What makes people gay, lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual? And who cares? Written by one of the leading scientists in the research of sexual orientation, Queer Science looks at how scientific discoveries about homosexuality influence society's attitude toward gays and lesbians, beginning with the theories of the German sexologist and gay-rights pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld and culminating with the latest discoveries in brain science, genetics, endocrinology, and cognitive psychology.
City of Friends offers a practical, intelligent, and well-informed overview of what it means to be gay or lesbian. The authors seek to help gay men and women, as well as their families and friends, to better understand the institutions and communities that make up the most culturally and ethnically diverse minority in America today.
Beginning with basic concepts, LeVay and Nonas define the words "homosexual," "gay," "lesbian," and "bisexual" and discuss the various patterns of homosexuality in different cultures around the world. They relate the history of the gay and lesbian community in the United States, and its struggle for equal rights and social acceptance, before tackling the question—still highly controversial—of what determines an individual's sexual orientation.
City of Friends describes the great diversity within the gay and lesbian community: Life in the "gay ghetto." Old lesbians in rural hideaways. Gay resorts. A "town without men." Gay and lesbian Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Native Americans—what it means to be a minority within a minority. Lesbian and gay youth, the elderly, the deaf. Bisexuals and transsexuals. Academics, drag queens, technoqueers, publishers, softball players—all make their appearance in these pages.
LeVay and Nonas continue with a discussion of health issues (especially of the AIDS epidemic and the community's response to it), the law, and gay and lesbian politics. They describe the cultural achievements of lesbians and gay men—their art, literature, theater, music, and dance. Finally they take a look at the spiritual life of gays and lesbians, both within and outside of organized religion.
Written with the same clarity, directness, and humor that have made Simon LeVay one of the most popular lecturers at Harvard Medical School and at the University of California, San Diego, The Sexual Brain examines the biological roots of human sexual behavior. It puts forward the compelling case that the diversity of human sexual feelings and behavior can best be understood in terms of the development, structure, and function of the brain circuits that produce them. Discarding all preconceptions about the motivation and purpose of sexuality, LeVay discusses the scientific evidence bearing on such questions as why we are sexual animals, what the brain mechanisms are that produce sexual behavior, how these mechanisms differ between men and women and how these differences develop, and finally, what determines a person's sexual orientation: genes, prenatal events, family environment, or early sexual experiences?
The Sexual Brain is broad in scope, covering evolutionary theory, molecular genetics, endocrinology, brain structure and function, cognitive psychology, and development. It is unified by LeVay's thesis that human sexual behavior, in all its diversity, is rooted in biological mechanisms that can be explored by laboratory science. The book does not shy away from the complexities of the field, but it can be readily appreciated and enjoyed by anyone with an intelligent interest in sex.
Simon LeVay, whose 1991 paper published in Science, "A difference in hypothalamic structure between homosexual and heterosexual men," attracted worldwide scientific and public attention, is Associate Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the University of California, San Diego. He is presently Chair of the Steering Committee of the Institute of Gay and Lesbian Education, West Hollywood, a new college for the gay and lesbian community in Southern California.