has appeared on talk shows and has been interviewed
in on-line and print media. Read below interviews
with Dr. Minor about his work and writing.
July 7, 2011
May 27, 2010
SiriusOutQ, August 15, 2007
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Minor interview in Echo Magazine (Phoenix, AZ)
than Minor considerations
KU professor tackles limits of gender roles in Scared
By Liz Massey
Bob Minor, being "scared straight" is something
far more harrowing than the 1970s video series of the
same name, which was designed to keep teens out of jail
by having convicts describe the horrors of incarcerated
life. Living a "straight" life requires an
incarceration of our humanity, he might say.
Minor, a religious studies professor
at the University of Kansas and openly gay columnist
for the Liberty Press Kansas City, set out to
write Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept
Gay People and Why It's So Hard to Be Human, after
a decade of leading "Understanding Homophobia"
workshops for church, civic and activist groups throughout
the Midwest. The issues of homophobia (which Minor defines
as "fear of closeness to our same sex") and
anti-gay oppression are rooted, he asserts, in the "straight"
role, which is installed like software and is the dominant
"operating system" for American culture.
refer to heterosexuality, Minor says (although it is
the only acceptable sexual orientation); rather, it
is the set of expectations and rules that place men
on top in this culture, as oppressors of that which
is not associated with being a "real man."
Everyone else, including women, children, gays and others
defined as "non-men," are beneath them, defined
I talked to Minor, who was the
professor for a religion class I took many years ago
at KU, by phone and e-mail about the themes covered
in the book.
Echo: "Opposite sexes" is a term almost
everyone uses to describe males and females. What, in
your view, is wrong with this phrase?
Minor: "Opposite" implies that there
are only two distinct genders, not recognizing all of
the possibilities that are transsexual and intersexual.
It also keeps men and women separate with the belief
that they cannot understand each other. In addition,
"opposite" is more than just saying these
two binaries are different. It implies being "opposed"
to each other.
Echo: What does it mean when men relate to each
other as oppressor-to-oppressor, as you say all men
are conditioned to do?
Minor: It means that a man will have deep fears
about making himself vulnerable to another man. That
does effect gay male relationships around intimacy and
Echo: Do women ever relate to each other in that
Minor: Women "should" relate victim-to-victim
under this model. That means they will either compete
to be the best victim of the sexism, or will have difficulty
accepting valuing from their female partners and the
value of self-worth. They will be missing that male
approval at a deep level.
Echo: You mention in the chapter on how the straight
role is installed that you believe studies of 4-year-olds
that purport to show that gender roles are "natural"
actually demonstrate how effective the conditioning
is. What do you think a non-straight-conditioned childhood
might look like?
Minor: It would be more "child-like."
In our culture, with its adultism, that sounds like
a bad thing, but remember that acting "grown-up"
means following the conditioning.
[Children] would be free from
the limiting roles and thus free to pursue whatever
talents they have. Boys could express their nurturing
abilities and girls could express their power and strength.
Echo: What can we do to avoid installing these
gender roles in our GLBT-parented children?
Minor: First, GLBT parents need to recognize
that they are whole and compete human beings. The only
reason our society needs to claim that children need
a father and a mother is so they can have models of
the dysfunctional, conditioned gender roles. But any
person who is showing their total humanity can model
what it is to be a full human being to a child. That's
all a child needs.
We need to be parents who are
also activists. Besides rejecting gender stereotypes
we impose on our children and other straight-acting
approaches to child-rearing, we would need to model
how to change society. Children ... need to see how
to be agents of active change.
Echo: When you discuss "how to be gay"
in your book, you use Urvashi Vaid's term "virtual
equality" for the way gays are treated and
perhaps are striving to be treated by "straight"
society today. Why is that?
Minor: The victim role causes us to settle for
a virtual equality, not a real equality. It causes us
to make new closets such as (repeating the statements)
"I'm just like you except ..." or "I
just happen to be gay." It causes us to hide our
sexuality and the fact that we are sexual beings. We
settle for crumbs and not full valuing.
Echo: You spend a lot of time describing how
many in our community are living the "gay victim"
role, as opposed to actually being the target of anti-gay
hatred. How different do you think our political organizing
would look without this lens of victimhood?
Minor: We would be more effective, less angry,
less burned out, have less fighting among ourselves,
have less drama in our community. We'd assume the best
of each other and act on that basis rather than expecting
We'd look more powerful and
self-sufficient to the straight community which
would make them face more of their homophobia. We'd
have fewer addictions. And we'd be more playful as well.
Echo: How can gays support all people as they
step out of "straight" life?
Minor: We have to be public about rejecting the
gender roles. We have to end sexism because it is the
key idea. And we have to be gentle on ourselves as we
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October 1, 2001
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November 1, 2003
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Minor interview in Midwest Times (Kansas City,
Robert Minor: Gay & Healthy In a
Local Author releases groundbreaking new
by Gaby Vice, Staff Writer.
have had the distinct privilege of having Dr. Robert
Minor as not only a friend,
but a mentor and colleague, for over two years. Bob is
one of those rare human beings who is so comfortable
with who he is, and as a result so human and inspiring,
that it is hard for his many great qualities not to rub
off on those around him. After reading Gay & Healthy,
I sat down with the good doctor and asked him a few
Gaby Vice: Why did you decide to
write Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society?
