Read the reviews of Scared Straight from

White Crane Journal
Lambda Book Report
Greenwich Village Gazette
Brother (Journal of the National Organization of Men Against Sexism)
Stonewall News Northwest (Spokane, WA)
EXP (St. Louis, MO)
Citi News (Kansas City)
Midwest Times (Kansas City)
The Letter (Louisville, KY)
Liberty Press (Kansas)
The Express (Florida)
IDEM DITO (Belgium)
University News (University of Missouri-Kansas City)


This is a brilliant book. It ought to be required reading for every human being --and certainly every gay or lesbian human being.

For, as Scared Straight explains in exacting detail, indoctrination into the way of thinking it argues against is, in fact, "required" of every person living in modern human society. Robert Minor, a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, describes the process of conditioning into conventional gender roles that dominates and directs our lives. He uses an interesting bit of computer terminology that helps make his argument clear: he refers to gender conditioning as being "installed" the way a piece of software is installed.

A small program analyzes your computer and determines what needs to be where for a desired application to work, and then inserts whatever pieces of code are needed. Now in the installation of gender role conditioning what's needed are a set of beliefs, opinions and unverifiable assumptions about the nature of human life and sexuality that support and explain the existing system. Using the familiar story about the fish who observes "I've been swimming in it all my life, but all I know about it is it's water," Minor shows how in fact we're all "wet" with the tenets of male dominant gender conditioning but can't realize it because we can nevermore at least seldom get out of the water enough to see what it is.

What it is is the installed beliefs that male is better than female, that males should compete with other males to prove they're "real men" and not like females, that females should effectively be victims to males' desires and priorities in order to be "real women," that men should want to "get laid" and women should want to "get a man," and that nobody should question these beliefs lest the males demonstrate they're like women and the females demonstrate they're unworthy to be menthes proving the assumptions.

In a way, of course, this is a further reiteration of the original feminist critique. It's not new. But in this book it is brilliantly and exhaustively argued and explained.

The consequence of this installation of gender roles is unquestioning acceptance of male dominance, hierarchical ordering, competition, scarcity and dualistic thinking -- especially the notion of right and wrong -- as though these were "God-given." Even the idea of that "God" is a self-serving, self-verifying artifact of the male dominant conditioning.

Minor shows how heterosexuals are forced into being "straight" at the cost of men's emotional well-being and freedom and women's self-respect, autonomy and intelligence. He very insightfully explains that being straight is not at all the same thing as being heterosexual, that "straight" means acquiescing to the gender role conditioning, and that because the conditioning suppresses natural responsiveness to feelings, it in fact disempowers real heterosexuality. People don't respond to their actual heterosexual feelings as much as they react to and obey gender conditioning. No wonder straight marriage is under siege.

Minor then shows how gay people are taught to be gay by a system that demands everybody be "straight." Thus we see the notorious terms applied to gay people: "straight-looking, straight-acting." Even homosexuals try to be "straight."

The reason homosexuality is so scorned by the system is because the very choice of "coming out" means choosing to be true to one's own feelings instead of buckling under to conditioning. In order to be gay, at least on the surface level, one has to decide to violate the conditioning, that is, to jump out of the water. This, in turn, threatens the system because it shows that human beings can survive without agreeing to the tenets of male dominant heterosexism.

On a deeper level, of course, gay men and lesbians continue to struggle with the installed program of conditioned expectations, values, and self-assessments. But at least we're potentially aware of what's going on. And with our struggle we call the "straights" to wake up and be aware.

The gay and lesbian rights movement then is not just another attempt by one group to compete with and dominate another (that's how the conditioning would portray it and that's why straights feel threatened, why, for instance, they think that gay marriage threatens their relationships).

Our movement is about the human race waking up from a set of assumptions about the nature of life and God that (maybe!) made sense at the start of agrarianism, when our ancestors were coming down from the trees and moving into villages, but that don't fit modern, technological, egalitarian, psychologically-enlightened society.

