Out of the Shadows (Hardcover)
Reimagining Gay Men's Lives
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374285852, 368pp.
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Other Editions of This Title:
Compact Disc (6/4/2019)
A moving exploration of how gay men construct their identities, fight to be themselves, and live authentically
It goes without saying that even today, it’s not easy to be gay in America. While young gay men often come out more readily, even those from the most progressive of backgrounds still struggle with the legacy of early-life stigma and a deficit of self-acceptance, which can fuel doubt, regret, and, at worst, self-loathing. And this is to say nothing of the ongoing trauma wrought by AIDS, which is all too often relegated to history. Drawing on his work as a clinical psychologist during and in the aftermath of the epidemic, Walt Odets reflects on what it means to survive and figure out a way to live in a new, uncompromising future, both for the men who endured the upheaval of those years and for the younger men who have come of age since then, at a time when an HIV epidemic is still ravaging the gay community, especially among the most marginalized.
Through moving stories—of friends and patients, and his own—Odets considers how experiences early in life launch men on trajectories aimed at futures that are not authentically theirs. He writes to help reconstruct how we think about gay life by considering everything from the misleading idea of “the homosexual,” to the diversity and richness of gay relationships, to the historical role of stigma and shame and the significance of youth and of aging. Crawling out from under the trauma of destructive early-life experience and the two epidemics, and into a century of shifting social values, provides an opportunity to explore possibilities rather than live with limitations imposed by others. Though it is drawn from decades of private practice, activism, and life in the gay community, Odets’s work achieves remarkable universality. At its core, Out of the Shadows is driven by his belief that it is time that we act based on who we are and not who others are or who they would want us to be. We—particularly the young—must construct our own paths through life. Out of the Shadows is a necessary, impassioned argument for how and why we must all take hold of our futures.
About the Author
Praise For Out of the Shadows: Reimagining Gay Men's Lives…
“[A] road map for gay people hoping to live fully . . . [Odets's] writing is poignant and achingly beautiful—so much so, in fact, that I occasionally had to put the book down to avoid weeping on the subway . . . Odets and his close friends and lovers should serve as an inspiration to many gay men.”—Benoit Denizet-Lewis, The New York Times Book Review
“[A] soaring combination of social critique, memoir, and manifesto . . . [Odets’s] discussions of gay men’s sexual expression and relationships are frank, compassionate, and open-minded . . . Odets’s greatest strengths are his moving prose and ability to make the psychological material accessible and as fascinating and thought-provoking as the poignant stories. Gay men will find much to ponder here, but any reader can find meaning in this extraordinary, stirring invitation to re-examine assumptions about what it means to be gay and to have a good life.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"[A]n insightful and thought-provoking book." —Michael Cart, Booklist
“[Walt Odets’s] writing is perceptive and honest . . . This is an encouraging and deeply compelling study of how gay men can build meaningful identities.” —Kirkus Reviews