I had no idea what to expect when I read about Tracy Baim’s “Obama and the Gays” so when it arrived in a large box, I saw that it was a book to be reckoned with it. It is 556 pages full of information about Obama and his relationship with the GLBT community. The cover alone is amazing with President standing in front of the rainbow flag, a microphone in one hand, and a pointed finger on the other hand and a smile on his face. If only he were smiling for the reasons that we want and need. There are 140 images and photos, interviews, essays and reportage all dealing with the tenuous relationship between the President and our community which is basically defined by three abbreviations—DADT, ENDA and DOMA, All of us recognize these and they are what many consider to be “the gay agenda” (a term I have never understood because I have never seen the document).
Here is Obama’s career and how he feels about the issues that are GLBT-related. Our relationship with Barak Obama began when he ran for the Illinois Senate in 1996 and continues to today. The research and the writing are extensive and there are writings about AIDS, gay issues, results of surveys and a whole lot more. In fact, there is so much here that I am not sure how to approach this book. It looks to me that writer Baim has left no stone unturned, no issue unexplored.
We have not forgotten and we are sure that the President has not forgotten that when he was running for the highest office in the land he promised to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and that he would push for the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act as well as for the repeal of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. These issues find major places in the book and we look at promises not kept. We played a part in getting him elected yet we have not been repaid for our patronage. We look at the speeches that Obama has made, throughout his career, and we see how the gay community fits into his victories and our reactions to his speeches, actions and decisions that affect us directly.
We are now at the midpoint of Obama’s term and here is where we get the real meat of the book. Author Baim and several important members of the GLBT community look at closely at the President and gay issues and we witness the little progress and our major frustrations and even though Obama has been a champion of gay rights and done more for us than any other president, a lot of his promises are hanging in the air. We must give credit where credit is due and Baim deserves a lot as the author of the first book to look at the President in terms of his place on gay issues. She has also assembled a team of some of the most popular and respected gay and lesbian journalists, activists and bloggers who chime in and give their opinions of the President and the state of the nation.
Bain has compiled a reference book that could very easily be titled, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Barak Obama and GLBT Issues” because it is all here, nicely arranged and ordered. I do not think that this is a book that you will read for pleasure but it definitely the book you want to keep on your desk and where you can find immediate answers. We have articles by Chuck Colbert, Lisa Keen, Karen Ocamb, Bob Roehr, Wayne Besen, Sean Cahill, John D’Emilio, Kerry Eleveld, Rod McCullom, Reverend Irene Monroe, Michelangelo Signorile, and others (if I list them all, I will never finish). Some of the names are familiar to you now, some will be familiar later. What is important is that they all have something important to say. The book is not only impressive but what is in it is also impressive and important and I feel that it Baim undertook this with love and has produced her book with love. It is going on a very special place on my shelf where it is visible and so I can point it out easily.