Browsing: March-April 2010

March-April 2010

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TWO NEW BOOKS by longstanding gay community activists and political essayists Martin Duberman and Sarah Schulman are useful if not indispensable for addressing big problems and painful if still-unconscious contradictions impacting our movement nowadays. It seems we’ve made momentous progress in civil rights—five states allow same-sex marriage—and even consciousness raising, but we still seem so regressive socially and personally in basic ways.

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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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ONE OF THE LOW POINTS in American history was in the early 1950’s when Senator Joseph McCarthy successfully fueled and exploited Americans’ fear and paranoia about secret governmental conspiracies, launching witch hunts to expose allegedly subversive infiltrators and Communists within the U.S. government. A lesser known part of the story is the critical role that a same-sex male relationship, almost certainly a sexual one, played in bringing the crisis of McCarthyism to a head and, in the end, silencing the senator. As it happens, the gay couple involved cannot exactly be considered the “good guys” in the drama.

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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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“I WANT to love a young man of the lower classes, and be loved by him and even hurt by him. That is my ticket,” wrote E. M. Forster in 1935, “and then I have wanted to write respectable novels.”

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F. SCOTT FITZGERALD famously remarked that over-using the exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes. If so, singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright is often guilty of such self amusement: On the heels of his 2007 DVD Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Does Judy! Judy! Judy!,Wainwright’s latest is another live album entitled Milwaukee At Last!!!

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“I HAVE NOTHING to declare—except my genius,” he pronounced famously on arriving in the U.S. Or did he? There’s no sign of Oscar Wilde’s notorious response to a routine Customs inquiry in any of these 48 interviews with the Irish playwright, who was then known only for his poetry, and scarcely for that. The 26-year old standard-bearer of the Aestheticist creed undertook perhaps twice that many interviews on American soil in the course of his 1882 lecture tour. The editors of this volume have collated the most significant, presenting each in its entirety, replete with fulsome notes.

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Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) took the lead in formulating this letter to President Museveni of Uganda when that country’s parliament was considering a bill to make homosexuality a capital crime. The same group of legislators sent a similar letter to President Obama urging him to act on this matter.

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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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As is our custom, we pay our respects-belatedly this year-to some of the prominent writers, artists, and activists from the GLBT community who left us during the past year.

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