Jean Lorrain, Ambassador from Sodom Essays, Features
Detested by most of his contemporaries and undervalued by his immediate posterity, [Jean] Lorrain’s amalgam of lowlife culture and preciosity, of exhibitionist journalism and artistic aspirations, has come to be seen as forerunners of Jean Cocteau and Jean Genet. His musky writing may be an acquired taste, but, then, so is caviar.
The Inscrutable John Singer Sargent Art, Essays, Features
The Grand Affair is not reductive; it’s a full-scale, fascinating story of an exceptional artist, informed by the new freedom to discuss homosexuality in a way that was not possible before. And it makes a persuasive case that Sargent, whether or not he acted on his feelings, was drawn to other men.
Joining the Rosa Bonheur Revival Art, Essays, Features
Bonheur painted herself into The Horse Fair as a participant, dressed in the standard attire of the other (all male) riders.
The Sublime Sewer Club Essays, Features
The Benedick opened its doors in the autumn of 1879. It offered 33 apartments for unmarried men and included on the top floor four artists’ studios available for rent, studios that were accessible via that sine qua non of New York sophistication: an elevator.
Gustave Courtois in the Paris Salon Essays, Features
Gustave Courtois was born in 1852 in the tiny town of Pusey in eastern France, about 35 miles north of Besançon. He was raised by his single mother, Jeanne Jobard, a laundress who hardly made enough money to pay the bills. Thanks to his remarkable artistic talent, he received a scholarship in the spring ofMore
Straightwashing Gustave Caillebotte Essays, Features
In Caillebotte’s first major painting, The Floor-Scrapers, men are depicted laboring in a bourgeois apartment. Kneeling, their arms extended before them, their torsos bare, the men are depicted in remarkably submissive poses. Such a presentation flew in the face of traditional concepts of manhood and its artistic representation, and the canvas was rejected by the juryMore
Two Victorians Imagine the Future Book Review
This novel shows that the struggle to come out, due to the strictures of the dominant society, has always been painful and hard won. We like to think that same-sex love isn’t just defensible but also beautiful, not only in its normalizing Pete Buttigieg version, imitative of heterosexual marriage, but also in its quirkiest manifestations.
Losing Touch Book Review
ALL DOWN DARKNESS WIDE, Seán Hewitt’s splendid new memoir, is haunted by ghosts. “Everything, once you start to look,” he observes, “is haunted.” There are the ghosts of a Catholic faith he abandoned; the ghost of his dead father; the ghost of the gay Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, his poetic mentor; the ghost ofMore
Lesbian Identity and Its Discontents Book Review
Sullivan stresses throughout the book that one of the failures of lesbian activism was an inability to move beyond a white framework and genuinely build coalitions with communities of color. Today, lesbian bars have adapted and do exist, albeit in much smaller numbers. They are more inclusive, frequented by a mixed clientele that is awareMore
The Darkness of Narrow Rooms Book Review
I could go on. Every page of Narrow Rooms has at least one sentence that stops me cold. As the reviewer of the biography noted, everyone who writes about Purdy winds up urging readers to do themselves the favor of discovering him. I now do the same.
Try Hiding on a Prairie Book Review, Memoir
OVER TWO DECADES AGO, Kathleen Norris published Dakota, a wonderfully poetic and ruminative memoir about life on the Great Plains from a spiritual point of view. Now comes Taylor Brorby’s Boys and Oil, an equally contemplative book, this time attempting to capture the experience of growing up gay in that beautiful but bleak environment.
Read These Drawings Like a Book Art, Book Review
Writing a Chrysanthemum teems with intense, mysterious feeling. There’s something unhinged about the work (one of Barton’s benefactors called him “crazy as a bedbug and impossible to cope with”) that is both bizarre and intriguing. It defies the norms we know, as does Barton, who considered himself not an artist but a writer
Reclamation and Recovery Book Review
AUTHOR LARS HORN writes in Voice of the Fish: “Past a certain age, my own reflection became increasingly difficult to look at. So, I didn’t. I looked out. Around. At others. Animals. Trees. Anything not myself.” Looking outside themself—the author uses they/them pronouns—is one of the primary ways in which Horn makes this lyric essay,More
Getting to the Wild Side Book Review, Music
Simon Doonan’s Transformer is a light-hearted, deeply personal, thoroughly researched examination of the social and artistic revolution in fashion and music ushered in during the 1960s and ’70s, and the role of Transformer in that revolution.
Sins of Omission Book Review
Sorrow’s Drive consists of four novella-length stories about, yes, sorrow. Michael Alenyikov’s soft, deft hand wields an ethos as harsh as Greek tragedy. His humor attains surpassing cruelty. He knows how real sin is. Sins of omission concern him.
