WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH: Essays on Race and Sexuality

Dwight A. McBride, Author . New York Univ. $19 (267p) ISBN 978-0-8147-5686-7

"Where does the black gay man go where he can see himself reflected back to himself in all the complex ways in which he exists in the world?" asks the chair of the African American Studies department at Northwestern University. In this collection of 10 smart, provocative essays, McBride explores, from varying vantage points (interracial gay male porn; the essays of Cornel West; the racial implications of Ellen DeGeneres's coming-out show; the way the hair and clothing guidelines for Abercrombie & Fitch employees ensure an almost all-white staff), the tenuous position of a clear, distinct, gay black male presence and voice in cultural discourse and argues for an end to the relative silence. Some of McBride's analysis is perceptive but unsurprising (e.g., his short piece on the role of rage and frustration in the 1995 Los Angeles riots), and his focus on the "bourgeois, well-educated, fairly cosmopolitan gay man" largely shrugs off discussions of class. But much of this collection breaks new ground for contemporary cultural criticism. McBride's look at homophobia in traditional African-American studies is an empathetic but penetrating critique of the discipline, and his explication of the ghettoization of black men in gay male porn (which moves into a more complicated discussion of online sex sites) is truly original work with ramifications well outside of queer studies. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/20/2004
Release date: 02/01/2005
Hardcover - 251 pages - 978-0-8147-5685-0
Open Ebook - 268 pages - 978-1-4294-1434-0
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