A moving, educative memoir from one of the innovators of the gay liberation movement.



The audacious life and work of the designer of the symbolic rainbow flag.

Gay rights advocate Baker (1951-2017) passionately charts his rise to prominence from a stifling Methodist childhood in 1950s Kansas, where he secretly danced in his aunt’s old prom dress and became conflicted about his burgeoning homosexuality and obsession with art. Drafted into the Army at 19, he endured a harrowing two-year stint but landed securely in San Francisco at the dawn of the gay rights movement, a sure sign of things to come. Baker writes briskly and amiably about making fast friends and becoming an activist promoting “lavender tolerance and social acceptance.” Though sewing projects kept him busy, he envisioned creating something to replace the pink triangle as the symbol of gay visibility and diversity. Thus, the rainbow flag was born, “a visual metaphor and an active proclamation of power, created and dedicated to gay and lesbian liberation,” and was displayed during Gay Freedom Day on June 25, 1978. Through the darkness of the Jonestown massacre, Harvey Milk’s assassination, and Ronald Reagan’s problematic presidency, Baker and his friends persevered, proudly continuing their dedication to promoting tolerance. His urban activism continued with the charitable Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a politically charged organization focused on exposing religious homophobia and sexual oppression. The AIDS epidemic further darkened the atmosphere, and the author vividly illustrates the deadly struggle to survive both the wrath of a mysterious killer and the political unrest that continued to plague gay America. Baker’s legacy as a creative designer and a staunch advocate intertwined when he worked on the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt with fellow activist Cleve Jones as well as the creation of the epic mile-long rainbow flag that stretched across the streets of Manhattan for the Stonewall 25 commemoration in 1994. Baker’s rainbow flag legacy lives on not only as a key emblematic component during pride celebrations worldwide, but in everyday discourse about the compassionate and unconditional nature of the community it represents and defends.

A moving, educative memoir from one of the innovators of the gay liberation movement.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64160-150-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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