The Fan Who Knew Too Much: Aretha Franklin, The Rise of Soap Opera, Children of the Gospel Church, and Other Meditations
by Anthony Heilbut
Knopf. 368 pages, $30.
THERE ARE FANS, and then there are fanatics. Count among the latter the many gay men who have bonded so powerfully with various musical genres, famously including the Broadway musical, club disco, and opera—each with its own set of divas and devotional practices. Less well known are the many gay men who are devotees of gospel music. These so-called gospel sissies are no less committed to their music and no less central to its existence, but their relationship to their music has always been much more complicated. This fraught fandom is the organizing focus of Anthony Heilbut’s new book, The Fan Who Knew Too Much.