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BERLIN CABARETS between the wars had their fair share of homosexual headliners (“homosexual” being the period term). Wilhelm Bendow, affectionately known as Lieschen, portrayed a scatterbrained, giggling “nance” whose naïve questions and double entendres provoked hilarity. Claire Waldoff, a regular at the lesbian clubs with her henna-dyed Prince Valiant hairdo and husky voice, sang of “Kicking the Men Out of Parliament.” They were both wildly popular with all ranks of society.

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The Institute was Europe’s gathering place for sexual minorities, especially trans people. Some of the first to undergo gender reassignment surgery stayed at the Institute.

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Capote was sui generis, way ahead of his time as far as being openly gay, and the women he called his swans were right out of an Edith Wharton novel.

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I know a good deal more about Stettheimer now thanks to Barbara Bloemink’s new biography of the artist. Bloemink revises the previous profile of Stettheimer as a “cloistered spinster” or an “eccentric maiden aunt.”

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When this writer traveled to Boulder, Portland, Dallas, and St. Louis in the 1970s, gay men in those towns recognized that what I was doing before meeting them was “cruising,” even though few in their space and time knew how to do so.

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NINETEEN TWENTY-SIX proved a banner year for Joe Carstairs—yes, she called herself Joe, not Jo—marking her try as a champion speedboat racer and winning the Duke of York trophy, then the most prestigious in speed racing.

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While still in college, F. O. Matthiessen met Russell Cheney on a ship coming back from Europe. It was love at first sight—on Matthiessen’s part at least.

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