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LGBTQI+ - Nonfiction

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Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to be Human

ISBN: 9780970958105
Binding: Paperback
Author: Robert N. Minor
Pages: 222
Trim: 5.5 x 8.5 inches
Published: 06/01/2001

From the criticism of our universities as purveyors of hopelessness to the dynamics of "getting laid," Scared Straight is an eye-opening and penetrating analysis of what's really going on in U.S. culture that is played out through not accepting LGBTQ people.

Without sparing any institutions, Scared Straight identifies our culture as fear-based and in denial. Like software on a computer, our system installs a "straight role" in us from the moment we're born that actually has little, if anything, to do with sexual orientation, religion, tradition, or the Bible, and everything to do with maintaining limiting definitions of a "human being," a "real man," and a "real woman."

People of all sexual orientations are hurt by being, acting, and thinking "straight," torn from their full human potential, and squeezed into molds that support our dominant institutions. Human relationships with either sex are incomplete and unfulfilling. Chapters on "How to be Straight" and "How to Be Gay" describe the roles heterosexual and non-heterosexual people are conditioned to live in order to maintain the status quo.

Yet, not content to merely identify the problem and its depth, Dr. Minor describes the elements of healing that this cultural disease require in a final chapter entitled "How to Be Human." One reader said of the final chapter: "This is the most empowering piece of activism that I have ever read."


A national resource on gender issues and gay/straight relationships for organizations, businesses, educational and governmental institutions, and media outlets, Robert N. Minor, Ph.D. has been speaking, consulting, and leading workshops for thirty years.

He is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas where he taught for 33 years and was the chair of the Religious Studies Department for six. He received the Ph.D. in Religion from the University of Iowa and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Trinity Divinity School in Chicago.

He is the author of eight books. His first five were scholarly writings on religious thought and practice in South Asia and their relationships to culture.

He has authored Gay and Healthy in a Sick Society: The Minor Details, a Finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award, and named in national reviews as one of the best gay books of the year and When Religion Is an Addiction. Minor writes a column of analysis and opinion entitled "Minor Details" on current issues.

He was a member of the Values Panel for the Kansas City Star (the city's daily newspaper) for its award-winning "Raising Kansas City Project," a member of the Communities Against Hate Crimes Task Force of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas, and the Diversity Advisory Committee of KCPT, the public television station for Kansas City, MO. He has served on other boards and task forces, such as the Advisory Board of the Center for Religious Experience and Study of Kansas City, the LGBT Task Force of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri, and as founding Chair of the Kansas City Workers' Rights Board.

"Bob" leads workshops on gender roles, homophobia, and diversity for universities, colleges, churches, businesses, government organizations, and community and religious groups throughout the US. He is a conference presenter for PFLAG. In 1999 GLAAD awarded him its Leadership Award for Education; in 2012 the University of Kansas named him one of the University's Men of Merit; in 2015 the American Men's Studies Association presented him with its first Lifetime Membership Award; and in 2018 Missouri Jobs with Justice presented him its Workers' Rights Board Leadership Award.


"Minor's Scared Straight is a breath of fresh air in our often smog-filled arguments about sexuality. Nobody is let off the hook. Everyone stands to gain new clarity and, one hopes, generosity of spirit. The only reader who won't benefit from this book is the one who is determined in advance not to." - L. William Countryman, Ph.D.

"Dr. Minor's Scared Straight has a touch of the subversive about it. Chapter by chapter the author undermines the false assumptions that prop up the roles society teaches us to play 'as man' or 'as woman.' He urges us to throw out the old maps that caused us to lose our way and suggests some very practical guidelines for the journey towards discovering our own unique, human gifts." - Rev. Mel White

"Pretend for a moment that you're an educated man or woman and an editor came to you and asked that you write a book covering every aspect of gender conditioning in America, yet rather than urging you, the writer, to follow your own road map the editor insisted that you keep in mind basic common denominators--or ground zero--while preparing the text....Minor believes that 'straight' is not really heterosexual, since even people who identify as non-heterosexual by orientation, are taught to value and conform to the 'straight' role.' 'The oppression of gay men has nothing to do with who is having sex with whom or who is in love with whom. It is a means of installing and enforcing a conditioned gender role. Gay oppression begins as a subset of sexism.' This book, despite the concentration on '101 Basics,' belongs in every classroom of America." - Thom Nickels

"This is a book I wish I'd written. In a manner calculated to reach general audiences, the author, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, takes his readers on an extraordinary journey, right to the core of their most pertinent personal problems. Like a clairvoyant, he peers into the fog surrounding our culturally-induced consciousness, thought patterns that are currently failing us, noting how they work to thwart our general welfare. But next, he effectively celebrates a futuristic awareness that I, for one, regard as central to our personal growth and satisfaction. Scared Straight, in other words, invites you to get to the root of bothersome things that stand in the way of a happier life for all. It tells you what fears you or your friends are most likely to entertain and how to dissipate them henceforth.This is no everyday pop psychology book. It is a clean, hard look into what motivates us most." - Jack Nichols

"Scared Straight is a courageous, unique, and necessary book. I use it in both introductory and advanced-level courses in Women's Studies and Sociology because Minor's analysis of how gender conditioning and homophobia affect all of us is the most thorough, engaging, and accurate rendering of these issues I have found. Students of all backgrounds love reading it because the writing is accessible, the ideas are meaningful to them and sophisticated, and it resonates deeply with their lived experiences. Finally, Minor offers much more than explanations and analyses; he offers a practical path to our full humanity, and that is the gift of hope to all of us." - Christine M. Robinson, Ph.D.