City of Friends: A Portrait of the Gay and Lesbian Community in America / Edition 1

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City of Friends offers a practical, intelligent, and well-informed overview of what it means to be gay or lesbian. The authors seek to help gay men and women, as well as their families and friends, to better understand the institutions and communities that make up the most culturally and ethnically diverse minority in America today.Beginning with basic concepts, LeVay and Nonas define the words "homosexual," "gay," "lesbian," and "bisexual" and discuss the various patterns of homosexuality in different cultures around the world. They relate the history of the gay and lesbian community in the United States, and its struggle for equal rights and social acceptance, before tackling the question — still highly controversial — of what determines an individual's sexual orientation.City of Friends describes the great diversity within the gay and lesbian community: Life in the "gay ghetto." Old lesbians in rural hideaways. Gay resorts. A "town without men." Gay and lesbian Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Native Americans — what it means to be a minority within a minority. Lesbian and gay youth, the elderly, the deaf. Bisexuals and transsexuals. Academics, drag queens, technoqueers, publishers, softball players — all make their appearance in these pages.LeVay and Nonas continue with a discussion of health issues (especially of the AIDS epidemic and the community's response to it), the law, and gay and lesbian politics. They describe the cultural achievements of lesbians and gay men — their art, literature, theater, music,and dance. Finally they take a look at the spiritual life of gays and lesbians, both within and outside of organized religion.

A practical, intelligent, and well-informed overview of what it means to be gay or lesbian, City of Friends seeks to help gay men and women, as well as their families and friends, to better understand the institutions and communities that make up the most culturally and ethnically diverse minority in America today. 19 illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The subtitle is overly modest, for the book opens with a discussion of homosexuality throughout history and continues with a treatment of the role of science in interpreting its etiology, including its occurrence in other mammals and even insects. Turning to the U.S., the authors consider the frequency of homosexuality, rejecting Kinsey's figure of 10% as too high; the geographical distribution of the homosexual population; and especially the diversity in that population, which has worked against unity. In the past, the authors note, that unity has been encouraged by homophobia, but they feel that such hatred has been diminishing and that the community must seek a new rallying point. They treat corollary subjects such as occupation, income, education, religion, politics, the arts, ageism and the AIDS crisis. It is difficult to see how the text of this eminently rational survey could be more complete. LeVay is co-founder of the Institute of Gay and Lesbian Education in West Hollywood, Calif.; Nonas teaches fiction writing at UCLA Extension. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Library Journal
This well-intentioned volume attempts to be "a survey of what it means to be gay or lesbian; where gays and lesbians come from in history and in individual development; what are their common interests, needs, and aspirations; and a portrait of the gay community as a seething coalition of groups and subgroups that resolve ultimately into the splendid uniqueness of the gay individual." Nonas is a teacher of fiction writing at the Institute of Gay and Lesbian Education in West Hollywood, cofounded by LeVay, the author of the controversial The Sexual Brain (MIT Pr., 1993; "Best Sci-Tech Books," LJ 3/1/94, p. 52-56). Overly ambitious, this title includes information on such topics as science, health, legal and political issues, arts, and spirituality but is compromised by peculiarly opinionated and ill-defined prose, oversimplification and generalization, errors of fact, specious interpretation, glaring omissions, redundancies, inconsistencies, and peculiarly incomplete lists for further reading. An optional purchase for gay studies collections. (Index and illustrations not seen.)-James E. Van Buskirk, San Francisco P.L.
Ray Olson
LeVay and Nonas succeed where Neil Miller in "Out of the Past" failed: they take into account virtually all aspects of American gay life. Since their book is sociology rather than history, perhaps that success is to be expected; nevertheless, it is gratifying to have conservative gays and religious gays acknowledged by writers involved in the movement for full citizenship for homosexuals. The cost for LeVay and Nonas' inclusiveness is a bland prose reminiscent of social-science survey texts (more welcome didactic features are the chapters' summary conclusions and reading lists). Also, LeVay and Nonas characterize conventional religious groups inaccurately (e.g., despite the authors' assertions, Mormons are not Protestants, and Quakers as a denomination are not supportive of gays) and ignore conventional religions when suggesting further reading. Talking about gays and lesbians, however, they are reliable enough to deserve to have their book used for Gayness 101 studies both in the classroom and at home.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262121941
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 10/18/1995
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 468
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon LeVay, whose 1991 paper published in Science, "A difference in hypothalamic structure between homosexual and heterosexual men," attracted worldwide scientific and public attention, isAssociate Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the University of California, San Diego. He is presently Chair of the Steering Committee of theInstitute of Gay and Lesbian Education, West Hollywood, a new college for the gay and lesbian community in Southern California.

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Table of Contents

I Origins 1
1 Meanings 3
2 A Global View 13
3 History 43
4 Science 79
II Communities 99
5 Numbers 101
6 Localities 115
7 A Gay Ghetto 125
8 Country Lesbians 137
9 Minorities 151
10 Sexual Diversity 175
11 Special Interests 187
III Health 201
12 General Health Issues 203
13 AIDS: The Disease 221
14 AIDS: The Response 241
IV Rights 269
15 The Law 271
16 Politics 303
V Culture 323
17 Lesbian Art 325
18 Gay Men and the Arts 351
19 Religion and Spirituality 375
Epilogue 393
Notes 403
Index 441
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