Browsing: Where Are We Now?

March – April, 2010

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Writing a memoir is fundamentally a ritualizing experience, a literary rite-of passage that tends to occur when a writer is facing—and challenging thereby—the implacability of mortality. Gore Vidal wrote that Tennessee Williams “could not possess his own life until he had written about it.” Of his own life, Vidal snarled when asked if he would be remembered, “I don’t give a god-damn.” In a more contemplative mood, he once mused, “As for life? Well, that is a hard matter. But it was always a hard matter for those of us born with a sense of the transiency of these borrowed atoms that make up our corporeal being.”

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The most striking and significant aspect of Plante’s memoir is its form. Comprised solely of a series of fragments, each no longer than a paragraph, The Pure Lover takes on a pensive and elliptical tone that works well with Plante’s themes and content on several levels.

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At various points in 2009—during gay pride month in June, at the October 11th march on Washington, among others—various media outlets eagerly reported criticism of President Obama by some gay leaders. The September 2009 Advocate ran on its cover a campaign image of a despondent looking Obama; in place of the word “Hope” was the question “Nope?”

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THIS VOLUME presents itself as the first anthology to include a full range of gay men’s autobiographical writings, and editor David Bergman accomplishes this by presenting about forty entries spanning some 150 years …

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Disillusionment set in for the GLBT movement even before Barack Obama took office. The incoming President’s decision to accord a central role in his inauguration to the fundamentalist Rev. Rick Warren suggested that reaching out to the religious right was a higher priority for the new administration than GLBT inclusion. The Obama Inaugural Committee’s last-minute choice of openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson to deliver the invocation at an inaugural concert failed to allay concerns when his appearance was mysteriously left out of the television coverage. Civil rights advocates were also disappointed that highly qualified, openly gay candidates were passed over in the selection of the President’s cabinet. Openly gay Rep. Barney Frank’s optimistic assertion that GLBT people would now be part of America’s governing class was already ringing hollow by Inauguration Day.

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Perhaps the most poignant tale in My Red Blood concerns Alix’s botched abortion. Dobkin painfully yet almost matter-of-factly relates delivering an intentionally aborted fetus into a toilet while performing on the road …

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Gay history is still being told, and Thompson’s conversational, short volume Advocate Days & Other Stories adds significant information to what we know. Despite the fact that there are some tough truths in this book and that it covers some dark times …

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For older GLBT adults and others concerned with aging issues as they affect our community, the progress we need in federal policy is in some ways a matter of simply “getting to neutral.” Of course, there is nothing simple about it.

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NEAR THE BEGINNING of A Single Man, the 1964 novel by Christopher Isherwood on which Tom Ford’s new movie is based, a college English professor named George tells his class the story of Tithonus, a beautiful mortal who, after the goddess in love with him asks Zeus to grant him immortality, ages into a very old man because the goddess has forgotten to ask for the gift of eternal youth. …

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