Georgetown Sociology Professor and Director of the Georgetown Women’s Studies Program Suzanna Walters examines the understanding of gay and lesbian visibility in today’s society in her new book All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America.

“I have been a witness to an incredible transformation in the depiction of gays and lesbians, and I was motivated to try to understand the transformation of the place of gays,” Walters said.

In her book, Walters looks at film, television, advertising, political life and marketing toward gays. Walters said that lesbians and gay men are everywhere, but their communities are not necessarily aware of them.

In a press release, Vicki Jones, a communications consultant at Georgetown, said, “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 nay-sayers alike.”

Walters attributes the positive reception of her book to it being “the first guide that actually examines gay visibility.”

According to the press release, many consider the new gay visibility a sign of social acceptance, while others charge that it is mere window dressing, obscuring the continuing realities of discrimination. Walters moves beyond these positions and instead argues that these realities coexist. She explains that gays, who have often been constrained by the “closet” and invisibility, are accepted in the movies and have gained access to political power, but still manage to fall into typical stereotypes.

All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America is published by University of Chicago Press and appears in bookstores this month.

Walters is currently on her book’s first tour and will be traveling around the country through December. She has also been on numerous radio and television shows to promote the work.

“I have been working on this book for about the last eight to 10 years because it deals with my field of study and the area I work in, but I also found that it was important to understand this new gay visibility and what it says. The book deals with this critical perspective,” Walters said.

Walters is also the author of Material Girls and Lives Together/Worlds Apart: Mothers and Daughters in Popular Culture.

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