June is known as “Pride month” when the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community celebrates its accomplishments and progress. And as society opens up and becomes more accepting, a funny thing happens: awkward social situations. But there’s one man who’s trying to help navigate the joyful and sometimes painful process of interacting with each other. Steven Petrow uses humor and wit to help us all in his new book: Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners: The Definitive Guide to LGBT Life. He joins us on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.
The following is an excerpt from the Afterword of Petrow’s book about why he decided to write it:
Every time I’ve mentioned over the past few years that I was writing a book on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) manners—the mother ship to this e-book short—I got pretty much the same quizzical look. You know the one: the arched eyebrow, the piercing stare. You’re probably doing it right now. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but then it dawned on me: The whole idea of LGBT manners is new, and somewhat baffling to most everyone. It turns out that behind that look are some very provocative and meaningful questions.
Let me start with perhaps the most personal question I get asked: Where does an imperfect fellow like me get off writing a book like this? I’ve stumbled over introductions, asked to bring a boyfriend du jour to a formal wedding, and committed serious violations of the PDA rule (on the beach, in bars, even in the rafters of a Broadway theater). My worst transgression? I once outed a lesbian colleague who, while quite open with her friends about her sexual orientation, was not ready for me to tell our coworkers. Does all this mean that I’m a hypocrite to be writing about manners? I don’t think so. Just a realist—and probably not very different from those of you who try to do the “right” thing but sometimes make gaffes or fall short.
Then there are the questions from those who find manners books to be passé or just irrelevant to their lives. How much does anybody really care where the fish fork goes or what the correct order is for a monogram on your shirt pocket or personal stationery? My answer: I don’t lose sleep over such fussy details. My book takes a larger point of view: I argue that treating everyone with respect and decency makes for a better and fairer world, and that manners are among the best ways to make sure we start out—and continue—on the right foot.
That is what much of my work is about: Helping people live with greater confidence and self-esteem through simple principles of human kindness; demonstrating how much language matters; urging recognition of LGBT families and their new or invented traditions; and documenting the customs and practices of our commitment to and love for each other.
For more information on gay manners, visit Steven Petrow’s website.
Ask Mr. Manners your own question by clicking here.
Check out the LGBT Pride Month Edition on Petrow’s Queeries blog.
Chicago’s 42nd Annual Pride Parade is on Sunday, June 26 at 12:00 pm. Click here for more information on the event.