If you’re not familiar with John Corvino’s work, the title of his 2013 book What’s Wrong With Homosexuality? might initially come of as a title full of religious right defenses of gay bashing. But Corvino, an openly gay philosophy professor at Wayne State University, has a long history of championing gay rights throughout the United States. In fact, Corvino’s provocative title may just convince someone who is anti-gay to pick up this pro-homo book. And maybe it’ll start to melt their ice-encrusted heart.
This book embodies the maxim that good things come in small packages. Though not very long, Corvino quickly dispels many of the typical arguments used for discriminating against gay people. With his economical, well-researched arguments, the “gay is unnatural” or “risky lifestyle” or “perverts” quickly fall under his sharp wit and flexible mind. Each chapter takes one of these oft-repeated conservative talking points and turns the argument on its head, easily refuting these baseless and harmful claims.
Unlike other books that take this point-by-point approach to logical arguments (like Dawkin’s The God Delusion), Corvino’s style of writing has a humor and gentleness that makes him likable to everyone. Granted, as a gay reader, I’m biased, but he goes on at length about the friendships he has developed on a personal level with the anti-gay forces that oppose him and his efforts professionally. By maintaining an even tone that only rarely dips into anger or hostility, Corvino keeps the high ground for himself and empowers his readers echoing his arguments at later dates to do the same.
I greatly enjoyed this book. It didn’t present much research that I wasn’t already aware of, but it did lay out the arguments in a concise, easy-to-read format. This book practically begs to be the new debating Bible for the pro-gay rights side. And for anyone who isn’t familiar with gay people (though in 2013, where have you been living? The moon?), this can help answer some initial questions.
I’m not as calm in my defense of gay rights as Corvino is, nor am I as intellectual or logical. My attitude typically fluctuates between Dan Savage (poking fun with a hard edge at bigots) to Margaret Cho (When people say “I don’t think gay people should get married because it goes against my beliefs.” I say, “Well, fuck you then.”). But I can appreciate the need for a book like this to reach a certain, more thoughtful audience.
JMF Rating: 7/10
‘Til next time,
Note: This book was received from NetGalley in return for an honest review.