"Hoffman skillfully weaves her coming-of-age memoir and a riveting chronicle of a tumultuous political movement's coming of age, characterized by dissent within the community and beyond. . . . Its (GCN's) influence remains, and Hoffman's account, full of photos, posters, and headlines of its time, only bolsters its historic importance."
- Review: Whitney Scott
The Roots and Fruits of Gay Culture
Amy Hoffman was a major part of Gay Community News, as editor from 1978 to 1982 and then as board member and writer from 1982 to 1985, “an eternity in GCN years.” An Army of Ex-Lovers: My Life at the Gay Community News is Hoffman’s memoir of the exciting years when GCN was “the center of the universe.”
Though largely the history of GCN, An Army of Ex-Lovers is also Hoffman’s own story and that of the men and women who made that publication possible. Like Picano in New York, Hoffman and her colleagues were pioneers in their field, creating a community and a culture almost from scratch. Though SeaHorse, GPNy and GCN are no more, they continue to influence our literature, our media, and the way we live and the way we think./
Reading Amy Hoffman's memoir is like a long conversation with an old friend. Anecdotal and episodic, Hoffman takes us to that time when a gay march on Washington was really a revolution, gay newspapers were not a business, and HIV was just getting ready to burn out so many of our best and brightest. Break out the good wine for this conversation.
— Review: Angel Curtis
Well Worth Reading - C. Carey, Boston, MA December 26, 2007
This book is the best LGBT read of 2007. Hoffman is informative and wonderfully self-depracating. Her rich history of working in Boston for a gay newspaper is full of amazing tales, making the book easy to read a bit by bit or straight through. As a younger reader, Hoffman's book helped me to appreciate all of the hard work gay rights activists put in to ensure the freedoms we celebrate today, especially here in Massachusetts.
Thanks Amy for your enlightening book!
“Funny, engaging, enlightening, heartbreaking: a history of the heart that will touch everyone who reads it.”
author of The Red Tent
“Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community has been built for many of us out of friendships forged in political settings—like Gay Community News, which was the most influential newspaper in the movement for more than two decades. These dear friendships—filled with humor, strengthened through enduring tragedies, tinged with hysteria at the crises we faced—form the backdrop to Amy Hoffman’s absorbing memoir. Hoffman’s beautifully written history is about idealism, imaginative social action, and a very recent era in which the sexual freedom we take for granted was being articulated and claimed for the first time.”
author of Virtual Equality and former directorof National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
“Amy Hoffman has written a fabulous memoir of post-Stonewall lesbian and gay liberation. The book captures the radical political spirit of the 1970s, conjuring up a world of men, women, and differently gender-configured activists who sought to foment a revolution to end capitalism, racism, homophobia, and sexism all the while putting out a weekly newspaper. . . . This is memoir at its best.”
author of Disorders of Desire
“Part social history, part personal memoir, and part off-beat love story. Amy Hoffman writes with so much charm and wit that this portrait of a group of political radicals trying to change the world becomes an endearing and completely accessible tribute to the power of community and the importance of convictions. There is something to love, admire, and laugh about on every page of this book. I hated to see it end.”
author of The Object of My Affection
Click to hear the interview
Amy is interviewed about Lies About My Family by Merry Gangemi of Woman-Stirred Radio on WGDR
"Amy Hoffman has written a highly readable memoir of a brief but formative moment in time: her four years, from 1978 to 1982, working at Boston’s weekly newspaper, Gay Community News.
...There’s a little of Hoffman’s private life woven through this life of GCN, and her self-doubts about her editorial capabilities. There are lovers and friends, concerts and parties, pre-gentrified Boston, the 1979 gay march on Washington, and her conflicted feelings about socializing and having fun as the only lesbian in large crowds of gay men. A full-page reproduction of an early issue of Bad Attitude (a “sort of porno magazine”), of which Hoffman was co-publisher in the mid-1980’s, makes one want to know much more about this phase in her life."
