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The Soul Beneath the Skin

The Unseen Hearts and Habits of Gay Men

David Nimmons

St. Martin's Griffin

A 2002 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for GLBT Studies
A Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Book of 2002

This surprising and thought-provoking book begins with the obvious fact that Stonewall happened thirty years ago, and the perhaps less obvious fact that in the thirty years since an enormous number of social science studies have been done on gay men. Dave Nimmons synthesizes that information to reveal a number of unseen patterns of gay male behavior, truths about the lives of gay men that are often instinctively felt but have not been named. He looks at seven patterns of behavior widely practiced by gay men but rarely acknowledged: non-violent public culture; enormous rates of altruism; high levels of volunteerism; diffuse and communal intimacies; elaborate erotic celebrations; friendship with women; and diverse forms of sexual play.

For example, countless studies show that gay men have developed a culture in which public violence is almost non-existent, which is notable when one considers that violence in this society is almost entirely a male phenomenon. Even in intensely over-crowded gay bars and discos, with alcohol and testosterone saturating the atmosphere, fist fights are virtually unheard of. In the area of volunteerism, study after study shows that gay men volunteer at a much higher level than any other segment of the population (and, very interestingly, that volunteerism is about evenly divided between gay and non-gay causes, as are charitable contributions). Homosexual patterns of intimacy and friendship are much more diffuse and extended than heterosexual patterns; sexual jealousy and exclusiveness are extremely different, as are relationships with women and pursuit of playfulness and sexual bliss.

Altogether, these gay social innovations have no parallel in modern American culture; they describe a new kind of public ethic, one with deep implications for gay men and for the larger society.

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Praise for The Soul Beneath the Skin

"Fascinating and provocative...may well be one of the most important books on gay culture for the new millennium."

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • David Nimmons

  • Dave Nimmons, founder of Manifest Love, has been a gay leader in New York since 1983. He served as President of New York's Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center for six years, for three years directed HIV prevention and education at Gay Men's Health Crisis, and is an internationally-known HIV prevention theorist.
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Available Formats and Book Details

The Soul Beneath the Skin

The Unseen Hearts and Habits of Gay Men

David Nimmons

Lambda Literary Award - Nominee

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Griffin

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