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Sympathetically yet relentlessly, Sullivan assesses the prevailing public positions on homosexuality--from prohibitionist to ...
Sympathetically yet relentlessly, Sullivan assesses the prevailing public positions on homosexuality--from prohibitionist to liberationist and from conservative to liberal. In their place, he calls for a politics of homosexuality that would guarantee the rights of gays and lesbians without imposing tolerance. At once deeply personal and impeccably reasoned, written with elegance and wit, Virtually Normal will challenge readers of every persuasion; no book is more likely to transform out sexual politics in the coming decades.
An unprecedented work from the brilliant young editor of The New Republic--who is celebrated also as an incisive defender of the equality of homosexuals--Virtually Normal is an impassioned, reasoned, subtle, and uncompromising political and moral treatise that will set the terms of the homosexuality debate for the foreseeable future.
|Prologue: What Is a Homosexual?||3|
|Ch. 1||The Prohibitionists||19|
|Ch. 2||The Liberationists||56|
|Ch. 3||The Conservatives||94|
|Ch. 4||The Liberals||133|
|Ch. 5||A Politics of Homosexuality||169|
|Epilogue: What Are Homosexuals For?||188|
|Afterword to the Vintage Edition||207|
Posted July 2, 2002
As much as I try to sympathize with a fellow gay conservative, this book is poor. It is certainly worse than usual for Sullivan (a smart and fairly good writer): it is flat and ideological. Sullivan's tendency to vilify results in gross and uninteresting caricatures of his opponents: he sets up straw men in what he calls 'prohibitionists' and 'conservatives,' instead of presenting their arguments in the best light, as they themselves would. This might be a good Oxford debate trick, but it will not appeal to his best and most thoughtful readers. Sullivan does not come to grips with the core of the case against gay marriage, and I think that is because he is strikingly deaf to what is at stake in marriage. For instance, Sullivan argues that ¿the openness of the contract¿ and the ¿greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman¿ result in a honesty, flexibility, and equality that would ¿undoubtedly help strengthen and inform many heterosexual bonds¿ (pp. 202-3). To view this as a gain for the marital bond, let alone *only* as a gain, is to be blind to how much would be lost, blind to what is demanded by romantic love itself, and blind to the greater richness and happiness of a fully flourishing family life over the ¿network of gay friendship¿ with all its ¿flexibility¿ and ¿sexual candor¿ (p. 192). It is to see ¿a gamut of possibilities from anonymous sex to bourgeois coupling¿¿and only that; it is a cutting off of the true range, of assuming that the range experienced in homosexual life is the range in life simply, and therefore not seeing the unfortunate but overwhelming limitations of gay life (p. 194). In my experience (and I wish it were not so!), gays tend to share some unpleasant character traits, such as effeminacy or lack of masculinity, cliquishness, and lewdness. Sullivan acknowledges many of these things, but attempts to try to give them a positive spin. For example, concerning the frivolity of gay life, he praises it for its ¿irony or exhibitionism or irresponsibility¿ and its insight ¿that some things lead nowhere and mean nothing¿ (pp. 204-5). There is something to this, but it is a limited perspective. From the point of view of someone trying to assess the romantic possibilities (--from my point of view), I disagree that something very good can be built on such things.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 24, 2001
This book shows how to have a discussion. It shows how to argue (something the general Fundamentalist Christian knows nothing about). And the argument is homosexuality. It shows 4 arguments and the authors argument. He compares and contrasts very well. Whether you are heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, or beyond, you should aquire this literature. I don't know what else to say. It's very very well written. It may show you a way of thinking that you never thought of. It may ask you to step outside of what you believe for a moment and see the world from the other side. GET THE BOOK.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 10, 2011
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Posted February 3, 2009
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