How McNally Rescued the Theater
To the Editor,
I greatly appreciated the review of Raymond-Jean Frontain’s new book on playwright Terrence McNally in the May-June edition. The review reminded me of why I gravitated towards McNally’s work during my days as a young theater major trying to figure out whether my identity as a trans woman would conflict with my passion for theater.
When I entered the theater department at the rural southern university I studied at, I assumed that the department would be a place of refuge for me. I was wrong. Unlike other majors, the theater department zealously perpetuated heteronormativity by exclusively teaching and staging plays about cisgender and straight characters written by cisgender and straight playwrights, which left me feeling isolated. As a result, I ended up resenting my chosen major and theater in general.
It wasn’t until I came across McNally’s Love! Valour! Compassion!, a play that follows eight gay friends over the course of three summer holiday weekends, that I realized that there actually was a place for me in theater.
Because of the compassion that the play embodies, I have revisited it time and again over the past few months. While the world seems to be crumbling around us, McNally’s compassion persists in spite of his recent death.
Aila Boyd, Roanoke, VA
My Brush with the “Post Office Wars”
To the Editor:
I was struck by John Lauritsen’s article titled “The Sexual Economy of Revolution” [Jan.-Feb. 2020 issue], which included a section titled “Heroes in the Post Office Wars.” It seemed like a page out of my own life.
In the mid-1960s, I was an art student at Kutztown College, PA, now Kutztown University, when my dorm room was searched by the Reading postal inspector. I had joined one of those pen pal lists in back of a physique magazine at a time when full nudes were illegal through the mail. My pen pal was from Waco, Texas, and I was in love, or at least with the idea of being in love, and I knew I was not the only person on earth who was gay. The dean of men asked me to cooperate fully or I could be expelled from college, since it was state-supported. Being only a few months away from graduation, I was very afraid of what would happen.
The inspector asked if I had any photos of nudes. I told him I had collected some sepia toned physique models from “Western Photography” but they were at my parents home. I had to call my dear mother and tell her the postal inspector would be calling and where in my bedroom she could find the photos. During the visit to my home, they also took a hard cover book called The Boy in their search. My mother was livid about the visit and told them never to ever come near our house again.
No charges were filed against me, as no full nudes were found. Every photo used a posing strap back then.
Allen Metzgar, Denver, CO
Author’s Update on Hans Scholl
To the Editor:
As an addendum to my article on Hans Scholl (May-June issue, “How Hans Scholl Took on the Nazis”), I would like to share with readers the sources I relied upon, where you can find more information about Hans and his role in history.
I recommend that readers start by checking out the work of Dr. Jud Newborn, author of the critically acclaimed book Sophie Scholl and the White Rose. He has written for The G&LR, and he gives public lectures on the White Rose students and other leaders in the struggle for democracy and human rights. In his work on the White Rose, in 2005 Dr. Newborn uncovered groundbreaking evidence of Hans Scholl’s homosexuality. He tried twice to share this information with the world in the later editions of his book, but both times he was rebuffed by his co-author and publisher. However, you can find this research by downloading his pamphlet “Solving Mysteries: The Secret of the White Rose,” available for free on his website (judnewborn.com). Included are his insights into the origin of the White Rose’s mysterious name and its relationship to the gay bookseller in whom Hans Scholl confided. Dr. Newborn updates it frequently whenever new information comes to light.
For a book-length biography on Hans Scholl, I recommend Flamme Sein! (“Be on Fire!”), by Robert Zoske of Hamburg, Germany. (It is only available in German.) This book was fundamental to my knowledge of Hans Scholl’s inner life, his childhood and adolescence, and his 1937–38 arrest and trial, which is covered in great detail. I’m very grateful to have had Dr. Zoske’s help when I was writing my article. I want to share that he has a new book coming out this fall about Hans’s sister Sophie titled Sophie Scholl: Es reut mich nichts: Porträt einer Widerständigen (“Sophie Scholl: I Regret Nothing: A Portrait of Resistance”).
Finally, there’s a great collection of Hans’ letters and diaries in the 1987 book At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl, edited by Inge Jens and translated by J. Maxwell Brownjohn. You will find many of Hans’ deep philosophical reflections, but unfortunately you will not find any references to his relationships with men, because all of those references were heavily redacted by Hans’ older sister Inge Aicher-Scholl.
As you can see, behind this story of Hans Scholl is a story of self-censorship in publishing going back many decades, and still going on today. But Hans Scholl’s homosexuality was a part of him that the world needs to know! I’m grateful that I got to share that story with your readers.
AnnMarie Kolakowski, Temple City, CA
The lead article in the July-August 2020 issue, “King Henri III and His Mignons,” by Lawrence Senelick, stated that “François II died in a freak jousting accident.” An attentive reader noted that François II died of a disease, possibly tuberculosis. It was his father, Henri II, who died in the jousting accident.