Read the latest reviews of Gay and Healthy in a Sick Society

Bookmarks (Q Syndicate Column)
White Crane Journal
The Virginia GayZette
Liberty Press (Kansas)
Midwest Times (Kansas City)

Prairie Flame

"BOOKMARKS" syndicated national column

Every queer girl and boy ought to have a wise lesbian aunt or gay uncle
around, offering advice, explaining life, nudging along the coming-out
process. Few, alas, do. This kindly collection of clear-headed musings on
how gays and society intersect is a dandy substitute. Most of the monthly
columns Minor has written since 1998 for the Kansas gay publication Liberty Press comprise Gay and Healthy in a Sick Society — with remarkably slight dating and refreshingly scant overlap. The author has shuffled his 57 pieces into a dozen assorted categories, from "Holidays" and "Histories" to "Our Self-Image" and "Being Families," a deft process that gives his writing some useful thematic discipline. Most everything Minor has to say is sensible, but chapters on "Romance" and "Sex" are blessed with particular clarity: he is enthusiastically positive about sex and thoughtfully honest about romance, compressing hundreds of how-to pages into just a few hundred
essential words. His talent for pithy analysis is one of the collection's
strengths; so too is its accessible, compassionate — heck, avuncular —

-- Richard Labonte, "Book Marks" - January 5, 2004



In his first book, Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People And Why It's So Hard to Be Human (2001), Dr. Robert N. Minor wrote about things as they are. In his new book, Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society: The Minor Details, Dr. Minor writes about things as they ought to be, or as they can be, in spite of the sickness around us. Originally written as a series of monthly articles for Liberty Press and Gay Today, these "minor details" are a welcome tonic at a time when everything from the federal and state governments to the corporate media are the tools of conformity and control. In Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society Robert Minor urges us to think for ourselves, and to stand on our own too feet.

As gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, we are in a unique position to defy the sickness around us. There are certain "straight roles" that we are all supposed to fill, and GLBT people, as social "deviants", live outside those roles. "Gay people have decided that based upon whom they love, they are in some sense outside the role," Minor writes. "Once they've made this decision, they can do everything possible to mimic the straight role, to act as if they really aren't different from straight people."

On the other hand, "gay people can see themselves as healthy because they are outside the dominant role. They can decide to redefine the values of the culture so as to be agents of healing. They can recognize that a culture that minimizes them is really laden with straight problems...Our culture needs the perspective that people outside the role have to offer. And it will be a different perspective than that installed by our straight-acting cultural institutions."

Because we are different, we can do great things. GLBT people, Dr. Minor tells us, "are more likely to be our culture's healers, pioneers, and models of emotional, spiritual, and human health."

"When one finally accepts that most difficult realization that one stands outside the dominant sexual orientation, and faces the consequences of that 'queerness,' a new freedom opens ....Those who have embraced this freedom have led progressive movements for change, produced great art, challenged the limits cultures place on creativity, refused to be stifled by gender roles, broken the sick fears of the dominant culture around sex and pleasure, and defined life in whole new terms. We [GLBT] people do have important gifts to give to our culture that will shake it up for all humanity's sake if we don't hide."

All this would be obvious except for the fact that society uses every tool at its disposal to enforce its prescribed roles, especially its gender roles.

GLBT "people are targeted for discrimination" because it "is the major means our society uses to keep men and women in their place, to keep them in strictly defined and 'opposite' gender roles. It ensures that men will be 'masculine' and women will be 'feminine.'...As long as gender is strictly defined and enforced with little if any fluidity, gay men and lesbians will be attacked, demeaned, and thought of as second class citizens because the oppression has nothing to do with them and everything to do with gender roles - roles that are not human, freely chosen, or healthy. These roles result in inhuman relationships; one role relating to another rather than one human being relating to another." Anyone who challenges this hateful system, post-911, is quickly labeled "un-American."

"So Where's the Sex in All of This." Dr. Minor, in an essay thus titled, is clear about it: "Sex, and I do mean genital activity and everything surrounding it, is really a great thing. It's a means of communicating between people that can embody a range of possible messages."

But "our culture has done everything it can to pass on its sickness about sex to all of us...The dominant religious sexual morals ingrained in us successfully divert our attention in order to maintain the political, economic, and religiously controlling status quo.

With all the condemning and shaming messages about sex, our psyches fill with guilt over our sexualities. This ensures that our energy will never threaten what's really wrong with our culture - the systemic, anti-human institutions that are profit-oriented and coping-oriented and not functional for human beings and their healing."

Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society
deals with a variety of people and issues; everything from the value of GLBT consumers to the sexuality of singer Ricky Martin. In each case, Dr. Minor "tries to arrive at reasoned seen in a large perspective," which is Will and Ariel Durant's definition of a philosopher. (Dr. Minor is a Ph.D.)

