Browsing: Alternative Sexualities

March-April 2020

Blog Posts

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            The irony and the misfortune is that Rock Hudson himself needed saving. As Hollywood’s premier box office draw, the revelation that he was gay would have cost the studios millions of dollars. Women would have been distraught. Some men may have gloated, while others would have been crestfallen. Everybody would have been disgusted in this pre-Stonewall age when homosexuality was viewed as a psychological disorder.

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            My hope is that what I set forth in this essay does not question the raison-d’être of the LGBT community nor feed the vanity of whoever proudly and surely naïvely identifies as “straight.” What I propose is the last of the labels: autosexuality. And what I attempt to do is shake the very foundation of a hydraulic landscape, to continue that metaphor, an approach that encourages us not to follow an increasing number of separate streams but to perceive them as converging into a single waterfall.

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FIFTY YEARS AGO, Gordon Merrick’s The Lord Won’t Mind hit the bookstore shelves. The novel, Merrick’s fifth, set forth the romantic relationship between Charlie Mills, a dashing Ivy-educated actor, and Peter Martin, a sensitive beauty destined for West Point. Although it was published in hardcover with an innocuous cover, the novel was boldly advertised in The New York Times as “the first homosexual novel with a happy ending.”

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            What did Mao achieve by pulling puppet-strings to unleash this chaos? His class foes both real and imagined lost their jobs and some, their lives. Score one goal for Mao. A more sinister outcome of the Cultural Revolution was wreckage to Chinese people’s behavior. To locate a fresh “enemy” was to earn glory.

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THE LEGENDARY FEMINIST Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) is too often the silenced queer elephant in the room of U.S. history. As we observe the 200th anniversary of her birth, which was on February 15th, it’s important to ask ourselves whether we as a society are finally willing to see her not only as a heroic fighter for women’s suffrage but also as a lesbian.

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            My research has turned up the fact that a number of paintings are of Rhode Islanders from past centuries. One striking example is an oil portrait of Christiana Carteaux Bannister painted by her husband, Edward Mitchell Bannister, in 1860. Carteaux Bannister was an abolitionist and a successful businesswoman who was part African-American and part Narragansett Indian.

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Noted back-country climber David Oates is perhaps best known for Paradise Wild, his manifesto on the way humans fit into the natural world. In that book and in The Mountains of Paris, a recurring theme is his upbringing in a conservative religious household (“I am the gay son they never wanted”).

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            What makes this memoir special to some reviewers is that it is a creative nonfiction memoir that involves two women. In it, the narrator recounts her infatuation as a graduate student with an unnamed woman she meets at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. In the Dream House is a phantasmagoria of Machado’s feelings about an abusive relationship with a charming, unstable, upper-class woman years after it ended.

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