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That's Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation
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That's Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation

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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  839 ratings  ·  54 reviews
As the gay mainstream prioritizes the attainment of straight privilege over all else, it drains queer identity of any meaning, relevance, or cultural value, writes Matt Bernstein Sycamore, aka Mattilda, editor of That's Revolting!. This timely collection of essays by writers such as Patrick Califia, Kate Bornstein, Carol Queen, Charlie Anders, Benjamin Shepard, and others ...more
Paperback, 340 pages
Published September 30th 2004 by Soft Skull Press (first published February 1st 2004)
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Sara Jaye
This book embodies all of my deep ambivalence about radical queers. I agree with pretty much everything but...get over yourselves?
Lobelia
The word “radical” does not mean “extreme” but rather “going to the root.” That is, being radical is about going to the root of the problem, the root of our patriarchal a.k.a. dominator society, finding solutions for overthrowing it, and living as much as possible outside of the dominant system. During the same-sex marriage debate, I kept reflecting on how marriage was invented for the purpose of enslaving women. I kept signing petitions in favor of gay marriage while feeling apprehensive and wo ...more
Sarah
Jul 27, 2011 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: queer
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore raises the new call to arms for all self-identified freaks, queers, pervs, weirdos, and anyone else not interested in fitting themselves into the nice, neat assimilationist "homos are just like everyone else" box. Her anthology issues a "wake the fuck up" for all those wondering why mainstream gays & allies have been fighting so hard to appease and comfort the Right & the mainstream media, telling them that the thing we want most in the world is the "right" to ...more
Richard
Ten years ago one might not have imagined the largest national gay rights lobbying group (Human Rights Campaign) endorsing a right-wing Republican Senatorial candidate (Al D'Amato in New York), or the San Francisco Pride parade adopting the Budweiser advertising slogan as its offcial theme (2002). As an assimilationist gay mainstream wields increasing power, the focus of gay struggle has become limited to marriage, military service, and adoption. The gay mainstream presents a sanitized, straight ...more
Charlie
It can be hard giving a single rating to an anthology, especially when there are thirty-two different pieces in that anthology. Some of them are really good--delightfully seditious pieces denouncing "Stepford homosexuals", capitalism, and the prison industrial complex--but some of them seem like bad choices. There were far too many essays or interviews with cis gay men and/or cis lesbians, and those were all boring (they didn't queer the norm at all).

The worst was an essay about parenting by th
...more
Kathy
This book is unique in its perspectives of the queer rights movement, and publicly thwarts the mainstream in a manner that makes most people cringe. That part, I like. I also appreciate the telling of the more "underground" history that is often hidden or not as well known. Additionally, it was great to have way more than just the token inclusion of trans/genderqueer individuals.

I don't agree with all of the tactics taken and advocated by the writers, and I don't necessarily believe that living
...more
Daniel
This book really challenged my views on sexuality, sex, and radical feminist and queer thought. Theory, story, interview and case study blended together to create a coherent radical queer agenda against assimilation into the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. The hot topics of the "gay rights" white gay male "movement" are Gay Marriage, Adoption, and the Right to Military Service. These all benefit the system more than they benefit queer liberation, so that even if you win, you lose.

One o
...more
Ezekiel
A series of essays dealing with the queer resistance, anarchy, anti-racism, queer youth of color, intersectional oppression, and activism. Much of it in the form of histories/herstories written by members of activist movements. While That's Revolting! can be quite intellectually heavy (and occasionally seems a bit one-note), it also offers a glimpse of a heady world where shocking behavior for it's own sake is prized and rejecting the status quo is the norm. I recommend it for anyone who is inte ...more
Shay Gabriel
Necessary but prone to lifestylism. "Resisting assimilation" has to mean more than frowning on squares who get married, hating children, and doing a lot of drugs and alcohol. For the most part in these essays, it does. But — especially as a gay man who works with poor mothers — there's a lot that rubs me the wrong way.

