Wednesday, June 1, 2011


J.C. Knudson has done what few other people have dared to do. He has written a book detailing the story of his life. I know tons of people write about their lives –too many to count and within every life is a story or lesson worth finding. What makes this book noteworthy is that J.C. has written with the intent of revealing his earliest memories of same sex attraction. His book details his early sexual development and goes on to outline the events of his life as affected and shaped by his sexual orientation. In writing, he has avoided much of the self pity or self aggrandizement that often characterize biographies, instead choosing to relate his story in a way that allows others to form their own opinions –to reject or to embrace the message he has to share.  The resulting book is remarkably under-sensationalized.

J.C. doesn’t try to convince you of what being gay is or is not. He believes that being gay is as natural as being straight and so he doesn’t waste time defending that position. He simply and neatly opens the doors and lets you look inside his life. He is respectful. He doesn’t impose on the reader or force intimacy. His story explores the wasted moments and the misery created through self denial and ignorance, showing clearly that living a lie leads to a life full of regret and self judgment. By embracing himself and his natural desires J.C. opened himself and his life for self respect, for true loving, lasting relationships, and to mutual appreciation. He shares his confusion and desires without being explicit, and in so doing makes it possible for others to learn from his life, offering as much in the way of comfort and hope as he does to dispel fear and ignorance.

Living the Difference reveals in its pages a man with high standards, ethics, dedication, love, and loyalty. The life he has led could easily be any of our lives, at the best and worst of times and yet the difference is there, imposed by the perceptions and culture around him. What did Living the Difference reveal to me? It revealed a human story of triumph and humility that offers hope and a measure of normalcy to counter the perception of irresponsibility and flamboyant decadency which veils the “gay life.”

There is much in this book that may be helpful in dispelling prejudice and fear about gay men in particular. However, the most benefit will be gained by those who will read between the lines and notice that J.C. is no different in his humanity than they are. I recommend this book for those who are struggling to suppress homosexual attractions or who are in confusion about their sexual orientation.

This book will be especially helpful to those men who like J.C. have lived or are living double lives. Many gay men would like to embrace themselves but are afraid that doing so will remove them from having full lives; from the possibility of finding happiness, meaningful relationship, success, and achievement. J.C.’s story reveals that being gay does not condemn anyone to an empty or frivolous life, devoid of relationship, and doomed to rejection. If nothing else J.C’s story offers hope to those who otherwise might have only the fear and self loathing. The real difference between gay and straight life comes from having the sanction to love fully by embracing one’s self. Living well being the only choice one has to make.

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