"...Hoffman weaves her personal story in between her professional life at GCN with humor and reflection, and even though it seems impossible to separate from, she discovered herself as she was a part of the committed GCN publication. ... The activism of GCN is one of the most important aspects of Hoffman’s story, and I believe is what kept GCN’s spirit alive. Hoffman went in-depth about various controversial art and editorial coverage, including GCN being a part of gay history including covering the first ever gay and lesbian march in Washington DC in 1979. ... From my perspective, Hoffman seemed naturally close to gay men throughout her recollection of her experience at GCN."
Feminist Studies Journal Issue 34, Vol. 3, "The 1970's Issue. Historical Life Stories by Rosalyn Baxandall
"Hoffman has a special ironic style, which had me laughing out loud, that she employs in talking about the seemingly minute but then giant battles that went on in the GCN and the feminist and left communitiy...". "Hoffman might be nostalgic about the period, but she is not uncritical. ..."
LOCAL FEATUREAn Army of Ex-Lovers … on Deadline! Amy Hoffman’s memoir recounts the historic weekly publication Gay Community News.March 2008
“Gay Community News was actually a physical place you went to,” Clinton said. “You worked like crazy. Then you went out, drank cheap wine, ate lasagna and went dancing like crazy. Now we have the Internet and the illusion of community. I read Amy’s book missing that time; it had tastes and smells and heat.”
"Blending a keen eye and a knowing wit, the memoir is a rare and intimate picture of an era just before AIDS and the activism it unleashed, before widespread consumer technology or public tolerance.
The twin gifts of compassion and concision Hoffman has long displayed as writer and editor help convey the story of her own fight for personal and professional integrity and her coworkers' struggle to avoid hate violence, family ostracism, invisibility, or career pigeonholes. This is no lavender-scented bit of nostalgia. It is among the most original histories of LGBT America. An amazing collection of photos adds humor, depth, and texture to the taut narrative..."
"Hoffman's style is charming. When she arrives at GCN, there's the sense that it's a bit like Dorothy Gale opening that door when she hits Oz. ...
AN ARMY OF EX-LOVERS is a wonderful evocation of a time and a place of a certain part of a generation that, as a dear older friend of mine told me, "got it all." That may only be accurate in his vision, but those who got the movement going in the 1970s literally wrote the script, and Hoffman, in her delightful book, gives us a sense of what it was like to be young in the 70s and doing something daring and something entirely new. I'm so glad Hoffman wrote this book and I'm doubled glad it was published. I don't usually gush, but I just did.
Amy Hoffman's autobiographical history of her years at Boston's Gay Community News (GCN ) is one of the most engaging works of nonfiction recently published. An Army of Ex-Lovers documents the period from 1978-82 when Hoffman was serving as one of the weekly newspaper's editors. This tumultuous period encompasses the flagship era of Gay Liberation; the murder of Harvey Milk; the Anita Bryant crusade; and the beginning of the AIDS crisis. It was also a time of emerging lesbian activism, a subject this lesbian, Bostonian author covers with a wry sense of humor and wonderful candor...
Amy Hoffman worked at GCN from 1978 to 1982. Nearly three decades later she revisits that life-altering experience with humour, grace and hindsight in the just-released An Army of Ex-Lovers: My Life at the Gay Community News.
Hoffman revealed herself as a self-aware and touchingly honest memoirist in her first book, Hospital Time, a chronicle of her tempestuous relationship with GCN's office manager Mike Riegle as he died from AIDS-related complications in the early '90s. She dives deeper into the past in An Army of Ex-Lovers and what surfaces is not only a portrait of a passionate moment in social history but a tender coming of age tale...
Our Favorite Books Of 2007
"Hoffman is a wickedly funny writer. In sly detail, she interweaves her own gay stor, the marginal characters that came and went at GCN, and her attempts to translate it all to her family.
Most surprisingly, it is an unlikely gay love story, between a Jewish lesbian and a very tall Irish gay man. Their love and friendship were no small feat in a time of lesbian and gay male separation."
