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Groundbreaking Book Challenges Old-Fashioned Social Concepts

Savvy Scholar Examines Personal Relationships and Core Issues

Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society Points to a Brave New World

By Jack Nichols
Editor, GayToday

Cocoa Beach, Florida-During what appears to be a promising Winter season in the publishing industry, a revolutionary new work titled Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society offers unique challenges to the gay and lesbian community, questioning antiquated attitudes that have too long been taken for granted.

The topics in this book are familiar, but Professor Robert N. Minor's commentaries have surprised readers and reviewers alike with insights that strike a familiar cord, as if they'd uncovered things that they'd known all along. Dr. Minor addresses a variety of core issues that go deeper than daily conversations. And he challenges his readers to overthrow those perspectives that are stifling their lives as well as the lives of friends and loved ones around them. Their solutions are woven, he says, out of each person's uniqueness.

An early review captured the Professor's approach:

"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."

Dr. Minor puts U.S. society itself on the defensive. Nothing is assumed to be true, healthy, or humane. The sickness is what we're being taught to value and it's everywhere hurting relationships from friendships to committed partnerships, the political climate that is given to LGBT people, and a variety of issues about self-esteem.

There's something that becomes apparent as Gay & Healthy proceeds: what Dr. Minor is talking about to LGBT people ought to be said as well to improve the lives of straight people. What he has had the audacity to proclaim in an easy-going style, is that people are healthy to the extent that they don't ape society's ways of seeing and doing things.

He's not talking about anarchy, but something at the core of human being and human existence as well as the core of American dreams that are betrayed by mainstream views of "the American dream." And he is getting at something we seem to all know within ourselves but seldom articulate.

Tackling topics from self-images to politics and romance, the professor has rejected the victim role. "No matter how much LGBT people have been victimized, and are continually being victimized in U.S. society, we don't have to frame our lives, sexual expression, relationships, politics, and movements in terms of the evaluations of a larger society that can't solve it's deepest problems."

On sex, Minor argues, that it's hard to find a society in history that is so confused, even dumbfounded, when it comes to issues of sexual commerce, activity, intimacy, and partnering. Sexual addiction, he says, is rampant, even mainstreamed, including our institutions' emphases on celibacy and abstinence. "Sexual addiction therapists know that celibacy often can be a sexual addiction when there is an obsession with it." That describes the Roman Catholic Church and other denominations, he observes in a chapter entitled "Priests, Sexual Abuse, and Sexual Addiction."

Minor's criticisms of the current state of politics include not only exposure of "The Faithless Business of Faith-Based Initiatives," and "Weapons of Mass Distraction," but the "Pitiful State of LGBT Politics" confronting us from both major parties. We are living a victim role when we "settle for Republican dismissal and Democratic compromise."

Minor's chapters on "Leadership," arise out of workshops he does nationally for activist leaders, such as has been the case during the last four years at NGLTF's "Creating Change" Conferences. "The victim role of any marginalized group is acted out in our criticism and distrust of leaders. It's easier to eat our own than to fight what's really hurting us all."

Beyond sections on coming out, growing up in the USA, gender, holidays, histories, and society, Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society examines the self-image of LGBT people as it's often acted out publicly. Minor argues that there are issues that we should no longer be caught up in. When we are, the right wing is winning and the LGBT community is not acting out of its best self-concepts. "The Psychological Debate is Over" suggests new strategies to stop getting caught up in the right-wing ex-gay debates. Minor also wants us to ask whether the portrayal of LGBT people as valuable consumers is really a mark of poor self-image, not pride.

There are tender moments in Gay & Healthy. Sections on "Relationships," and "Becoming Families" challenge why we need and want relationships or children and describe how we can make our relationships and child-rearing better than the limited norms of society today.

In "Just as Good Isn't Good Enough," Minor says acceptance of lesbian and gay parenting by the American Academy of Pediatrics is great but still too low a standard for raising healthy children. And though Minor prefers that we emphasize friendships to solve our problems with coupling, he has practical advice for couples, such as chapters on "That Romantic Touch" and "Seven Messages that Wreck a Relationship."

Toby Johnson, editor of the literary periodical, White Crane Journal and author of Gay Perspective: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe, says:

"Dr. Minor demonstrates that a sex-positive and gay-positive perspective on life naturally results in socially and ethically desirable attitudes and behaviors. In transcending polarized gender roles and gender expectations, gay people are a beacon to a society hopelessly drowning in anti-sexual and life-denying attitudes. Minor holds up that light for all to see. Readable, entertaining and unfailingly sensible, these analyses of modern life, especially modern gay life, deserve this second incarnation in Gay and Healthy in a Sick Society."

In an advertisement for the book, I too expressed my enthusiasm:

"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."
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