Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Review: Gay America: Struggle for Equality by Linas Alsenas

Aaaaaaaand I'm on a roll with the LGBT books.

Gay America is a great non-fiction for teens look at lesbian and gay American history over the last 100 or so years. The book is divided into chapters by decade with each chapter starting with a short narrative story that exemplifies at least part of the lesbian and gay experience during that decade.

And note that I've switched from the abbreviation (LGBT) to just saying lesbian and gay, because that would be the one shortfall of this book: I can't recall a single mention of transgender history, and few references to bisexuality explicitly. Most references to bisexuals are in the form of women who married men, but still carried on same-sex love affairs. Granted, it's much harder to identify someone as bisexual if they don't self-identify, but the silence is a bit glaring.

What I do have to give major props for is the wide inclusion of lesbians. It seems that a lot of gay history focuses on gay men. Here Alsenas at times goes out of her way to address lesbian history, which I'm thankful for.

This seems like a pretty thorough book, with a lot that I didn't know, which is always a good sign for a non-fiction book if you ask me. At times the text felt a little condescending (are modern teenagers really so self-centered that they need to be reminded that in the 1930s gay people wouldn't have been able to connect on the internet?), but the plethora of information and the excellent layout compensate for that.
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