Browsing: Where Are We Now?

March – April, 2010

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The current collection, I Shudder, And Other Reactions to Life, Death, and New Jersey, finds Rudnick reviewing his life as a mild-mannered Jersey boy getting his first tiny studio apartment in Greenwich Village under the critical gaze of two aunts and a mother …

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When Barack Obama was elected as the 44th president of the United States, queer people all across America cheered. We had good reason to celebrate. After all, he had the most far-reaching, pro-GLBT agenda of any presidential candidate in U.S. history: repeal DOMA, end “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” pass hate crimes legislation, lift the HIV travel ban, and increase funding for AIDS research. Not withstanding his opposition to marriage equality, candidate Obama was a strong ally for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender folks. Time and again, he included us—“gay America and straight America”—in his bold vision of a new “United States of America.” He talked to us and he talked about us, even in places where issues of gender and sexuality were historically taboo. His rhetoric and record all pointed to the same conclusion: we would have a strong champion in the White House.

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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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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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Once upon a time, American men could openly express intense love for each other without shame or self-consciousness, without any sense of being effeminate or unnatural. Such ‘manly love’ did not preclude emotional, sexual, or conjugal relationships with women. This is Axel Nissen’s argument in Manly Love: Romantic Friendship in American Fiction. …

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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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Much of Jackson’s account in Living in Arcadia reads as an uninterrupted story of government persecution of homosexuals and Baudry’s attempts to navigate—or circumvent—its laws.

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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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