Browsing: Stonewall Hits the Big 4-0

July – August, 2009

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THE 1960’S IN AMERICA, when I was an adolescent, was a dark time for gay men. A man’s life could be ruined if it were known that he harbored homoerotic desires, even if just in the head. In the political hysteria fostered by Senator Joseph McCarthy, gay men people were purged from government jobs and driven to suicide. Men who loved other men were incarcerated in mental asylums, castrated and given electric shock treatment.

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… In the aftermath of an unexpected death, the surviving spouse faces a jumble of legal responsibilities, emotional reactions, and practical considerations. At 42, I never expected to find myself planning a memorial service for the 39-year-old love of my life. …

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… Henry James was a gay man, albeit a rather closeted one, and in this respect he is not alone in showing an uncanny insight into the subjectivities of women … Many of his novels and short stories have been studied by GLBT scholars for their gay subtext, including strong lesbian undertones in his novel The Bostonians …

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The movement that followed Stonewall represented a sharp break with the past; the impact over time would transform the world in ways unimaginable to earlier activists. What’s more, scale of change over the ensuing forty years has been breathtaking. What, then, was so special about Stonewall?

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SHE HATED the work of Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and CarsonMcCullers (Clock Without Hands was “the worst book I’ve ever read”).The sort of book she gave close friends was Romano Guardini’s The Lord,or Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain, or Teilhard de Chardin’sThe Phenomenon of Man.

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AN EXCEPTIONALLY BEAUTIFUL volume to grace the coffee table of any art lover, J. C. Leyendecker is the second major study of perhaps the most successful illustrator, or imagist, as he’s referred to by the authors, of the first half of the 20th century.

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SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO, on June 23, 1992, sculptor George Segal (1924-2000) witnessed the installation of his first outdoor public sculpture in Manhattan, the city center that had inspired much of his work and had made him internationally famous. Titled Gay Liberation, the piece had taken twelve years to find its intended home within the triangle of Christopher Park in Greenwich Village, just across Christopher Street from what had been the Stonewall Inn.

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ON SEPTEMBER 22, 1975, Sara Jane Moore tried to kill Gerald Ford. It

was not Ford’s life that changed that day; he would go on, only a few

minutes off schedule, back to Washington. It was the man standing next

to Moore, Oliver Sipple, an overweight, 33-year-old gay man, who would

be changed forever by the assassination attempt.

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In tandem with its publication of Black’s script, Newmarket Press has also published Milk: A Pictorial History of Harvey Milk. The book includes a foreword by Armistead Maupin in which he relates the poignant story of Steve Beery, who was Milk’s lover at the time of his death, and an introduction by Black that provides an eloquent personal and political context for the film.

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NOW seventy years old, Larry Mitchell has invited me into the labyrinthine apartment he and his lover Richard have shared for 25 years in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. In the faded gold living room, we sit down to talk over tea and the sounds of the neighborhood streets. Mitchell is the author of four beloved novels of the gay underground, a collaborative book on queer communal living, and a radical manifesto titled The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions.

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