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Book Review: Don't Shoot! I'm Coming Out
by Max Smith
2006-06-01

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DON'T SHOOT! I'm Coming Out, by Benn Setfrey, is the best book yet written about Black same-gender-loving men. The subtitle—How to 'Man-Up' & Set Heterosexuals 'Straight'—is an attention-grabber. The cross, in the cover photo held by the author, is big enough to turn homophobic preachers to ashes. The attitude of this new Page Turner Publishing book of non-fiction is bold.

Ever since Stonewall you knew the day would come when a strong, Afrocentric, self-respecting and passionately intellectual man would attack the hypocrisy of Black community homophobia with shock and awe. That day is here. This book both challenges the status quo and serves as a how-to guide for Black same-gender-loving men to go from invisible to invincible.

Author Benn Setfrey has excellent credentials. He has grown up inside the Black community. He pledged and lived inside a Black fraternity at college. In his professional life he has been recognized as an outstanding teacher and highly effective disciplinarian in Milwaukee and Chicago public schools.

Recent interviews of Benn Setfrey on Black talk radio stations WMCS-AM 1290 in Milwaukee and WVON-AM 1450 in Chicago have gone very well. Who can complain about a Black man who teaches so well his students' grades go up, the students' parents appreciate him and the students themselves asked to be assigned to his classes?

DON'T SHOOT! covers a lot of ground with humor. Several parts of this book made me laugh out loud. Setfrey's razor-sharp wit exposes many facts of life we all know but are often too polite to discuss.

For example, to young would-be rap stars who say 'I ain't wit dat gay s---,' Setfrey says, 'OK don't stop there. You ain't wit dat workin' s---, dat supportin' your kids s---, dat education s---, or dat bein' responsible s---.' Setfrey asks them, 'Ain't I a man? True, I don't have five kids, four babies' mamas, three ladies I call my bitches, two criminal cases, one probation officer and no job.'

DON'T SHOOT! asks you point blank why in the world would you, a college-educated, financially responsible and professionally employed Black homosexual allow yourself to feel enough social pressure to be closeted by a kid hanging out on the corner all day like that?

The book takes it to the personal level in the 'Sex Education' chapter. It explores the illogical ways some heterosexuals think and how irrational it is to buy into that thinking in order to maintain a straight facade that everyone can see through anyway. Other chapters continue the unrelenting assault on how Black gay and lesbian invisibility and silence have disastrous results.

The chapter 'The Rules of Engagement' deals with being excessively superficial and obsessing over trying to live up to heterosexuals' standards without having a self-affirming value system of your own. 'Never get involved with a habitual liar,' Setfrey writes. 'These men have a disease that you will not be able to cure. They have practiced lying for years and they believe you don't know they are lying because you're not inside their head. This is the dumbest logic known to mankind, but liars aren't logical thinkers.'

That statement is among 20 others in that chapter that can allow a young person to learn life lessons from a mature and wise voice, rather than from trial and error. He includes other chapters that give clear, to-the-point comments on how to avoid unnecessary confusion, chaos and drama. The bottom line is to embrace your real self, gain confidence, have conviction and then live the life of a person you would be attracted to. Do that and you will be attractive to others who live life more deeply than the silly superficial images media too often projects.

'Check it out. Since there is a 100 percent chance that you're homo, embrace it,' Setfrey states in the book. 'If you become Mr. Right, you will be deserving of a wonderful long-lasting relationship. God doesn't want you to become a latent homosexual who marries a woman and then ten years and four kids later you realize that your homosexuality is part of your genetic makeup. Don't settle for a lifetime of casual sex with strangers trying to make God happy.'

Setfrey says, 'You can't be who you are until you know who you are.' He criticizes those behaviors that allow you to avoid embracing yourself: 'Stop going out and getting drunk; alcohol abuse is not sexy. I don't know why people go out, get drunk then brag about how 'messed-up' they were the next day. That's not cool. You shouldn't brag about getting drunk like you were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. ( Brag about going back to school to get an education. ) '

No matter how deeply the Black community's homophobia is entrenched, those of us who are early 21st-century adults know a paradigm shift is needed to make learning a value to public school children, and everyone else for that matter. We need to man-up and make it happen. Pre-colonial African societies valued two-spirited people as gate-keepers with highly developed spiritual capabilities. This book does encourage spirituality over blind devotion to religious leaders, who abuse fear and emotionalism, yet are unprepared to motivate and inspire by leading congregations to think. It puts the moral value of honesty front and center as the one to live by, and the one homophobes never mention when they talk about LGBT issues.

This book is the perfect gift to give same-gender-loving youth. David Kopay, the first National Football League player to come out and be openly gay, says, 'WOW! A powerful, revealing and strong read that is long overdue. I very much wished DON'T SHOOT! was there when I was a young man growing up.'

E-mail MaxsonnCS@aol.com .


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