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    Lists | March 13, 2015

    Hanya Yanagihara: IMG Nine Tips for Finishing That Novel

    My second novel, A Little Life — about a group of men in New York and their friendship over the course of 30 years — will be published... Continue »
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      A Little Life

      Hanya Yanagihara 9780385539258

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7 Local Warehouse Literary Criticism- General
3 Remote Warehouse Gay and Lesbian- General

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How to Be Gay


How to Be Gay Cover




<p><b>From Chapter Six: </b><b><i>The Queen Is Not Dead</i></b></p><p><b><i> </i></b></p><p> We keep being told that gay culture is dead. Traditional gay male culture, or so the story goes, was tied to homophobia, to the regime of the closet, to the Bad Old Days of anti-gay oppression. That is why it is no longer relevant. Now that we have (some) gay rights, and even gay marriage (in half a dozen states, at least, as well as in Canada, several European countries, South Africa, Argentina, and Nepal), the sense of exclusion, and of specialness, that gay men have long felt is out of date. Once upon a time, gay culture was rooted in &ldquo;the aestheticism of maladjustment,&rdquo; as Daniel Harris calls it. With those roots in social rejection and marginalization now definitively severed, traditional gay culture is certain to wither away. In fact, it has already withered away. &ldquo;The grain of sand, our oppression, that irritated the gay imagination to produce the pearl of camp, has been rinsed away,&rdquo; Harris explains, &ldquo;and with it, there has been a profound dilution of the once concentrated gay sensibility.&rdquo;</p><p> </p><p> Similar arguments also used to be made about drag, highlighting its outdatedness and forecasting its imminent disappearance. But since drag continues all too obviously to live on, no doubt to the embarrassment of many, and since it continues to take new forms&mdash;from <i>RuPaul&rsquo;s Drag Race </i>on the Logo Channel to late-night appropriations of deserted Walmarts for drag displays by queer youth&mdash;the reports of its demise that continue to be issued seem increasingly to lack confidence and conviction.</p><p> </p><p> In the case of gay culture in general, however, a death knell is continually sounded, often by forty-something gay men projecting their sense of generational difference, as well as their utopian hopes for the future, onto younger guys&mdash;or anyone who represents the latest generation of gay men to emerge onto the scene. These kids are said to live in a brave new world of acceptance and freedom, mercifully different from that prison house of oppression, that &ldquo;cage of exclusion&rdquo; (albeit &ldquo;gilded . . . with magnificent ornaments&rdquo;), which their elders knew.</p><p> </p><p> If you want to gauge just how well younger gay men nowadays are assimilated into American society at large, you only have to look &mdash;or so the advocates of this view insist&mdash;at how ignorant of gay culture these boys are, how indifferent to it they are, how little need they have of it. That, you are assured over and over again, is a particularly telling sign: it shows that gay kids nowadays are happy and healthy and well-adjusted. &ldquo;For the first time,&rdquo; starting apparently in the 1990s, according to Andrew Sullivan, &ldquo;a cohort of gay children and teens grew up in a world where homosexuality was no longer a taboo subject and where gay figures were regularly featured in the press.&rdquo; The result of that change in mass-media representation, Sullivan contends, was a complete merging of straight and gay worlds, as well as a new fusion between straight and gay culture, with the latter now losing its edge and distinctiveness:</p><p> If the image of gay men for my generation was one gleaned from the movie<i> Cruising</i> or, subsequently, <i>Torch Song Trilogy</i>, the image for the next one was MTV&rsquo;s &ldquo;Real World,&rdquo; Bravo&rsquo;s &ldquo;Queer Eye,&rdquo; and Richard Hatch winning the first &ldquo;Survivor.&rdquo; The new emphasis was on the interaction between gays and straights and on the diversity of gay life and lives. Movies featured and integrated gayness. Even more dramatically, gays went from having to find hidden meaning in mainstream films&mdash;somehow identifying with the aging, campy female lead in a way the rest of the culture missed&mdash;to everyone, gay and straight, recognizing and being in on the joke of a character like &ldquo;Big Gay Al&rdquo; from &ldquo;South Park&rdquo; or Jack from &ldquo;Will &amp; Grace.&rdquo;</p><p> </p><p> Too bad no one bothered to tell my students. Maybe they would have stopped identifying with <i>The Golden Girls</i> and immersed themselves instead in <i>The Swimming-Pool Library</i>. Then I could have taught a successful class on contemporary gay male fiction. And I wouldn&rsquo;t have had to write this book.</p>

Product Details

Halperin, David M.
Belknap Press
Gay Studies
Literary Criticism : General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies
Literary Criticism-Semiotics & Theory
Gender studies: men
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
27 halftones
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Business » Featured Titles
Gay and Lesbian » Fiction and Poetry » General
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Featured Titles
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Gay Studies
History and Social Science » World History » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

How to Be Gay New Hardcover
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Product details 560 pages Belknap Press - English 9780674066793 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Rather than the how-to guide his title suggests, Halperin (Saint Foucault), a professor of the history and theory of sexuality at the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor, offers a response to the controversy surrounding a class he taught there in 2000. While conservatives charged Halperin with 'initiating' straight students into a new sexual orientation, some gay rights advocates saw him as reinforcing hurtful stereotypes. This long-delayed answer proves to be not a polemic but an attempt to unpack his basic observation that there's far more to gay male American identity than a same-sex preference. Halperin interprets gayness through traditional pop culture preoccupations like golden age Hollywood, opera, and Broadway musicals, focusing on Joan Crawford (in particular her role in Mildred Pierce) and Faye Dunaway's notoriously over-the-top portrayal of the star in Mommie Dearest. Identifying the source of the camp appeal exerted by these ostensibly serious films, Halperin asks why gay men continue to be drawn to coded representations of their experience. He arrives at an apologia for such clichéd signposts of gayness in an era of domestic partnerships and Born This Way. Halperin persuasively defuses charges of misogyny lobbed against gay male culture, but may alienate some by too narrowly defining his vision of what that culture should be. Nonetheless, this book should appeal to specialists and general readers alike with its academically rigorous but accessible argument." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , A pioneer of LGBTQ studies dares to suggest that gayness is a way of being that gay men must learn from one another to become who they are. The genius of gay culture resides in some of its most despised stereotypes--aestheticism, snobbery, melodrama, glamour, caricatures of women, and obsession with mothers--and in the social meaning of style.
"Synopsis" by , Finalist, 2013 Lambda Literary Award, LGBT Studies
"Synopsis" by , Finalist, 2012 Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction, Publishing Triangle
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