Browsing: The Food of Love

September – October, 2006

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The following is excerpted from Listening to the Sirens: Musical Technologies of Queer Identity from Homer to Hedwig, by Judith A. Peraino. University of California Press, Copyright 2006.

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ANDREW JACKSON captured the White House in 1828 by turning himself into a symbol of American manhood, a tough backwoodsman who dressed, spoke, and acted the part. David Greven believes that Jackson’s construction of manhood-white male power rejecting any hint of weakness and willing to use violence-has prevailed in American culture to this day.

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AIDS has been a plague since 1982, although officially it never has been called one. I was recently asked by The New York Times to participate in a public forum entitled “AIDS at 25: What next?” I was not allowed to make the following remarks

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… Rogers’ new book is much more than a rehash of old arguments that have come down to us from John Boswell and the more popular Daniel Helminiak, author of What the Bible Really Teaches About Homosexuality.

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BEAUTIFUL, charming, talented, and celebrated, the toast of Europe and South America during the heyday of her career, Josephine Baker was born in a black slum area of St. Louis in 1906. …

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SAN FRANCISCO brings to mind many images, such as cable cars, steep hills, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Castro Theater. Add one more image to the mix: the rainbow flag, the symbol of gay pride. Gilbert Baker, a self-described “drag queen from way back who knew how to sew very well,” created it there. Baker’s flag, and its impact on gay culture, is the subject of Rainbow Pride, an hour-long documentary, which was filmed for the most part in San Francisco rainbowand Key West, Florida …

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SCHUBERT DIED in November 1828, long before his final resting place, the Viennese cemetery known as Zentralfriedhof, was opened in 1874. At first, he was buried in the local cemetery of Währing, near the grave of Beethoven, whom he had idolized. In 1888, the remains of both composers were transferred to the Zentralfriedhof, an occasion marked by festivities that included thousands of amateur choral singers. …

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There’s another argument to be made when we fight state and federal marriage amendments. It has the potential to take back the debate because it’s about the Constitution and the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom.

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OPERA QUEENS are not in short supply, but gay men who love Lieder seem to be few and far between. The German word Lieder is the plural of Lied, which means simply “song.” But it has acquired a particular association, especially among English speakers, with the Romantic German art song. Mozart and Beethoven may be considered the earliest composers of Lieder, though the genre only came into its own with Franz Schubert, who was followed by Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Hugo Wolf, Richard Strauss, and others.

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