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Reviewed by Marnie Wilson for Readers' Favorite
Looking for Mr. Straight by Tarra Helfgott is a book by a woman who dated more than her fair share of men who are likely closeted homosexuals. She does not have anything against gay men (or women); she just doesn't want to waste time trying to find a lasting relationship with one. In college she dated often and at times felt something “off” about some of the men she dated. Then Tarra lived and dated prolifically for the better part of a decade in New York City. She availed herself frequently of all manner of dating services such as speed dating, online dating, matchmaking services, themed singles parties and blind dates. Just as in college, she all too often sensed something not quite “right” about some of the men she dated. Over the course of these years, she developed a sixth sense, “gaydar,” for picking up on subtle clues that a single man might well be struggling with his true sexuality. As she encountered these types of men so often, she endeavored to investigate further why men would date women, pursue them even, if their true nature was to be homosexual. Tarra longed to improve on her odds of finding someone with whom she could develop a successful, long-term relationship. In the course of trying to understand her knack for attracting these men and wanting to know how to avoid dating them, she learned a lot. Tarra pieces together knowledge she gained from gay men and women, as well as other single women who also dated men who seemed to be closeted homosexuals. She consolidates all she learned and makes sense of why scores of men, who aren’t truly interested at their core in women, would throw themselves into the heterosexual dating pool.
I am a 50-year-old married woman who hasn’t been in the dating pool in a long time, and plans never to be again, and yet I loved this book! It made me think back on my own past dating life and now I’m convinced that several men I dated were probably closeted gay men. Back then, I knew something wasn’t quite right while dating these men, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. With Tarra’s insight and the stories from gay men who actually dated and even married women before coming out of the closet, it now makes more sense to me. I also think about friends of mine who had frustrating dating relationships with some men, and now I theorize they were probably gay men as well. Although there is no scientific data on which to hang her claims in Looking for Mr. Straight, Tarra still comes through as reasonably discerning and informed, based on her own experiences, those of friends, and actual explanations from gay men who were, at one time, exactly the kind of men she encountered dating.