WINTER'S LIGHT: Reflections of a Yankee Queer by John Preston

WINTER'S LIGHT: Reflections of a Yankee Queer

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An anecdotally rich yet philosophically incomplete exploration of regional and sexual identity. In this posthumous collection, gay writer/anthologist Preston (Friends and Families: Gay Men Write About the Families They Create, p. 451, etc.) chronicles his search for a home as both a gay man and a New Englander. Preston grew up in Medfield, a small Massachusetts town where he had always felt he belonged--his mother's family had been there for generations--until as an adolescent, he began to realize that he was gay, and that to live openly, he would have to leave his conservative hometown. Preston then lived in large cities with visible gay communities for years; as a queer activist, journalist, and pornographer, he became one of gay male America's foremost spokespeople. Yet he missed New England, always feeling that it was his real home, and he eventually moved to Portland, Maine, where he lived until his death from AIDS in 1994. Though it was a struggle at times to find acceptance in that reserved and somewhat provincial climate, Preston found that he did ultimately earn the respect of his fellow Yankees; he took great pride in publishing work in the local papers and making friends with the regulars at the barber shop. To show that he fits in, Preston will often tell a story about someone who doesn't: For example, in the neighborhood bar in Portland, a newcomer's ignorant question about the Red Sox is met with glaring contempt by Preston and the other patrons. But must the sense of belonging depend on someone else's exclusion? Preston's book becomes frustrating when it begs such questions without ever explicitly asking them. Nonetheless, Preston eloquently describes his aching need to belong, a need that will resonate with most gay people--and many straights as well.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1995
Page count: 200pp
Publisher: Univ. Press of New England