To pursue the computer analogy, we're part of the "deinstall" routine.

And deinstalling the conditioning promises to make heterosexuals and homosexuals alike happier and more responsive to their natural humanity. Reading this book, itself, is a kind of routine for deinstalling the conditioning.

For what activates the deinstallation is precisely the awareness of the installation process itself. Every one of us would benefit from running that routine.

-- Toby Johnson, White Crane Journal, Issue #50 -Fall 2001



Pretend for a moment that you're an educated man or woman and an editor came to you and asked that you write a book covering every aspect of gender conditioning in America, yet rather than urging you, the writer, to follow your own road map the editor insisted that you keep in mind basic common denominators--or ground zero--while preparing the text.

Ground zero, for the uninitiated, might be categorized as class 101 in any women's or gay studies workshop. It's the stuff gay and feminist activists have had drummed into their heads from as far back as 1972 when the women's movement and gay lib were first formulating critiques of American society. This isn't bad, mind you. It's just the kind of thing most of us who call ourselves "readers" have read about a million times before. Sentences like: "A 'real' girl is supposed to be demeaned and devalued, put down by boys in terms of the superiority of conditioned 'masculinity'" and "Studies show that little boys are more likely to be bandied roughly, wrestled with, encouraged to play aggressively, and punished physically," aren't exactly new thoughts. If I were the man who fell to earth I'd want to know these things, but since I was a kid when "Our Bodies Ourselves" hit the bookstores in 1969, I'd like to know how things have changed since then.

The book gets interesting when Minor explains why gender role stagnation flowers on American soil, and why things have not changed much. Girls, he writes, are still taught to be "victims" and to at least appear as weak and vulnerable. "Her job is to work to be the girl who fulfills the victim role the best. She is to learn to value the victim role, believe it is not victimization, believe it is natural, and help enforce this role on other girls." In the end, Minor says that women may eventually seek out males for approval who cannot give that approval to them. "They might even reject the 'nice guy' in order to win the guy who isn't so nice."

On the other hand, "hurt and fear are unacceptable to the conditioned male role, but anger is 'masculine'."

"For most elementary school students, 'queer,' 'fag,' and 'gay' are considered bad without a full understanding of their full content," Minor writes. As an illustration he recalls what happened as he chatted with a female neighbor. "Her young boys were playing with the neighbor boys when we were both startled by one neighbor boy calling those he didn't like 'butt-fuckers.' We asked him if he knew what this meant. He didn't."

Minor writes, "A mother came up to me after one of my workshops to tell me about her daughter's experience in preschool. One day after school, her daughter asked, "Mom, what's a lesbo?" Her mother's questions discovered that her preschool daughter had been holding hands with her best female friend at recess. She'd been picked on by both boys and girls on the playground..."

But this is only the beginning. "Straight is a good term for the tightrope our society wants every person to walk -- rigid, up-tight, narrow, self-protectively alert, highly strung," he adds. Minor touches on the boundaries of being straight -- standing too close to someone of the same sex, say, since males are conditioned to be mutual oppressors. "In its most homophobic form, it says men should greet by shaking hands. That gives a man evidence that there is no weapon in the right hand, the usually dominant."

Minor believes that "straight" is not really heterosexual, since even people who identify as non-heterosexual by orientation, are taught to value and conform to the "straight' role." "The oppression of gay men has nothing to do with who is having sex with whom or who is in love with whom. It is a means of installing and enforcing a conditioned gender role. Gay oppression begins as a subset of sexism."

This book, despite the concentration on "101 Basics," belongs in every classroom of America.

--Thom Nickels, Lambda Book Report, February 2002



This is a book I wish I'd written.

In a manner calculated to reach general audiences, the author, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, takes his readers on an extraordinary journey, right to the core of their most pertinent personal problems.

