Cover image for How the homosexuals saved civilization : the true and heroic story of how gay men shaped the modern world
How the homosexuals saved civilization : the true and heroic story of how gay men shaped the modern world
Crimmins, C. E.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Jeremy P. Tarcher, [2004]

Physical Description:
xxi, 216 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ76 .C74 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A shrewd and irreverent cultural history of the customs, fashions, and figures of gay life in the twentieth and the early twenty-first centuries- and how they have changed all of us for the better.

The "global queering" of America has been gradually shaping the way straight people talk, think, dress, and eat. Over the past fifty years, the line between what is "straight" and what is "gay" has blurred to the point that most heterosexuals are unaware of the vast contributions gay men have made to American culture.

How the Homosexuals Saved Civilization presents a broad yet incisive look at how an unusual "immigrant" group, homosexual men, have become so influential on mainstream American culture.

The general public's tastes and consumer choices in food, fashion, humor, literature, and body image are becoming decidedly more gay. And America has shown a real interest in TV shows with gay content and themes, such as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy ; Will & Grace ; and Six Feet Under . Overall, it's hip to be gay, even if you're straight.

How the Homosexuals Saved Civilization tells us something about ourselves as a society. It celebrates the unique perspective of gay men and explains how essential their vitality has been to our civilization.

Author Notes

Cathy Crimmins is the author of several humor books, among them Newt Gingrich's Bedtime Stories for Orphans. She teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this "work of love from a fag-hag author," humor writer Crimmins (Where Is the Mango Princess? etc.) considers gay men's multifarious contributions to society and celebrates the "golden age of `Global Queering.' " (Lesbians, she finds, have been too domestic to influence much.) In 10 brief chapters, she reflects on the culture of camp, the popularity of "gay expressions" ("butch," "breeder"), gay restaurants (they have "exotic ingredients and flamboyant presentations"), fashion designers, sex practices, Judy Garland musicals and 1960s game shows (with gay pioneers like Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly) and more. As Crimmins has it, gay men are responsible for the popularity of barbecue (James Beard, who was gay, popularized outdoor grilling) and Abercrombie & Fitch (fraternity boys sporting that brand are aping a gay lifestyle-without knowing it-by buying into photographer Bruce Weber's vision of male beauty). Friends, Frasier and Sex and the City had gay roots and gay writers, she says, and flaunted a code of gay allusion. Few would argue with the thesis that gay men have had a profound and positive cultural impact, but this volume may not be anyone's chosen proof. Crimmins's casual use of words like "fairy," "faggot," "homo" and "nelly" may prove a stumbling block to her readers, as might her persistent stereotyping. Agent, Susan Raihofer. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The audacious title notwithstanding, pop culture observer Crimmins (Where Is the Mango Princess?) here offers a laundry list of contributions gay men have made to modern American life as defined by popular culture. Divided into sections titled "Heart," "Body," and "Soul," this work shoots out short, sharp blasts of ideas followed by brief, sometimes superficial elucidation. Gay food? You bet. In 1956, the gay epicure James Beard introduced the straight American male to the joys of barbecuing. Gay television? Beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, game shows opened the doors to homosexual influence when wisecracking celebrities like Paul Lynde, Charles Nelson Riley, and Rip Taylor catted about as panelists. The author paints with a rather broad brush and sometimes succumbs to her own worst stereotyping, but her conversational style and entertaining panache save the day. But instead of shaping the modern world, the most this title can claim is that gays have had a big impact on mainstream popular media-that television, film, and music that, for better or worse, defines contemporary American culture. Not terribly deep but entertaining nonetheless.-Jeff Ingram, Newport P.L., OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.