Queersexlife: Autobiographical Notes on Sexuality, Gender, and Identity.

Description

256 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
$19.95
ISBN 978-1-55152-236-4
DDC 306.76'6

Publisher

Year

2008

Contributor

Reviewed by John Stanley

John Stanley is a policy advisor at the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and
Universities.

Review

This book is neither memoir nor autobiography, but Terry Goldie is both subject and object in this work. The author, a professor of English at York University, presents readers with nine essays, an introduction, a bibliography, and two snapshots of himself in drag (and one with his two children). There are essays on childhood sexuality, bisexuality, penises, anal sex, cross-dressing, and dinge queens (white men attracted to men of colour), but in this voyage to put labels to our confusing world, the essays do not hang together. The longest and most stimulating essay deals with the 1992 U.K. film The Crying Game, but Goldie shares his insights in a disjointed way that meanders through his life while invoking ideas that the film raises in his mind. This approach leads to dead ends for readers, for Goldie often does not provide segues. His approach of abruptly changing direction, bringing in new ideas rather than developing those he has raised, regularly frustrated this reader.

 

Goldie examines his experiences through the prism of theory, evoking his life as a reality check. Goldie thus cites a number of theorists—incluidng Deleuze, Fanon, Lacan, Wittiq and Žižek—frequently and extensively. This approach might be seen as mere padding, but the introduction—in contrast to the subtitle—presents the book as a “review of the literature.” However, it would be more accurate to recognise that Goldie simply uses others’ words to make his points. Goldie not only relies overtly on quotations to stimulate reactiom, he even quotes himself and he quotes authors quoting others. He appears to be unable to present his own thoughts or to synthesize those of others. After a long quotation, his reaction is sometimes only a sentence or two. He does have fascinating insights—the distinction between women as a sociological space and woman as performance, or the link between gay identity and the notion of commodity—but they could be better served with more expansive analysis.

 

The author claims no “truth” beyond his own subjectivity, but that begs the question: why should we trust, accept, or even ponder Goldie’s views? His life experiences? His beliefs? His scholarship? Scholars will be disappointed: this work rests on major theoretical works, but it adds little new. General readers are likely to give up, stopped by one of the lengthy quotations. The major value of this work lies in the biographical details of an interesting figure on Toronto’s queer scene.

Citation

Goldie, Terry., “Queersexlife: Autobiographical Notes on Sexuality, Gender, and Identity.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28718.