QUEER IN AMERICA by Michelangelo Signorile

QUEER IN AMERICA

Sex, the Media, and the Closets of Power
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Best known as the ``pioneer of outing'' (identifying homosexuals in public life), gay activist-journalist Signorile (a columnist for The Advocate) offers no revelations in this angry memoir. A history of outing, primarily addressed to ``queers,'' it's a cry to break down the ``closets of power''--``to be out, proud, and queer in America.'' Evolving from a repressed and hypocritical young Italian male from Staten Island, Signorile became a provocateur, directing his anger against the power structures he considered responsible for the ``demonization'' and ``marginalization'' of gays: the religious right, the N.Y.C. media, the Washington political establishment, Hollywood. From his days in p.r., spent providing gossip for various columnists, the author learned to use the media and found that ``outing'' Malcolm Forbes, Cher's daughter, John Travolta, and Pete Williams (the Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Gulf War) gave gays a sense of dignity and affirmation that, he says, exceeded the right to privacy his victims claimed: Signorile draws a pointed analogy to what he calls Anita Hill's ``outing'' of Clarence Thomas. But the author's argument becomes sinister in its McCarthy-like allusions: tales of an unnamed ``closeted'' legislator, a Hollywood mogul, and a high-placed advisor to President Clinton who's ``still up to his old tricks''--which, in D.C., a city ``overflowing with queers,'' apparently means using sex to gain power. Signorile sees the gay power base shifting to Silicon Valley, where many gays have found refuge and success in computer technology: The video-display terminal, he says, will be ``the new battleground'' and electronic mail ``the ammunition.'' A call to arms that, for serious readers, raises important legal, ethical, and psychological issues, and, for gossips, offers an opportunity to identify new ``suspects.''

Pub Date: June 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-41309-X
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1993




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