Book Review: Gunn’s Golden Rules

Many of you are probably aware that Tim Gunn recently sort of “came out” as asexual, or at least described himself as asexual several times. Ily announced it here, and you can find several quotes from a magazine article that were almost direct quotations from his book, Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making it Work, here.

I’ve been a fan of Tim Gunn for several years, ever since I discovered Project Runway. A lot of that is that he does have an asexy vibe, but it’s also because I find him, more and more, to be the lone voice of sanity on the show. His critiques of the designers’ work are incredibly astute, although he doesn’t know what the judges are going to say, especially since lately they’ve been smoking crack (Really? Gretchen?). Another reason I identify with Tim is that he clearly reads a lot, and has a very large vocabulary. You see, I’m the type of person who relatively frequently uses words that others around me don’t know as well… and I get similar reactions to it. I also just find him overall very kind and generous and joyful, and that is the spirit of this book.

The rules that are quoted on the back cover of the book are almost all related to Project Runway and the one that isn’t is related to the wider fashion world. I realize that is a good marketing strategy, but I think that kind of misrepresents what the book is about as a whole. It’s not all catty gossip about Isaac Mizrahi and Anna Wintour; while he does critique their behavior, it is not in a gossipy or malicious way, but rather a critique that because they live in such an elite world, they have become out of touch with reality, and because of that they behave badly. The book’s themes revolve around being humble and not an elitist, being kind and courteous to others, and finding personal strength and joy even when things are tough.

This last theme seems to be the one that is most often discussed around these parts. He discusses hard issues like his suicide attempt and various conflicts with his family over his sexual orientation. I believe at one point, I think in a v-log, he said he shares that information in order to let anyone who is in a similar place know that it does get better. Now, I’ve had some concerns with the It Gets Better project because so many of the messages are centered around very mainstream norms that don’t take asexuality, aromanticism, or celibacy into account—they assume that everyone wants a romantic partner, a marriage, a family, etc. But Tim Gunn’s message is overall very asexual-friendly: Continue reading