Friday, February 16, 2007

Book I'm reading...

I have one out gay friend with whom I candidly discuss my orientation (incidentally, we do NOT discuss politics). He recently gave me the book The Best Little Boy In the World. It was originally published in 1973, and perhaps the first coming out memoir--certainly the most successful.

In the book, Andrew Tobias, writing under the pseudonym John Reid, explains what it was like for him to be in the closet and to finally come out. So far I have found his description of being in the closet to be spot on to my own. He also used achievement and prudishness to explain why he didn't have time for dates. He shared my terror that somehow someone might overhear my thoughts and figure it all out (irrational as that is). After college, Andrew Tobias became a workaholic to keep up the same charade. Then at age 23 (my age now) he came out for the first time. Though he didn't describe it in as great detail as he did the closet, he was surprised at how warm and supportive everyone was.

After he came out, however, he started to make up for lost time (although his prudishness endured a bit: he didn't like kissing or oral sex). And for a while became rather promiscuous. Is that typical? I have heard of several gay people talking about their "whore stage" right after coming out. A whore stage in the days before HIV was one thing, but now, one drink too many, one night with the wrong guy, and you have ruined, not to mention shortened, your life. I still shudder in horror at the thought of STDs (my "abstinence-only" sex ed had some effect).

in 1998 Andrew Tobias wrote a sequel to this book, entitled The Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up. In the sequel Tobias details how he came to peace with his sexuality as well as the significant advances that GLBT people have made since his first book. I imagine that AIDS is discussed. What gives me pause, however, is that Tobias, who is treasurer for the DNC, lavishes praise on those whom he admires--such as the Clintons (ugh!). I worry that this second book might get too liberal and preachy. On the other hand, it may still be useful nonetheless, and, of course, I'll never know if I don't read it.

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