Like a clairvoyant, he peers into the fog surrounding our culturally-induced consciousness, thought patterns that are currently failing us, noting how they work to thwart our general welfare. But next, he effectively celebrates a futuristic awareness that I, for one, regard as central to our personal growth and satisfaction.

Scared Straight, in other words, invites you to get to the root of bothersome things that stand in the way of a happier life for all. It tells you what fears you or your friends are most likely to entertain and how to dissipate them henceforth.

This is no everyday pop psychology book. It is a clean, hard look into what motivates us most. It serves as a powerful guidepost, throwing queries like daggers at those illusions we seem to have accepted without question. It places us, with great ease, into a new and rewarding dimension.

The subtitle hints that that there is a connection between not being able to accept gay people and not being able to be fully human. It all has to do with socially-induced fears. Dr. Minor uses the word "straight" in much the same way that the divine 1960s Counterculture did. I fondly recall that to the much-inspired bisexual hippies of those halcyon days, straight no longer meant heterosexual.

Instead, it meant conventional, culturally-tied and bound, unquestioningly obedient, and unduly proper. In other words, being utterly boring, saddled with little more motivation than to keep up with the Jones'.

But, as Dr. Minor well knows, keeping up with the Jones' can involve many different types of dreary competition. For many men, however, even the accumulation of money, a symbol of manly ability, is not the foremost wealth.

Even when stripped of all of their worldly possessions, these men still cling to an often pugnacious posture, signaling that they're tough guys, and, therefore, somehow worthy. They do this, mostly, unconsciously, continuing to ape the warrior role that came into being with the onset of the agricultural revolution when protecting their lands became necessary following the passing of the more individualistic hunting and gathering era.

To some, the masculine warrior's image is all they've ever sought to emulate. They were taught to do so early on. Daddy showed them when they were barely two years old how to "put up your dukes."

It doesn't mean that they're really truly tough, or even that such toughness has made them happy or particularly able. Generally speaking, they haven't given it too much thought. They're posing, after all.

The author of Scared Straight, perceptive seer that he is, sees through the socialized illusions of posture, however, being fully aware of what Susan Faludi (author of Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man) calls "ornamental masculinity."

Because Scared Straight asks why it's so hard to be human, it has much to say to "straight" folks too. In fact, I understand, they're now reading it in droves. This is as it should be. Scared Straight is that unheard of tome where the straight-minded discover how much they have in common with gays because all of us, after all, are reared within the confines of the very same cultural milieu.

Minor writes: "When we look at the 'straight' role the system wants all people to live, we are not looking at heterosexuality as a sexual orientation. It is important to distinguish the role from the orientation. Each is distinctly different. If a person identifies as heterosexual by orientation, that by itself does not imply a certain role. However, the system has a conditioned role that is called 'straight' or 'heterosexual acting,' and the system's goal is to condition every human being to live and value that role. Even people who identify as non-heterosexual by orientation, are taught to value and conform to the 'straight' role."

This is a book that will make nervous all of those personals ad-placers seeking partners who are "straight-acting." They won't like what this book implies, or what it reveals about their personal mindsets. If this book's viewpoints become sufficiently widespread, we may, some day, see far fewer of such ads in the gay press.

-- Jack Nichols, Greenwich Village Gazette - January 19, 2002



With October designated as National Coming Out month, the release of "Scared Straight" couldn't be more timely. While "coming out" may be an event, "being out" carries degrees of internalized fear as well as self acceptance.

In "Scared Straight," author Robert Minor will cause you to think. About yourself, your friends, about others. It's easy reading and would be a quick-read if it didn't cause you to pause occasionally to consider the merit and value given the human potential.

Family values? That holy grail of discipline so frequently hailed in today's society, Minor says, invokes images of a grouping that is "white (or, sometimes, white-acting), middle class, male-dominated and heterosexual - definitely fully 'straight.'" And straightness, he adds, because it is so closely associated with whiteness, fuels racism.

