Friday, September 23, 2011

Book Review: The Complete Gay and Lesbian Manners

Today I'm doing something a little different with the blog, something that I hop to do more in the future: a review of a book that might be of interest to my blog readers. Obviously some of you are going to get more out of this than others, but I would like to give this type of post a try and see how you all like it. As I'm still getting over all the life pressures I've been facing recently, I figured I deserve to switch things up a bit on the blog. It will be fun.

Steven Petrow's Complete Gay and Lesbian Manners is a great book not just for members of the LGBT community, but also straight allies and people who generally work or interact with LGBT identifying individuals on a regular basis. This book covers many topics from coming out to family, friends, and at work, to how to ask your two lesbian friends about how they chose the sperm donor for their child. There are transgender issues, safe sex issues, and gay marriage issues, all discussed under the umbrella of proper etiquette. Petrow even includes tips for cruising and picking up tricks at bars.

This book does not pull punches either. While it is clinical in presentation, the situations described within are ones we all have had to deal with, if it is coming out, dating, or negotiating sex with multiple partners. I found some sections to be more related to my life than others (the marriage chapter was one I kind of glossed over without retaining much as few of my friends are in serious relationships), but the fact that all the events described WILL relate to my life at some point or another is what makes this book worth buying. At some point I am probably going to have to deal with the proper etiquette for a lesbian wedding, or the correct way to handle my sexuality in an office environment. And if I don't ever have to worry about that, one of my friends probably will, and I'll have this book to assist them.

Probably one of the best aspects of this book is the questions from actual people Petrow collected on his website. Some of these issues are common (how to react to learning a friend's lover is cheating on him) to more complex problems. These questions are scattered throughout, and for the most part are answered exactly the way I would likely have answered them. I'm not saying that I'm a manners king like Petrow is, but I know my way around good social interaction. Being a part of a well-to-do Southern family means that I'm always very conscious of fitting what is considered polite for the specific social situation. This book really fed in to that desire to fit in.

I don't really have any complaints about this book. A few topics are ones I would probably have handled a little differently were I the one writing it (the topic of bareback sex and what to do if a partner attempts it with you is a little heavy on the side of safe sex), but I really enjoyed reading his take on the issues, even if I disagreed. Like I said earlier, there were some sections that I let just slide by as I read the book from cover-to-cover, but they are ones that I will likely come back to specifically at some point. Who knows, I may have to deal with etiquette around children very soon, depending on how much like rabbits some of my friends are.

There are plenty of references for more information included, if you have further questions. And while some of the topics are ones that seem pretty easy for anyone who has spent any time interacting with the LGBT community, keep in mind that this book was also written to help parents and friends of LGBT people. Petrow has bitten off a lot with this project, and he proves that he can metaphorically chew it all. He really does a good job of providing a Miss Manners-esque book for those of alternative sexualities. I would recommend this book to anyone (gay or straight) who is interested in equalizing social situations.

If you would like to purchase this book, you can buy it for a relatively low price at Amazon, and there is even a kindle edition if you don't want to have the over four hundred page book shipped to you. I would strongly recommend that you buy this book. I enjoyed it, and you will too. Also, let me know if this book review feature is one you would be interested in seeing again. I won't focus only on manners guides, I promise.


  1. Sounds like an interesting book and one that I would consider reading, even though I would never dream of asking how a lesbian couple chose a sperm donor. Lord, is nothing private any more? If you’re close enough to a couple to warrant asking, I would think you wouldn’t need directions on how to. The thing that makes me sad is that there’s a need for such a book. One day “coming out” should be applied equitably. Like straight people will have to get up and declare their straightness also. Coming out is something only the GLBT (or other alternate lifestyle) people have to grapple with. I would never throw stones at anyone’s faith, but organized religion has taken a lurid prurient interest in people’s sex lives, with an eye to condemnation. It’s like saying sex is bad, and I’m going to concentrate VERY HARD on just how bad it is. Tell me more so I can clutch my pearls and gasp! As if all gay (or others, see above) do is have sex! No other interest in life! Your sexual preference defines you! Straight (so-called) people have it easy. (end rant) ciel

  2. Oh, btw, I know a woman whose daughter is a lesbian and has a partner. She shows me pictures of their baby. I didn’t ask where they got it. LOL ciel

  3. Ciel,

    If it makes you feel better, I'm pretty sure the etiquette for the situation was, "Don't even think about asking that question, you ass." I just highlighted it in my post because it was one of the topics I found most memorable about the book.


  4. Ace my friend,
    I just love this post. I never heard of that book but i will go and purchase it when i go back to Montreal. I would love you to continu doing the books reviews, i found that very interesting. Thank you so much for that.


  5. this is a book boy may start reading after he is done with "The leatherboy Handbook". Thank You for sharing this with Your devoted readers.

  6. A good experiment, Ace. Do continue. Sorry about the life stresses part.

    @ciel: I really enjoy your comments. I like how you think ;-)

  7. Glad you all liked this style of post! I've got a few more I can write fairly soon.