Author: Modesto, Oscar
Date published: January 1, 2010
Pardie, L, & Luchetta, T. (Eds.) (1999). The construction of attitudes toward lesbians and gay men. New York: Routledge. pp. 116, ISBN: 978-0789005908
The Construction of Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men is a very interesting book for different reasons. On one dimension, the book explores different frameworks from which members of that particular group (legal, academia, therapeutic) may construct their attitudes towards gay and lesbian people. It also explores the processes by which homosexual men and women live in a 'welcoming' society limited by heterosexualism. Although this book was published now over ten years ago, the concepts and attitudes of different cultural groups in US society seem to be relevant and manifest.
Every chapter is dedicated to a different aspect of American society. Chapter one deals with the prevalence of heterosexualism or homophobic attitudes toward people with HIV and AIDS, and how these attitudes may interfere with accurate information processing and retention within the wider community in regards to health care and HIV and AIDS dissemination across the broader society. In chapter two, the author explores the representations of gay people in legal contexts and courts. It discusses the legal 'apparent neutrality in the court system but acknowledges the need for better understanding of gay, lesbian and bisexual communities in an affirming manner. A description of homophobia in academia is provided in chapter three, including the idea of activism, and the complexities between universities (or organisations for that matter) and activists demands. Although the author makes a strong argument in terms of how much more work needs to be done to reach equality (or a new culture as the author suggests) for homosexual people, it does not invite tolerance or acceptance and thus feels oppressive and dominant. The next chapter deals with the therapeutic arena, and proposes a model to increase therapeutic efficacy when working with people with internalised homophobia. It is suggested that therapists should be sensitive when working with clients who present higher levels of internalised homophobia by establishing solid therapeutic relationships that enable self awareness of internalised homophobic attitudes and the implications this attitudes may have in their personal history, self-esteem and personal history. Two case studies are discussed. In the last chapter Lynn Pardie elaborates on a comprehensive deconstruct! on of heterosexism at different levels of society and elaborates on heterosexual constructs such as marriage, kinship, and power in different socio-cultural levels.
The book brings to mind the importance of questioning how 'heterosexualised' we may continue to be in our everyday society and broadens the perspective of conformism in our personal lives. It makes the reader reflect on the queer theory movement and the importance of raising a voice of non conformity in a society where same sex relationships are acknowledged to a certain degree and the politics involved in this processes in each area of society. Although the book explores different areas of society, it does not incorporate the idea of heterosexism and the influence multiculturalism may have in society. In general the book brings the reader to an understanding of heterosexism and the intricate relationship it has with everyday society.
Dr Oscar Modesto is an Associate Lecturer at Macquarie University and has done research on gay male relationships, coming out process for gay men, and working with minorities. His research interest include qualitative methodology, couple relationships (heterosexual or homosexual), queer theory, psychotherapy, minorities and working with people from different cultural backgrounds. Email: Oscar.Modesto@psy.mq.edu.au