There are many LGBT and related gifts you can give this holiday season. What follows are a few dozen from our always mile-high stack of new items in the office. We give away many of our books, DVDs, Blu-rays and CDs in contests on our Facebook page, so "like" us to have a chance to win. See www.facebook.com/windycitymediagroup.com .
Please support independent bookstores by purchasing your books through them. Stores we recommend include Women & Children First, Unabridged Books, The Book Cellar, After Words, the Book Table, 57th Street Books, Quimby's and Powell's.
Lance Loud and his family were household names in the 1970sthey were the focus of the first reality show decades ahead of the reality swarm we now see on television 24/7. PBS ran the 12-part series in 1973, and in it Loud became one of the first openly gay people on television. Loud met Christopher Makos in the 1970s, and Makos, now a world-renowned photographer, helps document his life for the new book Lance Out Loud (Glitterati Inc.), by Lance's mom Pat Loud, and edited by Makos. Photos by Chris, Pat and Lance illustrate this extensive collection of the Loud family's life. Friends of Lance are generous with their own memories: David Keeps, Rufus Wainwright, Cherry Vanilla and early comments by Andy Warhol. As the book's PR states: "Pat Loud is the well-known and beloved mother of Lance Loud, who through her collection of his papers, artworks, and memorabilia and continuing contact with Lance's closest circle of friends, has been able to compile this important document of one life that represents an era of American popular culture."
Jack Robinson: On Show, Portraits 195872 (Palazzo Editions) is a beautiful coffeetable book filled with the work of 1960s photographic legend Robinson. As a fashion and celebrity photographer for Vogue, Robinson, who was gay, captured some of the most iconic individuals of the era. My only quibble is that they chose one of the weakest images, of Warren Beatty, for the cover. There were many more incredible shots to choose from. Among celebs inside the pages are Liza Minnelli (including a lovely shot with Peter Allen), Nina Simone (now that would have made a cover!), Carly Simon, Sonny and Cher, Daniel Barenboim, Beverly Sills, Jerry Herman, Dirk Bogarde, Julie Christie, Cybill Shepherd (who wrote the foreword), Julie Harris, Anthony Perkins, Lily Tomlin, Tina Turner, Elton John, Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine, Joni Mitchell, Ralph Lauren and Andy Warhol. Robinson died at age 69 in 1997. This book, which also includes a brief biography of Robinson and his work, captures some of his greatest images. Definitely a great holiday gift.
Martin Duberman is one of the most important writers in our gay universe, winner of numerous prizes, and founder and former director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at CUNY. His newest book is Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left (New Press), a biography of the late social activist (Zinn died in 2010). It draws on extensive materials to paint a comprehensive portrait of a complex man who was at the center of many of the most important social movements of the last century. Duberman notes that Zinn's politics were equally interesting for their omissions and contradictions. As the press release for the book notes, though Zinn "was close to the epicenter of second-wave feminism and the gay and lesbian movement, Zinn did not embrace either, omitting them from the original text of his seminal work, A People's History of the United States."
Keith Boykin's newest book, For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Still Not Enough (Magnus), is a collection of personal stories on coming of age, coming out and coming home. It has 45 essays and poems from 43 authors, including African-Americans, Latinos, Jamaican-Americans, Asian-Americans, and one British writer. Writers include Boykin, James Earl Hardy, Wade Davis, Mark Corece, Rod McCullom and Tim'm T. West. This is an essential reader from this important national gay writer and leader.
Bishop Gene Robinson has a new book coming out, God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage (Knopf). This issue is both political and personal for Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop, and he takes readers on a journey of religious history. He tells straight people to understand that gay marriage is their issue, too. He believes Jesus would approve of gay marriage, so this might be a good gift for the right side of your family (Christmas) tree.
Another book tackling religious issues is Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays (NYU Press), by Bernadette Barton. She explores both passive and active homophobia in the South, and how gays negotiate homophobia, the ex-gay movement, the creationism debate, and the often-unbearable heaviness of religion.
This is one of the crazier descriptions of a memoir I have come across, which is what makes it work: Gay author Michael Menzies believed he was the love child of film legends Noel Coward and Marlene Dietrich. He traveled the world trying to prove his theory, but even though he lost the argument, he used the opportunity to explore these legends' lives, and his own. The result, Deeply Superficial: Noel Coward, Marlene Dietrich, and Me, is available from Magnus Books. It is a fun romp around the worldand around some famous Hollywood names. Menzies worked with rock 'n' roll promoter Bill Graham, impresario Sol Hurok, choreographer Agnes de Mille, Broadway producer Saint-Subber, and in film with the de Laurentiis family. He lives in Los Angeles with his companion of 30 years, Eduardo de la Grana.
Here is a very fun idea for a book, Who's Yer Daddy? Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners (Terrace Books), edited by Jim Elledge and David Groff. A wide range of gay writers discuss their literary mentors, including Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Andre Gide, James Baldwin and Edmund White. And of course they have also been inspired by non-gay-male creative types, from Bette Midler to Captain Kirk. Among the essayists are Mark Doty, Dale Peck, Kenny Fries, Tim Miller and Thomas Glave. Now where's Who's Yer Mama?
