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Meet Mr. Manners: Steven Petrow to discuss his ultimate book on LGBT etiquette at San Diego luncheon

SAN DIEGO -- With the advent of gay marriage in New York coming July 24, some people may be finding themselves invited to enough matrimonial events to make one’s head spin.

So with new traditions come new rules and social mores upon we base our behaviors. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with all of the little details in life, but it’s the little details that can predicate whether we have a good day or a bad day.

Author Steven Petrow, who will be speaking at a luncheon in San Diego on Friday, July 15, has a new book (written with Sally Chew) that is meant to be an essential and handy guide to the little and the not so little details that we have to sift through every day.

His new book, “Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners: The Definitive Guide To LGBT Life,” is being hailed as a valuable resource for anyone who is looking for insight into the LGBT community and lifestyle.

“All other etiquette books exclude gay and lesbian people from their pages and their advice,” Petrow said in an exclusive interview with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. “With so many new situations today in our community, everything from planning a same sex wedding, to having families with two moms and two dads, to more and more people coming out and situations dealing with anti-gay jokes and slurs, it actually is all about manners. How you handle that and what you do, because manners are at the core of our social relationships.”

Petrow has written many other books that pertain to LGBT life and has a nationally syndicated column, “Queeries.” He is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Advocate.com, 365Gay.com, GayWeddings.com and is a former president for the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Petrow also served as the first same-sex wedding curator for The New York Times.

But Petrow isn’t the type to be wagging his finger and shaking his head in disgust at bad manners, yet he does recognize the importance of our daily interactions with others and how these interactions if not handled with care, can lead to hurt feelings or uncomfortable situations.

One of the most common complaints that Petrow is hearing lately is about the sticker shock that some LGBT couples are facing when planning their wedding.

“The average cost for a wedding is about $25,000,” Petrow said. “With new rights come responsibilities. The faux pas that I see most often is couples trying to reduce their costs in ways that are not ‘proper.’ Some people have wanted to charge their guests to pay for their dinners at their weddings. There are easy ways to work around that though: Don’t serve dinner, make it hors d’oeuvres, make it a lunch or perhaps have it at a different time of year when the venue is less expensive. You can’t go around charging your friends as though they’ve come to a restaurant.”

Petrow has referred affectionately to his newest work as a “womb to tomb book” because there’s so much information and it carries over into so many different aspects of everyday LGBT life. There’s helpful information on:

-- Starting a family as a gay or lesbian person

-- Coming out

-- Making friends in the community

-- Dating

-- Sexual relationships and sexual etiquette

-- Marriage

-- Travelling as a gay person

-- Illness, death, dying and survivorship

One of the important issues that Petrow covers in his book is that of gay bashing or gay slurs.

“Anyone who is making homophobic jokes or homophobic comments that is ill-intended and that’s something that no one should accept and everyone should stand up against,” Petrow said. “I think good manners is speaking up and saying ‘that’s not so funny or I find that offensive.’ Silence is understood to be agreement and none of us should ever allow that to occur. You don’t need to be rude, offensive or humiliating, but just to say something to kind of draw the line in the sand. We all need to draw these lines for any group that is maligned in any way.”

Petrow isn’t simply making up the rules to etiquette as he goes. He’s conducted extensive research for the book and interviewed over 200 experts to understand the codes, culture and traditions that we have in our society. He interviewed wedding planners, ministers, florists, psychologists, teachers, lawyers who work with gay people and even a gay undertaker.

The details

KPBS in San Diego will be co-sponsoring a two-course seated luncheon with a discussion and book signing by Steven Petrow on Friday, July 15, from noon until 1:30 pm at The Palm Restaurant on J Street. Tickets are $25 to attend the lunch or $37 to attend the lunch and receive a book for the author to sign. To purchase tickets or for more information go HERE.