Outside the victim role - of the closeted lesbian or gay man, for example - there are no human enemies, only the system that has been created and carefully maintained. The author urges us to discard the old maps governing our behavioral direction and consider some very practical guidelines for renewed discovery in ourselves as valuable human beings.

--Stonewall News Northwest -October, 2001



Scared Straight makes you look at our society and wonder what happened. Why did we become who we are today? As a society we have been living a role that was manufactured by our ancestors of long ago, and still today we are living that role. It is not a role that we choose for ourselves but a role that has been forced upon us starting at birth when our parents chose our name or the 'appropriate' colors for our nursery depending on our sex. The subtitles 'Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People' and 'Why It's So Hard to Be Human' are perfectly suited to this title. Robert Minor puts everything into perspective on how our world runs; it not only runs straight but runs like a straight, white man, the ultimate oppressor role. Everyone else often falls in the victim role. This book was written to help analyze and take apart that horrible uninvited tradition of the straight role brainwash and piece together a new more open approach to being human.

When reading this book I would suggest not reading it in one sitting. Even a speed reader would have problems as Minor has given us a wealth of knowledge and information. SCARED STRAIGHT is 200 pages in length and is well worth the read.

-- EXP, St. Louis - October 2001



This book, like so much of what Bob Minor does, from activism and lecturing, to teaching religious studies at the University of Kansas, is not "minor". SCARED STRAIGHT begins with courage, taking on every corner, and never lets up until the final words leave you begging for more and ready for action. Minor marches boldly into areas where others fear to tread. His premises challenge nearly ever accepted moor of gender identity and sexual orientation.

The often asked questions, which are seldom answered with reason or fact, sates as nature or future; innate or learned; rational or irrational; are addressed here with clarity, background and sound reasoning. In the end, whether you agree with Minor or not, you will close this book knowing that you have touched the realms of sense and sensibility and have been empowered to do something about them.

From "Paying Attention to Emotions" to "Uneasy Alternatives for Boys", SCARED STRAIGHT lays bare the fear and denial of roles we are forced to play and gives unambiguous instruction for taking positive steps toward healing and wholeness. Minor provides the tools for those of us who identify as lesbian, gay , bisexual or transgendered to become more than spectators in the urgent changes that must take place if humanity is to evolve beyond its current restrictions. He challenges us to lead the charge, not to be neutral and, most important of all, to never give up!

SCARED STRAIGHT is a Minor miracle of monumental proportions. If, after reading this book, you have not gained insight, found some answers and benefited in a dozen other ways, it will be because you have chosen not to.

-- Ken Gies, Midwest Times, Kansas City



Make no mistake about it. In the debate over nature vs. nurture, Dr. Robert N. Minor falls pretty firmly on the nurture side. The author argues fervently and more or less convincingly that most gender roles are learned  responses to society's expectations, and not biologically innate. Minor's main contention is that the American male gender role is responsible for many, if not most, of the ills besetting the culture today. Violent behavior, the subjugation of women, racism, homophobia, and a host of addictions from sex to drug abuse, are all a product of American society's expectations of what makes a man -- particularly a white man -- and what doesn't.

Of particular interest to gays and lesbians is his treatment of homophobia,  which he defines as the male fear of appearing feminine. Minor dwells on the  American male's inability to express emotion-which males consider a feminine trait -- and his distaste for getting physically close to other males except in such manly settings as war zones, bars, and the football field. When men attempt to break such taboos, society get upset. The typical reaction is to put such men down as faggots, whether or not they're actually homosexual. 

Heterosexual men aren't the only victims of this social construct: gay men suffer also. Minor repeatedly criticizes gay men's use of such phrases as  "straight acting" and "straight appearing" in personals ads: an example of an oppressed minority wanting to conform to majority expectations, he says.  Think of African-Americans' desire in the early part of the twentieth century to konk, or "straighten," their naturally curly hair in order to conform to white culture. 

