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Reviewed by Laurie Gray for Readers' Favorite
"God Hates Fags" by Joe Wellman opens with the discovery of the abduction and brutal murder of a beloved high school teacher who had recently been outed as a closeted gay from the pulpit by a fundamentalist Christian pastor on a mission to rid society of the unforgivable sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. The story is set in a fictitious city of 35,000 people on the Mississippi River in southern Illinois and contains profanity, violence, sexual situations, and vulgar bigotry of every kind. After the police investigate and solve the murder, a State's Attorney with congressional ambitions decides to charge the pastor with a hate crime, even though his friends, family and party leaders believe he's committing political suicide. Does he have his own agenda and skeletons in the closet? In this book, everyone does!
Make no mistake. Joe Wellman knows, probably better than most, that God does not hate gays; it's only people who hate. He is not promoting the senseless abuse and self-perpetuating visceral hatred he depicts. For those who already suspect that "criminal justice" is an oxymoron and most people's lives are a tragic joke based upon their unspoken fears, "God Hates Fags" is clearly a skillful, perhaps brilliant, parody of society and the lies we take so seriously. The text itself could use some additional editing and a less offensive title. In context, the title is appropriate, but standing alone on a bookshelf or simply reading it in public sends the wrong message. I was fortunate to review an electronic copy where the title was not evident to casual observers. If you have a hard copy, I recommend duct taping the cover, suspending your own biases and expectations, and reading this book. Like it or not, you will learn something about yourself.