Celebrating 44-years of the landmark book, “The Joy of Gay Sex," with author Dr. Charles Silverstein

"I found that the more in love two people are, the more easily it is for them to hurt each other."

Since 1977, The Joy of Gay Sex has educated generations of gay men in all areas of sex and desire — and perhaps just as subversive, it also includes an equal number of passages of a nonsexual nature. Co-writers Dr. Charles Silverstein and novelist Edmund White wanted to create a first-of-its-kind guidebook for every aspect of the gay experience.

The book has been seized by customs agents around the world, burned, and banned. But it’s also gone on to be translated into five languages and was revised in 1993 and then again in 2006 (co-authored by Silverstein and Felice Picano).

And who can forget the drawings?

The biting of a nipple, the curl of pubic hair — no detail was left out. The images were intended to be as stimulating as the writing.

It used to be that to learn much of the information in The Joy of Gay Sex, customers at bookstores had to ask to see a copy of the groundbreaking book that was often kept under the counter and out of sight so as not to offend anyone. But queer people now have smartphones and computers with 24/7 access to the internet, where they can discover just about anything they want about sex. They can also find one another there. For Silverstein, who was a teenager in the 1940s and didn’t engage in his first sexual experience with a man until 1970, there were no resources on the scale of The Joy of Gay Sex to turn to.

He was forced to learn on the job — trial and error “with lots of errors,” he says on this week’s episode of LGBTQ&A. “The first time I had sex with a guy was a big learning experience. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Fortunately, he did."

That night would prove to be a catalyst for Dr. Charles Silverstein. It was in that moment that he decided he would dedicate himself to fighting for acceptance for all gay people. His mission was to make sure that future generations, people who would one day read his books, would be spared the pain and struggles that he faced. He wanted those who followed after him to live without shame, to know that sex can and should be pure joy.

Click here to listen to the full interview with Dr. Charles Silverstein on the LGBTQ&A podcast. 

LGBTQ&A is a weekly LGBTQ+ interview podcast hosted by Jeffrey Masters. Past guests include Pete Buttigieg, Laverne Cox, Roxane Gay, and Trixie Mattel.

New episodes come out every Tuesday.