THAT'S WHY THEY'RE IN CAGES, PEOPLE. Joel Perry, Alyson Publications, Trade Paper, $14.95, 1-55583-742-5, 309 pages
From the strobe-lit mind of writer and producer Joel Perry, author of Funny That Way and Going Down: The Instinct Guide to Oral Sex, this collection of essaysmulling over the proper way to break in a pair of leather pants, or why humans should come equipped with TiVO programming featuresis a series of sustained, sparkling bursts of self-deprecating humor and irreverent wit.
Whether he's translating the canon of relationship lies 'Lie: You're not my type. Translation: I'm so shallow I can't be bothered with being open to new things or growth' or arguing for the return of the Debbie Allen Dance Number to the Academy Awards show, Perry's writing continually orbits around themes of isolation and the desire to simply 'belong,' which, when blended with the author's blunt, ornery humor, is satisfying in that bittersweet, David Sedaris, kind of way.
Some of the collection's most notable essays focus on various aspects of gay culture, including the grand dame herself, 'gay pride.' 'Pride is not something you buy or attend,' explains the author. 'No, not even the festival itself is pride. It's a party. You carry the pride ... always remember it's B.Y.O. Pride. Cherish it. Honor it. Then decorate it with leather, spandex, feathers or just some SPF 15 and bring it on down to the party and work it!' Gay pride is a living example for others, adds the author in the book's final pages, because it serves as a reminder for all that 'liberation is available for the claiming.' 'We're here. We're queer. Start taking notes.'
SAME SEX MARRIAGE AND THE CONSTITUTION, Evan Gertsmann, Cambridge University Press, $60 Hardcover ISBN 0521811007 ( $22 Paperback ISBN 0521009529 ) , ( 240p ) .
Gertsmann drills deep into the gay marriage debate, beyond the well-mined rhetoric of 'gay rights,' ( Gertsmann, a legal scholar, claims there's no such thing ) to reveal what he considers the true bedrock upon which all freedoms and protections for American citizens are firmly based: The Constitution.
According to the author, one of the most important issues challenging the constitution's promise of legal equality is same-sex marriage. 'We have seen that [ marriage ] was one of the first fundamental rights the Court recognized,' writes Gertsmann. 'Far from being limited to a racial context, it has been applied to individuals whom society has every reason to punish, individuals whose fitness for marriage and parenthood could be doubted.' So why has same-sex marriage been the exception to this fundamental right to marry? Early in the text, Gertsmann wisely concedes that it is not 'irrational' for society to ban same-sex marriage, because legalizing these unions could be seen as endorsement of homosexual relationships, much like legalizing heroin could be seen as a governmental endorsement of drug use.
However, while he offers an understanding of why society is dragging its heels to the gay-marriage altar, the author claims that granting gay marriage licenses is no more an endorsement of homosexuality than it is to grant them driver's licenses. 'In each case, the state is simply granting certain benefits to its citizens without respect to their sexual orientation.'
The author's balanced, well-measured defense of same-sex marriage examines how the most personal of decisions ( who we marry ) that will continue to be a public act stymied by governmental interference until the courts identify this right with 'the same rigor and consistency' applied to the First Amendment of the Constitution: The Freedom of Speech.