Every queer girl
and boy ought to have a wise lesbian aunt or gay uncle
around, offering advice, explaining life, nudging along
process. Few, alas, do. This kindly collection of clear-headed
how gays and society intersect is a dandy substitute.
Most of the monthly
columns Minor has written since 1998 for the Kansas
gay publication Liberty Press comprise Gay
and Healthy in a Sick Society — with remarkably
slight dating and refreshingly scant overlap. The author
has shuffled his 57 pieces into a dozen assorted categories,
from "Holidays" and "Histories"
to "Our Self-Image" and "Being Families,"
a deft process that gives his writing some useful thematic
discipline. Most everything Minor has to say is sensible,
but chapters on "Romance" and "Sex"
are blessed with particular clarity: he is enthusiastically
positive about sex and thoughtfully honest about romance,
compressing hundreds of how-to pages into just a few
essential words. His talent for pithy analysis is one
of the collection's
strengths; so too is its accessible, compassionate —
heck, avuncular —
-- Richard Labonte, "Book Marks" - January
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In his first book, Scared Straight: Why It's So
Hard to Accept Gay People And Why It's So Hard to Be
Human (2001), Dr. Robert N. Minor wrote about things
as they are. In his new book, Gay & Healthy
in a Sick Society: The Minor Details, Dr. Minor
writes about things as they ought to be, or as they
can be, in spite of the sickness around us. Originally
written as a series of monthly articles for Liberty
Press and Gay Today, these "minor
details" are a welcome tonic at a time when everything
from the federal and state governments to the corporate
media are the tools of conformity and control. In Gay
& Healthy in a Sick Society Robert Minor urges
us to think for ourselves, and to stand on our own too
As gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people,
we are in a unique position to defy the sickness around
us. There are certain "straight roles" that
we are all supposed to fill, and GLBT people, as social
"deviants", live outside those roles. "Gay
people have decided that based upon whom they love,
they are in some sense outside the role," Minor
writes. "Once they've made this decision, they
can do everything possible to mimic the straight role,
to act as if they really aren't different from straight
On the other hand, "gay people can see themselves
as healthy because they are outside the dominant role.
They can decide to redefine the values of the culture
so as to be agents of healing. They can recognize that
a culture that minimizes them is really laden with straight
problems...Our culture needs the perspective that people
outside the role have to offer. And it will be a different
perspective than that installed by our straight-acting
Because we are different, we can do great things. GLBT
people, Dr. Minor tells us, "are more likely to
be our culture's healers, pioneers, and models of emotional,
spiritual, and human health."
"When one finally accepts that most difficult realization
that one stands outside the dominant sexual orientation,
and faces the consequences of that 'queerness,' a new
freedom opens ....Those who have embraced this freedom
have led progressive movements for change, produced
great art, challenged the limits cultures place on creativity,
refused to be stifled by gender roles, broken the sick
fears of the dominant culture around sex and pleasure,
and defined life in whole new terms. We [GLBT] people
do have important gifts to give to our culture that
will shake it up for all humanity's sake if we don't
All this would be obvious except for the fact that society
uses every tool at its disposal to enforce its prescribed
roles, especially its gender roles.
GLBT "people are targeted for discrimination"
because it "is the major means our society uses
to keep men and women in their place, to keep them in
strictly defined and 'opposite' gender roles. It ensures
that men will be 'masculine' and women will be 'feminine.'...As
long as gender is strictly defined and enforced with
little if any fluidity, gay men and lesbians will be
attacked, demeaned, and thought of as second class citizens
because the oppression has nothing to do with them and
everything to do with gender roles - roles that are
not human, freely chosen, or healthy. These roles result
in inhuman relationships; one role relating to another
rather than one human being relating to another."
Anyone who challenges this hateful system, post-911,
is quickly labeled "un-American."
"So Where's the Sex in All of This." Dr. Minor,
in an essay thus titled, is clear about it: "Sex,
and I do mean genital activity and everything surrounding
it, is really a great thing. It's a means of communicating
between people that can embody a range of possible messages."
But "our culture has done everything it can to
pass on its sickness about sex to all of us...The dominant
religious sexual morals ingrained in us successfully
divert our attention in order to maintain the political,
economic, and religiously controlling status quo.
With all the condemning and shaming messages about sex,
our psyches fill with guilt over our sexualities. This
ensures that our energy will never threaten what's really
wrong with our culture - the systemic, anti-human institutions
that are profit-oriented and coping-oriented and not
functional for human beings and their healing."
Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society deals with
a variety of people and issues; everything from the
value of GLBT consumers to the sexuality of singer Ricky
Martin. In each case, Dr. Minor "tries to arrive
at reasoned opinions...as seen in a large perspective,"
which is Will and Ariel Durant's definition of a philosopher.
(Dr. Minor is a Ph.D.)
The reader will learn much from this book, even when
he or she does not agree with some of the author's conclusions.
Sometimes it's hard to go the distance with Robert Minor.
