Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

26 Years of Joy. (My Perspective)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

26 Years of Joy. (My Perspective)

Article excerpt

The publication of The Joy of Gay Sex in its "fully revised and expanded third edition" caps a 26-year period during which not only gay sexuality but also the attitudes and customs surrounding gay sexuality have changed--at times subtly and at times momentously. Of course, the actual mechanics of men engaging in sex probably haven't changed in several thousand years, so more than once I've been asked why The Joy of Gay Sex needs periodic updating. The fact of its continuing importance to gay men is itself the answer to that question. Hundreds of thousands--from teens to retirees, from Boise to Brisbane, from Kyoto to Tel Aviv--have bought or borrowed or, yes, stolen this book. (It's the second most stolen book in American libraries.)

They read and reread it to learn how to kiss, caress, nibble, and fellate their lover or sex partner for increased mutual pleasure. They read it to learn why they are alone, jealous, can't find a lover, or can't hold on to a partner, to learn why they have issues about drugs or effeminacy, why they engage in dangerous sex, why they're homophobic, even why they're gay. Others, yearning to learn more about gay culture, read it to know how this entire "gay" business developed. History is included.

Every boy and girl is born into a heterosexual world and taught how to grow up straight. For gays and lesbians, constant realignment is required. The Joy of Gay Sex speaks directly to gay men's needs. As coauthor of two of the book's editions, I've been gratified whenever a young man tells me how crucial it was to his coming-out, to his settling into gay life. But the most poignant kudos were unexpected: from a 55-year-old Marine captain who read it and left the armed services; from a married man with three grown children who read it and realized he was missing out on his real life.

Arriving eight years after the Stonewall rebellion, the first edition of The Joy of Gay Sex--for which I was a source and early reader--pictured the sunny, sensual, try-anything attitudes of its time. Used too many drugs? Go with the flow. …

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