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Posted August 12, 2008
'...even one as seemingly noble as making everyone happy.' This phrase in many ways brings together the messages of this well-written, very inspiring book by Brian McNaught - part memoir about his thirty-two year successful same sex relationship with his life partner and now spouse Ray Struble, part considered evaluation of the historical developments during that time frame, and part warmly and genuinely mentoring for all ages of all people whose lives seem at odds with the 'norm.' It is a valuable adjunct to Human Sexuality Studies: it is also a keenly interesting book that captures the joys and trials of growing and caring relationships that makes the content read like a novel! McNaught is an openly gay activist whose writings and speaking engagements are becoming popular with the large corporations seeking employee and executive enlightenment: Struble is a retired, successful Wall Street investment broker who endured the closet of hidden personal life at the other end of the spectrum. ARE YOU GUYS BROTHERS? follows the relationship from the beginning to the present and with the development of an ever tighter bonding are the accompanying ups and downs that mirror our society's evolving concept of same sex partnerships. Both men are from the 'solid Midwest', both were raised in large families, both were strongly devout Catholics, both sustained childhood sexual abuse, alcoholism and substance abuse, and suicide attempts - all tied in with their coming to grips with their sexuality. The story of these rocks in the road is not unlike the changes that have occurred in the Catholic church, the White House, and the hardships of family and friend lack of acceptance of the gay lifestyle - even from fellow gay people who consider their committed union on the edge of normal! We gradually learn how these two men lost faith in the church, in their government, and in the persistence of 'radical right'. But instead of this book being a diatribe against all the barriers that challenged the two men's rights to happiness, it is instead a celebration of the individual spirit in overcoming odds to find a life of freedom and joy and spiritual bliss. Together they discover that with the loss of church and government promises and some family intolerances their definition of 'friends' has changed. 'Friends...are people with whom you feel safe and valued. Friends support you, and affirm you, and fight against anything and anyone that might threaten you.' Aside from being a socio/politico/spiritual journey of change and growth, this book contains some of the most gentle, tender, and touching pages of how this universe can once again be beautiful in the eyes of those whose lives have been struggles against hypocrisy and prejudice. McNaught becomes a poet in the final chapters. 'We have wounds from the hurtful things that have been said and done to us by people who were horrified by, or jealous of, our same sex intimacy. But we have also been helped along the way by family members, neighbors, and people of faith, by colleagues, and by friends....It takes a long time to make something 'real'. Finally we have a book that is so well written and so broad in its analysis of contemporary life in this country- from issues of youth to issues of aging - that it should become a resource for people of all walks of life. It is a book about respect. Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.