Browsing: Venerability

January-February 2007

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FOR NEARLY A QUARTER of a century, Pedro Almodóvar has been crafting films of increasing beauty and complexity. They are films that explore the political and cultural detritus of the Spanish psyche. Like all great art, they transcend their particularities to offer a vision of the human condition that resonates with all of us.

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IN LOVE’S RITE, Ruth Vanita takes us through a memory hole of Asian history to a world where the forgotten (sometimes suppressed) esoterica of same-sex couplings can be found. The country is India and the time is before British colonial rule. According to Vanita, South Asia had “no premodern history of persecuting people for same-sex relations. … Under colonial rule, what was a minor strain of homophobia in Indian traditions became the dominant ideology. The British introduced in India, as in most countries they colonized, a law criminalizing any type of sex other than penile-vaginal penetrative sex.”

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On June 6, 2006, in a document titled “Family and human procreation,” the Pontifical Council for the Family asserted its strong commitment to the traditional family and its opposition to gay couples, whose attempts to obtain legal recognition would produce, according to the paper, the “eclipse of God” in modern society.

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IN THE OLD DAYS of television, the late comedian Steve Allen had a regular routine on his show in which he would set up a camera at the corner of Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles and make funny comments about the people who passed by. Allen Ginsberg’s captions for Gay Day, a coffee table book of black-and-white photographs of the Gay Pride Day Parade in New York City, are reminiscent of that.

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During the opening week of Some Men at The Philadelphia Theater Company (PTC) last summer, [Terrence] McNally discussed topics gay, political, personal, and sexual-and even had a few comments about the Pope and Judy Garland. Here is some of what he had to say.

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There is much in Jennings’ book that I admire. He deftly sifts through existing scholarship to recover the terms and forms of ancient Israel’s worship of a “hypermasculine divinity” whose ravishing of his male followers provided a model both for the warrior-leader’s sexual relations with his male attendant and for the healer’s cure of the sick through the infusion of phallic energy. Likewise, he shrewdly analyzes the transvestite implications of the Chosen People being repeatedly imaged as a lovesick or adulterous female yet invariably represented by a male hero like Moses and Jacob, whose wrestling with the Lord becomes a form of rape …

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“I HAVE, I admit, the old-fashioned yen to go happily to my grave with one foot in the closet,” writes pretty-boy actor John Carlyle in Under the Rainbow. Thank God he resisted the impulse. In this rescued memoir, Carlyle lifts the curtain obscuring the intersection of the movie industry, homosexuality, and mid-century Los Angeles.

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Short reviews of Women with Mustaches and Men Without Beards, Independent Queer Cinema, and Putnam Camp.

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THERE IS no elegant design to Facing the Night. Ned Rorem’s new book is divided simply into three parts: diary entries made between 1999 and 2005, recent musical writing, mostly about composers Rorem has known, and program notes, including those written for his well-received 2006 opera Our Town.

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