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Virtually Normal Paperback – September 17, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
I've previously used this book as one text in an undergraduate political science course for the masterful, economical, and honest way it delineates and critiques four major ways of thinking about gay and lesbian freedom.
This book displays the high-octane intelligence, elegant logic and wordcraft, and simple, noble, guileless passion for which Sullivan was better known before he became a website-hawking, on-the-fly-opining media gadfly.Read more ›
This book, better than any other, clearly and thoroughly outlines the four main arguments for and against homosexuality, and critiques their strengths and weaknesses in a prose style that is both highly personal and incredibly reasoned and intelligent. The Prohibitionists are the one school that is the most decidedly anti-homosexual - seeking to either punish or "cure" gays and lesibans. The Liberationists seek freedom from social labels and conventions, but, like the Prohibitionists, do not accept the concept of homosexuality as a valid state of being - there are no real homosexuals, only homosexual acts. Sullivan sees them as well meaning, but misguided. The Conservatives believe that homosexuals are entitled to a certain amount of privacy and respect, but homosexuality is still a sin. Homosexuals do exist... but they can't help it. They still disapprove of homosexuality, just not necessarily homosexuals. The Liberals also mean well, and struggle for the rights of homosexuals, but unfortunately blanket them in their larger agenda of "helping the little people", so to speak - well meaning, but sometimes a bit patronizing.
Sullivan does more than criticize, however. He also finds merit in these viewpoints. However, his major argument is that these views either need to be overcome or modified if homosexuals are ever going to have an equally accepted place in society. He also offers ways to overcome these different biases.Read more ›
The doctrines given treatment are: prohibitionism- being gay is a choice of deviance and as such should be treated as a sin, constructionism- gay is merely a social construction and there would be no 'homosexual problem' if we deconstruct sexuality, Conservatism- we should let people be gay but homosexuality should NEVER be encouraged socially. Finally we get to Liberalism. Perhaps Sullivan finds the most trouble here. The liberal doctrine states that as a persecuted group, gays should be tolerated to the point that if social coercion becomes necessary (through 'hate crime' legislation and the like), all the better. Through 'education' (resembling indoctrination) equality can be forced. Save for prohibitionism, I would agree that liberalism is the most dangerous of all.
Although it will be obvious that Sullivan has a special distaste for liberalism, he finds serious flaws in each of the four doctrines for good reason. His conclusion breaks sharply with all of them,resembling more of a classical liberal (J.S. Mill) approach. Tolerance should be encouraged, never forced. Government discrimination is the evil, private discrimination will die in the free market because it is always inefficient. Sullivan then devotes time to gay marriange and military service, asserting- very correctly- that untill homosexuals can serve their country openly and marry legally, they will always be on unequal footing. If the potential reader has never heard Sullivan speak on these issues, she should not delay.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Andrew Sullivan is a romantic at heart, or maybe just below the skin. He still believes in happy endings; at least, he refuses to disbelieve in them. Read morePublished 4 months ago by HH
Very Well Done. Thorough treatment of the many facets of incorporating homosexuality into modern politics, religion, and American life. Thank you.Published on December 10, 2012 by F. Charles Bunk
While Mr. Sullivan is clearly a moderately intelligent man, his four critiques in this book leave much to be desired. Read morePublished on June 6, 2010 by Mr.Dupont
In this book, Sullivan divides and defines the political views on homosexuality into 4 views - the prohibitionists, the liberationists, the conservatives, and the liberals (the... Read morePublished on July 22, 2004 by Coleman Yee
Author Andrew Sullivan's book is a breath of fresh air in the field of gay studies. Mr. Sullivan present different viewpoints on the subject of homosexuality (Prohibitionist,... Read morePublished on March 20, 2003 by Michael S. Waren
As much as I may try to sympathize with a fellow gay conservative, this book is poor. It is certainly worse than usual for Sullivan (a smart and fairly good writer): it is flat... Read morePublished on June 30, 2002
Andrew Sullivan believes that acceptance into the American mainstream is critical if gays and lesbians are to overcome the lingering legal and personal discrimination they face. Read morePublished on January 4, 2002 by Steve Sanders
Although I approached this book with an open mind, I was extremely disappointed with it. Sullivan seems to be saying that only a monogamous homosexual, or one who has achieve... Read morePublished on October 22, 2001
This book was very well written. It would have been nice if Sullivan could have addressed some more issues as well, but the ones he covered were broad enough to get the point... Read morePublished on April 24, 2001