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The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present download epub

by Paul Russell


Epub Book: 1452 kb. | Fb2 Book: 1200 kb.
Selects and ranks one hundred writers, thinkers, artists, musicians, military leaders, politicians, and gay rights activists over the past two and half millennia who have had a lasting impact on how gay men and lesbians define themselves.

Comments: (7)

Monam
OK, one must bear in mind that this book is indeed a polemical work. It is meant to start controversy and stir up dialog among the gay community as to who are the most influential figures in LGBT history. Obviously, trying to name the 100 most influential gay and lesbian individuals is an impossible task because of the varying definitions of influential. Russell is well aware of the outrage that such a book might cause, and he really toys with that aspect of his book (which is an interesting approach). Yes, important names are left out, such is the nature of the work, but what is important is that certain names (Larry Kramer, Edward Carpenter, Audre Lorde, Alan Turing) are included since they are essential to understanding a sense of a gay history in terms of figures. The book is just as serious as it is playful. Russel does go to great lengths to justify his selections, often successfully. He also makes you really think about what the gay historical pantheon might look like and forces the reader to try to conceive of a gay history. Some selections are bold and provocative, especially St. Augustine. Others are predictable, like the inclusion of Proust, Genet, Gide, and Foucault (not that they aren't important, but it appears as though he just selected a handful of the most important gay figures in French culture and limited said selection to the 20th century).

There are two major types of quarrels I can see one having with this book. One is the challenging of the selections. This works with the book, since I feel it is the intent of the author to make the reader compose their own gay history. This galvanization of the reader's historical sensibility is something to be applauded. However, there is another quarrel one can have with this book: it sticks to the hetero/homo binary and completely neglects queer figures who have shown that the binary system can be broken (I think of Judith Butler and Eve Sedgwick specifically, since they are the grand theorists of queer thought). I see this exclusion as a drastic oversight that is meant to appeal to an audience that has no interest in questioning the hegemony of binary systems in social spheres.

I also agree with my fellow reviewers: the selections are primarily focused on Western gay history instead of a more egalitarian approach to gay history. I don't see this as one of the author's challenges to the reader but rather revealing the author to be complicit with the idea that western culture (whatever the hell that is) holds dominion over historical narratives. Mishima is included, but there are so many important gay figures from the Asian continent that could have also been included. Honestly, the cultural diversity is probably the weakest point of the book.

But, overall, it is a very interesting selection that creates a very unique interpretation of gay history. It contains both bold choices, the usual suspects, and many important figures who are often overlooked by contemporary LGBTQIA individuals (Magnus Hirschfeld pops into my mind immediately). It also doesn't focus solely on writers but encompasses queer figures from many different walks of life.

I would recommend it. For individuals just getting acquainted with queer history, it is a pretty valuable resource. For more seasoned veterans of the subject, it is still of interest because of the challenge it presents to its readers.
Hudora
Informative, but left out quite few people. Otherwise, a great book. I highly recommend this book for a historical point of view.
Chilele
When waiting for a take-away meal, I read ‘The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present' after cycling to an old bookshop. I have vague recollections of this book from years back (it was published in 1995), but this is the first time I had placed my hands upon it.

Whilst I love lists, there is no doubt that insurmountable problems with ‘The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present' exist. Firstly, whilst there is no doubt that a list like this cannot be focused on the era since homosexuality became first defined and – after generations of resistance from ruling classes – decriminalised, there is much too much speculation about the homosexual affinity of most of the people from before the Industrial Revolution. This is most obviously true of Augustine of Hippo (unless the author believe his role in the criminalisation of homosexuality in the West is too important, a point Russell uses with some reason to justify the inclusion of Susan Anthony and Mary Wollstonecraft), Shakespeare, Michaelangelo and Florence Nightingale, but more and better evidence was certainly needed with most people from the period between Constantine and the Industrial Revolution.

Even amongst the more modern choices, there are obvious problems. Among the numerous crucial omissions include John Maynard Keynes – one of the first open and well-documented homosexuals, whose economics reflects a cultural philosophy more libertine than Marx and which likely had a significant influence in the long-term on the acceptance of homosexuality; Sylvia Townsend Warner – whose Lolly Willowes constitutes almost a prototype of Boom Generation radical feminism and Wiccan spirituality and who formed one of the most celebrated and longest-lasting lesbian loves of the twentieth century with Valentine Ackland; Elton John – whose stage dramatics and flamboyant persona, along with Bernie Taupin's eccentric lyrics, reinvented the image of the rock star beyond its relatively conventional beginnings; k.d. lang and/or Melissa Etheridge – who during the Bush Senior era were the first and most successful openly lesbian popular musicians; Harmodios and Aristogiton – who were two great warriors in ancient Greece and engaged in a permanent sexual relationship and the famed eccentric king Ludwig II of Bavaria. There are others of cultural influence - such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe – who might with demonstrable research potentially add to this already long list. Some critically groundbreaking homosexuals, such as Martina Navratilova in the homophobic world of sports, Adrienne Rich with her explicitly sexual post-divorce poetry, Paul Verlaine with his brutal relationships and poetry that alternates from religious to satyr or Harry Hay who built up modern theories of homosexual liberation, are ranked much lower than they should be.

The writing in “The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present’ is moderate in quality at best, with little unknown detail except of the few important but critical celebrities like J.A. Symonds. At times it seems to rush over each choice much more than it should.

All in all, whilst a list of the most influential gays and lesbians is by no means a bad idea – debates and arguments might I imagine go deeper than with some other lists – Russell has not done a good job here. Numerous omissions both obvious and obscure, dubious inclusions without adequate justification, and a flawed writing style prevent me from recommending this book to a historian of the topic.
Lightseeker
This book selects and ranks 100 homosexuals who have affected homosexual identity.

Spanning the past 2400 years, the book "Celebrates the true heroes of the gay and lesbian community." Writers, thinkers, artists, musicians, military leaders, politicians, and gay rights activists who have had a great influence - by action or example - on the world.

The book includes individuals as diverse as Socrates, Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Rock Hudson, Quentin Crisp, Freddie Mercury, Madonna. Some were married and closeted until the they died; others acknowledged their sexuality - and many suffered.

Compelling and uplifting, these one hundred portraits capture the people behind the legends and affirm that homosexuals have been an integral part of history from ancient times through the modern day.
The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present download epub
Social Sciences
Author: Paul Russell
ISBN: 0806515910
Category: Politics & Social Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences
Language: English
Publisher: Birch Lane Pr (November 1, 1994)
Pages: 386 pages