Minor is perhaps too forceful at some points in pushing his premise; biology definitely takes a back seat in his book. But overall Scared Straight is an  insightful look at a major social problem in American society. Thoughtful  students of the sociological and cultural problems faced by homosexuals - and gay men especially - will find a good deal to ponder and debate here.

--- Ned Perkins, The Letter - September, 2001



Don't let that Ph.D. scare you off. This is the same Bob Minor whose column appears in these pages every month, and his book is clear, totally free of academic jargon, and brilliant. Minor's central thesis is that homophobia arises, not from fear or hatred of actual gay people or what we do when our clothes are off, but from the way all people in Western (patriarchal) society are conditioned into hurtful and restrictive gender roles. We all -- even the flamingest queen and the dieselest dyke -- are socialized to fear the isolation that comes from not living up to our prescribed roles, and to band together and cut from the herd those people who don't play along.

Read this book, if only for the first chapter. I've never seen a more concise explanation of why neither Christians nor Atheists should be using the Bible to argue for or against us queers.

-- Sheryl LeSage, University of Oklahoma, in Liberty Press - July 2001



Society has gotten a bad rap by many, especially those seeking to blame it for all of their own personal ills. In Scared Straight, author Robert Minor investigates what makes up our collective tick, and he does it in a way that makes sense.

While this book is probably more appropriate as a syllabus requirement in a college sociology course, it can make for entertaining reading for those who can break away from the best of Oprah’s Book Club for a moment or two.

Without relying too heavily on scientific evidence, Minor discusses how gay/straight roles are defined, as well as the traditional roles of masculinity and femininity. This guy is clearly a professor, but what is a little unexpected is the fact that he teaches religious studies.

It is indicated in the first chapter, which concerns the Bible’s use in modern times and how it cannot be used for any literal translation of our own intended morality. He asserts that the Bible is often manipulated by the proverbial marionette strings of whoever intends to use it. In the middle of this, he brilliantly points out that the Bible talks much more about the evils of being a loan officer or lawyer than ever being a run-of-the-mill sodomite.

Minor then goes on to tell us how gender identity is forced upon us by everything from our education system to Madison Avenue. He compiles a list of reasons (or chapters) that demonstrate how society forces our gender roles upon us from such an early age that it becomes impossible to even question them as anything other than reality.

Though Minor’s arguments stand up to reason, he does this by subjecting the reader to the philosophical theory of absolute reality. In short, there is no absolute reality because just about everything can be questioned enough until it becomes unanswerable.

In Minor’s world, like that of most academics, the sky is only blue if you choose to see it that way, and both the chicken and the egg can come first.

The book centers around the idea that gay men are not accepted because they challenge the deeply ingrained ideas of masculinity that are too firm to budge. Similarly, lesbians are much too in control of their own sexuality to be considered real woman. Minor demonstrates the fear factor behind homophobia that causes people to either reject homosexuals or hide their own sexuality in order to more closely conform to the status quo.

All of this offers an in-depth analysis of our own conformity. What Minor fails to analyze is the fact that most of us choose not to be our full, flowering selves because we simply don’t want the attention. Though he would probably read into this as avoiding our true selves in favor of conformity, it has more to do with, like a character in Jack London’s Call of the Wild, the chief ambition of simply wanting to be left alone.

What would make Minor’s book a little more endearing to the reader is a little narrative flavor. Some first and secondhand accounts would do nicely here to put a more human face on his theories. A little humor wouldn’t hurt either. Although Minor unfolds the state of our mores well, it is just a little dry for general reading. For nice analyses of both the way things are and ought to be, though, there is nothing to be afraid of here.

None of this is meant to imply that Minor’s discussion in Scared Straight is not well supported. It is just to say that it becomes very easy to blame things on society because no answer — except a very large and open-ended one — is needed.

By the end of the book, Minor is asking for a recall of all of society’s ideals. Although it would certainly be nice to invert the civilized world’s thinking a little, it is also, quite frankly, just too much work.