Longtime lesbian novelist Lee Lynch has another contribution to the genre: The Raid (Bold Stroke Books). She states: "Before Stonewall, having a drink with friends or your girl could mean jail. In 1961, The Old Town Tavern is more than just a gay bar. It's a home to strangers who have become family. They drink, they dance, they fall in lust and in love. They don't even know who the enemy is, only that it is powerful enough to order the all-too-willing vice squad to destroy the bar and their lives. Would these women and men still have family, a job, a place to live after … The Raid? This was how it was done then, this was the gay life, and this is the resilient gay will." Take a journey with Lynch to a time not long ago in a galaxy very close to home.
Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son, and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance is a wonderful new book by Marsha Aizumi and her son Aiden. Marsha's child first came out as a lesbian, then transitioned to male. Marsha writes of her own transition as a mother of an adopted girl, offering unconditional love as this child makes a journey through sexual orientation and gender identity. A great book for any parentor child. Can you say "Happy holidays, mom … here's a gift for your heart"? See www.marshaaizumi.com .
Coming Around: Parenting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Kids (New Horizon Press) is a guide for parents navigating the post-coming out of their child. Anne Dohrenwend, PhD, addresses parents' fears regarding bigotry and social prejudice, including religious, as well as what not to say and what to say to your child.
And here's a third book on the parenting track, Gay Dads: Transitions to Adoptive Fatherhood (New York University Press), by Abbie E. Goldberg. She explores the different issues faced by gay fathers, including psychological, social and legal landmines. She interviewed 70 gay men and "analyzes how gay dads interact with competing ideals of fatherhood and masculinity, alternately pioneering and accommodating heteronormative 'parenthood culture.'"
Living Jewishly: A Snapshot of a Generation, a collection of personal essays by Jewish 20- and 30-somethings, is available from Academic Studies Press. Edited by Oy! Chicago blogger-in-chief and JUFdigital communications manager Stefanie Pervos Bregman, the anthology probes a wide range of topics, including Orthodox dating; same-sex, interfaith relationships; discovering personal Jewish identity; connectionor lack thereofto Israel; conversion; and what it means to be a young Jew in America today. I love it when mainstream books like this include LGBTs matter-of-factly as part of their mosaic. Essays of interest include David Levy's "Anatomy of an Activist," Brian Judd's "My Jewish Journey: How Being Catholic Helped Make Me Jewish," "Volition" by Tera "Nova Jade" Greene, and "My (Jewish-Interfaith-Lesbian) Wedding by Chai Wolfman. On the first day of Hanukah, you can give this book to your family. See www.livingjewishlybook.com .
You know you love them, admit it. The Carpenters. Chicago Review Press has published a newly revised and expanded edition of Yesterday Once More: The Carpenters. Singing siblings Karen and Richard had a phenomenally successful partnership that ended when Karen died in 1983. The book is by Randy L. Schmidt, author of the bestselling biography Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter, so he does know his Carpenters, inside and out. An excellent book to read while crying listening to Carpenters classics. I would have liked more photos, but it is still a worthwhile book for Carpenters fans.
Blue Star Books' published Wax by Therese Ambrosi Smith this year, more than 70 years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and America's engagement in World War II. "While we are often reminded that we are losing our veterans at a rapid rate, less is said of the mothers, sisters and lovers who equipped the troops and made essential contributions on the home front," Blue Star states. Smith drew upon the oral histories of 'Rosies' who built Liberty ships in the Kaiser shipyards for her debut novel: "I wanted a book that would engage, entertain and inform. Our grandmothers were the home half of the Greatest Generation." Wax is a story of female friendship, sexual discovery and long-held secrets. A lesbian-inclusive fictional look at the women of WWII.
Jayson is one of the earliest ongoing gay cartoon strips of the modern gay movement. Jayson Gets a Job! from Ignite is the newest graphic novel about Jayson Callowhill's life, as first imagined by Jeff Krell in 1982. He copes with the modern-day issues of a "jobless recovery," meeting a wide array of fun characters along the way. See ignite-ent.com .
Another longtime part of the gay creative world is the Benson series by Michael Carson. Benson at Sixty (Cutting Edge Press) is the fourth of the Benson novels. As the press release states: "More than thirty years agoamidst the hysteria and confusion surrounding the newly publicized AIDS epidemic[the book] Sucking Sherbet Lemons introduced readers to Martin Benson, a chubby 14-year-old torn between his deep Catholic faith and his budding homosexuality. Through the years and two sequels, readers traveled alongside the charming hero as he survived university, international travel, tumultuous relationships and hedonistic trysts. Approaching 60, a mature and reflective Benson has returned home to Merseyside and is considering whether it is finally time for him to settle down and tie the knot."
Daniel Callahan, who established the field of bioethics with the co-founding of The Hastings Center in 1969, has two new books: a memoir, In Search of the Good: A Life in Bioethics (MIT Press) and a collection of his writing, The Roots of Bioethics: Health, Progress, Technology, Death (Oxford University Press). These works "encompass a half century of Callahan's observations of and influence on how we are born, live, and dieand what it means to be humanthrough the prism of the impact of advances in science and medicine," according to a press statement. Callahan's achievements have "earned him recognition as one of a handful of thinkers who shaped the second half of the 20th century," writes Jonathan E. Moreno of the University of Pennsylvania. Callahan discusses his growing concern with the goals of medicine, particularly the focus on technology to prolong the lives of dying patients without adequate attention to quality of life, as well as the ethical and policy dilemmas posed by skyrocketing medical costs. Rational thought on these issues is a welcome addition to the heated debate over healthcare in America.