How Bad Were the ’50s? Book Review, Memoir
[Keeping Family Secrets] ]is itself based on memoirs by people who lived through this era, people whose often jaw-dropping personal stories came to light once it was safe to reveal them in memoirs. The “secrets” are organized into categories: absent siblings, i.e., children who were institutionalized all their lives because of physical or mental disabilities;More
Viva the Counterrevolution Book Review
IN ERNESTO MESTRE-REED’S novel Sacrificio, Rafa is a penniless Afro-Cuban teenager from the rural eastern part of the country who travels to the fishing village of Cojímar, famous as the setting for Hemingway’s novel The Old Man and the Sea. Rafa is cruised and picked up by Nicolás, then taken to Havana to become aMore
Out of Nigeria Book Review
ASYLUM: A Memoir & Manifesto by Edafe Okporo Simon & Schuster. 209 pages, $26.99 EDAFE OKPORO’S Asylum: A Memoir & Manifesto opens at a market in Warri, a rural town in southern Nigeria, where he experiences his earliest years. As he and his mother wait in line for hired street youths to help themMore
Of Art, Borders, & Identity Book Review
Taken as a whole, Brown Neon shines a light on identities, experiences, and artworks not often explored in the realm of creative nonfiction. In this way, the collection feels wholly original even though it’s firmly rooted in the social and historical context that the author is seeking to explore. The result is an impressive groupMore
The Great ‘Why Not?’ Book Review
IF you’ve been following the buzz on this book, you may wonder how Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan—two very different kinds of authors—decided to team up on a novel. As the story goes, Boylan dreamed that she’d written a book with Picoult, and she tweeted about it. Picoult saw the tweet and said someMore
Two Priests with a Past Book Review
WITH HIS FIRST NOVEL, Homo Novus, Gerard Cabrera has written an emotionally charged and deeply moving story of two men and the paths that brought them together. As the story begins during Holy Week in 1987, readers find a Catholic priest, Father Linus Fitzgerald, in a hospital in Massachusetts. He is very sick and isMore
Short Reviews Book Review, Briefs, Lesbians, Poetry
Brief reviews of Novel Approaches to Lesbian History, Pathetic Literature, Less is Lost, and A Minor Chorus.
A Classic Novel Comes to the Met Music, Opera, Reviews
The opera The Hours brings to the stage the LGBT love lives (including their failures) of Laura Brown, Kitty, Clarissa and Sally, and Richard and Louis. Indeed it adds one same-sex relationship to the mix. A key incident in both Mrs Dalloway and in the 1990s Clarissa story involves Clarissa buying flowers for the party. InMore
We Were Everywhere Then, Too Art, Reviews
CHICAGO’S WRIGHTWOOD 659, a private institution focused on socially engaged art, mounted a landmark exhibition, The First Homosexuals: Global Depictions of a New Identity, 1869–1930, last fall. A team of international scholars, led by art historian Jonathan D. Katz, assembled a groundbreaking show with over 100 paintings, prints, photographs, and film clips that reveal how, asMore
Still Tragic After All These Years Film, Reviews
My Policeman and Spoiler Alert could not be more dissimilar in tone, but they both portray men in love as dismally doomed from the get-go. Neither challenges the cultural script that male relationships must end disastrously, though My Policeman does offer the two principles some redemption as old men.
The Warren Cup and Me Art, Art Memo
Ned would undoubtedly have preferred Pollini’s interpretation. He wrote a book titled A Defence of Uranian Love that was published under a pseudonym after his death. In it, he makes an argument for same-sex relationships based on those prevalent in Ancient Greece, in which an older male mentors a younger one and may or mayMore
It was Kenneth Williams, the most prolific of the Carry On ensemble, who appeared in 26 films in total. He was usually given the role of the overwrought, snide intellectual in a position of authority. His presence was unfailingly electrifying, with his clipped, nasal vocal intonations and facial expressions of remarkable elasticity. He could elevateMore
Letters to the Editor Correspondence
Springtime: “The Age of Innocence” Editorial
BY “The Age of Innocence” I have in mind the cultural period just before the medicalization of homosexuality in the early 20th century, when it was still possible to engage in same-sex erotic activity without being labeled an “invert.” In what may be a first, all six features are related to this theme, andMore
Don Gorton, Boston Activist and G&LR Mainstay In Memoriam
DON ELDRIDGE GORTON III (1960–2022) was a longtime activist for LGBT causes in Massachusetts who was also an integral part of this magazine for many years. Born in Mississippi, he took a law degree at Harvard in 1985 and began his career as an activist soon thereafter. Among his many positions of leadership inMore