--Ian Drew, The Express - December 17, 2001 


If the government's attention is ever redirected from "Arab terrorists"
to "internal subversives," Robert N. Minor will undoubtedly be on top of
its list of insurrectionists. Scared Straight is a scary book. Scary
because it forces readers to stare directly into the face of their
oppression and realize that we are all the victims of a socio-economic
deus ex machina that benefits only a tiny minority of the population
who, in their own victimhood, can do nothing but maintain the oppression
of their fellow human beings.

"Old wine in new skins," snorted a long-time pro-feminist colleague when
told of the "revelations" I found in Scared Straight. "We've been
saying the same thing for almost 30 years." And how sadly true that
seems to be. Many texts from the last quarter century have dealt with
the issues of patriarchy and how the straight, white, male members of
society wield socio-economic power and dominate everyone else -
regardless of an occasional backlash by disenfranchised straight, white
males who mewl pitifully about their individual lack of membership in
the power-elite.

But the sad truth is that the old wine needs new skins because as a
society, and individually, we still haven't beaten the patriarchal
bogeyman that continues to consume us. Recent surveys show that women
still account for only a small number of top jobs in the US and still
make about three-fourths the salary of their male counterparts.
African-Americans are still victims of rampant, if subtler, forms of
racism, and homophobia still rears its ugly head as legislatures across
the nation pass laws to "protect" marriage from homosexuals and the US
military continues anti-gay witch hunts. Go figure. Yet, even the
perpetrators are victims, according to Minor. "We were all thrown in the
water [of society's rules] early. Throughout our life this view of
reality - which consists of goals, ideas, images, myths, symbols,
feelings and values - was systematically instilled in us," he writes.

No one escapes this societal indoctrination. Those on top are taught to
expect it as their right. Those on the bottom are taught to accept it as
their lot. Those in between are taught to keep their heads down, noses
clean, and societal activities straight - i.e. acceptable to the rest of
the scared straight population.

And who's on top? According to Minor, "Boys are best and some boys are
better." Masculinity is seen as the ultimate expression of power and
anything less than strictly defined masculinity is inferior. Aggressive,
stoic manhood as embodied in the white American male is best in the
western mind, and all of society colludes to keep the myth alive.
"Weaker" females are "allowed" to have and express emotions but only
because they're "inferior." Males who break conditioning and express
emotional behavior are perceived as traitorous to the ideal and are
labeled "fags," regardless of their actual sexual orientation.

In plain, simple language, Minor talks about how society trains girls to
seek husbands to protect them from other men and how they are taught
that they will "find fulfilment" by having their men's children. On the
other side of the mating coin he describes male gender conditioning as
the cultural imperative of "getting laid" and he delves into the nine
layers of the dynamics of accomplishing this objective. As members of
this society, these messages will resonate with each of us; as a white
male (albeit gay), I well recall the schoolyard banter of my male
classmates as they learned the imperative of getting laid in order to
become real men.

Minor is eloquent in his discussion of "coming out" as a phenomenon not
limited to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, or transgender people. The
patriarchal model asserts that heterosexuality is the desired norm and
that "straight" men and women will behave in a rigidly heterosexual
fashion. Any deviation from the absolute (Kinsey's category 1) straight
path results in censure and ostracization. It seems that many generally
heterosexual people are themselves "scared straight" in order to avoid
this treatment. And "coming out" isn't just about sexual orientation,
either. Coming out, according to Minor, is a phenomenon that is common
to all people who seek to experience their full humanity and break out
of the social molds that deprive them of the opportunity to do so.