I'm sure it's supposed to, as revolutionary gay politics has always loved the provocative. That's why I like this book, and have read it. I just want a revolutionary gay politic t
...more
Jay
The essays varied between insightful critiques and monotonous repetition, creative action and self-indulgence. "Calling All Restroom Revolutionaries" is a worthwhile read, however many of the essays by Mattilda displayed little more than ineffective direct action and self-obsession by someone rightly angry with assimilationist agendas.
Gilberto
I thought this book was amazing!! The essays are thought provoking and inspiring. Especially when the address Queers of Color and the current Gay Rights Movement. I recommend this book tremendously.
Whitney
I wouldn't say every essay in here is a 5-star, but there are enough of them to make this book worth it. Very up-to-date and an excellent refresher about the current faces of queer activism.
drake
overall excellent anthology. i have enthusiastically discussed many of these essays. i found it hard to put the book down!

i appreciated the (multiple) accounts of the "quality of life" measures in NYC and the creativity and resilience of the youth of color targeted by the NYPD who organized in resistance. also, the interview on Fed Up Queers and the essay on Gay Shame and their actions and struggles. "Is Gay Marriage Racist?" was excellent, as was Dean Spade's piece. it's not just an anthology o
...more
Emalee
This book was good for me to read because it gave me a different queer perspective on the relentless drive towards the legalization of gay marriage and other aspects of the current mainstream gay political movement. It also called into question the idea of assimilation - this idea that "queers are just like straight people."

I have always been happy to be part of the queer subculture and for that to be separate and distinct from the mainstream straight culture. The best essay in here was by Ca
...more
Ab
This book covers such a wide expanse of ideas, it's really very difficult to describe as a whole piece. Ultimately, upon reading the whole thing and skipping some things, etc., I found the most fascinating thing to be that "queer" is a multifaceted word, used to refer to sexuality, gender identity, levels of activism. I really had to evaluate how I identify with the word. I know that for myself, I like it because it feels more all-encompassing than the gay/lesbian binary, and that it's NOT a bin ...more
Tristan
Sep 02, 2007 Tristan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anybody who thinks they know what LGBT issues are about.
Even though I gave this book four stars I have mixed feelings about this book. The range of essays in this book, ranging from history, theory, diary entries and personal reflection make it very hard to make any particular statement about the entirety of the book other than to say that the various authors are all anti-imperialists, anti-capitalists, anti-sexist and anti-homophobic. There the similarities end, as they remain somewhat confused about what they're actually for.
This is an iconoclasti
...more
Miriam
Jan 07, 2008 Miriam rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Intelligent, witty, sexy, raunchy, personal/political essays delivered by primarily young radical queers. Many of the essays are from the perspective of folks living around the San Francisco gay area. The editor is a co-founder of Gay Shame and she spent a lot of time based in the bay area. Some essays examine the margins queers have dwelled in historically and how money and power have shaped mainstream gay politics in the bay area.
These activists examine interconnected systems of oppression, id
...more
Sarah
That’s Revolting! has been on my to-read list for a while now, given that it is one of a scant few books to object to a corporate/HRC/white/upper-class model of queer liberation. And overall the book was a fascinating and thought-provoking look at a small handful of anti-assimilationist groups, movements, and actions. Most of the essays are histories or first-person accounts of activism.

Which means that like many anthologies, it is REALLY hit and miss. Read the rest of this review at bisexual-b
...more
Robert
Get your radical activist freak on. Mattilda hosts a collection of essays, manifestos and first hand reports written from the frontlines of the anti-assimilationist, anti-gay-yuppie-scum movement. Some great stuff in here, notably from Mattilda herself, Carol Queen, my old zinester pal, REB, of Fanorama fame, as well as a wonderful interview with the great Sarah Schulman and Jim Hubbard on organizing the first queer film festivals ever (DIY, baby). A few other contributors left any sense of humo ...more
David
Provocative collection of essays on radical LGBT movements/groups/individuals. As with most anthologies, the quality of the writing varies. It may be unfair to ask for balance in a book devoted to airing a non-mainstream viewpoint. Certainly the idea that gay marriage is an important issue and healthy development, the overall theme that LGBT people are "just like everyone else" except for the fact of a non-chosen orientation, etc. gets plenty of airtime, so why not one book entirely for dissente ...more
Simon Copland
This is an excellent collection of radical essay about queer politics and organising from the United States. These essays are unique, funny, and radical in their thinking, providing an essential counterpoint to much of queer politics of today. The main critique is that being written in the 1990s, and focused heavily in the US, some of these essays have dated, making them difficult to get through. Many references to campaigns, debates etc. are not explained, assumed by the reader, which is diffic ...more
Walker
Jan 06, 2008 Walker rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: queers
Shelves: queer, gender
I love this book. The cover is perfect its beautiful and grotesque, colorful and fabulous. I love the odd size of the book so it stands out in my book collection. This is a book that demands attention. Resisting Assimilation made me proud to be radically queer. While not all the tactics or experiences are like mine, I am extatic that they are part of my community. Each new article was like coming on another great idea or piece of my own past that I wished I had thought about.
Matilda/Matt Bernste
...more
Nikki
A series of essays dealing with the queer resistance, anarchy, anti-racism, queer youth of color, intersectional oppression, and activism. Much of it in the form of histories/herstories written by members of activist movements. Through reflection of essays, I found myself (a consciously aware Queer Woman of Color) feeding into/perpetuating several hetero-normative practices/thoughts/beliefs. That type of growth in awareness only helped me to challenge where my "beliefs" were learned and to re-ev ...more
Oin
reads like a zine.

