Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform
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Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform

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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  275 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Gay culture has become a nightmare of consumerism, whether it's an endless quest for Absolut vodka, Diesel jeans, rainbow Hummers, pec implants, or Pottery Barn. Whatever happened to sexual flamboyance and gender liberation, an end to marriage, the military, and the nuclear family? As backrooms are shut down to make way for wedding vows, and gay sexual culture morphs into...more
Paperback, 212 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by AK Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Shay Gabriel
Some of the essays were great. Many were thought-provoking. Some of them, as with Sycamore's other book ("That's Revolting!"), were filled with a misguided nostalgia for "the good old days" - you know, when gay bars were run by the mafia, queer people faced more serious repression, etc.

There's also - and I'm writing as a gay man who works to fight economic injustice with poor mothers - a very disconcerting anti-child stance that permeates a few of the essays.

And can we admit that just like ther...more
Caty
The essays in this book are some of the most visceral, intense pieces of writing I've ever read. The dogmatism and self-analysis that cluttered MBS' previous anthologies are minimized, if not gone. Instead, the book pushes you headlong into the subjective reality of everything that's wrong with our current consumerist macho queer culture--into being closeted in prison, fucking bareback while HIV positive, and a thousand other fucked up experiences. And these vignettes are a better argument again...more
J.P.
Being gay isn't a choice, but have you ever wondered if there's a different way of living your gay life? One not prescribed by The Advocate and Out and a white, fratboy-esque, dude pornography? Well, then, this book is for you. Gay Marriage and gay people serving in the military may sound good on paper, but have you ever wondered why Marriage and the Military are so freaking important? Isn't there another way of being? Being gay should call into question some of the traditions of society, so why...more
Phillip
I got this book for Christmas. Every year I peruse the Lambda Literary Awards and this was nominated in the LGBT Anthology section. As a progressive queer activist in college I’ve read some of the other works edited by Mattilda including That’s Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation. This is a collection along the same lines as others in that there are 30 short entries with most about 4-5 pages each as the book ends at 208 pages.

I was interested in reading this because as a somew...more
Aubry
I needed a dose of liberation when I received this book in the mail from a friend. Consumerist forces and the need to fit a certain body type to feel attractive have plagued gay male subcultures in the United States for a long time. This book mostly filled the need for a dialogue on some of these issues by offering up a sobering number of perspectives in the form of essays. That being said, I can't help but expect more from a book that claims to challenge rather than reaffirm problematic subcult...more
Jimmie
At just over 200 pages, this book collects 31 essays from a diverse array of LGBTIQQ writers and scholars. A few of the essays seemed sufficiently, if superficially, developed in the span of a few pages, but for the most part, they were woefully short. A few didn't even quite manage to state a thesis before the author was signing off. In truth, I feel rather cheated because this is subject matter that much of LGB (as distinct from TIQQ) scholarship shies away from (a point hinted at several time...more
duck reads
I disliked a lot of this book. I liked a lot of it also. Most of all, I found myself wanting to talk about the subjects raised with everyone all the time, in an attempt to figure out how I felt about all of things it churned up, and also just because there were interesting ideas to discuss.
Anthony White
This book has to be the most powerful collection of essays I've read in my life, especially relating to queer identify and gender performance. I'm grateful for the good fortune I had to stumble upon this text. Each essay is brilliantly written and boldly attacks common prescriptions of how we should think of gender and sexuality. Some of these essays made me uncomfortable, exposing my AIDS-phobia as the oppressive monster it is, others made me cry, narrating agonies with which I am intimately ac...more
Ami Kismet
I enjoyed reading the essays in this book but I felt that some of them read more as personal essays about being gay, coming out, or knowing/having AIDS. There were a few essays that made the connection between personal experience and a larger societal or cultural issues of misogyny, and patriarchy. A few of the essays read more like men whining about why they can't just have sex with each other even if one of them is more 'feminine' acting or is Latino or Asian, but that is where it stopped. The...more
Joseph Wilburn
The subjects that this anthology deals with are (I think) going to be of increasing importance for the LGBT community in the not too distant post-civil rights struggle era of the future.

This book holds up a mirror to the members of the dominant gay culture and demands that there be an accounting taken of the skeletons still remaining in our communal closets. There is a common resignation that issues of gender, gender expression, size, racial, class, and HIV status will not be dealt with if life...more
Steven
This book was great! At times hilarious, insightful, depressing, hopeful. It was great to see the experiences of such a wide variety of queer people. You can tell Mattilda tried very hard to represent as many people as possible in this book. I was surprised, but the book changed my life and how I view things. Some authors really make you challenge your views. The stories were not afraid to talk about the dirty, the messy, the scary, and the taboo. They also have found ways to add perspective and...more
Jon Edward
Oct 27, 2013 Jon Edward rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jon Edward by: Ben
I'm not sure the question the title asks is ever answered. This isn't a sociological look at internalised homophobia. It's a collection of stories about, often, how mean LGBT people are to one another. And, disturbingly, how often gay men are mean to transgendered people. Booh Eduardo's story "A Rock and a Bird" is especially haunting because the "antagonist" is apparently completely blind to how awful and selfish he is.

It's not all depressing, though, some are quite funny; and there are a few...more
Daniel Lowen
This was great! A series of essays, each 4-8 pages, on all sorts of topics relating to queer people who don't fit the dominant queer mold. The irony, of course, is that gay male America has become a minority that mirrors the mainstream in marginalizing those who don't want to or can't fit in.

