A PLACE AT THE TABLE by Bruce Bawer

A PLACE AT THE TABLE

The Gay Individual in American Society
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Bawer brings to the volatile public discussion of homosexuality the same moral reasoning and civilized demeanor evident in his cultural criticism (The Aspect of Eternity, p. 632). This passionate, persuasive book should be the starting point for all future debate. What separates Bawer's honest and accessible argument from other polemics on homosexuality--aside from its moral perspective- -is its audience. Bawer treats the opposition with respect while never compromising his goal: the triumph of ``reason over irrationality, acceptance over estrangement [and] love over loathing.'' He premises his work on the reasonable assumption that there's a vast disparity between the gay subculture and the reality of most gay life in America. The public debate has been shaped by highly vocal denizens of the urban gay ghettos, a group that has portrayed itself as sex-obsessed, irresponsible, and politically beyond the pale. Meanwhile, the conservative opposition too often frames its position in response to the subcultural stereotypes. That's no excuse, though, for right-wing homophobia and its buzzwords (``choice,'' ``recruit,'' ``advocate,'' ``abnormal,'' ``lifestyle,'' etc.), each of which Bawer eloquently addresses. Bawer's defense of the ``silent majority'' of gays is based in his own Christian faith and conservative values. He brilliantly exposes the social policy of denying domestic partnership rights as complicit with the sexually permissive underground of bathhouses and porno theaters. Moreover, not only does he address Bible-based anti-gay attitudes, but he defuses the anti-family posturing of both the gay radicals and their right-wing counterparts. At his best, Bawer depoliticizes a subject overcharged with rhetoric, reminding us that there's really no reason for shock value. To call Bawer's subtle narrative ``centrist'' misses its truly post- ideological significance. Bawer artfully weaves autobiography into his eloquent defense of the common sense that exists somewhere between closeted denial and outrageous activism. This could be the crossover book many have been waiting for--plain and sane talk about a complex issue.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-79533-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1993




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