Gay Catholics, Suicidal Moms, and the Polymorphous Perversity of Madonna’s Big Toe

With a fat gay Catholic kid, a suicidal, closeted mom, and essays on the perceived perversions of everything from Trekkies to Madonna, this week's books have plenty to offer readers who think truth is stranger than fiction.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

May 08 2012 1:08 PM ET UPDATED: May 14 2012 12:01 AM ET

The Declining Significance of Homophobia: How Teenage Boys Are Redefining Masculinity and Heterosexuality by Mark McCormack X300 | ADVOCATE.COMThe Declining Significance of Homophobia: How Teenage Boys Are Redefining Masculinity and Heterosexuality by Mark McCormack (Oxford University Press, $50)

While stories of bullying and suicide have dominated the news about LGBT teens in the past few years, there are signs that the situation is improving greatly, at least in some locales. British sociologist Mark McCormack spent months talking to boys at three high schools in the U.K. and found straight kids increasingly accepting of their gay peers. Antidiscrimination laws, visibility of LGBT celebrities, the presence of positive gay characters in movies and TV, and grassroots activism have helped foster a culture in which “masculine” doesn’t have to mean homophobic, he writes. Progress is not universal, he notes, but it’s getting better in the U.S. too, and not just after high school. His book has a scholarly tone and some sociological jargon, but it’s largely accessible and has an encouraging message that should not lull us into complacency but inspire us to continue efforts to make schools — and the world — a welcoming environment for all. (OUP.com)Trudy Ring

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