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Edited by Ed Jackson and Stan Persky.

Vancouver, New Star Books, c1982.
312pp, paper, $8.95.
ISBN 0-919888-31-3.

Reviewed by David J. Young.

Volume 11 Number 3.
1983 May.

This anthology is essential reading for anyone who wants to have knowledge or understanding of what it means to be gay or lesbian in Canada today. Certainly gay people will find it the most satisfying, but for non-gay people who want to know about gay history, gay sensibility, gay opinions, or how history and culture are perceived by gay people, this book is comprehensive.

It is a collection of writing that has previously appeared in The Body Politic, a magazine for gay liberation, since its first issue in November 1971. There are thirty different writers examining personal and political issues over the decade. For most of the writers the personal is the political, and the articles are often angry, often courageous, and always searching for the way to win the fight to have freedom of choice. There are polemics, and there are sad stories of friends of yours and mine trapped in fear lest they lose everything because their sexual orientation produces ignorance and hostility in too many people.

There are some themes that recur, and most stem from the necessity for gay and lesbian visibility in the community either as an individual or as a political unit. The affirmation that gay is good has been the movement's central political act, and it led to the fight for civil rights, law reform, and the growth of a strong and organized gay and lesbian community. It also led to right-wing reaction, police repression, and media hype. And then to gay resistance.

There are five chapters in the book. The first two are about "lifestyles": dealing with psychiatry, coming out of the closet, taking self-defense classes, living together, parenthood, the gay disabled, and being gay in the work place. Then a section on image, persecution in the Third Reich, the beginnings of the Matta-chine Society, reviews of movies and books, and some humorous pieces on how gay people are seen by themselves and others in today's society. The last two chapters are the most political in thought and demand. From teaching sexuality to a strategy for gay liberation, these are words that urge change.

The Body Politic has been the focus of many struggles and has been the vehicle for keeping a nation's gay people informed. Times have changed since 1971, and now it goes out to gay fathers, lesbian mothers, gay academics, gay librarians, gay youth, parents of gays, gay counselling services. Flaunting It! is a 'collection of some of what gay people have been reading and what some non-gay people will find interesting and stimulating. It is a history essentially: the story of how many people have felt, do feel, and what they want.

The title was chosen because gay people, whenever visible or vocal, have been accused of being too visible and too vocal and too flamboyant. "When a heterosexual shows a picture of his family, it's called sharing," observes lesbian comic Robin Tyler in the book. "When we show them a picture of our lover, it's called flaunting. Isn't it time we shared!"

The Body Politic has been described by a Toronto Sun editorial in 1978 as "a dirty, crummy publication without a redeeming feature." Of course any intelligent person knows this is not true and will realize the redeeming value of The Body Politic's best writing anthologized in Flaunting It!

David J. Young, Vancouver, BC.
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