Robert Minor: I have gotten a
lot of requests for reprints of my columns that appear
monthly on the critically acclaimed GayToday.com
and in Kansas' Liberty Press. In addition, this
collection allows a larger audience to react to them.
I've been writing the column since 1998 and never missed
a month. The reactions have been overwhelmingly positive.
I also have an email list of people who receive it around
the country every month and then forward it to others.
I'm excited about LGBT people thinking more seriously
about their own value and importance (because they are
LGBT) to our society.
GV: How is it different from Scared
RM: First, the chapters are much shorter,
but also it's written to LGBT people to raise the issues
that affect us, not to sit around and complain about what
the radical right is doing, but to reflect on our reactions.
Scared Straight was more of a book that you read
from beginning to end, one chapter follows from another
until the final chapter suggests a solution. It's been
very well received and was a finalist for two awards:
a Lambda Literary Award and the Independent Book Publisher
Award. You can pick up Gay & Healthy, read
a 1100 word chapter and put it down. You can read by topic
if you want. I think that's part of why it's been catching
on so quickly and hasn't even been out a month.
GV: Can you briefly tell me what Gay
& Healthy in a Sick Society is about?
RM: The main theme is that LGBT people
are poised to change the world, to get society out of
the very sick condition it's in. There's nothing wrong
with anyone that has to do with their sexual orientation.
The problems we have and that we act out on other LGBT
people are a result of society's conditioning, the same
conditioning that keeps heterosexual people in the critically
ill, straight-acting closet that ultimate destroys them.
Our problems tell us about society's sickness and its
very sick institutions. LGBT people are fine. Society
is critically ill and in denial about it.
GV: Who is your target readership?
RM: Lesbians, gay men, and bisexual and
transgender people. I hope women will read it even if
it's by a man. After all Scared Straight is used
as a textbook around the country in Women's Studies courses.
I'm going to James Madison University in Virginia in late
January to meet with students and faculty who use it.
GV: What do you most want people to come
away with after they read it?
RM: I want LGBT people to really value
themselves and their insights. I want them to be more
creative and stop valuing and aping straight society.
I hope they will see that they live in a very sick society
and are healthy in comparison. That's just the opposite
of what society wants us to think about ourselves. Society
wants us to believe that we are the problem and that we
have the problems they don't have.
GV: How have you changed since Scared
Straight, and is this reflected in the new one?
RM: I've become even more convinced that
LGBT people can be a healthy alternative to our society's
sickness about sex, relationships, friendships, and much
of the human condition, if they don't decide to blend
in and hide behind the same straight roles that heterosexual
people are more and more finding stiflling of their humanity.
GV: How has the LGBT community
& its issues changed between books?
RM: I think we've become more complacent
because of some of the strides we've made. I think we
are more divided (which mirrors the increasing divisions
of the larger society by class, race, gender, and age).
I think we've become more sophisticated in our addictions
but no less addicted. And I think we've become more homophobic
and sex-phobic. We're still having as much sex as ever
but finding it less satisfying because our society is
so sick about sex and it's rubbed off on us.
GV: You're doing a fair amount
of promotion for Gay & Healthy. Do you enjoy
that and where can people meet you while you promote the
RM: It's a chance to meet people, some
of whom have read Scared Straight. And when they
come up to you and say how important it was to them, that's
what gives me great satisfaction. Promotion of Gay
& Healthy started in the beginning of November,
when the book first appeared, at Palm Springs Pride, then
Miami, and next Atlanta. Most of the promotion will be
next year. Of course, my recent night at the LGCC-KC this
month was special with the proceeds going to the Center.
GV: Where can people buy Gay
& Healthy in a Sick Society?
RM: It's on line through the usual sources,
through my website (www.fairnessproject.org ) and soon
in the usual stores such as In the Life and Barnes and
Noble on the Plaza. When the Center store opens, it will
be there too, I hope.
GV: On a completely different matter..
The Center is going through some very exciting growth..
as president of LGCC-KC, can you give us your take on
these exciting developments and what the KC LGBT Community
can expect from the Center in 2004?
RM: I'm excited about the changes and
all of the people that are responsible. When Jamie Rich
and I shook hands in the summer of 2001 and said "I'll
do it if you will" and when we opened up the facilities
on November 1, 2001, we had hope that the Center would
be seen has having a unique value to the community and
its many LGBT organizations, but did not envision the
fast growth and outpouring of support. People have come
forward to contribute their ideas and talents, and their
financial resources. The Center began as a clearinghouse
for information but has really become a center for the
community. As President I can sit back and watch the many
involved people contribute. With the addition of a Coordinator
of Youth Services and a Coordinator of Community Services,
there's so much more we can do.
GV: Anything else you would like
RM: Just "thank you" to so
many in Kansas City and around Kansas and Missouri for
all the great local support I've gotten. There are too
many to name. That's been so important to me. I remember
my back home family wherever I am around the country.
I couldn't be located in a better place. And, one of the
happiest things has been that my publisher allows my partner,
Gary, to design the covers and layout for the books. That's
an unusual situation in the publishing world. So, Gary's
talents are a part of all that I do-- and that couldn't
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