good to have new perspectives, always.

kinda dated (i enjoyed the chapter on aol chatrooms / ims) but i enjoyed it.
Zeo
The essays are all over the board and therefore the book very successfully sidesteps being single-issue - its focus is resisting assimilation, but it gets right to the root of that by showing so many different pursuits of knowledge, of desire, of identity. This so often gets missed in texts about queer resistance, which suggest a rather binary worldview of queer/notqueer. It's not that every essay in the book is great or makes immediately clear sense in its inclusion; it's that they are all prov ...more
Ryan
Great book, but I don't know if I subscribe to the thought pattern portrayed in this book. It's very anti-norm, don't conform, anti-assimilationist. But it is definitely an affirming read. Any time you have a thought about going against the norm, or doing your own thing, the essays in this book will affirm those thoughts. Another thing is, I really enjoyed how this book was a compilation of several essays. I've never read a book like that before and it was nice to be confronted with several diff ...more
lia
What a great collection of essays! Personal stories, stories of activism, interviews and more in this collection compiled by the excellent Mattilda. I don't think I can pick a favorite, but did so love the essay by The Pollinators, "who travel from place to place depositing information gathered from previous locales, fertilizing ideas as it goes" In other words, planning and doing actions at protests as well as in the dark of the night, using "linguistic subversion" and their "tinkery hands". Lo ...more
Amy P.
An excellent read for queers. It's nice to get away from the assimilist gay stories and read something that has some truth to it instead of reading about the oppressive gay upper and middle class. This anthology has stories that illuminate different situations for what real queers are going through and how they live life. Sure, some of the stories are a bit boring, but at least it's not the same ol' gay stuff. Bravo for a well put together book about real queer issues.
Liz
this is pretty 101 radical anti-assimilationist queer politics. which is good to have in the world, for sure! but I mean, if you've heard of it you've probably already been exposed to the ideas in it. having said that, it's generally clear and eloquent and would be good to read if you don't feel like you fully understand why some queers are against marriage, the military, etc.
Stephanie
this book was a wonderful history of the queer movement from angles you don't normally hear about. they aren't fighting to be married or allowed in the military. they are fighting for everyday rights to be individuals. these stories are important and I'm so thankful Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore collected them.
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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 Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform So Many Ways to Sleep Badly The End of San Francisco Pulling Taffy

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“For folks who have that casual-dude energy coursing through their bloodstream, that's great. But gays should not grow up alienated just for us to alienate each other. It's too predictable, like any other cycle of abuse. Plus, the conformist, competitive notion that by "toning down" we are "growing up" ultimately blunts the radical edge of what it is to be queer; it truncates our colorful journey of identity.

Said another way, it's like living in West Hollywood and working a gay job by day and working it in the gay nightlife, wearing delicate shiny shirts picked from up the gay dry cleaners, yet coquettishly left unbuttoned to reveal the pec implants purchased from a gay surgeon and shown off by prancing around the gay-owned-and-operated theater hopped up on gay health clinic steroids and wheat grass purchased from the friendly gay boy who's new to the city, and impressed by the monstrous SUV purchased from a gay car dealership with its rainbow-striped bumper sticker that says "Celebrate Diversity." Then logging on to the local Gay.com listings and describing yourself as "straight-acting."

Let me make myself clear. This is not a campaign for everyone to be like me. That'd be a total yawn. Instead, this narrative is about praise for the prancy boys. Granted, there's undecided gender-fucks, dagger dykes, faux-mos, po-mos, FTMs, fisting-top daddies, and lezzie looners who also need props for broadening the sexual spectrum, but they're telling their own stories.

The Cliff's Notes of me and mine are this: the only moments I feel alive are when I'm just being myself - not some stiff-necked temp masquerading as normal in the workplace, not some insecure gay boy aspiring to be an overpumped circuit queen, not some comic book version of swank WeHo living. If that's considered a political act in the homogenized world of twenty-first century homosexuals, then so be it.

— excerpt of "Praise For The Prancy Boys," by Clint Catalyst

appears in first edition (ISBN # 1-932360-56-5)”
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