Browsing: Virtual Communities

May – June, 2009

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EDWARD CARPENTER (1844-1929) was the most important early pioneer of gay liberation. Before him, writing in German, Heinrich Hössli had defended the “male love of the Greeks” (1836-38) and Karl Heinrich Ulrichs had decried the persecution of “male-male love” (1864-1880).

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Andy Warhol is signing his latest book of Polaroids at a large bookstore in Manhattan, hundreds of fans pressing around the table. A young man at the edge of the crowd walks slowly behind the table, arm-length from Warhol, adroitly snatches his wig, tosses it to an accomplice waiting near the door. Both run out into the anonymous streets of New York.

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Wartime Diary is a snapshot of a woman at a defining moment in world history, as well as a defining moment in her own career and philosophical development.

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LYDIA LOPOKOVA is not a name that comes to mind when one thinks of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding this year. Bloomsbury Ballerina, a superb new biography by British dance critic Judith Mackrell, should help remedy this situation.

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MY COPY of Susan Sontag’s Against Interpretation is forty years old and was published by Dell for 95¢. It was a time when literary criticism could be sold as a mass market paperback. A photo of Sontag takes up most of the cover. She is young and pretty, the skunk-like swatch of white not yet streaking her helmet of hair. She is wearing a jacket that covers her to her chin, and yet there is nothing doughty about her.

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“I ONCE asked Christopher Isherwood if he’d mind if I kissed him,” begins an essay in Alfred Corn’s latest book, Atlas: Selected Essays, 1989-2007. With an opening line like that, what curious gay reader could resist reading further?

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… People in this part of Sub-Saharan Africa have some access to the Internet and young “gay” men visit websites where they are learning what it’s like to be homosexual in Western societies. Young gay men here are aware of the legalization of homosexual unions, and its related debates, in Europe and the U.S.

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Galloway’s new memoir tells her story from the inside out, creating a bridge to hearing audiences. An actress, writer, and performance artist, she is dexterous in her use of words and devastating with a sense of black humor that brings numerous laugh-out-loud delights. There is no political correctness here, only a poignant life journey of unexpected challenges.

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