The reader will learn much from this book, even when he or she does not agree with some of the author's conclusions. Sometimes it's hard to go the distance with Robert Minor. But we can admire this good Doctor's dedication, commitment, idealism, and optimism. When all is said and done, all that we "are asking for is nothing more - and certainly nothing less - than changing a fear-based society to a love-based one." This is one goal well-worth fighting for.

--Jesse Monteagudo, - January 18, 2004



Robert Minor is a professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas. He’s a lecturer, writer and workshop leader on issues of gender, sexual orientation, and active change. His earlier book, Sacred Straight: Why It’s So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It’s So Hard to be Human, was a 2002 Lammy nominee (and was a great influence on this reviewer in the articulation of ideas on gay spirituality in the book Gay Perspective).

Since 1998, Minor has written a regular column, titled “Minor Details,” for the Kansas monthly LGBT magazine, Liberty Press. His new book Gay and Healthy in a Sick Society is a compilation of those columns.

That the essays were written over a span of some five years means that some are a little dated or, at least, time-bound. The column for October 2001, for instance, demonstrates the “shock and awe” the American nation was feeling in that time period. Yet, even then, Minor was precocious in observing that “Nothing was said [by the President and the media] about how we’ve trained most terrorist leaders or of the decades of self-serving, often anti-democratic, U.S. foreign policy.” His critique then is as salient now.

Wisely, the essays in Gay and Healthy are not ordered chronologically, but are arranged according to topic. Among the twelve subject areas are: Coming Out, Growing Up in the USA, Sex, Romance, Politics, etc.

Minor often takes a refreshingly odd-ball perspective on common topics. His discussion of the priest/pedophilia scandal, for example, observes how celibacy itself is a kind of “sexual addiction,” i.e. an obsession with sex far beyond a simple and healthy human experience. As the title of the collection makes clear, Minor sees modern society as sick and the various problems as symptoms of that societal disorder, not as the sign of the sinfulness of certain categories of people who get popularly scapegoated.

Throughout this collection of essays, Robert Minor demonstrates that a sex-positive and Gay-positive perspective on life naturally results in socially desirable and ethical attitudes and behaviors. In our transcending polarized gender roles and gender expectations, Gay people truly represent a beacon to a society hopelessly drowning in negative anti-sexual and life-denying attitudes. Minor is holding up that light for all to see. Readable, entertaining and unfailingly sensible, Minor's analyses of modern life and especially modern Gay life deserve a second incarnation in Gay and Healthy in a Sick Society.

For information, see

-- Toby Johnson, White Crane Journal -Spring 2005



This collection is divided into a dozen categories, each with a number of previously published articles (between two and seven, depending on the topic) that range in subject matter from gay myths to debating whether a popular singer is gay, from sex to romance, from patriotism to politics, and more.

Insightful, interesting, often humorous and always highly readable, this collection reminds GLBT readers that, although society around us has some skewed values, we don't have to buy into them. We can choose to live our lives more fully and in a more healthy manner, according to Minor's articles.

Not a 'self-help' book per se, Gay & Healthy will nonetheless aid readers in helping themselves. Minor makes his points succinctly, yet in an affirming, non-preachy manner.

An excellent addition to any library, this book will leave you feeling perhaps somewhat better about yourself and the contributions you can and do make to society.

-- Ravigo Zomana, The Virginia GayZette - August 2004



As you may know, Dr. Robert Minor writes the "Minor Details" column for Liberty Press. But what you may not know is that his first book Scared Straight was a 2002 finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award and the Independent Publisher Book Award, and that his second book Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society (HumanityWorks, $14.95) has been named one of the "Best Gay Books of 2003" on Listmania by Jesse Monteagudo.

This new book is a collection of his essays published in the Liberty Press since 1998. I admit that I didn't read every column he wrote in this publication. Now that they are gathered together in one volume, I realize that Dr. Minor's views and opinions are very powerful, and that they simply must be read by a wider audience.

Gay & Healthy states that it is not gay people who are ill, but rather our "straight"-oriented society. And after reading this book, I would have to agree. His essays are intelligent, insightful, and quite eye-opening. And they don't often take the point of view or suggest the solutions that you would expect. He tackles topics such as love, sex, gay pride celebrations, gay history, coming out, America's response to Sept. 11, gay politics, and internalized homophobia.

Minor has a gift of making the issues that are relevant to our community clear and concise. He also challenges us personally to strive to be better people and to challenge the mainstream "straight" societal limitations put upon us. This book is an excellent primer of timely issues facing us today. Every self-respecting GLBT person should have a copy of this book.

Thank you, Dr. MInor, for your valuable contributions to the Liberty Press, and to GLBT people everywhere.