Scared Straight is extremely readable. Although Minor is an
academician his book contains only a few tables, no footnotes, and
useful "suggested readings" at the end of each chapter. It is based on
the author's ten-year's experience conducting workshops and lecturing on
understanding homophobia and the issues of sexuality and gender. It
encapsulates the experiences of a wide range of people who have attended
Minor's presentations and who have been able to express their own
experiences of being "scared straight" in order to "fit" into society.
Of course as Minor points out, such "fitting in" means abandoning the
potential of one's own personhood. "Coming out," as a unique individual
in society means flying in the face of patriarchy and risking everything
we've been taught to need, seek, or want. If everyone came out of these
social shackles, patriarchal society, as we know it today, would be

Does this sound insurrectionist? Read Scared Straight and find out
more about why it should. I'm sure that there are people in high places
who might consider their lofty positions threatened if everyone started
to think like this.

-- Donald Cavanaugh, Brother - Spring 2002



Onze culturele achtergrond 'programmeert' ons om heteroseksualiteit als 'normaal te beschouwen. Veel mensen worden hierdoor gekwetst. Dr. Minor tracht dit probleem ten gronde te behandelen en geeft ons elementen van 'genezing' voor dit cultureel probleem. Sterk stuk activisme.

In al onze dagelijkse handelingen worden wij gecasseerd als 'vrouw' of 'man' en moeten wij ons ook zo gedragen. Het begint al bij de geboorte waarbij de ouders moeten opgeven of het een meisje of een jongen is. Familieleden die de kleine komen bezoeken vragen steevast of het een meisje of een jongen is. Als je zou zeggen dat het een 'jong mens' is voellen ze zich enigzinds bedot. De bezoekende familieleden hebben al een hele verwachtingspatroon in hun achterhoofd, dat verschillend is naargelang het een meisje of een jongen is.

Tot 4 a 6 jaar heeft het kind geen benul van deze antinomie van de seksen: bij een spelletje 'geef het omgekeerde' zal ze op 'meisje' 'vrouw' antwoorden. Pas later, als de programmatie van zijn hersenen begonnen is zal ze antwoorden: 'man'.

Het is een heel interessant boek dat aangeeft hoe grondig wij gehersenspoeld worden om in een bepaald patroon te passen.

-- Idem Dito - April, 2002



Scared Straight is a Minor miracle of monumental proportions. If after reading this book your fundamental ideas of childhood, adulthood, and gender roles and sexuality have not been challenged, if you have not gained insight, been enlightened and benefited in a hundred other ways, it will be because you have chosen not to. If you read only one book this year make it this book!

Tackling the most basic questions of human development, KU Professor, lecturer, activist, and author, Dr. Robert MInor, brings fresh and practical answers. From his own experiences as a gay man, a father, and an educator, Minor spares no facet of society and brings together years of research with courage and pathos aimed at addressing gender identity, sexual orientation and societal norms that have been mindlessly accepted for decades.

"By the time children have completed elementary school, they have been thoroughly conditioned into their gender roles, " Minor writes. "They have been taught how to relate as oppressors and victims, and they have been taught what will happen to them it they do not submit to the roles." Minor points out the blatant ways in which children are forced to accept patriarchal structures and the established roles that society deems normal. "If you don't straighten out," he relates a common threat, "you will have to sit with the girls." The message clearly being taught is that "non-males are the worst."

In the chapter titled "Getting a Man and Getting Laid," Minor points out that even in our "enlightened society" where little girls are taught that they can get an education or a career, "a girl has learned by junior high school that her most important life task is to set out to 'get a man.'" He continues: "She is taught this regardless of what her sexual orientation may be." On the other hand, Minor states that a "real man's goal" is getting laid. "When boys enter puberty, they too have been thoroughly taught that 'real men' seek to 'get a woman.' They are taught this no matter what their sexual orientation," and, he continues, "all the pressure is to be heterosexual," and the only proof that they are a real man is to "get a woman" into their bed. No intimacy, no commitment, "getting a woman in junior high and high\ school means 'getting laid.'"

From "Paying Attention to Emotions" to "Uneasy Alternatives for Boys," Scared Straight lays bare the fear and denial of roles we are forced to play. Giving unambiguous instruction for taking positive steps toward healing and wholeness, this book is probably one of the most profound and important works of this generation.

