Queer in America

Overview

What's it like to be queer in America? Ask Michelangelo Signorile. Called a "sissy" and a "faggot" while growing up in the working-class Italian-Catholic neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Staten Island, he is one of the new breed of lesbians and gay men who decided to bash back. Signorile's signature upper-case invective expressed the anger of a generation in his columns in OutWeek magazine. Queer in America is his story - and the story of a new gay generation that is taking on the American institution known as the ...
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Overview

What's it like to be queer in America? Ask Michelangelo Signorile. Called a "sissy" and a "faggot" while growing up in the working-class Italian-Catholic neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Staten Island, he is one of the new breed of lesbians and gay men who decided to bash back. Signorile's signature upper-case invective expressed the anger of a generation in his columns in OutWeek magazine. Queer in America is his story - and the story of a new gay generation that is taking on the American institution known as the "closet." Signorile first came to the media's attention in March 1990, when Time magazine coined the term outing - revealing the homosexuality of public figures. Queer in America is about the enormous controversy that ensued when Signorile reported on the life of deceased multi-millionaire Malcolm Forbes. It is about how, as the author sees it, the media has covered up, and continues to cover up, the truth about lesbian and gay public figures. It is about what Signorile contends is an unconscious conspiracy to keep all homosexuals locked in the closet. Here too is the story behind the expose Signorile wrote for The Advocate in 1991 in which he revealed that then-Assistant Secretary of Defense Pete Williams is gay. The story was the Fort Sumter of the gays-in-the-military debate: It drew the battle lines, defining the issue from then on as one of governmental hypocrisy. The story also forever changed the way outing was viewed by straights and gays alike. But Queer in America is not so much about outing as it is about the closet - the men and women who are forced into it and those who are forced out of it, those who hide within it and those who escape from its destructive clutches. Here are the actors, the casting agents, the studio moguls, the legislators, the editors, the columnists, the government officials, the lobbyists, the congressional staffers, and their painful, often anger-provoking, and occasionally triumphant stories. Through hundreds of inter

Signorile came to the nation's attention in 1990 when he broke a long-standing media taboo by revealing the homosexuality of such individuals as the late Malcolm Forbes and then-Assistant Secretary of Defense Pete Williams. In this national bestseller, he issues a call-to-arms which refuses to allow "the closet" to endure.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gay activist, Advocate and Out columnist Signorile, a pioneer of ``outing,'' has exposed the homosexuality of public figures like Malcolm Forbes, Assistant Secretary of Defense Pete Williams and record producer David Geffen. In this combative, powerful, gutsy book, he charges that three power structures--Washington, Hollywood, the media industry--conspire to keep gays and lesbians in the closet. Without divulging names, he asserts that several high-ranking Pentagon officials are closeted gays, as were key figures in George Bush's reelection campaign who put forth the ``family values'' theme. Among the lesbians and gays he profiles are Anne-Imelda Radice, acting head of the National Endowment for the Arts; Chastity Bono, daughter of Cher; and Sheila Kuehl, formerly a star of TV's Dobie Gillis and now a radical feminist attorney. Signorile also tells the anguished stories of still-closeted people in power; describes his guilt-ridden childhood in working-class Italian Brooklyn; and surveys Silicon Valley's ``gay-positive'' computer firms. Author tour. (June)
Ray Olson
It's about time another ostensibly gay-interest book made a bigger splash, and this one might do it. Signorile's the journalist who outed--exposed as homosexual--the late Malcolm Forbes and the still-quick Pete Williams, the queer-bashing Pentagon's Gulf War mouthpiece. He tells those and other outing tales, but his aims are higher than rehashing old gossip. This is a public policy book. There are three "closets of power" in the U.S., he says: those of the national media in New York, of national politics in Washington, and of national entertainment in Hollywood. Each industry closet gets its own section in which Signorile presents why that industry's closet exists, what it's like to be closeted there, and what's happened when famous closet cases have been outed. Signorile insists that everyone--especially the famous and powerful--in these closets must come out. Why? Because then society would have to face how common being gay is. Eventually, being homosexual should be no more consequential, nor a matter of shameful "privacy," than being heterosexual. Signorile is confident the closets will empty and shows why: polite, closeted gay activism doesn't work--witness the antigay wins and near-wins in last November's elections--and the computer industry is full of open queers who are designing tomorrow's communications to empower queers as well as the media, government, and Hollywood. Signorile never quotes it, but one of Queer Nation's slogans expresses the spirit of his stirring book: "We're here, we're queer--get used to it!"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517164488
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/4/1993

Table of Contents

Preface: On Naming Names
Introduction: The Closets of Power
Pt. I Queer in New York
1 Lights, Camera, Act Up 3
2 A Queer's Own Story 18
3 Hype Anxiety 36
4 Out of the Closets and into the Streets 53
5 Outing, Part I 69
Pt. II Queer in Washington
6 Operation Out-the-Pentagon 97
7 Inning the Outing 123
8 Outing, Part II 147
9 All the Presidents' Queers 165
Pt. III Queer in Hollywood
10 The Crucifixion of Zelda Gilroy 223
11 From McCarthy to Medved 230
12 Smashing the Celluloid Closet 250
13 Outing, Part III 286
14 The Resurrection of Sheila Kuehl 321
Epilogue: Queer in America
15 The Oregon Nightmare 331
16 The Silicon Solution 342
17 A Queer Manifesto 363
Acknowledgments 369
Afterword 371
Index 401
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