But we can admire this good Doctor's dedication, commitment,
idealism, and optimism. When all is said and done, all
that we "are asking for is nothing more - and certainly
nothing less - than changing a fear-based society to
a love-based one." This is one goal well-worth
--Jesse Monteagudo, GayToday.com - January 18, 2004
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Robert Minor is a professor of Religious
Studies at the University of Kansas. He’s a lecturer,
writer and workshop leader on issues of gender, sexual
orientation, and active change. His earlier book, Sacred
Straight: Why It’s So Hard to Accept Gay People
and Why It’s So Hard to be Human, was a 2002
Lammy nominee (and was a great influence on this reviewer
in the articulation of ideas on gay spirituality in
the book Gay Perspective).
Since 1998, Minor has written a regular column, titled
“Minor Details,” for the Kansas monthly
LGBT magazine, Liberty Press. His new book Gay and
Healthy in a Sick Society is a compilation of those
That the essays were written over a span of some five
years means that some are a little dated or, at least,
time-bound. The column for October 2001, for instance,
demonstrates the “shock and awe” the American
nation was feeling in that time period. Yet, even then,
Minor was precocious in observing that “Nothing
was said [by the President and the media] about how
we’ve trained most terrorist leaders or of the
decades of self-serving, often anti-democratic, U.S.
foreign policy.” His critique then is as salient
Wisely, the essays in Gay and Healthy are not
ordered chronologically, but are arranged according
to topic. Among the twelve subject areas are: Coming
Out, Growing Up in the USA, Sex, Romance, Politics,
Minor often takes a refreshingly odd-ball perspective
on common topics. His discussion of the priest/pedophilia
scandal, for example, observes how celibacy itself is
a kind of “sexual addiction,” i.e. an obsession
with sex far beyond a simple and healthy human experience.
As the title of the collection makes clear, Minor sees
modern society as sick and the various problems as symptoms
of that societal disorder, not as the sign of the sinfulness
of certain categories of people who get popularly scapegoated.
Throughout this collection of essays, Robert Minor demonstrates
that a sex-positive and Gay-positive perspective on
life naturally results in socially desirable and ethical
attitudes and behaviors. In our transcending polarized
gender roles and gender expectations, Gay people truly
represent a beacon to a society hopelessly drowning
in negative anti-sexual and life-denying attitudes.
Minor is holding up that light for all to see. Readable,
entertaining and unfailingly sensible, Minor's analyses
of modern life and especially modern Gay life deserve
a second incarnation in Gay and Healthy in a Sick
For information, see www.fairnessproject.org
-- Toby Johnson, White Crane Journal -Spring 2005
TOP OF PAGE
This collection is divided into a dozen categories,
each with a number of previously published articles
(between two and seven, depending on the topic) that
range in subject matter from gay myths to debating whether
a popular singer is gay, from sex to romance, from patriotism
to politics, and more.
Insightful, interesting, often humorous and always
highly readable, this collection reminds GLBT readers
that, although society around us has some skewed values,
we don't have to buy into them. We can choose to live
our lives more fully and in a more healthy manner, according
to Minor's articles.
Not a 'self-help' book per se, Gay & Healthy
will nonetheless aid readers in helping themselves.
Minor makes his points succinctly, yet in an affirming,
An excellent addition to any library, this book will
leave you feeling perhaps somewhat better about yourself
and the contributions you can and do make to society.
-- Ravigo Zomana, The Virginia GayZette - August 2004
TOP OF PAGE
As you may know, Dr. Robert Minor
writes the "Minor Details" column for
Liberty Press. But what you may not know is that
his first book Scared Straight was a 2002 finalist
for both the Lambda Literary Award and the Independent
Publisher Book Award, and that his second book Gay
& Healthy in a Sick Society
(HumanityWorks, $14.95) has been named one
of the "Best Gay Books of 2003" on Amazon.com
Listmania by Jesse Monteagudo.
This new book is a collection of his essays published
in the Liberty Press since 1998. I admit that
I didn't read every column he wrote in this publication.
Now that they are gathered together in one volume, I
realize that Dr. Minor's views and opinions are very
powerful, and that they simply must be read by a wider
Gay & Healthy states that it is not gay
people who are ill, but rather our "straight"-oriented
society. And after reading this book, I would have to
agree. His essays are intelligent, insightful, and quite
eye-opening. And they don't often take the point of
view or suggest the solutions that you would expect.
He tackles topics such as love, sex, gay pride celebrations,
gay history, coming out, America's response to Sept.
11, gay politics, and internalized homophobia.
Minor has a gift of making the issues that are relevant
to our community clear and concise. He also challenges
us personally to strive to be better people and to challenge
the mainstream "straight" societal limitations
put upon us. This book is an excellent primer of timely
issues facing us today. Every self-respecting GLBT person
should have a copy of this book.
Thank you, Dr. MInor, for your valuable contributions
to the Liberty Press, and to GLBT people everywhere.
