Browsing: In Search of Lost Identities

March – April, 2013

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FOR THE PAST TEN YEARS, same-sex marriage has dominated the American political landscape, but this is not the first time in history this issue has made front-page news. In 1971, The San Francisco Chronicle declared that a “gay marriage boom” was under way. …

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In All We Know: Three Lives, Lisa Cohen rescues from history’s dustbin the lives of three extraordinary, glamorous, brilliant, independent lesbians. Cohen’s project is a welcome addition to the Herstory Project.

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From the Sometimes-these-things-write-themselves File A 911 call came into the call center in Springfield, Illinois, from a man saying in a muffled voice: “I’m stuck in a pair of handcuffs and I’m going to need help getting out before it becomes a medical emergency.” Turns out it was Father Tom Donovan of the St. Aloysius Church—who would have guessed?

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LAST AUTUMN, the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York hosted the first-ever academic conference on Harry Hay, founder of the Mattachine Society and the Radical Faeries. It was an odd hybrid of a gathering, with many longtime Faeries rubbing shoulders with Marxist theorists and queer academics-a rubbing that occasionally produced friction.

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A new graphic memoir, Calling Dr. Laura, by Nicole Georges, is an example of this genre. A Portland-based lesbian cartoonist and zinester, Georges has crafted an autobiography on secrets kept from her family, her lovers, and herself. With a sweet indie graphics sensibility and a light narrative tone, this is a tender look at family strife and at the alternate families that we create.

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… Knowing Kearns, I knew to think twice. I first met him in 1999 as a colleague working to open USC’s ONE Institute & Archives. I interviewed him formally in the summer of 2005 as part of my research on the history of GLBT activism in Los Angeles. My second interview with Kearns, occasioned for this article, arose from a heightened interest in branding and labels inspired by my impressions of the cover of his new book. …

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TWO YEARS AGO [March-April 2011], I reviewed Christopher Isherwood’s Diaries: The Sixties in this publication, in an essay called “Too Much Information!” The title was mine; the exclamation point was not. While I found much of value in the book, as I had in the previous volume, which covers 1939 to 1960, I registered an objection to the decision by Isherwood’s partner, Don Bachardy, and editor Katherine Bucknell to publish the diaries in full. I wrote, “some editing would have been a kindness to Isherwood, who is spared nothing in these pages.” Now that we have the rest of the diaries, I find myself compelled to reevaluate that criticism. …

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These anthologies (When We Become Weavers: Queer Female Poets on the Midwestern Experience and Among the Leaves:  Queer Male Poets on the Midwestern Experience) feel groundbreaking, because they provide a loving Midwestern home for queer people. Some of the poets write with nostalgia about the rural homes they left for the city. …

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THE QUEEREST SHOW on Broadway in the summer of 2012 didn’t feature drag queens, buff chorus boys, or lesbian love songs. Instead, audiences attuned to the codes of same-sex relationships may have been surprised to find the delightful zing of transgression in an old-fashioned chestnut about the love between an amiable alcoholic and a six-foot-tall invisible rabbit.

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