Gay, straight, bisexual: how much does sexual orientation matter to a teenager's mental health or sense of identity? In this down-to-earth book, filled with the voices of young people speaking for themselves, Ritch Savin-Williams argues that the standard image of gay youth presented by mental health researchers?as depressed, isolated, drug-dependent, even suicidal?may have been exaggerated even twenty years ago, and is far from accurate today.

The New Gay Teenager gives us a ...

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Gay, straight, bisexual: how much does sexual orientation matter to a teenager's mental health or sense of identity? In this down-to-earth book, filled with the voices of young people speaking for themselves, Ritch Savin-Williams argues that the standard image of gay youth presented by mental health researchers—as depressed, isolated, drug-dependent, even suicidal—may have been exaggerated even twenty years ago, and is far from accurate today.

The New Gay Teenager gives us a refreshing and frequently controversial introduction to confident, competent, upbeat teenagers with same-sex desires, who worry more about the chemistry test or their curfew than they do about their sexuality. What does "gay" mean, when some adolescents who have had sexual encounters with those of their own sex don't consider themselves gay, when some who consider themselves gay have had sex with the opposite sex, and when many have never had sex at all? What counts as "having sex," anyway? Teenagers (unlike social science researchers) are not especially interested in neatly categorizing their sexual orientation.

In fact, Savin-Williams learns, teenagers may think a lot about sex, but they don't think that sexuality is the most important thing about them. And adults, he advises, shouldn't think so either.

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Editorial Reviews

Savin-Williams takes the reader through many research studies in search of the new gay teenager. Today's gay youth are not the depressed, suicidal drug addicts found in studies conducted on teens in support groups and rehabs in the 1970s. Surprisingly the new gay teenager probably does not use the label "gay"; he or she may choose not to be tied to a sexual identity at all. This teenager is not hung up on labels and categories but sees himself or herself as an individual that cannot be defined by scientific study. Unfortunately, although the labels are unwanted by teenagers, they are required by researchers, thus making study of this group extremely difficult. The author suggests that the contemporary gay teenager is just a teenager who also happens to be gay. Sexual identity is no longer a defining characteristic but just one aspect of what makes the whole of a person. The reader is left with more questions than answers, but they are important questions requiring re-examination of the subject of sexuality and the categorization of youth. Although this book is full of intriguing insight, Savin-Williams provides much more information than the average librarian will need. Leave this read for those with a specific interest in the topic. 2005, Harvard University Press, 272p.; Index. Charts. Biblio. Source Notes., Ages adult professional.
—Heather Acerro
AGERANGE: Ages 15 to adult.

“Gay, straight, bisexual: how much does sexual orientation matter to a teenager’s mental health or sense of identity?,” ask the publishers of The New Gay Teenager. According to the author, a lot has changed in 20 years, and the standard image of gay youth presented by mental health researchers--as depressed, isolated, drug-dependent, even suicidal--is “far from accurate” today. A professor of clinical and developmental psychology at Cornell University, Savin-Williams attempts to shed light on the day-to-day experiences of gay teenagers in this, his second book about gay youth. He does so by going straight to the source; The New Gay Teenager is full of personal histories and intimate interviews with teens who explain just what it’s like to be “postgay” and “gayish.” With his conversational style, Savin-Williams transforms his research into a fascinating account of the language modern gay youth use to describe their sexual preferences and experiences. His findings confirm what many other observers have noted: the current generation of youth has increasingly open ideas regarding sexuality that will likely have an unprecedented cultural impact. The New Gay Teenager is a highly accessible book that will be of particular value to adults and senior high school and advanced students looking to further understand the ways in which gay adolescents think about and construct their identities today. Reviewer: Sarah Howard
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

Library Journal
That there has been a sea change in attitudes about sexual minorities in the past few generations is not news. What is remarkable, however, is the growing nonchalance of contemporary adolescents about their own sexuality. Savin-Williams (Cornell Univ.), a pioneer in the study of sexual minority youth and the author of several groundbreaking books (e.g., Mom, Dad, I'm Gay), admits that "gay" may be a misnomer for the teens he interviewed. Many rejects labels altogether and prefer to see themselves as free agents. Savin-Williams, likewise, rejects the developmental-stage ideas of sexual identity that have dominated psychological theory for over 30 years. Most important, by carefully listening to the experiences of the teenagers, he confirms what many other observers have noted: the generation coming of age now has increasingly open ideas about sexuality that will likely create huge cultural shifts in the coming decades. General readers will appreciate Savin-Williams's ability to transmit complicated concepts clearly. Recommended for any academic library collecting in psychology and gay studies.-David S. Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674043138
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Series: Adolescent Lives , #3
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,308,651
  • File size: 650 KB

Meet the Author

Ritch C. Savin-Williams is Professor of Clinical and Developmental Psychology at Cornell University and author of "Mom, Dad. I'm Gay": How Families Negotiate Coming Out.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
1 Why the New Gay Teenager? 7
2 Who's Gay? 23
3 In the Beginning ... Was Gay Youth 49
4 Models or Trajectories? 70
5 Feeling Different 93
6 Same-Sex Attractions 773
7 First Sex 733
8 Identity 756
9 Resilience and Diversity 778
10 Refusing and Resisting Sexual Identity Labels 794

Notes 225
References 24
Index 267

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