REVIEWS
Beyond the Closet:
The Transformation of Gay and Lesbian Life

Book Description
Coming out of the closet is not what it used to be. When Rosie O'Donnell announced during a recent stand-up routine that she was a lesbian, The New York Times noted the event, not because of the revelation, but because the news "hardly caused a stir at all." Beyond the Closet argues that the time of the closet is passing. In this new era, the closet no longer defines the lives of gays and lesbians. Many lead happy, productive and "out" lives. But being accepted, Seidman argues, comes at a price.

Today, gays are under intense cultural pressure to fit the mold of the "good gay citizen" -- think Tom Hanks in Philadelphia (good job, monogamous, looks "normal"). While this image is comfortable, even safe, Seidman warns that it continues to justify discrimination against those who do not live up to its ideal. Powered by the raw, honest stories of today's gay men and women and analysis of gays in recent films and in popular culture, Seidman shows how the closet is a Twentieth-Century historical oddity, one that could only exist in a period that combined a strong sense of gay identity with oppressive antigay discrimination. Engagingly written by a leading scholar of sexuality, Beyond the Closet traces the transformation of out-status and uncovers the subtle heterosexist attitudes that still separate tolerance from equality.

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Beyond the Closet: The Transformation of Gay and Lebian Life by Steven Seidman (Routledge, 2002. ISBN: 0-415-932068. 245 pages, hardcover, $27.50)

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