HEARTLANDS by Darrell Yates Rist


A Gay Man's Odyssey Across America
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 A stereotype-shattering work by journalist and gay activist Rist (Christopher Street, The Nation, The Village Voice, etc.). Rist sets out to modify preconceived notions about a group usually pressed into identity-niches from queer to clone, dragging out of the closet not an individual but the invisible portion of a subculture: that of the gay men who live between the urban centers of the two coasts. After providing a sympathetic portrait of a white, middle-class, essentially politically correct couple in San Francisco's Castro district--the gay equivalent of the Cleaver family--Rist hits the road. His goal is ``the grail of gay brotherhood.'' He encounters bronco-busting cowboys; bigoted misanthropes; the channeler of a 3,500-year-old spirit in Santa Fe (``Realize that you have chosen this experience in order to understand your uniqueness,'' says the ancient entity about AIDS). Uniqueness is what Rist finds, as he learns that ``our psychic dilemmas [are] more intricate'' than he had expected. An Air Force doctor embraces the culture of homosexuality but snaps, ``I'm not gay.'' A gay resort-owner speaks of a vision of Olympian companionship at odds with Rist's own conception of gayness. An activist to whom a sense of community in the gay world is important, Rist has a prodigious ability to present characters, settings, and conversations in the vivid and ambiguous tones of actual occurrence. His book is filled with real people, with the pain of alienation and of AIDS, and with the beauty of a world seen on its own terms. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men for the gay community: a substantial, lucid, and lyrical work of journalistic sociology.

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1992
ISBN: 0-525-93500-2
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1992