Paradox and Perversity in Gay Lives Today
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 A scattershot study that seeks to discern an American ``gay culture.'' By investigating such phenomena as the gay community's reactions to the AIDS epidemic, radical gay-rights organizations, changing sexual practices, and homosexuals' burgeoning economic clout, former NPR reporter Browning (coauthor, The American Way of Crime, 1980) attempts to discover whether or not a gay culture exists in today's America. The linkage he makes between his data and his thesis is extremely tenuous, however, and most readers will remain unconvinced by his contention that ``gay culture'' is distinguished from other cultural entities by its diversity and its ability to assume a wide range of ``masks.'' Browning filters his perceptions through his own personal experience--cruising San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, attending the raucous, butch- dominated Hotlanta Weekend--and through the experiences of a roster of gays, including a pair of Hispanic lovers who find solace in speaking Spanish to one another and a trio of athletes competing in the international 1990 Gay Games. The author is most to-the-point when recounting the efforts of gay activists to smuggle untested (and therefore illegal) drugs into the country in a desperate effort to combat AIDS. His analysis of the divisions that have split the radical Queer Nation is also effective, as are his comments on the pre- and post-Stonewall generational differences that mark the gay community. He weakens his case, though, in too often limiting his investigations to gay white males; greater attention to lesbians and other minority homosexual groups would have strengthened the relevance of his arguments. Diffuse and disappointing, as Browning overburdens his evidence with an unproven, perhaps unprovable, thesis.

Pub Date: March 9th, 1993
ISBN: 0-517-58192-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993


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