Minor provides the tools for those of us who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, to become more than spectators in the urgent changes that must take place if society is to evolve beyond its current restrictions. "No matter what our sexual orientation and no matter what roles the system wants us to live, healing ourselves and our culture requires what many observers call a 'paradigm shift.'" He challenges us to lead the charge, not be neutral and most important of all never give up! "The amazing fact is," Minor summarizes, "no matter how the system may try to bury the idea, we are not alone. There are many good people out there who are on this journey at all different stages. When we feel that we are alone, we are feeling the old messages of past hurts, hopelessness helplessness, and powerlessness. The inward journey is a set of decisions. They are decisions to heal from the past, to allow no longer the past to dictate the present, and to contradict personally the conditioning around emotions, gender and sexual orientation."

Minor has written the most readable, hard-hitting, empowering expose on these subjects ever published. For more information, go to Minor's web site

— Ken Gies, Citi News - September 19, 2002



Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to Be Human is a book for everyone. An elusive quality in most books, Minor writes to everyone: gay, straight and the spectrum in-between. This informative book never becomes overly academic, thus alienating readers. Rather, the engaging writing style makes for a pleasurable reading experience.

Minor, a professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas, draws on material from his lectures on homosexuality and homophobia. Acknowledging more of the high-profile instances of gay bashing like the Matthew Shepherd case, he delves into the pervasive homophobia ingrained in every level of our culture. Minor addresses issues of masculinity and femininity and the subsequent fear and confusion that stems from these identifications, as well the easy use of the words "fag"or "gay" in order to minimize or demean another person.

Part of the success of the book in combating the fanatic religious agenda, which paints gays to be subhuman and against God, lies in the fact that Minor takes the source of their justification, the Bible, and refutes their arguments, drawn from seven passages, point-by-point. He also draws from other sources of religious wisdom such as Buddhism.

Minor at times advances the feminist agenda, pointing out how powerful women are often treated in the same way as gays and even identified as such when not abiding by traditional notions of femininity. As an example, he notes the labeling of Hilary Rodham Clinton as a lesbian due to her position of power. Women also suffer this erroneous identification when choosing other pursuits in lieu of marriage and family, as if their worth as a female is dependent on their connection to a male. This wldely held view, Minor argues, leads to women casting themselves as victims. Homosexuals too adopt the victim role out of safety and self-hatred. Men don't have it easy, either: they suffer from notions of masculinity when pressured to care solely about "getting laid" and the manipulation that will achieve this end.

The end of each chapter closes with a list of further reading, allowing those interested in the topics contained within that chapter a way to study them and become more informed in important books such as WIsdom from a Rainforest: The Spiritual Journey of an Anthropologist, A People's History of the United States: 1492 to the Present, Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Masculinity, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, and When Society Becomes as Addict.

Ultimately Minor's goal is to start readers on an inward as well as an outward journey for acceptance and celebration of both individual identity and homosexuals. With an open mind and the book as a tool, the goal may not be that elusive

Robert Minor will visit UMKC on Oct. 1 to discuss the issues surrounding homophobia in the United States. The lecture, book signing and reception will take place from 4-6 p.m. in 201 Haag Hall. "Scared Straight: Growing Up in the USA" kicks off a series of events, sponsored by the campus Lesbian, Gay,, Bisexual, and Transgender Initiative, celebrating Gay and Lesbian History Month. For more information, call 235-1639 or visit

-- Emily Iorg, University News - September 29, 2003



This book is really about heterosexism... the damage done to all of us by rigid and societally enforced gender roles, regardless of orientation, gender identity or sex. It's not just about the impact of gender roles on those that deviate from them, but also about the pervasive effects these gender roles have on everyone in society in the way they relate to one another, perceive themselves, and subtly condition our actions, thoughts and feelings.

-- Wade M. Lee, LibraryThing - June 26, 2009