The Queer Spirit Podcast

Episode 14:
Reimagining Gay Men’s Lives
with Walt Odets


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Walt Odets is a clinical psychologist in private practice who has worked with and written about the psychological, developmental and social lives of gay men for more than three decades. His seminal book, In the Shadow of the Epidemic: Being HIV-Negative in the Age of AIDS, which Duke University Press published in 1995, was selected by The New York Times as one of the “Notable Books of the Year.”

Odets’s recent work has focused on the psychological aftermath of the HIV epidemic, the long-standing childhood and adolescent stigmatization and trauma experienced by young gay men, and the conventional idea of “the homosexual” and its negative influences on gay identities, self-realization and relationships between men. This work has culminated in a new book, OUT OF THE SHADOWS: Reimagining Gay Men’s Lives, which examines the hopes and new possibilities for gay men today.

Episode Highlights

  • Walt talks about how he went from being a photo journalist to becoming a psychologist.
  • He shares stories about how it was to start his therapy career right in the middle of the AIDS epidemic, and how that influenced his first book, Into the Shadows, which depicts the relationships between negative and positive gay men.
  • His newer book, Out of the Shadows, is a continuation from the first, and is a response to the way gay men are relating now, twenty-five years later.
  • We discuss the way young gay men today relate to HIV, AIDS and PrEP/Truvada.
  • Walt shares his ideas about the difference between what it means to be “homosexual” versus “gay.”
  • He shares his thoughts on how gay men develop shame from the way most men in our culture are raised, and societies relationship to the feminine. This  effects the way they experience isolation in community later in life.
  • Walt offers some insights about how to begin to overcome shame. 


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