Syndicated writer and New York Times same-sex wedding expert updates his volume on manners and navigating gay and lesbian life.
Petrow (The Essential Book of Gay Manners & Etiquette, 1995) concedes that manuals on propriety can seem passé by contemporary standards, but he believes that “treating everyone with respect and decency makes for a better and fairer world, and that manners are among the best ways to make sure we do.” The author sees little difference between good behavior in the gay world versus the heterosexual one, but most etiquette books, he writes, fail to address predicaments unique to the homosexual (LGBT) population. In the sensitive, smartly conceived opening section, Petrow establishes then acknowledges the pride and pitfalls of sexual orientation. Important chapters on supportive friendships follow, which include timely resources on bullying, gay suicide, and the Trevor Project’s prevention helpline. The author then cheerily delves into more naturally provocative material like romance and sexual etiquette, where the delicate dance of that first in-person date and the joys of a committed relationship meet the technologically savvy world of online profiles, social-media navigation and breaking up via text message. Petrow also gives equal space to more important issues, like ruminations on HIV status disclosure, infidelity, domestic violence, workplace discrimination and homophobic travel destinations. He also examines gay weddings, with appropriate rules for rings, invitations, attire and even honeymoons. Also effective is the author’s addition of a wide range of asides, like the gay-focused “queery” and heterosexual-based “straight talk” inserts. Most gay men and women will find something of interest here, whether they’re contemplating marriage, starting a family, coming out of the closet or simply setting the dinner table.
An indispensable refresher course, alternately edifying and campy, on what’s proper in modern gay life.