Jeremy Hooper is known for blending passion and wit, making the case for LGBT equality worldwide. In If It's a Choice, My Zygote Chose Balls: Making Sense of Senseless Controversy, Jeremy continues that style, blending a unique mix of memoir and social commentary that argues for equal rights based on relatable human principles.
Hooper leads listeners through his own life story, revealing the positive and unnecessarily encumbered aspects of growing up gay in contemporary society. The noted author and activist writes in a sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, but always sharply informed style, opening a window into the realities of family rejection and acceptance. Whether offering direct guidance for would-be straight allies or sharing the inner monologue of a boy who knew who he was long before early adulthood would allow him to own it, Hooper provides a wealth of insight and argument to push the equality conversation forward.
As someone who spends 10 to 12 daily hours slogging through the "culture war" for his celebrated Web site, Jeremy Hooper knows better than anyone how far the LGBT community still has to go in order to obtain full equality. At the same time, his focused lens led him to believe that some of the usual LGBT activism has isolated the fight and stories, leaving much of the continued struggle to go unrealized by the population at large.
So Hooper's answer is to present relatable tales that are just as proactive in changing hearts and minds as any textbook gay rights treatment, but doing so in a package that pops with universal heart and wit. Hooper calls out the B.S. for what it is, while keeping an equal focus on uniting folks from all walks of life for the common causes of peace, equality, acceptance, and, ironically enough - family values. All of this while remembering to keep his tongue in or around the cheek region.
Written to engage and entertain, as well as inspire further discussion and action, the boo...
Oh hey, what’s up? I’m Jeremy, and this is my book, which I’m
totally psyched that you’re reading. Or skimming. Or sacrificing to
the gods of antiquity. Whatever. But before I send you off into the
sometimes wild, occasionally blue, always determined yonder that I’ve
managed to peck out onto paper before the publishing industry collapses
in on itself, let me first give you an idea of what this here literary
endeavor thingamadoodle is all about.
First thing to know is that this is not so much a gay book. Not in the
traditional sense, at least. Sure, the tales are those of a
same-sex–loving person learning and living within America’s most
recent decades. And yes, the narrative is designed to advance
understanding about the unnecessary trials and tribulations that
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people still face every
day. But the goal here is not limited to “gay rights,” and the
victims are not just those who are directly maligned. This mission is
more human than the scope some have placed on the struggle for equality
and more humane than the limits others have put on the same.
As a gay man, I know what it’s like to feel alone, as if nobody could
possibly understand what you’re going through. I’ve experienced
firsthand the confusion and the fear. I’ve seen how a lack of role
models and negligently recited urban legends can lead scared youth to
accept society’s often demonized picture of those who are placed in
the “other” box. I’ve walked in these shoes and now look back as a
slightly older, hopefully wiser brother who wants to use his place of
self-acceptance to provide hope for those who may be struggling. I also
aim to repudiate the insanely insensitive claims that far-right social
conservatives have affixed onto LGBT life, ultimately leading us all out
of this overwrought age of decrial and into one of unending
enlightenment. Ya know, simple goals.
The main reason I don’t want to write a typical gay rights book is
because even though I’m as out and proud as they come, I know that
being gay, in and of itself, is one of the least interesting things
about me (or anyone else). That’s a potentially damning admission,
considering I’m asking you to read twenty-five chapters all focused on
themes with homosexual tendencies. It also happens to be true. If I had
my way, I’d likely never utter the words gay, homosexual, queer, LGBT,
or any of the assorted and sundry names that have been applied to my
life and love. In fact, I don’t use the labels, most of the time. When
not fighting the good fight, you’ll rarely hear me putting my
sexuality front and center. I lead with my mind, not with my crotch.
That mind is human, not just homosexual human.
But I also like to think that my mind is peaceful and decent, which is
why I see a need to step up and fight the wanton bias that’s made so
many generations of LGBT people wretch. There came a point in my
mid-twenties when taking on an activist role no longer felt like a
choice. With a president on national TV telling millions of my
compatriots that families like mine are “lesser than” (at best), how
could I not give back a big Dubya.T.F? With state after state going to
the polls to cast harsh votes against my ring finger, how could I not
raise an eyebrow? With firsthand knowledge of the unnecessary familial
strife that well-meaning but shortsighted parents are imposing on their
kids for supposedly making a “lifestyle choice,” how could I stay
quiet? How could I choose to sit this one out?
It wasn’t only, or even primarily, because I was gay that I felt this
need—it was because I didn’t want to suck at being a conscious
being! Apathy no longer made me feel benignly guilty, the way that extra
scoop of ice cream, the three-hundred-dollar sweater, or reality shows
about child beauty pageants did/do. At some point, passivity began to
seem both negligent and dangerous. I started envisioning future
generations asking me what I had done to beat back bias and “rooted
for the lesbian contestant on America’s Next Top Model” no longer
felt like a suitable answer.