The first essay was stupid, but I'm glad I kept going. The quality was of course mixed, but mostly very good and eye-opening. And each writer had a different style -- some more academic, others very personal...more
Cian
A thought-provoking breath of fresh-air in an age of assimilationist HRC conformity. The book includes over two dozen short essays by a variety of authors, and my reactions to the different pieces varied greatly. The collection gives voice to experiences and identities that are too often overlooked or silenced in the seemingly single-minded drive for marriage at the expense of all (and everyone) else. With such an array of authors, the style and quality varied -- some were more successful than o...more
David
I believe this collection of essays definitely provides strong voices and diverse perspectives within the gay community, many of which (I admit) were completely new to me. I particularly found the voices of gay men of color to be very enlightening and provocative, causing me to reflect and meditate further on their experiences both within the gay community and in the general scene. Admittedly, I found many essays to be counter-productive and excessively radical....BUT, I feel that the important...more
David
This book is a collection of short essays, reflections, and interviews. I really loved reading this book. The format meant that it was constantly new and different. Some essays made me feel like I was reading my own life experience printed on a page, and others confronted me with thoughts and experiences that I'd never pondered or encountered before. Some were very uncomfortable, and I'm grateful for them, too. This book will inspire reflection. I will never think about masculinity the same way...more
Blane
A great anthology of what it means to be a non-conformist queer in the early 21st century, challenging the very nature of what "masculinity" means. As an anthology, some of the essays are better than others, but overall a unique book on the subject. There are femmes, trans, fats, browns, blacks, arabs, older (but mostly younger)...you name it & they are probably represented here. Recommended for anyone interested in the queer historical continuum.
Eighteen
It’s got a couple dozen short essays by alllll types: fat femme genderqueer faggot drag queen Arab indigenous disabled trans immigrant etc etc etc etc. Quite a few essays are from Philly elders, about gay culture before Stonewall, about passing, being racialized, being an immigrant queer after 9/11, having a penis, not being masculine, body policing, current white gay male standards of conformity—it goes on.
Ryan Mishap
Whether gut-wrenching, wistful, poignant, or raunchy, the pieces in this anthology make a two things clear: everybody wants to be whole and loved in whatever way they define and our culture of masculinity and patriarchy so often prevent the achievement of those two things. The breadth of experience and themes covered here is large, but those two opposing forces cut through much of the book.
Ac Panella
I love the ideas and the intention of this anthology. I expect to not love every piece in an anthology but the ratio of loved/liked to disliked/ not-as-engaged-with was lower than I would have liked. That said, I would still recommend the book for those who are seeking an alternate perspective to the dominant gay voices who have framed the rhetoric of contemporary issues
Michael Andersen-Andrade
I found this book in my local bookstore and everything about it interested me...the title, the topic and even the cover. I was disappointed, however. A few of the essays were mildly interesting, but it was a struggle to finish the book. I just didn't find the writing inspiring or the content very compelling.
Judy
Essays by different writers--all brilliant, insightful, well written, and engaging. A fine collection. Good job, Mattilda.
Jesse
About 1/3 of the essays in this anthology are brilliant, 1/3 are trying too hard with academic language, and 1/3 are tedious. That said this book is worth reading for the brilliant parts an because this book brings many voices forward that just aren't brought forward by Big Gay.
Amber
That Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore really knows how to throw an essay party! As any collection is bound to be, this was a little uneven. Unfailingly thought-provoking and interesting, at times heartwarming and often chilling, it's nonetheless a really effing solid collection.
Jesalyn B
A good mix of both personal and critical essays that address the nuances and challenges within gay male and queer culture. I would say that while not being as cohesive a collection as say, that's revolting, still a worth wild and provocative read.
Xavier Shay
Collection of essays from different authors. A couple of terrible ones, but for the most part well written and enlightening. Worth the read. Not a book I would have picked up, but I met someone at Farmhouse who was reading it so added it my list.
Manintheboat
Excellent anthology. I expected to skim it but ended up deeply engrossed in the book. It made me spend much time considering what I read and re-evaluating my previous assumptions.

Loved Horehound Stillpoint whom I imagined as a gay Henry Rollins.
Nilda Brooklyn
this is an amazing anthology of writings that is humorous, insightful, and powerful. Reading many of the works challenged my own underlying perceptions and tropes of masculinity and the ways I use them to judge others. Great queer read for all.
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Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is an insomniac with dreams. She is the author of a memoir, The End of San Francisco (City Lights 2013, and two novels, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly (City Lights, October 2008) and Pulling Taffy (Suspect Thoughts 2003). Mattilda is the editor of five nonfiction anthologies, most recently Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectific...more
More about Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore...
Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity That's Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation So Many Ways to Sleep Badly The End of San Francisco Pulling Taffy

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“The key to getting out of a bad relationship is being able to imagine something more fulfilling. --D. Travers Scott” 2 likes
“We have commoditized wellness & creativity, and so gay men are up against these much larger contexts that aren't particularly conducive to the strongest, healthiest, most holistic approaches. Access to basic healthcare, and a healthcare system that is not homophobic and that is responsive to the needs of gay men, would radically change the pressures and therefore the opoprtunities for those of us who work primarily within the HIV/AIDS sector of healthcare, whether in research, programming and cultural production, or advocacy.
Similarly with the arts: if we had sufficient and adequate funding for community-based arts programming--of all kinds, not just related to gay men and HIV--then it wouldn't seem so shocking and misappropriated to allocate some of those funds for gay men to tell their stories. So it's in this larger, structural context that we gt forced into very painful conversations about prioritizing of funding, or what's most important, and it's always a reductive conversation because of limited resources. --Patrick "Pato" Hebert”
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