SONS OF HARVARD: Gay Men From the Class of 1967 by Toby Marotta

SONS OF HARVARD: Gay Men From the Class of 1967

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When Toby Marotta announced in his Harvard class's 10th reunion report that he was gay, he began to receive calls and letters from other gay classmates, and eventually interviewed ten of them for this book--interweaving their stories with his and adding his own (dubious) political gloss. The interviewees represent an interesting mix of lifestyles and professions: businessmen, an architect, a priest, an academic, an aspiring songwriter, a state ""bureaucrat,"" a cabinetmaker. Two were looking for ""Mr. Right,"" several others had found him, and a few were involved in more offbeat activities of the ""gay male subculture."" With one exception, these men talk movingly and articulately of the process of coming out--and also abundantly demonstrate ""how their lives were improved. . . as a result of the success of the gay liberation movement."" It's Marotta's own generalizations and attempts to label his subjects that flaw the book. In some interviews (cabinetmaker Sandy Anderson, bureaucrat/psychic David Frederick), he gives us too much information about his personal experiences with his subjects, obscuring what they have to say, bogging the reader down. His description of the larger social-change effort of the Sixties and Seventies is far too pat--indeed, he tries to disguise differences with his own interviewees. Overall, he insists on defining every one of his subjects as ""countercultural"" and/or ""liberated"" (it's not clear if these terms are interchangeable or not), no matter how unnecessary or unsuitable the labels are. Then there are the puzzling ""healthy and moral"" which appear repeatedly as judgments. (Seemingly, the ""old gays"" were unhealthy and immoral, and the new, ""liberated"" ones are not.) As co-author of The Politics of Homosexuality, Marotta was on firm, congenial ground; here, his subjects present a more complex picture of ""new gay"" success--insofar as he lets them.

Pub Date: May 7th, 1982
Publisher: Morrow