Splashed against the tumultuous Clinton years and framed by the clash between gay political might and anti-gay activism, "All the Rage" presents the first authoritative guide to the new gay visibility. From the public outing of Ellen DeGeneres to the vicious murder of Matthew Shepard, gay lives and images have moved onto the centre stage of American public life. Lesbians and gay men are indeed everywhere, from television sitcoms to Budweiser ads, from the White House to the Magic Kingdom. Combining personal stories with incisive analysis, Suzanna Danuta Walters chronicles this historic moment in our culture, arguing that we live in a time when gays are seen, but not necessarily known. Many consider the new gay visibility a sign of social acceptance, while others charge that it is mere window dressing, obscuring the dogged persistence of discrimination. Walters moves beyond these positions and instead argues that these realities coexist: gays are at once the sign of social decay in our culture and the chic flavour of the month.
Taking on the common wisdom that visibility means progress, "All the Rage" maps the terrain on which gays are accepted as witty accessories in movies, gain access to political power, and yet still fall into constrictive stereotypes. Walters warns us with clarity and wit of the pitfalls of equating visibility with full integration into the fabric of American society. From the playful TV fantasies of lesbian weddings on "Friends" to the very real obstacles confronting gay marriage, from the award-winning comedy "Will & Grace" to Bible-thumping radio superhost Dr. Laura, "All the Rage" takes on naive celebrants and jaded naysayers alike. With a sophisticated mix of caution and optimism, the book provides an illuminating guide through these heady, controversial times. 56 halftones