-- Brad Purkey, "Bookends," Liberty Press
- March, 2004
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If you have ever thought that despite some current
mainstream society's views, you are gay and a valuable
productive member of the human race, and that it's the
rest of 'em who just don't get it (and need to get with
the program), then there is a new book out, just for
you. Local author and LGBT activist, Dr. Robert Minor
(author of Scared Straight: Why It’s So Hard
to Accept Gay People and Why It’s So Hard to be
Human, a 2002 finalist for both the Lambda Literary
Award and the Independent Publisher Book Award) takes
us on a personal, realistic, educated and inspirational
journey in his new book Gay & Healthy in a Sick
The book is a collection of Minor's articles on LGBT
issues, written from 1998 until 2003. Gay &
Healthy is much more than a collection of articles;
it is a record of LGBT and mainstream events and issues
over the last five years as seen by an educated, happy
and proud gay man and LGBT activist. Minor has compiled
his articles for the book, not in chronological order,
but rather by topics such as coming out, women, men
& gender, holidays, politics, and society.
Each chapter is full of inspiration as Minor once again
proves his theory that LBGT people are just fine,
and that it's not us but rather society that’s
very sick. In the book Minor states and proves by example
over and over that most societal perspectives, attitudes,
and solutions prevent all people from living fully,
stifle their abilities to relate to themselves and others
as human beings, and keep society stuck using the same
old failing political, social, and religious answers
to life’s challenges.
Gay & Healthy is the book anyone who is
gay or thinks they are (at what ever stage of life or
level of comfort and openness about their sexuality)
should read. It is the text book we have been waiting
for and I challenge anyone who reads it not to be inspired,
challenged and re-awakened to themselves, LGBT issues
and the world around us. In this ground breaking book,
Minor does away with the need so many of us have to
justify, defend and play the victim role as gay people. Instead
he shows us, by example, how to realistically see ourselves,
respond to our critics and define our own lives and
community. Minor's main theme is that rather than try
to assimilate into a sick society, we should value our
own language, definitions, community and culture.
And even more, if we do this, he insists, we will not
only heal ourselves, but help the rest of society become
Minor's Gay & Healthy is hot off the press,
but has already won critical acclaim. Jack Nichols,
author of The Gay Agenda: Talking Back to the Fundamentalists,
said: "Robert Minor's gift for clarity turns this
amazing new book into the most compelling and consequential
reading experience conceivable. I cheered his illuminating
viewpoints from cover to cover. As a stellar contribution
to current dialogues, Gay and Healthy in a Sick
Society will remain unsurpassed for many years
to come". But don't take our word for it,
do not pass go, do not collect $100, but instead get
your hands on this exciting new LGBT book and see for
yourself. I guarantee you will not be sorry.
-- Gabby Vice, Midwest Times - November 2003
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This book is about the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual
and transgendered people. The author brings out about
the society we live in and how we fit into it, such
as our ethnic and racial backgrounds. If we want to
succeed we are to be white-acting - white-thinking,
white feeling, and white-looking. With regard to our
sexual orientation, we are expected to live a straight
role. He talks about religious morals, family life with
or without children, relationships, political affairs
plus much more. Very good reading for those who
live lives outside the mainstream.
-- Prarie Flame - February 2005
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A problem every teacher,
counsellor, social worker, psychologist, and community
leader faces is determining when to help people adjust
to existing society, and when it is appropriate to
encourage people to reject dominant societal views
and to try to change society. There are no easy answers.
In some cases, people need to be taught how to fit
into society. Other times, societal attitudes and practices
are responsible for creating a lot of pain, and people
can be encouraged to reject the specific faulty societal
attitudes and values that are responsible for causing
pain. To Robert Minor, gay people need to adopt values
and behaviors that are more healthy than the values
and behaviors of wider society.
Robert Minor seems to believe gay people need to stop
blaming themselves for societal problems, stop living
in ways that are detrimental, and initiate personal
changes that will improve their own lives and that
will improve society. Instead of trying to fit into
unhealthy straight patterns of behavior, Minor challenges
gay people to live healthy.
There are some very problematic elements in traditional
straight marriages, parenting styles, ways of celebrating
holidays, ideas of romance, and traditional family
values. Gay people who attempt to copy straight patterns
of behavior are seen by Minor as not having a healthy
Gay people can be more healthy when they are able
to stop acting as victims, stop acting like straight
people, take pride in who they are, and show the world
that gay people are not constantly depressed. Robert
Minor gives some practical ways gay people can stop
living like victims inside the gay community and within
the broader society.
Robert Minor is profound and challenging. Not everybody
will agree with Robert Minor’s major thesis,
but gay and bisexual people are encouraged to read
this book, to reflect on how they live, and see if
they need to make any changes in how they live.
Many of Minor’s ideas are counter-cultural.
Christians are used to being counter-cultural - living
by principles that may oppose the principles held by
the larger secular society. Gay Christians may find
Minor’s challenge to live a healthy counter-cultural
life helps them better understand how to live out their
faith as gay Christians.
— Gary Simpson, CreatedGay.Com -