GAY COPS by Stephen Leinen


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 Though significant as the first study of gay cops and informative by virtue of the author's diligent approach, Leinen's naive and often plodding report on homosexuals in the NYPD manages to reveal only a few insights along with the obvious. Leinen (Black Police, White Society, 1985--not reviewed), a retired NYPD lieutenant with a Ph.D. in sociology, began his study of gay police after seeing a gay cop announce his homosexuality while testifying for a gay-rights bill. Through the Gay Officers Action League, the author interviewed 41 gay cops. The size and type of the sampling (all of Leinen's interviewees are ``out'' to some degree) invalidates statistical significance; the value here is largely anecdotal--and not impressively so. While officers' voices are moving as they relate fears of exposure; discrimination; the humiliation of listening or even joining in as their colleagues derided gays; and various strategies for concealment and coming out, Leinen devotes too much space to observations such as that sex in a car ``severely constrains body movement, limiting the enjoyment of the act''; that many gays prize cops as lovers, fulfilling widespread gay-culture fantasies; or that higher-ranking gay cops suffer less than lower-ranking ones. There's something to be gleaned as the author tracks the process of coming out, and it's heartening that, at least in the NYPD, a reputation as a ``good cop'' outweighs any for sexual orientation, but much here is common sense, applicable to straights and civilians as much as to gays and cops: The practice of safe sex; the problem of coming out to one's family; the preference for long-term relationships; reasons for joining the force. Of limited interest, then--and it's hard not to suspect that Leinen's apparent lack of familiarity with gays (he finds a bisexual's dating history ``quite unique'' and worries about getting AIDS from sharing a glass) might be part of the problem. (First printing of 5,000)

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1993
ISBN: 0-8135-2000-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Rutgers Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993


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