well-adjusted homosexual!!
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a very average suburban-dweller who just happens to be a lesbian, I've been searching for balanced reading material. Thank God -- literally -- for Bruce Bawer. Bless him for writing a book for the majority of us who prefer mowing our lawns to marching in parades and only use the word "queer" to describe something strange -- regular people living quiet lives. EVERYONE, regardless of sexual orientation, should read this marvelous book.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
I wish every gay person I know, every family member, and every co-worker of mine would read this book.
A Place at the Table has as its main theme the following idea: the gay stereotypes need not enslave you. So many straight people fear gays because of their limited perspective and interaction with gays and too many gays fear coming to terms with their own sexuality because of those same stereotypes (e.g., "I don't want to end up like THAT.")
I feel like Bruce Bower is a caring friend or mentor who offers hope and encouragement for both straight and gay persons. To a straight person he explains powerfully that most gays want the same thing everyone else does: stable relationships, a family, and to be treated with dignity and respect. Most gays aren't out to "destroy the family."
To gays, he offers an even stronger two-fold message: first, the best thing you can do is simply be yourself. (You don't have to like Bette Midler and opera just because you're gay.) Second and related to that idea, don't let others dictate who you are. He writes, "Too many gays come out of the closet just to be pushed into another." Like an expert surgeon, Bawer dissects the sociological reasons why there is so much "group think" among gays, but knits together a more powerful alternative vision in its place: gay individuals who are fully integrated into society (not living separated and segmented lives) who indeed have a place at the table...the feast of life.
If you're just starting to read about gay issues, this is a GREAT place to start.
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful By "seg153" on July 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
The reason it has been so difficult coming out for me (25yrs old) was because I couldn't relate to some of the blatantly feminine gay men that stuck out in our culture. I knew I wasn't one of them (not that I abhor them at all; actually I respect them for not being afraid of being who they are, if they are naturally feminine) and I felt this book provided a helping hand to show how I should conduct myself in today's generation. I've learned to take responsibility for my actions, not only from this book, but from my own upbringing.
I thank Bawer for reminding me to be responsible, but I also thank my family for raising me to be a good person; even when it is still hard for my family to believe there is nothing wrong with me. I dream of the day, my family will fully accept me for who I am. By reading this book, talking to others with similar situations, PFLAG parents and mentors have been my surrogate family for a while.
There is much appreciation for Bruce Bawer's "A Place at the Table," his inspiring words, and revealing truths. His book shows the world that we are more than stereotypes. The best way to show this is to attend everyday community functions and even (for some people) oft-dreaded Pride parades held each year. For all of us to come out of the woodwork, we can show others there is nothing wrong with diversity.
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Miles D. Moore VINE VOICE on February 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
Paul Monette's "Becoming a Man" is generally considered to be the classic account of growing up gay in America. I myself, however, found much more to identify with in Bruce Bawer's "A Place at the Table," a half-memoir, half-polemic that I think speaks for at least as many gay men as "Becoming a Man." Bawer, who is both openly gay and a conservative Christian, causes his coevals on both sides to swallow hard as he blasts the in-your-face outrageousness of gay radicals and the smug homophobia of right-wing fundamentalist pundits. Some have accused Bawer of sounding a little smug himself; nevertheless, it is impossible not to be moved at his insistence at being taken at face value, as a man both proudly, devoutly Christian and proudly, openly gay. Bawer is a distinguished poet and literary critic, and perhaps the best part of the book is his analysis of gay-themed novels and how they reflect on both gay and straight society. First published a decade ago, "A Place at the Table" remains a clarion call for sanity and understanding.
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22 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Sephiroth on October 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
At first, I thought I connected with Bawer in that I am a gay male who doesn't see himself as stereotypical, "queeny," "campy," etc. I hate being stereotyped as such, so I empathize with Bawer on that note. However, as the book went on, I found myself shocked at Bawer's rhetoric, and his logic---both are flawed, inconsistent, and baseless.

First and foremost, to criticize visible symbols of homosexuality in society is heartless, rude, and reveals his own discomfort with sexuality. Drag queens, Pride organizers, and "radical activists" dedicate their lives in order to make other people's lives better. They get out into the real world and show people what diversity is and how it is manifested. As far as this "silent majority" (gays who aren't "flamboyant," "radical," or "stereotypical") that Bawer speaks of, I offer one response: since when has silence done anything to improve human rights? Also, what does Bawer expect from this? That the "silent majority," who by implication of the word "silent" are nor vocal nor activists, will do better for gay rights? And how so? Logically, the answer ends up being the assimiliation of gays into a heteronormative world, where behavioral and linguistic traits commonly associated with heterosexuals are favored. It is these logical holes that reveals Bawer's book as an insecure and resentful, yet very self-indulgent, rant.

I would also like to connect this race. Here, Bawer has positioned himself as the Clarence Thomas of gays; Bawer simply seems to be complaining about stereotypes that are unfairly applied to him, and then trashes the people who helped him get where he is today. Bawer says that "radicals" need to get out of the public eye, similar to Booker T.
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