Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance

Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance

by Richard A. Isay M.D., Richard A. Isay
     
 

In Becoming Gay, Dr. Richard Isay draws on the varied experiences of his patients and his own odyssey to explore and illuminate the path from private acknowledgment of homosexual longings to open expression of a gay identity. With unwavering candor and piercing insight, Isay examines the crucial role sexual identity plays in all stages of human development and the… See more details below

Overview

In Becoming Gay, Dr. Richard Isay draws on the varied experiences of his patients and his own odyssey to explore and illuminate the path from private acknowledgment of homosexual longings to open expression of a gay identity. With unwavering candor and piercing insight, Isay examines the crucial role sexual identity plays in all stages of human development and the debilitating burden of adopting an identity at odds with one's true nature. His study takes him from the developmental crises of homosexual adolescents to the complex dilemma of homosexual men married to women and the often astonishing effects of HIV and AIDS on the psychological growth of both those afflicted and those who will survive them. Written out of a deeply personal commitment and understanding, Becoming Gay is a timely, profoundly important account of what it means to live authentically, and a revelation of the harm done by those who would stigmatize the gay community for doing so.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The author of Being Homosexual (LJ 4/1/89) tells how it all gets started.
Ray Olson
Isay follows his normalizing Freudian book on gay male psychodynamics, "Being Homosexual" (1989), with a consideration of how men accept their gayness. Nearly every chapter of the new book takes up self-acceptance during a different condition of life: adolescence, married-with-children, HIV-infected or living with AIDS, older age, and even, since Isay recounts his own transition, as a professional psychotherapist. Isay does not report only success stories: one married man he treated, unable to make the change from heterosexual front to comfortable homosexuality, ended up a suicide. Further, Isay concedes that some men manageably opt for not coming out: two married men he reports on decided to remain so and carefully regulate or altogether avoid homosexual contact. But Isay's thrust is that acknowledging one's gayness and being happy with it are possible, with the help of psychoanalysis, at any time after sexual maturity. Unsaid is that most gay men can't afford the time and money that Isay's Freud-derived psychoanalysis absorbs.
Kirkus Reviews
Isay (Being Homosexual, 1989) discusses the role psychoanalysis can play in helping gay men to embrace their identity.

Himself a gay psychoanalyst, Isay frequently slips into awkward phrasings and clinical jargon (his meaning is always clear, but his words aren't always felicitous—verbs like "self- acknowledge" creep into his prose). Though the book is enlivened by examples from both his life and his therapeutic practice, he sometimes uses frustratingly general and stilted language to describe them. In recounting an event from his own life, for instance, Isay writes that differences between himself and his lover "enhanced the relationship"—yet he doesn't say what those differences were. He also devotes a chapter to a thoughtful discussion of the dilemma of the gay therapist: When is it appropriate for him to disclose his sexual orientation to patients? He explores the particular needs of gay teenage patients, gay men married to women (as Isay himself was), patients with HIV and AIDS, and elderly men who are just beginning to embrace a gay identity. Interestingly, unlike many in his profession, he takes an optimistic view of the potential for successful therapy for the gay elderly. An especially useful final chapter lucidly and concisely outlines the author's struggles to change the well-known and entrenched heterosexist biases within the profession of psychoanalysis—efforts that, after an eight-year battle, culminated in the American Psychoanalytic Association's 1991 statement opposing discrimination against lesbians and gay men who want to pursue training in its affiliated institutes. This was, in effect, a dramatic disavowal of the APA's unwritten policy, and an indication that the profession may be abandoning its longtime practice of pathologizing homosexuality.

An accessible glimpse of a gay-positive approach to psychoanalysis, which should interest both the gay and psychoanalytic communities.

From the Publisher
"Richard Isay is the doctor who rescued gay men from stereotypes and defined our health in terms of self-esteem . . . .A wound-dresser indeed, like a Whitman of the psyche. "-Paul Monette

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679421597
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/14/1996
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.74(w) x 8.49(h) x 0.97(d)

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