Book review: The Gay Fireside Companion, by Leigh W. Rutledge

The GLBTRT has been reviewing books and movies in its newsletter since the early 1990s. Trace the evolution of queer publishing through these historic reviews. This review was originally published in Vol. 3, No. 1 & 2, Fall 1990/Winter 1991.

Cover for The Gay Fireside CompanionRutledge, Leigh W. The Gay Fireside Companion. Alyson Publications, 1989. Paper. $8.95. (ISBN 1-55583-164-8).

This lighthearted book is enjoyable and informational, as well as easy to read. I completely agree with the author’s statement in the foreword that this “book is meant to be an offbeat reference book that is meant to provide entertainment.”

The entries are arranged in alphabetical order, but there is no index to cross reference the entries to each other. For instance, the entries for Willa Cather and Leonard Matlovich can only be found under the heading “Graves of Famous Gay People in the U.S.” Entries range from single paragraphs about famous people whose sexuality was suppressed from the public literature up to 6 pages for a historical look at drag. Many of the short entries contain interesting lesbian and gay trivia, of the “did you know … ” variety, while longer entries offer a synopsis from a historical perspective. Numerous quotations and quips are also included from people who have commented on homosexuality, or whose words and deeds had an impact on gays and
lesbians, or on society’s concepts of sexuality (such as Christine Jorgensen and Karl Menninger).

Unfortunately, the bulk of Rutledge’s entries lack any mention of a citation to turn to for further research. Although this is a very enlightening and fun to read book, it offers little information that could be of unique value to a researcher. This book will receive a warm reception from casual readers, and from people in need of some “coming out” literature, since it gives brief profiles of famous people from across the ages.

Reviewed by Gary M. Klein
University of Toledo, Ohio

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