Review: What’s Wrong With Homosexuality? by John Corvino

What's Wrong With Homosexuality?What’s Wrong With Homosexuality? by John Corvino

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Initial reaction: I’ll have to think a bit on how I want to approach this review, because, like a lot of non-fiction reads I’ve had in the past year, it left my mind buzzing with so many jumping points that I don’t exactly know where to start. Ha! I will say, for beginning notes, I thought John Corvino approaches the issues with a great helping of food for thought, sensitivity, constructive arguments and even humor (and there were more than a few times when I chuckled while reading this).

Full review:

Take note, all: the title may be very misleading, but then again, I think it’s an apt summary for what John Corvino intended to show in this very enlightening account on homosexuality within our present society, attitudes taken against it, and knocking down many arguments and misconceptions made in the discussions surrounding this. I personally had exposure to many arguments Corvino makes in this narrative from my studies on gender, identity and health that I took in a few undergraduate classes at uni. For me, I think it was an eye-opening narrative with Corvino’s wit, eloquence and presentation on a number of different factors concerning attitudes on homosexuality – including religious, social, health, political, historical, philosophical among other measures.

One thing I’m going to say before I delve a little further into what Corvino addresses here, is that in the dimensions of identity and health, sexuality plays a vital role, one I think is quite undervalued and often misrepresented in so many ways. Sexuality is a more complex measure than just considering the physical dimensions of it. When I’m discussing sexuality at large, I don’t mean simply the factor of “who sleeps with who” or the terms that people place on it based on specific ideal constructions, which is what so many people place emphasis when bringing up the topic. Rather, I refer to the expressions of it in larger examinations of culture, expression, personal worth/value, and extensions of gender. That might sound like a mouthful, but I think it’s something that people need to consider when noting the different dimensions of sexuality that exist in our society, and that understanding the root of those expressions is vital to the acceptance of how it occurs, is expressed, and ultimately valued and rooted in its diversity in our society.

I really have to commend Corvino in recognizing the multidimensional rationales here, because he does a great job of presenting very clear cut evidence that refutes arguments against multidimensional expressions of sexuality, specific to homosexuality – and it’s notable in its terms of starting larger constructive conversations. He first approaches it from a personal place, as he himself identifies as gay, a gay-rights advocate, and a philosophy professor who has written and debated on the topic for more than 20 years. He then delves specifically into moral arguments that have root in religious and moral terms and how they affect public policy and attitudes. He also explores the harm of negative attitudes towards the expression of sexuality specific to same-sex relationships. Some of the examples he gives are heartbreaking because it examines how the negation of the roots of sexual identity and their expression can be harmful on a social as well as self-worth value to the individual, group, and rooted relationships.

Corvino supplements his arguments with a wit and charm that I found amusing as I perused the narrative, with specific attention to contradictions in certain arguments while still informing and educating the reader on the dimensions of the topic. I haven’t read a peer narrative this intuitive on the subject matter in one concise volume. If there were a critique to give to it, I wish it were longer to expand on other expressions of sexuality to be able to give weight to the multidimensional nature of its importance and function in the dimensions I mentioned above and beyond. Still, I think it’s a good starting point, and I think it’s a read that people can take much from in its considerations.

Overall score: 4/5

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Oxford University Press.

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