Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018
 

Book event cancellation called homophobic

A newly released book about gay men and their dogs has become embroiled in the country’s culture wars after a bookstore in New Jersey disinvited the book’s authors because of what the manager said was “too many sexual references.”

Alyson Books published the new anthology “Paws and Reflect” November 1 and is promoting the book at events across the country. Editor Sharon Saskin, a Princeton, New Jersey resident, had expected to plug the book at her local Barnes & Noble last week with several of the male contributors, who include playwright Edward Albee; Ron Nyswaner who was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay “Philadelphia”; actor, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, director, and drag legend Charles Busch; and four-time Emmy Award-winning stylist Jack Morton.

But the event was canceled by the store’s events manager who claimed that “the book is too full of sexual references for the Barnes & Noble customer,” wrote Saskin in an e-mail to the book’s contributors. Saskin added that the female employee also told her that “there aren’t many gays in Princeton,” “no one will come because they won’t want to be identified as gay,” and “we cannot recommend this book to our customers.”

According to a report in a local paper, the store has given conflicting accounts of who pulled the event (http://www.princetoninfo.com/200610/61025c04.html). The Princeton University Bookstore has since stepped in to host the book promotion, now slated for December 12.

San Francisco resident Randy Allgaier, featured in the book, called Barnes & Noble’s decision “homophobic” and has been spreading word of the incident to LGBT readers. He said he isn’t calling for a boycott of the company, but wants to alert the LGBT community of what happened.

“First of all, I think that the part of the book they say is questionable is not. It basically talks about Alexander the Great and how he liked to penetrate his boys using nothing but spit. I would hardly call that X-rated; I have seen worse on television,” said Allgaier. “The notion they would say it doesn’t matter anyway because gay people don’t live in Princeton is bizarre. It is clueless.”

In the book Allgaier talks about how he drew strength from his beagle, Darwin, when he became severely ill in March 1999. HIV-positive, Allgaier came down with neurocystis pneumonia, and along with his partner, leaned on Darwin to help him recover.

The experience led him to join the board of Pets Are Wonderful Support in 2001 and serve as board president until 2004. Along with several other Bay Area contributors to the book, Alllgaier will take part in an event to promote “Paws and Reflect” as well as raise funds for PAWS from 6 to 8 p.m. November 16 at Under One Roof in the Castro.

More information about the event can be found at http://allgaierhawn.homestead.com/pawsandreflect.html.

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 7, 2006 @ 4:10 pm PST
Filed under: News


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