Love Undetectable Essay - Critical Essays

Andrew Sullivan

Love Undetectable

Andrew Sullivan attracted national attention in 1991, when, at age twenty-eight, he became senior editor of THE NEW REPUBLIC, a position he held until 1996. Openly gay, Sullivan addresses in each of the three adroitly written essays in LOVE UNDETECTABLE: NOTES OF FRIENDSHIP, SEX, AND SURVIVAL salient aspects of gay identity.

The final essay in this volume, “If Love Were All,” is especially moving in its consideration of the deep same-sex friendships that have traditionally been a part of homosexual life. The Amis and Amiloun tale from medieval literature and other tales like it that illustrate an aspect of same-sex love that, according to Sullivan, heterosexuals have ignored since the Middle Ages.

For Sullivan, the AIDS epidemic marked a turning point among gays, uniting them to fight a common foe. In his first essay, he focuses on the effects that controlling AIDS has had on gay communities. The disease, whose presence in one’s body was once regarded as a sure and certain death sentence, has become, in Sullivan’s eyes, a manageable disease not unlike diabetes.

The middle essay, “Virtually Abnormal,” a title reminiscent of Sullivan’s VIRTUALLY NORMAL: AN ARGUMENT ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY (1995), explores the origins of homosexuality and deals with the religious and ethical conflicts that being gay arouses. Raised as a Roman Catholic, Sullivan knows intimately the inner conflicts associated with being homosexual. Sullivan views human sexuality as bipolar: heterosexual or homosexual. He posits heterosexuality as the norm, contending that deviation from this norm involves both genetic and environmental factors.

Sources for Further Study

The Advocate. October 13, 1998, p. 94.

Booklist. XCV, September 1, 1998, p. 41.

Lambda Book Report. VII, November, 1998, p. 25.

Library Journal. CXXIII, October 15, 1998, p. 87.

National Review. L, December 7, 1998, p. 64.

New Statesman. CXXVII, November 6, 1998, p. 56.

The New York Times Book Review. CIII, October 11, 1998, p. 10.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLV, August 24, 1998, p. 37.

The Washington Post. November 12, 1998, p. C2.