In a hugely ambitious study that crosses continents, languages, and almost a century, Gregory Woods identifies the ways in which homosexuality has helped shape Western culture. Extending from the trials of Oscar Wilde to the gay liberation era, this book examines a period in which increased visibility made acceptance of homosexuality one of the measures of modernity.
Woods shines a revealing light on the diverse, informal networks of gay people in the arts and other creative fields. Uneasily called "the Homintern" (an echo of Lenin's "Comintern") by those suspicious of an international homosexual conspiracy, such networks connected gay writers, actors, artists, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, politicians, and spies. While providing some defense against dominant heterosexual exclusion, the grouping brought solidarity, celebrated talent, and, in doing so, invigorated the majority culture.
Woods introduces an enormous cast of gifted and extraordinary characters, most of them operating with surprising openness, but also explores such issues as artistic influence, the coping strategies of minorities, the hypocrisies of conservatism, and the effects of positive and negative discrimination. Traveling from Harlem in the 1910s to 1920s Paris, 1930s Berlin, 1950s New York, and beyond, this sharply observed, warm-spirited book presents a surpassing portrait of 20th-century gay culture and the men and women who both redefined themselves and changed history.
©2016 Gregory Woods (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
I really, really, REALLY wanted to like this book. The premise, "How Gay Culture Liberated the Modern World" seemed so tantalizing and promising.
Sadly there was really nothing good about it.
I don't have the stomach to write a NY Times Book Review-length review. Suffice it to say that any book on Gay Culture that manages to omit any mention of Patricia Highsmith, the Stonewall riots, Mark Cherry, Billy Crystal in "Soap", the Odd Couple, and Will and Grace hardly deserves any serious consideration.
Worse, the narrator has the most pretentious British accent but insisted on pronouncing any Spanish or French name in the proper accent of that language. OK, I thought. But it got completely ridiculous when he pronounced Vincent Minelli (Vin-cent Min-el-ly) as Vin-chenzo Minelli. Minelli was an American who did not use the Italian version of his name.
But the book itself is barely more than a list, long and boring, of any gay person from 1880 to 2000. No real depth as to what they contributed except that they were gay.
Finally, the author uses a phrase that doesn't make any sense although many gay-right's groups use it.
He talks about "Gay men and Lesbian women." What could Lesbians be but women. The phrase should be Gay men and women, or Gays, or Gay men and Lesbians. But Gay men and Lesbian women is not just redundant, it is stupid.
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