How to Be Gay
by David M. Halperin
In this offshoot of his ruckus-causing University of Michigan class of the same name, David Halperin “provocatively argues that when it comes to defining what it means to be a homosexual man, sex is overrated,” said Dwight Garner in The New York Times. Cultural traits such as male femininity and diva worship, says Halperin, matter more. His book “can be a drag (in the non-gay sense),” but it is “never a bore.” At times a disheveled airing of grievances, it’s also passionate and funny.
by Linda Hirshman
Linda Hirshman’s comprehensive history of the gay rights movement is “a deeply moving narrative of a not-quite-finished freedom struggle,” said Kate Tuttle in The Boston Globe. Beginning decades before 1969’s Stonewall riots and continuing to the present, Hirshman highlights important figures and triumphs by showing how the movement confronted and overturned four misperceptions: that homosexuality was sinful, “crazy,” criminal, and socially subversive.
by Dale Carpenter
“Dale Carpenter’s Flagrant Conduct does an excellent job of explaining the facts behind Lawrence v. Texas, the case that decriminalized same-sex intimacy in the United States,” said James H. Miller in the Louisville Courier-Journal. “Most fascinating” is Carpenter’s argument that John Lawrence and Tyron Garner weren’t even having sex in Lawrence’s Houston home when sheriff’s deputies entered the apartment and arrested both men in 1998.
All We Know
by Lisa Cohen
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30)
Lisa Cohen’s “almost perfect” triple biography “does rescue work on the reputations of three scintillating lesbians” who came of age in the 1920s, said Craig Seligman in Bloomberg.com. Esther Murphy was a brilliant but stalled biographer of French noblewomen. Mercedes de Acosta loved and probably was loved by famous women including Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo. Madge Garland was a well-heeled girl who became fashion editor of British Vogue before she was fired for being gay.