Lehring, Gary L. 1966-
LEHRING, Gary L. 1966-
PERSONAL: Born 1966. Education: University of Louisville, B.A., M.A.; University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Ph.D.
CAREER: Smith College, Northampton, MA, assistant professor of government.
Offıcially Gay: The Political Construction of Sexuality by the U.S. Military, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2003.
Also author of numerous articles.
SIDELIGHTS: Gary Lehring is a college professor who teaches courses about the intersection of politics, gender, and sexuality. In his first book, Offıcially Gay: The Political Construction of Sexuality by the U.S. Military, Lehring follows up in greater detail on a number of articles he has written about gays in the military. Although he examines the problematic role of gays in the service, including the "don't ask, don't tell" policy developed in 1993, he focuses largely on the social construction of the modern homosexual identity and delves into how the powerful social institutions of religion, medicine, and psychiatry have played a primary role in helping to shape this identity within a sociopolitical context.
Despite the advances in understanding and acceptance of homosexuality by the general population, Lehring writes about how the military and other political and social organizations have maintained a discourse that promotes the old negative perspectives about homosexuals as being evil, degenerate, unstable, and, perhaps most importantly in the military's view, a risk to national security. The author also delves into a series of court cases, antigay incidents, and military discharge trends in relation to gays in the service, and he details official military policy toward gays over the past one hundred years. Although Lehring argues that efforts to exclude gays from the military strongly influenced a move to greater regulation and scrutiny of gays and lesbians outside of the system, he contends that it also influenced the creation and direction of the gay and lesbian political movement.
Writing in Contemporary Sociology, Adam Isaiah Green felt that Lehring's discussion of gays in the military is "woefully oversimplified, underdeveloped, and naïve." Lambda Book Report contributor John D'Emilio commented that "Lehring's thesis is certainly provocative," but added that "his execution of it is seriously flawed." Alan S. Yang, however, commended Lehring's effort in a Political Science Quarterly review, calling the book "an important contribution to the disciplinary study of gay and lesbian politics." Yang went on to note, "While the author seems most at home on the terrain of social and political theory, Lehring's compelling treatment of the military policy chapters . . . make this recommended reading for students of minority politics, public policy, and gender and sexuality studies." In a review in the Women's Review of Books, Lynne Gouliquer commented that "the strength of the book lies in his demonstration of how sociopolitical attitudes and values are translated into laws and policy."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Sociology, November, 2004, Adam Isaiah Green, review of Offıcially Gay: The Political Construction of Sexuality by the U.S. Military, p. 708.
Lambda Book Report, August-September, 2004, John D'Emilio, review of Offıcially Gay, p. 16.
Library Journal, June 1, 2003, David Azzolina, review of Offıcially Gay, p. 150.
Political Science Quarterly, summer, 2004, Alan S. Yang, review of Offıcially Gay, p. 389.
Women's Review of Books, May, 2004, Lynne Gouliquer, review of Offıcially Gay, p. 22.
Smith College Web site,http://www.smith.edu/ (December 15, 2004), "Gary Lehring."*