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Ultimately, of course, of greatest interest to millions of readers is the unique nature of Tolkien’s genius, and it is here that Smith has made his most enduring impact. His ardent faith in Tolkien’s destiny proved justified, beginning in 1937 with the publication of The Hobbit; and Smith’s spirit lives on in the three books of The Lord of the Rings through the passionate love that grows between Frodo and Sam. Smith deserves to come out from the shadows cast by longstanding homophobia in literary studies and to be given his rightful place in English literature as Tolkien’s most influential muse.

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WIDELY REGARDED as the greatest living composer in the American musical theater, Stephen Sondheim has in recent years become very open about being a gay man. While coming to…More

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THE MUSIC AND LIFE of Leonard Bernstein are being celebrated around the world this year as we observe the centennial of his birth on August 25, 1918. Music lovers are being treated to thousands of classical concerts, talks about his career, screenings of the film West Side Story, and stage revivals of his Broadway musicals, such as On the Town and Candide. The scope of the celebration is due to Bernstein’s unique role in American music as a composer who spanned the worlds of Broadway and classical music, infusing symphonic richness into musicals and a modern sensibility into the concert hall, and leaving a lasting legacy in both art forms.

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            Infused throughout West Side Story is a gay sensibility that’s expressed subtextually in the relationship between the hero Tony and Riff, the leader of the Jets, and choreographically through the homoeroticism of the all-male dance sequences. Equally bold is the inclusion of the character named Anybodys, a teenage girl who identifies as a male and longs to be accepted as a full member of the Jets. Anybodys is Broadway’s first transgender youth.

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J.R.R. TOLKIEN’S CLASSIC WORK of fantasy literature The Hobbit has been enjoyed by millions of readers as a definitive story of escape. The book is equally cherished for the introduction of hobbits, an endearing variation on humanity. But the novel is much more psychologically profound and redolent with sexual symbolism than has been acknowledged by reviewers and Tolkien’s biographers.

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            What, then, is the truth about the author’s treatment of homosexuality in the original The Lord of The Rings? Are Jackson’s films faithful to Tolkien’s vision, or do they augment the story with contemporary sexual attitudes? Equally engaging is the question of the life of Tolkien, and the role that homosexuality played in his relationships with men, especially his attachment to the author C. S. Lewis and the literary circle known as “The Inklings.”

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What emerges from a reinterpretation of Forster is a rich body of work in which numerous gay characters and same-sex relationships are presented.

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            Shakespeare defied the constraints of the Elizabethan era in numerous plays, such as Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Troilus and Cressida, and Twelfth Night, which feature characters who violate the norms of gender or sexual behavior in their romantic relationships or their individual personae. In his cross-dressing comedies, such as Twelfth Night and As You Like It, gender rebellion and same-sex love are joyously intertwined.

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            The big discovery for me was Simeon Solomon (1840–1905)— a name I didn’t recognize—who had two works in the Yale show: Babylon Hath Been a Golden Cup (pen and ink, 1859) and Bacchus (oil painting, 1867). With a little research, I found that Solomon, younger than the first wave of PRB artists, was considered an equal by his peers.

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Circus of Books and Hollywood, a documentary and miniseries, respectively, share an interest in the margins around Tinseltown, especially its LGBT subculture and what “hustling” means in various forms.

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