Friday, October 11, 2013

The Queening of America: Gay Culture in Straight Society

1995, possibly first edition, from Routledge
David Van Leer
The Queening of America: Gay Culture in Straight Society
Possibly bought newish for $12.99
Worn paperback

Van Leer looks at the ways that "gay culture" impacts "straight society," and vice versa.  His examples go from the low culture of Hollywood Squares, to middlebrow culture like Damn Yankees, to academic approaches to the topic of AIDS.  I'm not sure how well the book hangs together, or if Van Leer proves a thesis as such, but it's always an interesting read, looking at language and appearance in particular.  I think this is a good example of a nonfiction book that gets a B rather than a B+.  B+s make me go "Wow!", while B's make me go, "Hm."

It's a very '90s book in the way it looks back at the "post-war" era (roughly 1945 to '69), as well as the "liberated 1970s" and the "reactionary 1980s" (my terminology, he might disagree).  There's distance, but not as much as now of course.  For instance, he talks about the generational differences for middle-aged gay men who'd lost many friends to AIDS, as opposed to younger gay men who grew up with the threat of the disease as an aspect of their sexuality.  He doesn't ignore lesbians, and one of the most interesting sections is on Larsen's Passing.  He's very good at finding layers of meaning, even in something like a Paul Lynde quip, or the works of Patrick Dennis.  I of course enjoyed the pop-culture stuff most, but I could see how the "higher" culture relates to it.

No comments:

Post a Comment