This American Life: Sissies

Sissies [ 12/13/96 ]

Though being gay no longer has much of a stigma in some parts of the country, being a sissy still does. Even among gay men. In this show we have a number of surprising and unusual stories of sissies, their families, and
why people still get so upset about them.

Act One. Anti-Oedipus.
This American Life producer Nancy Updike on a family where the father was one kind of sissy and the son was another kind, and how the family was destroyed despite the fact that no one wanted it to be.
(22 minutes)

Act Two. Instructions for sissies.
Chicago performance artist John Conners reads from a 1942 book called How To Improve Your Personality, from a chapter instructing men on how to avoid being sissies.
(6 minutes)

Act Three. The Pansy Kings Sing Songs of Love.
Chicago writer and actor Dave Awl, who runs a show called the Pansy King Cotillion, on how he accidentally discovered how not to get picked on as a sissy in high school. (8 minutes)

Act Four. The Other Love That Dares Not Speak Its Name.
Seattle writer and syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage on how there’s a stigma against sissies even among gay men. Gay personals ads are filled with men who want “straight acting/ straight appearing” partners. Girly boys need not apply. Savage prefers swishier men, and believes they actually have to be braver than homosexuals who can pass for straight.
(15 minutes)

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