Beyond Queer: Challenging Gay Left Orthodoxyby Bruce Bawer
Any serious consideration of gay life from now on will have to reckon with the mature and extraordinary writers whose work has been brought together for the first time in Beyond Queer. Edited and introduced by critic Bruce Bawer, this important collection serves as the clarion call of a new gay intelligentsia who are unbound by the lockstep formulas and hollow… See more details below
Any serious consideration of gay life from now on will have to reckon with the mature and extraordinary writers whose work has been brought together for the first time in Beyond Queer. Edited and introduced by critic Bruce Bawer, this important collection serves as the clarion call of a new gay intelligentsia who are unbound by the lockstep formulas and hollow rhetoric of the past, and who are determined to think honestly and independently about the moral, political, and social questions raised by sexual orientation. Most but not all of them gay, these writers disagree about many things, but they share a common frustration with ideologically out-of-touch gay-activist leaders and "queer studies" theorists, and a dismay with a puerile and counterproductive "queer" image that represents neither the lives nor the goals of most gay people. Although these essays convey the individual reflections and highly distinctive sensibilities of each writer, this vibrant assemblage achieves a powerfully unified sense of purpose when taken as a whole. Together, they provide an intellectually rich demonstration that in the midst of today's increasingly polarized debates there exists an oasis of reason, determination, and maturity that bids to finally overcome years of culture-war strife.
This volume thus provides the next salvo in internal debate over strategies for improving gay lifelegislation vs. liberation, integration vs. transformation, etc. "Queer" ideology, writes Bawer, is "selfish and immature . . . devot[ed] to the margin." It thus harms lesbians' and gays' chances of gaining greater social acceptance, and above all misrepresents gay life, because "most gays live in [the] mainstream." And the more that heterosexuals are made aware of the similarities between their lives and the lives of gays and lesbians, the more accepting he thinks they're likely to be. Though not all of the 16 other contributors agree entirely with Bawer (Andrew Sullivan argues against seeing gay freedom as largely dependent on straight enlightenment), taken together, they flesh out a portrait of gay men (and a woman or two) who just want the right to fully participate in such conventional American institutions as marriage, the military, and the church (or, in the case of one anonymous essayist who's an Orthodox rabbi, the synagogue). The collection's narrow focus, while forceful, also makes it feel constrained at times. For instance, contributors have the unfortunate habit of quoting from one another's essays. And one finds oneself wishing that there were more voices here in general (two or three writers, including Bawer, seem to hog the stage). Still, there is plenty of solid reasoning and interesting contradictions. One such contradiction is Bawer's, who seems to undermine his own argument when he writes that "it's not ghetto- bound nonconformist gays . . . but ordinary gays next door that many people find threatening."
Bawer is sure to rankle his detractors in the "gay establishment" with this tightly bound collection of opposition papers.
- Free Press
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- 6.45(w) x 9.58(h) x 1.21(d)
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