What Color is Your Scarf?
by Michael S.Brown
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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What Color is Your Scarf? is the kind of text you'd expect in Homosexuality 101. Michael S. Brown wrote this little guide to provide his view of "life in the gay lane" as experienced by a 40-something beginner to the identity process.

The book's title is a reference to the 1970 movie classic "Boys in the Band" and the use of colored handkerchiefs to exclaim one's identity and preferences. Brown feels he's a bit of every symbolized color and hopes his experiences and candor will help others find their true hues.

The first two chapters detail the purpose of the book and Brown's own coming out. Chapter three, in which the author defines the components of "gaydom" is quite an eye-opening lesson for the homosexually-challenged. Brown uses the latter half of the book to reflect on his first extended relationship. He candidly examines the few pros and countless cons of this particular union in an educational manner from which others can draw guidance.

What Color is Your Scarf? is a versatile educational tool, though I don't recommend passing copies out to uneducated family members during your coming out party. Much of this book focuses on gay dating and sex, which are probably not the most important topics when you're trying to help others understand the real you. I have mental images of grandma getting the vapors when she gets to the page that mentions genital piercing and penis measurement. PFLAG.org has some downloadable publications that might make the whole coming out process easier to accept and understand for those who have little contact with the gay world.

As mentioned, this is a teeny quick book. Brown writes honestly about his own feelings and perceptions. He draws on past relationship mistakes to illustrate important points for readers. Being a heterosexual female prevents me from examining the effectiveness of this book from a gay male perspective. Internet feedback from gay men seems to be positive, however, with many readers personally identifying with Brown's story.

At the conclusion of the book is a list of gay-themed websites. Brown provides many dating and personal ad sites and is quick to point out the red flags and drawbacks of utilizing such an option. The most helpful information is found on the final page in a list of gay Internet search engines, which provide an electronic education in gay culture.

When partaking in a new experience, it is said one is getting his feet wet. What Color is Your Scarf? is like testing the water with your little toe. There's a whole big gay ocean out there and Brown's book is helpful for navigating one's uncharted self-identity territory.

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