The experience of living as an out LGBTQ+ American has changed a lot in a short amount of time, leading to significant generational differences. Perry N. Halkitis explores those differences in Out in Time, interviewing men from three generations about their experiences, from discovering their sexuality to their thoughts on current politics.
The generations cited are the “Stonewall Generation,” who came of age at a time when men often hid their sexuality; the “AIDS Generation,” who came of age during the peak of the disease; and the “Queer Generation” of younger men who are often able to live more open lives and who define their identity in myriad new ways. The book takes the form of a qualitative study, with Halkitis sharing his conclusions among quotes from fifteen men, five per generation.
Later chapters move beyond the interviewees to address issues like intersectionality and the role of drugs and alcohol in modern LGBTQ+ life. These chapters feel more surface level—for example, focusing on men’s preferences in dating apps to address the interplay between sexual orientation and race, instead of a more serious consideration of the topic—and use academic buzzwords rather than the in-depth personal anecdotes that the subjects otherwise contribute.
The book is strongest where it lets its fifteen participants tell pieces of their own unique stories. Their realizations about their sexuality and their early experiences exploring it most dramatically show the generational divides, and the personal nature of the stories makes them compelling. Some of quotes introduce stories that could use more space and exploration, such as one man describing the anger his father—who also owned a gay bar—showed when he came out, or another saying he rejects the “gay” label while sleeping exclusively with men. Still, these interviewees have important things to say, and Out of Time documents how gay men’s experiences have evolved over time.
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