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Imagine your favorite gay uncle sitting you down and explaining everything you ever wondered about gay people. That is Gay, Explained.
Written for gay and straight people alike, Gay, Explained leads the reader on a journey that even the most educated may find surprising. Told in a warm and personal style, Gay, Explained weaves together the individual story of a man born Mormon and with wide ranging stories from some of humanity’s most fascinating people. It is a history that stretches back to the drawings on cave walls, the stories of the Pharaohs, the religions and philosophies of Greece and Rome and on through the Renaissance to today. Most of these stories predate modern LGBT labels, so they are tales of shamans, priests, amazons, minstrels, two spirits, and global adventurers. From there the book moves to science, where researchers are finding evidence for homosexuality and gender variation throughout the natural world, along with genetic and biological origins in our bodies.
Finally, despite all the recent political successes, questions remain. Why are some people gay? Is being gay just a sexual preference, or is there more going on? Why do some people vary around gender, and how is that related to sexuality? And if all of this is natural, why is homophobia so persistent across cultures? The answers to these and other questions move the discussion beyond mere facts and into the realm of meaning — exploring the larger purpose of gay people in families, society, and the world. Gay, Explained is therefore an essential resource for parents, teens, friends, teachers, pastors, politicians, and just about everybody else.
For every person who has ever thought, “I just don’t get gay people,” the answers are here. Gay, Explained.
This is a book of many short chapters, described below. All art by the author. Enjoy.
It starts with a quilt, a quilt of everyone who is colorful, different, exceptional, or typical, all woven together into one great human family.
Who I Am
Preston’s personal story, from a faithful young Mormon to an out gay man, and the struggles that occurred along the way.
Who We Are
The whole sprawling, rainbow colored, diversity of the LGBT community — who we are, how many, etc.
Gay people show up in the art on cave walls, in the stories of the Pharaohs, and all across time.
We were often the healers of the village, invoking sacred magic and earthy solutions to imbalances and health disorders.
And we were the two-spirits, living as the other gender or between genders.
We were warrior women from the Steppes of Central Asia to Africa and the jungles of South America, and then there was Joan of Arc – magnificent in all her glory.
Sometimes we retreated into quiet and seclusion…
…and sometimes we left the village to become traveling entertainers, minstrels, actors, and performers.
Many of the ancient stories center on older-younger companionships, mirroring similar older-younger straight relationships.
No matter who gay we were, many of us married and had children, a traditional choice still widely practiced to this day.
And sometimes we were just two people in love.
Sadly, many gay stories from gay history appear in the chronicles of our oppressors.
Greece and Rome
Homosexuality and gender variations were common among the Gods and people of ancient Greece and Rome, including the greatest conquerer of all, Alexander the Great!
The anti-gay stories start with Sodom, but even that story is more complex than the traditional telling, and there are other more positive stories in that same book.
Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo practically defined the Renaissance and they were gay, as were many other cultural leaders of the time.
Walt Whitman, the greatest of American poets, Abraham Lincoln, to the consternation of many, and Oscar Wilde, the man who made “the love that dare not speak its name” known across the world – some of the great men in history were great because of their sexuality, not in spite of it.
Lesbians like Gertrude Stein and many other gay men and women helped create the modern world.
A riot in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York broke open the modern gay movement, and from it came parades, political power, and increasingly equal citizenship rights.
And with sexual liberation came deadly, deadly, plague. And that plague is a morality tale about how a society viewed the health and destruction of its gay citizens.
Where we are now, with everything changing and a bold new future opening up for the young in exciting new ways my generation never experienced.
How to view scientific evidence without the old blinders.
Scientists are finding homosexuality across the animal kingdom in nearly every species…
…and gender variation in nature is even more spectacular…
…and there are good, healthy reasons for all of it.
What we know about the genetics behind homosexuality and gender.
The affect of hormones, mother’s womb environments, and other biological factors on a person’s sexuality and sense of gender.
What psychology tells us about gay people.
Attempts to cure gay people have never worked.
Homophobes have their own issues, and helping them helps everyone.
Healing what is broken is part of life, and especially for those with childhoods that were rarely respected or supported.
Love And Sex
Being gay is about more than sex, sex is still important: sex in relationships, sex for fun, and of course, relationships of love that do not include sex. Also, what gay people do in their intimate times, told tastefully and with humor.
People’s bodies vary, and so do their spirits, and they often vary around the fundamental male-female, masculine-feminine divide.
The goal is to lead an authentic life, whoever we are, which usually means coming out with honesty and integrity.
Sexual ethics, and the ethical questions around gay people.
Gays in the military – the controversy before, and the quiet after.
Gay people and our progeny, why we make such great parents, and the discussion of homosexuality with children in general.
Gay marriage, and the political and religious implications.
Modern Christianity’s sex issues, so different from the teachings of Jesus.
What the Bible really says, and does not say, about homosexuality and gender.
The gifts gay people bring to the world.
My optimistic dream for the future.
Feedback from readers:
This is probably the most informative, well written, understandable book I have ever read on LGBTQ. From discussing the ancients to sharing your own personal stories, it is intelligently presented, and delightfully easy to read and understand.
What comes through loud and clear from the book is your big heart combined with formidable intelligence. It’s incredibly beautiful and powerful, and will change people’s lives.Test Reader
So constructive and affirming it should be the in the Self Help section of bookstores.
It’s so gripping. So well written! I really love your voice, and the stories are incredible. You have a treasure here, powerful with the potential to change our society.Prominent Blogger
Preston, you’ve written one helluva good book. Important, really. I genuinely think so. A huge undertaking, a wonderful accomplishment, a significant success. I think that Gay, Explained is a bigger, better, more inclusive book than you think. In fact, it’s an excellent read for virtually any thoughtful reader. Bottom line, this is one of the rare books I’ve worked with as an editor that I’d actually recommend to my friends. And without reservation.Writing Professor
Love love love it. A true Bible for gays, and a research tour de force, especially those of us who went through the battles and also for those who need the history.
NY Film Producer
I feel like I have just finished a degree program in gay studies and it left me feeling pleased with myself for doing it. The sheer amount of information you have included into one source surprised me. Your book is full of historical, scientific and sociological information I had never heard before. Wow!
I love the voice and tone, the way you deliver information and the balance between information and emotion. You reveal enough of yourself and your history to intrigue the reader, and your voice is extremely intelligent, appealing and authoritative. There’s enough anger and outrage to make you genuine, but at the same time, it’s modulated so that as a reader, I didn’t feel distanced or overwhelmed. None of these potentially tricky balances are easy to achieve, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s really an impressive achievement.
NY Book Agent
You clearly have just incredible skill as a writer and it’s every bit as fun and conversational to read us as having a conversation with you. But also it’s just… sort of a work of art.