Provocative, sometimes repetitive reports on sex, politics, gay life and the media.
Radio host, columnist and gay activist Signorile (Life Outside, 1997, etc.) is best-known for his controversial 1980s and ’90s “outing” campaign—revealing the secret gay lives of public figures. However, in the preface to this collection of his columns published between 1996 and 2004, Signorile reaches beyond his gay audience and provocateur past to position himself as a player on the national political scene. At times, he makes good on his promise, to the book’s detriment—when Signorile’s lefty rants diverge from gay politics, they are indistinguishable from the usual fare. Readers looking for Signorile-type scandal won’t be disappointed, though. Subjects of confrontational screeds on hypocrisy include Tom Cruise, Rosie O’Donnell and, most effectively, Vice President Cheney’s lesbian daughter, Mary. Signorile also appears as gadfly of the GLBT community, urging its Republican members to abandon their party and its representatives to stand by their demands. Some of the author’s most successful columns run counter to Signorile’s much-hyped type: a sensitive piece of good reporting on gay teen activists and their parents, a non-judgmental exploration of the cultural differences impacting Italian gay activism, early coverage of the transgender movement that clarifies the challenges it poses to the larger queer community (including Signorile himself) and an interview-driven piece on why some gays and lesbians choose to live in rural communities. Unfortunately, the collection exposes Signorile’s tendency to repeat himself, sometimes almost verbatim, on the subjects of outing, the failures of the media and the possibility of a renewed AIDS crisis. The topics bear repeating—Signorile’s persistent fight against American apathy about AIDS is particularly commendable—but the reiterations don’t offer much beyond historical interest. Further, since Signorile offers only the occasional brief reflection on his work and many of the columns are readily available on his website, casual readers may question investing in the book itself.
Great for fans, hit-and-miss for new readers.