So all of a sudden I became a professional activist, something I never
expected to be. Hell, something I had probably even mocked in my younger
days—though something that suddenly felt like duty-bound kismet. For
many of my predecessors in inactivity, the light bulb moment came
through the unimaginably devastating plague of AIDS. For me, it was the
closed mindsets that once turned a disease into a pandemic and that
continue to reduce a rich, vibrant population of human beings down to a
disposable band of “militants” with an “agenda-driven”
“lifestyle.” Once my fog was lifted, there was no turning back. One
question: how to move forward?
When thinking of the skills that I could bring to a fight, I knew that
personality was going to be key. I have a theatrical background, both by
nature and by training, which means that I sacrifice few opportunities
to punctuate even the most depressing of life moments with a touch of
flair. I was convinced that the LGBT world could use a little bit of
this style. Why should clenching my fist out of frustration mean that I
had to remove the tongue from my cheek? The anti-gay side calls us
“angry” because we take to the street in protest? Okay, so what will
they say when I instead take to the written word with heart and wit?
I also knew I wanted to directly challenge the lies. Conservative groups
write gay people off as “sex-crazed” because our movement is bound
in part by sexuality? Alright, well then I’m going to show them that
our far bigger hard-on is directed towards love, with our most
toe-curling orgasm coming from their side’s theoretical cease fire. Or
if they say that we who fight for basic fairness are anti-family and
anti-values? Fine, then I’ll force them to answer why they are the
ones whose “values” leave empty chairs at countless family holidays.
Wherever the misrepresentation, I was determined to serve as the
My first step was to launch a website called Good As You
(www.GoodAsYou.org), where I could take on the daily slate of anti-gay,
anti-equality nonsense. My “agenda” was a simple one: to demand
respect; teach peace; make a few jokes; hold any and everyone
accountable if and when they create unsafe space for LGBT people or
their S(traight) allies; do it all in the most firm but fair way
I continue this journey with the book that you’re about to read.
Through both the site and these physically- (or digitally-) bound pages
you hold in your hand, I’m using my own life travels as a vehicle for
the larger LGBT rights fight because I really do see my trek from
scared, Southern gay boy to out, legally married, big-city activist as a
fitting parallel for the larger rights picture. But navel gazing is not
the goal. By sharing my story, I hope to:
Clue potential allies in to how much homophobia/heterosexism can hurt,
thereby cultivating a broad coalition of fair-minded LGBT and S
Inspire this fair-minded bloc to curb apathy and take charge of the
conversation, reducing and ultimately extinguishing the arrogant
“culture war” mentality that has hijacked American politics for the
past several decades
Get us past the point where anyone’s basic civil rights or human worth
are up for debate
Drain and replace the organized anti-LGBT movement’s snake oil, as if
they are the out-of-town parents, and I the seventeen-year-old who
discovered the keys to the liquor cabinet
Hopefully you, the reader, will be entertained. Maybe you’ll laugh,
maybe you’ll cry, and maybe you’ll do that laughter-thru-tears
combo—emotions are a lovely thing. Most of all, I want you to get
active, the same way that I did just a few years back. Regardless of
your race, age, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or ear lobe
status (free hanger here), I want you to see the crucial need to step up
and give a damn. I want you to want to make a difference in this, one of
the major (if not most major) civil rights battles of our time. Even if
just in your own mind, I want you to engage in this important
conversation. Even if you only rally Judy from Accounting, then that’s
one more Judy than we had before (and you know how fickle that one can
Because the thing is, not only can we tolerate and respect all of this
world’s inhabitants—we need to co-exist for society’s sake. We
must bridge the gaps that separate the LGBTSQ consonants, co-mingling
between and within the clumsily constructed communities the false
“culture war” script has demanded of us. Just as with any civil
rights struggle, the fight for LGBT equality is one to which more than
just the members of the community can and should relate. In a population
where humanity is quickly being replaced with technology and discourse
limited to that of liberal think tank versus conservative interest
group, we must boil LGBT issues down to the far simpler principles of
love, respect, and right versus wrong. We must start talking like human
beings, not robotic talking point machines. We must be better as a
In some cases, I’ve changed the names. In all cases, I hope to change
hearts and minds. Maybe even yours?
Excerpted from "If It's A Choice, My Zygote Chose Balls: Making Sense of Senseless Controversy" by Jeremy Hooper. Copyright © 0 by Jeremy Hooper. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.