Browsing: Winter Reading

November – December, 2008

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Reviews of Hiding in Plain Sight, The Nancy Book, and Troubled by RM Vaughan.

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IN PURELY VISUAL TERMS, they appeared to be an odd couple. With his exceptionally handsome face etched deeply with a desirable masculine divinity, and held gracefully atop a tall, impeccably dressed build, Sam Wagstaff exuded sophistication, taste, education, old money, and confidence, while his slim younger partner, dressed rebelliously in denim and silver-studded black leather, seemed vaguely edgy and preoccupied. Robert Mapplethorpe did not appear to fit comfortably among the guests gathered at a cocktail party on Gramercy Park East that early fall evening of 1975, and gave the slightest impression that he’d rather be elsewhere.

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IN 1983, when Torch Song Trilogy won the Tony Award for Best Play, John Glines, who produced Harvey Fierstein’s epic gay play from its humble beginnings way off Broadway, thanked his lover. It was the first time a gay man ever publicly thanked his partner on national television (and it would not be the last). But for John Glines, a writer, producer and co-founder of The Glines, a production company dedicated to nurturing gay art in New York through the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s, it would become a legendary moment not only in gay history but also in his own life.

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What has changed during glaad’s history is not its strategy but its tactics. The group has not abandoned the tactics of the late 1980’s and early 90’s but instead has added tools to its activist arsenal.

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THIS IS a timely book, with three reasons for existing. Images of Ancient Pederasty offers: first, the series of intelligent and resourceful essays by Lear and Cantarella on various aspects of the representation of pederasty in Athenian vase-painting; second, more than 110 illustrations of the most significant examples of the different typologies; and third, an appendix based on research undertaken by the late Keith DeVries …

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LESS THAN FIVE PERCENT of Allen Ginsberg’s extant correspondence makes

it into a recently published volume of his letters, yet it is more than

enough. The Letters will doubtless serve a purpose for the many

scholars and students of the Beat generation. As a “read,” though, it’s

depressingly base. Whether or not you think Ginsberg’s poetry took

flight, there’s no doubt that his prose stayed definitively earthbound.

Whining, wheedling, on the make; defensive, accusatory, and

sly—Ginsberg the letter-writer will exhaust and enervate you.

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ON A HOT NIGHT in April 2005, I walked with Kasim Mehedi, a worker for an AIDS outreach organization, through a rusty iron gate into the darkness of Hazrat Begum Park in the center of the city of Lucknow, India. During the day, the park is a popular tourist destination where visitors view two ornate mausoleums built in honor of Nawab Sa’adat Ali Khan … At night, however, the park becomes a shadowy demimonde where drug addicts, prostitutes, homosexuals, and others rejected by polite Lucknow society congregate.

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AS A BIOLOGIST, I have found the arguments against same-sex marriage

misguided—not because the evidence hints at homosexuality being based,

at least in part, on biological roots, but because the same arguments

that are used to keep same-sex marriage illegal could also be applied

to some ostensibly opposite-sex marriages. It may be shocking for some

people to hear that the sex and gender of every individual in our

population does not fit into a conventionally defined box that can be

labeled “male” or “female.”

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THE COVER of Terence Kissack’s book depicts a rainbow flag overlaid with the portraits of Benjamin Tucker, Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman, John William Lloyd, and Leonard Abbott-five important figures within the American anarchist movement during the early years of the 20th century.

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