December 4, 2007
Amy Hoffman remembers the history of the Gay Community News as torrid and sometimes dangerous but ultimately worth every minute
The Printing Press
When 26-year-old Hoffman joined Boston’s Gay Community News in 1978, the weekly newspaper had been a radical gay and lesbian forum for five years but was still the only business listed under “gay” in the Boston telelphone book. Undeterred by the staffers’ infighting and lack of journalism experience, the gay bashings and murders of several colleagues, the paper’s circulation of only about 5,000 copies, and the chronic shortage of funds because GCN’s politics scared most potential advertisers, she worked at the paper for nearly four years….Discovering, losing, and then finding love again kept Hoffman at GCN, along with the excitement of creating a common agenda for social change with legions of dykes and faggots, many of whom went on to lead LGBT, AIDS service, and social justice organizations across the country…. Hoffman ranges about freely—portraits of the GCN staff, the fire that destroyed the GCN office shortly after she left the paper…overall her people are potent enough to make her ramblings worth following. … Luckily for the reader it was someone as funny, thoughtful, and forgiving as Hoffman who took the time to look back and recapture so many emblematic moments.”
Sunday Arts & Entertainment/Books
November 25, 2007
Out and about
The Boston-based Gay Community News was always a shoestring operation with outsize ambitions. Founded in 1973 - before AIDS and gay weddings - GCN was run by activists who were as interested in making news as they were in covering it.
In "An Army of Ex-Lovers: My Life at the Gay Community News," former GCN editor Amy Hoffman, now editor of the Women's Review of Books, recalls with wit the heady debates that roiled the staff. Although GCN never had a circulation of more than 5,000, it was a vital connection for readers coming out of the closet. In addition, the paper was a training ground for lesbian and gay leaders who, Hoffman writes, "went on to run practically every gay organization in the country."
Named to the 1998 Books for the Teen Age by the Young Adult Services Division of the New York Public Library
Finalist, Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Book Award
Social Responsibility Roundtable of the American Library Association
Finalist, Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction
“There are no books out there that speak to the experience of those of us who must live with the truth instead of laminating it with some face-saving altruism and heroism. Except for this one. [Hoffman has] perfect pitch on this whole deal. And [she writes] really, really well.”
columnist and author of One True Thing and other works
Hospital Time is necessary, powerful, full of the detail of authentic struggle, and beautifully done. Hoffman is right out there naked in real life with all her convictions and full sense of her community. Her book is a revelation.”—Dorothy Allison
“Amy Hoffman details, without flinching, what it feels like to be responsible for a friend who is dying. From the middle of an experience most of us avoid at all costs and against a backdrop of far too many deaths, Hoffman constructs a sharp political memoir about the experience of lesbian and gay families in the time of AIDS. This insightful and disquieting book delivers a moving elegy on the quality of queer friendship, straight culture’s abdication on AIDS, the meaning of mourning, and the possibility of redemption.”—Urvashi Vaid, from the foreword
“Hospital Time is a brilliantly crafted memoir about the writer's struggle to bear witness to the death of a friend. Hoffman's story, written in short, breathtakingly compressed chapters, chronicles life at the center of the AIDS epidemic: intense, terrifying, simultaneously suffused with meaning and empty. Hoffman avoids any cliche of the noble death, instead offering us a relentless view of her own excruciating moral struggles in the face of her disintegrating family. Hospital Time moves, not in a straight line, but like life does—like AIDS does—unpredictably, unforgivingly: as a series of overlapping losses, each more devastating than the last.”—Stephanie Grant, author of The Passion of Alice
“A sober examination of the caregiving role the gay and lesbian community has taken upon itself in response to the AIDS crisis…[Hoffman’s] memoir, which reads much like a novel, is built around the illness and death in 1992 of her difficult, brilliant friend, Mike Riegle. . . . Hospital Time is an honest portrait of the complex emotions that come with caring for the terminally ill.”
“Behind every AIDS statistic we hear on television or read in the newspaper are the uncounted—the friends, co-workers, and family whose lives are irrevocably altered. Hoffman, a writer living in Boston, is one of these people. Her memoir is striking in its direct and often painful portrayal of her experiences as healthcare proxy for Mike Riegle, a gay friend. . . Those who have been touched by AIDS as well as caregivers who struggle with their conflicting feelings should read this work.”