THE TOLERANCE TRAP by Suzanna Danuta Walters


How God, Genes, and Good Intentions are Sabotaging Gay Equality
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The limits of tolerance and why it isn't enough.

In her thorough and engaging study, Walters (All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America, 2001, etc.) examines the well-intended but wrongheaded fight for tolerance by LGBT leaders and organizations, as well as lawmakers' pursuit of the same. Mere "tolerance" falls short of full inclusion in society, she argues: "No civil rights movement worthy of the name has banked its future in being tolerated or accepted." The author examines other issues in gay culture, including the scientific search for a "gay gene," gender normativity, and the nature of sexual arousal and desire. Her prose is clear and nonacademic; the many references to pop culture make the results of her extensive research relevant and accessible. Particularly illuminating is Walters’ overview of discovering one's gay identity, which offers a pointed contrast between popular culture’s depiction of the familiar “coming out" narrative and its real-life particulars. The digital age has greatly simplified the process of finding and joining a like-minded community; these searches are now conducted in private and can make coming out—to hundreds of "friends" or the entire world—as quick and direct as clicking a mouse. Walters invites readers to judge the validity of her well-reasoned opinions, in marked contrast to those social critics more famous for verbal rock-throwing and theatrical provocations than persuasive analyses. In asserting that gay, lesbian and bisexual citizens want rights such as pay equity, voting rights, and an end to discrimination in the workplace and judicial system—indeed, "full and deep integration and inclusion in the American dream"—she makes it clear that tolerance is much too limited a goal.

An enlightening examination of identity and the quest for "deep freedom" by a largely misunderstood and marginalized group.

Pub Date: June 3rd, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8147-7057-3
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: New York Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2014


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