-- Brad Purkey, "Bookends," Liberty Press - March, 2004



If you have ever thought that despite some current mainstream society's views, you are gay and a valuable productive member of the human race, and that it's the rest of 'em who just don't get it (and need to get with the program), then there is a new book out, just for you. Local author and LGBT activist, Dr. Robert Minor (author of Scared Straight: Why It’s So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It’s So Hard to be Human, a 2002 finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award and the Independent Publisher Book Award) takes us on a personal, realistic, educated and inspirational journey in his new book Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society.
The book is a collection of Minor's articles on LGBT issues, written from 1998 until 2003. Gay & Healthy is much more than a collection of articles; it is a record of LGBT and mainstream events and issues over the last five years as seen by an educated, happy and proud gay man and LGBT activist. Minor has compiled his articles for the book, not in chronological order, but rather by topics such as coming out, women, men & gender, holidays, politics, and society.  Each chapter is full of inspiration as Minor once again proves his theory that  LBGT people are just fine, and that it's not us but rather society that’s very sick. In the book Minor states and proves by example over and over that most societal perspectives, attitudes, and solutions prevent all people from living fully, stifle their abilities to relate to themselves and others as human beings, and keep society stuck using the same old failing political, social, and religious answers to life’s challenges.
Gay & Healthy is the book anyone who is gay or thinks they are (at what ever stage of life or level of comfort and openness about their sexuality) should read. It is the text book we have been waiting for and I challenge anyone who reads it not to be inspired, challenged and re-awakened to themselves, LGBT issues and the world around us. In this ground breaking book, Minor does away with the need so many of us have to justify, defend and play the victim role as gay people. Instead he shows us, by example, how to realistically see ourselves, respond to our critics and define our own lives and community. Minor's main theme is that rather than try to assimilate into a sick society, we should value our own language, definitions, community and culture.  And even more, if we do this, he insists, we will not only heal ourselves, but help the rest of society become healthy.
Minor's Gay & Healthy is hot off the press, but has already won critical acclaim.  Jack Nichols, author of The Gay Agenda: Talking Back to the Fundamentalists, said: "Robert Minor's gift for clarity turns this amazing new book into the most compelling and consequential reading experience conceivable. I cheered his illuminating viewpoints from cover to cover. As a stellar contribution to current dialogues, Gay and Healthy in a Sick Society will remain unsurpassed for many years to come".  But don't take our word for it, do not pass go, do not collect $100, but instead get your hands on this exciting new LGBT book and see for yourself.  I guarantee you will not be sorry.

-- Gabby Vice, Midwest Times - November 2003



This book is about the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. The author brings out about the society we live in and how we fit into it, such as our ethnic and racial backgrounds. If we want to succeed we are to be white-acting - white-thinking, white feeling, and white-looking. With regard to our sexual orientation, we are expected to live a straight role. He talks about religious morals, family life with or without children, relationships, political affairs plus much more.  Very good reading for those who live lives outside the mainstream.

-- Prarie Flame - February 2005



A problem every teacher, counsellor, social worker, psychologist, and community leader faces is determining when to help people adjust to existing society, and when it is appropriate to encourage people to reject dominant societal views and to try to change society. There are no easy answers. In some cases, people need to be taught how to fit into society. Other times, societal attitudes and practices are responsible for creating a lot of pain, and people can be encouraged to reject the specific faulty societal attitudes and values that are responsible for causing pain. To Robert Minor, gay people need to adopt values and behaviors that are more healthy than the values and behaviors of wider society.

Robert Minor seems to believe gay people need to stop blaming themselves for societal problems, stop living in ways that are detrimental, and initiate personal changes that will improve their own lives and that will improve society. Instead of trying to fit into unhealthy straight patterns of behavior, Minor challenges gay people to live healthy.

There are some very problematic elements in traditional straight marriages, parenting styles, ways of celebrating holidays, ideas of romance, and traditional family values. Gay people who attempt to copy straight patterns of behavior are seen by Minor as not having a healthy life style.

Gay people can be more healthy when they are able to stop acting as victims, stop acting like straight people, take pride in who they are, and show the world that gay people are not constantly depressed. Robert Minor gives some practical ways gay people can stop living like victims inside the gay community and within the broader society.

Robert Minor is profound and challenging. Not everybody will agree with Robert Minor’s major thesis, but gay and bisexual people are encouraged to read this book, to reflect on how they live, and see if they need to make any changes in how they live.

Many of Minor’s ideas are counter-cultural. Christians are used to being counter-cultural - living by principles that may oppose the principles held by the larger secular society. Gay Christians may find Minor’s challenge to live a healthy counter-cultural life helps them better understand how to live out their faith as gay Christians.

— Gary Simpson, CreatedGay.Com - September, 2007