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The phrase “gay privilege” may conjure images of velvet mafiosi clinking glasses at a bisexual billionaire’s swank Hampton digs, but I came to know an extremely specific and rare manifestation of it at the worst moment of my life. It was right after I had been arrested. A

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SEXUALITY and the Rise of China, by Travis S. K. Kong, reminds me of two books that I reviewed in these pages in 2015: Petrus Liu’s Queer Marxism in Two Chinas, and Tiantian Zheng’s Tongzhi Living: Men Attracted to Men in Postsocialist China. Like the latter, it is based on interviews—in Kong’s case, with ninety subjects in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China. And, as in Tongzhi Living—tongzhi. which once meant “comrade,” increasingly refers to gay men in Chinese—excerpts from the interviews are by far the liveliest portion of the book. The rest is sociology.

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For men, the benefits of entering a celibate community are less clear—unless the men were reluctant to engage in vaginal sex in the first place. Some Shaker men could not separate the idea of sex from sin and were willing to live apart from their wives in return for the promise of a heavenly reward. For men who felt little or no desire for women, however, the Shaker life offered the opportunity to live in a community where interaction with females would be only intermittent, and highly regulated. Instead, they would live in intimate communion with other men

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While he had made a couple of earlier short films, Fassbinder didn’t get to direct his first feature film until 1969. The film was Love Is Colder Than Death, a gangster movie that imitates similar films from Hollywood from the 1930s up to the 1950s, starring himself as a criminal torn between his love for two women and his friendship with another man.

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Stephen Crane began a novel to be titled “Flowers of Asphalt,” about a country boy who comes to New York to pursue his dream, only to end as a street hustler dragged down by drugs and syphilis.

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Everyone agrees that “Self-Reliance” is an indictment of mindless conformity and a challenge to think for oneself. But it has rarely been recognized as one of history’s first manifestos for people to be honest about their sexual nonconformity.

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Two revolutionary works of literature by queer women writers, and lesbianism would once again become the subject of intense dispute. Published within three months of one another, Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness (July 1928) and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (October 1928) both deeply challenged the gender conventions and sexual mores of their time.

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J.C. LEYENDECKER (1874–1951) was an artist of many firsts. With his illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post, he can be said to have invented what the modern magazine cover should look like. He was one of the first popular artists to achieve a kind of greatness, and, as the most widely seen image-maker of his era, he defined the look of the fashionable American male during the first few decades of the 20th century. As a gay man himself, he did all this while introducing a subtly homoerotic subtext into many of his drawings, thereby prying open a crack in the closet door of his era.

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As Patrick himself recalled later in life, the Caffe Cino was the “Ground Zero of the 1960s … a coffee-house, a theatre, a brothel, a temple, a flophouse, a dope-ring, a launching-pad, an insane asylum, a safe-house, and a sleeper cell for an unnamed revolution.” His novel was Temple Slave (1994), a fictionalized but nonetheless revealing history of the Caffe Cino, the birthplace of American gay theater.

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Moby Dyke is not just the slice of Americana that all road trips provide, nor just a portrait of the splintering of sexual identity in the homosexual community; it’s also glimpses of a writer’s past. Indeed, the sheer specificity of those memories produces its best prose, particularly when the author returns to the state in which she was raised.

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