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How The Homosexuals Saved Civilization Hardcover – Dec 12 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher (Dec 12 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585423149
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585423149
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.8 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,659,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
fluff March 28 2006
By Jerrel E. Towery - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Ok...I will be the bad guy about this book. Fluff is the word that comes to mind. Shallow stereotpypical fluff. I have to admit to having fun reading it, but am embarrassed to say so. (I also admit to eating fast food but that is not something that I am proud of either.) It strikes me as the book one would expect a straight woman to write about gay culture. It just strikes me as obviously coming from the pen of someone who is not gay but who is trying overly hard to identify and be the best buddy of someone who is gay.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Breezy and flawed view on American gay men and their influence Sept. 7 2009
By Christopher Krakora - Published on
I have to agree with some of the earlier reviews that this book is on the fluffy side, that's is the literary equivulent of E! or Bravo TV. Basicly Crimmins talks about how much gays have influnced American cultural life. She does roll out the stereotypes; they are postivie ones for sure, but they're still stereotypes. The book is written breezily and you can read through it very quickly.

Crimmins says with the growing (and more explicitly stated) influence that gays have on American life and pop culture, more straight people will comsume those products, which will in turn make straight people more aware of gay issues and more open to gay rights. Actually it doesn't always work that way. One can consume gay-influenced culture and still be biased towards heterosexism; take for example the recent case of Miss Califonia, who obviously let a queen or two do her hair, makeup, and outfit, and yet she speaks out against gay marriage. Another example is Camille Paglia (okay a lesbian herslf, but still...), who credits gay men with creating culture and yet she dismisses them when they talk about politics, gay rights in particular. And then there's Nancy Reagan, who had a gaggle of gays to style her, and yet her husband president Ronald Reagan let AIDS spread unchecked because it was seen as a "gay" disease. Crimmins herself occasionally reveals the reality on how much can gay culture can (or cannot) influence straights to be more gay-positive; she writes about young men wearing Abercrombie & Fitch, which is shaped by a gay aesthetic, yet those same teenage guys were not afraid to use the word "gay" as a put-down. She also refers to Harvey Fierstein, who played in drag Mrs. Claus in the New York City Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2003, and then wrote an op-ed in The New York Times saying that Mrs. Claus was part of a same-sex marriage. Controversy ensued and Macy's felt the need to spin this by stressing that Mrs. Claus was not really being played by a gay man, but rather by Harvey's female character, Edna Turnblad, the star of the Broadway show "Hairspray" with enough twisting to make any pretzel maker happy. But in the end Crimmins is more interested in writing about the "fabulousity" of gay men rather than the struggles and discrimination that they face.

In the end I'd say that this book has some value if you need some "Gay 101." Otherwise it's fluff with occasionally condesending (if postive) sterotypes that makes some good toilet seat reading anyway.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Yikes.. June 13 2008
By B. Baumer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Ugh... i picked up this book (along with some others) as a gift for my Dad (who I recently came out to) for father's day. I thought it would be a great gesture to show that I'm letting him into that part of my life.

Good thing I read it first- I don't need to give my dad this book if I'm the one who is skeptical about most of what she has to say. Not to mention- this isn't about how Homosexuals saved civilization- it's about how Homosexuals created and fascinated America with a lot of the terrible celebrity worship and popculture phenomenon that destroy the value of mainstream media.

She should re-title this book immediately. Something like "Gay people are super super fun novelties."
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Johnny Mathis? Really? Nov. 16 2004
By Jean E. Pouliot - Published on
Format: Hardcover
You don't have to be homophilic to recognize the enormous impact of homosexuals on American culture. Homosexuals, especially gay men, are deeply embedded in almost every element of our culture, including theater, movies, music, television, haute couture, food preparation, floristry and hair styling. Cathy Crimmins' thesis is that gay sensibility has long been at the root of much that heterosexuals take for granted in American culture.

"How the Homosexuals Saved Civilization" is no scholarly treatise, but a light and breezy overview of the seeming omnipresence of gays in American cultural life. Crimmins chronicles her own childhood awakening to the existence of gay elements in culture, explaining why she was attracted to the typically campy and over-the-top work of gays. She reminds us that straight America has danced, sung and fallen in love to the work of homosexuals, usually without knowing it. Cole Porter, Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, Little Richard, Johnny Mathis and Elton John are just a few of the gay artists that Crimmins names as having a deep impact on entertainment, and hence on American experience.

Crimmins covers the "Liberace Effect," in which gays and others deny the gayness of their work; the gay adoration of female divas like Garland, Streisand and Cher; the pre-gay-lib gay sensibility of Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly. Crimmins also describes gay influence on more recent media creations like "Sex and the City," in which gay writers put their own boy-to-boy frank conversations into the mouths of heterosexual women. Even shows like John Stewart's "The Daily Show" flaunt their edginess with references to gay culture and preoccupations. Crimmins also shows how certain trends (earrings and disco, flaunting or shaving of body hair, etc.) originate in the gay or black worlds before moving into the straight world -- usually unbeknownst to its latest practitioners.

While Crimmins celebrates the glitzy, campy, colorful and fabulous side of the gay life, she somewhat glosses over its downside -- AIDS, homophobia, its obsession with sexual experimentation and its not infrequent shallowness and nastiness. While some people are instinctively attracted to gay expressiveness, others are turned off by it. In New England, straights loathed the disco era, to some degree because of its gay-born exuberance. Still, "How Homosexuals Saved Civilization" proves its thesis that gays have enormously affected and benefited American life, saving it from blandness, teaching it to love, to appreciate irony, and giving it something to sing about.

While most of the book is in PG-13 range, the sections on gay sexuality are very frank and deserve a strong R rating.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Where's Alan Turing? June 14 2013
By Miguel L. Valdespino - Published on
Format: Hardcover
There are lots of gay people that actually accomplished great things outside of simple cultural arts. Alan Turning literally defined what the computer you're using is. Actually, he defined it both literally and mathematically. He not only broke German codes, he figured out how to teach other people to break their codes. And his name isn't even mentioned.