Monday, August 16, 2010

The New Gay Teenager - by Ritch C. Savin-Williams Harvard University Press, 2005 –


Review by Elizabeth O'Connor, Ph.D. on Sep 20th 2005

"To Middle America, gay teens are arrogant aliens from another culture, at the margins of society with multiple body piercings, purple hair, and pointedly non-Abercrombie and Fitch clothing; to gay adults, they are supposed to be the next generation of political activists who will fight for gay rights and against heterosexism, racism, sexism, and classism." (p. 219)

In his latest book Ritch Savin-Williams explores what it is like to be a "gay" adolescent today.  As the quote above suggests, it is not much like what either straight or gay adults fear or hope it is; as the quotation mark around "gay" in the preceding sentence suggests, it is not much like what any of us thought it was.

Savin-Williams also spends a good deal of time discussing evidence for various theories of the development of homosexuality.  In general, support for the notion that sex atypicality in childhood (tomboyishness in girls and effeminate behavior in boys) is a precursor to adult homosexuality is fairly weak.  Childhood feelings of being different from other children are similarly poor predictors of future sexual status.  Even the presence of childhood same-sex attraction is not as reliable an indicator of adult same-sex attraction as we might think.  While some gay individuals report a history of some or all of these characteristics, so do many heterosexuals.  With more cultural openness and acceptance of non-heterosexual identities, the picture is only likely to grow murkier…

… Viewing gay people as ordinary people rather than as a category so unique as to warrant its own niche in the psychological universe may be the wave of the future. In the future, Savin-Williams suggests, research may well focus on how utterly ordinary the lives of gay adolescents are. Read more:

The New Gay Teenager - Google Books Result

by Ritch C. Savin-Williams

Ritch Savin-Williams
is professor and chair of Human Development at Cornell University.

No comments: