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.
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(226mm x 152mm x 28mm)
Publisher: MIT Press Ltd
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US Kirkus Review »
The authors range widely, if not deeply, among the many facets of homosexuality - biological, cultural, political - to provide a sensible introductory handbook to the gay experience. Biologist LeVay (The Sexual Brain, 1993) and fiction-writing teacher Nonas, both of whom teach at LA's Institute of Gay and Lesbian Education, tackle virtually every question that would occur to someone curious about homosexuality. Beginning with an elementary but welcome definition of terms, the authors briefly survey homosexuality in several cultures and ages, highlighting the vast variety of ways gays and lesbians can express their sexuality. The book covers the biological research by LeVay himself, among others, on possible anatomical differences between the brains of gay and straight people, and presents an evenhanded discussion of opposition theories as well. Analyzing demographics, the authors suggest persuasively that gays and lesbians number only two to five percent of the population (which will annoy "one-in-ten" activists). With chapters on ethnic and disabled minorities, localities with large gay populations, and religious and sexual diversity, the authors remind us that gays and lesbians are a community only by virtue of their common sense of difference. The book floats off track with a longish account of New Age goofiness on lesbian communes and scattershot chapters on gay and lesbian art; a sensitive consideration of AIDS and great nonpartisan overviews of gay progress in civil rights and politics make up for the lapses. Generally the authors keep the discourse simple and perky, even when discussing sadomasochism and pedophilia; though this can be unsettling, the absence of polemics is refreshing. From Sappho to sodomy laws, Levay and Nonas hit all the resonant points of gay life and culture - but on a primer level that will offer most to those who know least about homosexuality. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Simon LeVay
Simon LeVay, whose 1991 paper published in Science, "A difference in hypothalamic structure between homosexual and heterosexual men," attracted worldwide scientific and public attention, is Associate 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 the Institute of Gay and Lesbian Education, West Hollywood, a new college for the gay and lesbian community in Southern California.