Hidden: Reflections on Gay Life, AIDS, and Spiritual Desire

Hidden: Reflections on Gay Life, AIDS, and Spiritual Desire

by Richard Giannone
     
 

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Hidden—Richard Giannone's searingly honest, richly insightful memoir—eloquently captures the author's transformation from a solitary gay academic to a dedicated caregiver as well as a sexually and spiritually committed man. Always alone, always fearful, he initially resisted the duty to look after his dying female relatives. But his mother's fall into

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Overview

Hidden—Richard Giannone's searingly honest, richly insightful memoir—eloquently captures the author's transformation from a solitary gay academic to a dedicated caregiver as well as a sexually and spiritually committed man. Always alone, always fearful, he initially resisted the duty to look after his dying female relatives. But his mother's fall into dementia changed all that. Her vulnerability opened this middle-aged man to the love of another man, a former priest and Jersey boy like himself. Together the two men saw the old woman to her death and did the same for Giannone's sister. In Hidden Giannone uncovers how, ultimately, these experiences moved him closer to participating in the vitality he believed pulsed in the world but had always eluded him.

The mothering life of this gay partnership evolved alongside the AIDS crisis and within and against Italian American culture that reflected the Catholic Church's discountenancing of homosexual love. Giannone vividly weaves his reflections on gay life in Greenwich Village and his spiritual journey as a gay man and Catholic into his experience of caring for the women of his family.

In Hidden Giannone recounts a gripping religious conversion, drawing on the wisdom of the ancient desert mothers and fathers of Egypt and Palestine. Because he was raised a Catholic, the shift is not from nothing to something. Rather, it is away from the modeling power of institutional Christianity to the tempering influence of homosexuality on the Gospel. Gay or straight, so long as we remain hidden from ourselves, the true God remains hidden from us.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Encountering Richard Giannone's writing through his academic studies of Willa Cather and Flannery O'Connor, I was impressed by his skill, sensitivity, and thoughtfulness. Even so, I was unprepared for the power of this book, this very personal memoir. The vulnerability and rawness of emotion revealed here were unexpected. ...A brave, haunting, work."-A. G. Mojtabai, author of Blessèd Assurance

"Richard Giannone has authored the latest classic in the revered genre of spirituality—a genre that has produced Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain, Dorothy Day's Long Loneliness, and Richard Rodriguez's Days of Obligation. This is a must-read for anyone interested in lived religion in America."-Mark Massa, S.J., Boston College

"[Giannone] emphasizes otherwise indiscernible patterns of grace, thereby sieving the essence of Catholicism from the dogma to redeem the gay community's place in the Church."-Publishers Weekly

"...This is a work that resists easy or tidy conclusion. While caring for ailing female relations, Giannone rediscovered a spirituality inspired in part by the desert fathers and mothers of the third century and in part by his scholarly work on Flannery O'Connor.... His work captures two important historical points: the impact of AIDS on gay life and the experience of baby boomers as caregivers....His memoir will be of interest to social historians and many gay and lesbian readers."-Library Journal

"The second book has a wider appeal, of course, for it relates a common situation that many people face—caring for a sick family member, and some of the existential crises and vistas that such a task produces."-National Catholic Reporter

"It is these kind of glimpses into gay life (among other things) that make it hard for many Christians today to imagine that there could be anything wrong with being gay."-First Thoughts: A First Things Blog

". . . [A] thoughtful and gracefully written book."-The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide

"... even as Hidden brings [Giannone's] life out of the shadows, it always looks to the mystery—in love and beyond death—that attracts and eludes the eye."-Flannery O'Connor Review

Library Journal
In this brief but expressive memoir, Giannone (English, emeritus, Fordham Univ.; Flannery O'Connor: Hermit Novelist) discusses his experiences as a closeted gay man, a Roman Catholic, an academic, and a caregiver. In large part about difficulty and pain, this is a work that resists easy or tidy conclusions. While caring for ailing female relations, Giannone rediscovered a spirituality inspired in part by the desert fathers and mothers of the third century and in part by his scholarly work on Flannery O'Connor. Although more of a life story than a reflective or spiritual autobiography, his work captures two important historical points: the impact of AIDS on gay life and the experience of baby boomers as caregivers. VERDICT Although Giannone does not fully integrate his difficult experiences into a cohesive work or really succeed in seeing them as aspects of larger forces, his memoir will be of interest to social historians and many gay and lesbian readers.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780823261673
Publisher:
Fordham University Press
Publication date:
06/15/2014
Pages:
198
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.60(d)

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Meet the Author

Richard Giannone is Professor Emeritus at Fordham University. He is the author of four books, including Flannery O'Connor: Hermit Novelist.

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