THE CHRISTOPHER STREET READER by Michael; Charles Ortleb & Thomas Steele--Eds. Denneny


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Non-fiction pieces from back issues of the magazine Christopher Street, founded in 1976 ""to open a space, a forum, where the developing gay culture could manifest and experience itself."" The first two sections explore homosexual lifestyles and attitudes in America: there are interviews with a male-porn dancer, a fetishist, a masochist, also with writers Felice Picano and Vito. Russo (on Hollywood's ""Celluloid Closet""); Seymour Kleinberg profiles elderly homosexuals, while Tim Dlugos hears from ""gay widows"" (""Let me tell you, when you see every bond and bankbook of the man you've lived with for eleven years, and the only other name on them is his mother's, you feel like shit""); John Preston defends the parenting element in some gay relationships; plus, on a more stylish level than most of the writing here, there are Edmund White's tour of gay Texas (""Sissies, Cowboys, and Good School Citizens"") and Andrew Holleran's campy, funny musings on fast-food sex, discos, and male nudity. International reports follow in the next section--from gay Rio to gay London and Paris to not-so-gay Moscow. (""The obvious limitations on Russian gay life. . . do provide a certain stability and sanity."") And the final two sections turn more polemical, with undistinguished close-ups of gay heroes (Ned Rorem is weak on Auden, Simon Karlinsky is fatuous on Diaghilev) and essays on cultural politics: an hysterical, unpersuasive attack on Christopher Lasch (""Is The Culture of Narcissism, despite its costume of social criticism, actually a gigantic subliminal attack on homosexuality?""); an attack on feminist attitudes toward homosexual men (the women ""are calling for the gay everyman to return to a time when he saw himself as filthy, perverse, and undesirable""); a shrill gay manifesto, heavy with ""cultural genocide"" rhetoric; and more substantive pieces on practical gay-politics, ""The Gay Challenge to the Catholic Church,"" and ""The Life and Death of Harvey Milk"" (by Randy Shilts, author of the recent book-length treatment). An uneven sampler, then, with much that's tiresome and poorly written--but a solid source of views and moods from inside ""gay culture.

Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 1982
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan