My Book Covers for Beacon

Last week two brand new books arrived in my mailbox, both of them sporting cover art by yours truly. They’re the first in a new series of books for budding lesbian and gay and bisexual and transgender political activists that’s being launched by Beacon Press in Boston under the imprint Queer Action / Queer Ideas.

Sue Hyde, a longtime activist, and Lisa Keen, a longtime writer about LGBT legal matters, are the authors respectively of Come Out and Win and Out Law, two books that, had they been available when I was young, might have inspired me to devote some of the time I wasted being consumed by adolescent depression doing some good in the world instead.

By way of contrast, what did I have to turn to for help in knowing how to feel about my sexual orientation (or my "sickness," as most authorities described it back then) at a tender age? David R. Rubin’s Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask), a 1969 sex manual touted by mainstream reviewers as irreverently "modern" at the time of its publication. Naturally I turned to it for enlightenment, only to encounter its breathtakingly ignorant and homophobic chapter on homosexuality, which might well have sent me in search of a noose with which to dispatch myself had I not already come to know some real-world gay people by the time I read it and could thus see Rubin’s take for the bullshit it was.

Of course, ignorance about gays was pretty much to be expected from straight "experts" in 1969. To my shock, however, this vile tome was reissued in 1999 and can still be purchased by the unwary.

(If you find the book’s title irresistably catchy, for god’s sake catch the amusing Woody Allen movie of the same name instead of Rubin’s book. Content-wise, they’re not even kissing cousins.)

Excuse my side trip into Rubinland. Contemplating these new books from Beacon pushes some old buttons of mine by reminding me how much more humane a world awaits LGBT youngsters these days than was once the case, despite the best efforts of Rev. Fred ("God Hates Fags") Phelps and his ilk to keep intolerance alive.

Kids, thank your lucky stars that you’ve got authorial mentors like Hyde and Keen (not to mention Beacon’s Stonewall Award-winning series editor Michael Bronski), available to guide you safely through the thickets of society’s intractable antigay prejudice and show you how you can respond to it productively instead of fearfully.

About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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