Browsing: Camp Leaders

January-February 2020

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The manuscript of Poems Written Abroad was unearthed not long ago in a Midwestern university library and is printed here for the first time. It dates from the summer of 1927, when Spender was a mere eighteen years old.

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Beautiful Aliens is a selection of Abbott’s essays, fiction, poems, and poetry cartoons, illustrating Abbott’s creative range and versatility. The book was compiled by Jamie Townsend, a Bay Area genderqueer poet who first encountered Abbott’s work when she was browsing in a bookstore in the Berkshires and picked up a copy of Stretching the Agape Bra, a collection of his poetry that includes “Elegy.”

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For Powell, even hardcore porn movies helped show viewers the emotional truth of gay male life. He argues that these films, with their improbable plots that always lead to sex and quite often to group orgies, reflect on some level the coming-out experience.

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Carved in Bone begins as eighteen-year-old Bill Ryan is dumped at a Midwestern bus station, cruelly discarded by homophobic parents. Naïve and bewildered, Ryan becomes part of the 1970s tidal wave of gay immigrants to San Francisco.

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TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, artist Ray Johnson (1927–1995) left the Barron’s Cove motel on Long Island, drove 100 feet to the 7-Eleven at the foot of the Sag Harbor–North Haven bridge, parked, walked out on the bridge, and jumped. Two kids heard a splash and saw a bald man, fully clothed, doing a casual backstroke—no cries for help, no struggle, just a slow steady progress out into the bay. His body washed up the next day.

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Inseparable since adolescence, both men [Ed Wormley and Ed Crouse] came out to their families at eighteen, and without any notable wringing of hands—perhaps in part because as announced atheists and aspiring æsthetes they’d already come to be regarded as creatures outside community norms. Both men came from financially modest and emotionally cramped backgrounds.

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The “physique” periodicals of the 1950s and ’60s were not just a byproduct of the Homophile movement. They were a catalyst for it.

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DOES ANYONE DOUBT that most autobiographers distort reality, embellishing the truth about themselves, altering the facts relating to third parties, and presenting things in their own best interest? This makes Quentin Crisp’s case exceptional. He achieved something that was almost beyond the humanly possible …

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Gorey, who died in 2000 at the age of 75, was the author and illustrator of a hundred-odd darkly droll little picture books with titles like The Fatal Lozenge, The Deranged Cousins, and The Blue Aspic. Although he grew up in Depression-era Chicago and lived most of his life in Manhattan, first-time readers often assume he was a denizen of gas-lit London.

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Rocking the Closet takes us back to pre-liberation days in the same way that Guy Davidson’s Categorically Famous (reviewed in the November-December issue) reprised the careers of Susan Sontag, Gore Vidal, and James Baldwin to show how celebrities in the ’60s danced around the subject of their homosexuality while paradoxically opening the closet door.

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