Browsing: The Persistence of Malice

May – June, 2010

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TO COMBAT HOMOPHOBIA, it is crucial that we first understand it. We often talk about homophobia as if it were a monolith, requiring just one set of solutions. In truth, this phenomenon comes in several varieties that are linked by a web of overlapping motivations, theories, religious doctrines, political calculations, and psychological issues. Its roots are as complex and diverse as homophobia is itself multifarious. The reality of this social disease necessitates that we carefully diagnose it so we can calibrate our responses and tailor our educational campaigns.

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ONE THING that becomes entirely clear as you read Herbert Keyser’s latest book, Geniuses of the American Musical Theatre: The Composers and Lyricists, is that the author is a font of knowledge about song on stage. As his bio tells us, the book is based on the lectures Keyser delivers to passengers on cruise ships. Even if the author is conspicuously heterosexual (his bio lists a loving wife, six children, and ten grandchildren), there’s something innately gay about a book on the topic of musical theatre.

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IN HIS LETTER to the editor in the January-February 2010 issue of this magazine, Richard Lottridge asked if anything had been written about the role of Merton L. Bird in the founding of the mid-century gay Los Angeles group known as Knights of the Clock. My interest was piqued, and what follows is a brief overview in which I’ve tried to assemble some (often contradictory) fragments of history.

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Rieko Matsuura’s 1993 novel, The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P, tells the story of a young woman, Mano Kazumi, who wakes up one morning to discover that the big toe of her right foot has transformed into a penis.

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THE ECONOMY wavered back and forth and the nation’s most important film festival marched into the new decade with a bang. Set against the unexpected largest snowfall in years, the Sundance Film Festival opened on January 21, breaking an opening night tradition by screening not one but three cinematic events. There was a shorts program and there was a screening of the documentary Resperto, a pro-soldier vehicle in the vein of The Hurt Locker. And then there was Howl.

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My Queer War by James Lord
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IN PARIS, while serving with the U.S. military during WWII, James Lord found his way to an address on the rue des Grands Augustins and informed the secretary who opened the door that he had come to see Pablo Picasso. He had no appointment, but Lord’s uniform provided bona fides; Americans had just expelled the Nazis (Lord amusingly points out that it didn’t take long for some Parisians to resent that favor).

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IMAGINE a magazine arriving in the mail every month, over 300 pages filled with news, photos, and information that you never talked about with anyone. In the days before the Internet, that’s how gay life was organized in Japan.

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Eyes Wide Open Directed by Haim Tabakman Original screenplay by Merav Doster
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EYES WIDE OPEN is a compressed drama of forbidden same-sex love within an insular community, namely the highly regulated society of Orthodox Jewry in a tight-knit neighborhood in Jerusalem. Presented in New York at this year’s Jewish Film Festival, the film is a stark reminder that the irregular contours of gay experience are perhaps best depicted by those outside the commercial cinema who are not bound by its cosmetic imperatives.

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In Gertrude Stein, the latest story of her life, author Lucy Daniel considers the ways in which Stein consciously constructed her public self, and in turn how the public came to construct an Idea of Gertrude Stein.

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Andy Warhol: The Last Decade thom th Joseph D. Ketner II
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ANDY WARHOL is best known for the Pop phase of his work, for fusing high art with low, starting in the 1950’s. “By the end of the 1970’s he felt trapped by the public’s expectations of him to present images of popular culture and to embody fame and social celebrity through mass media,” writes Joseph D. Ketner II, in Andy Warhol: The Last Decade, a collaborative venture between the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. “He had grown weary of the continuous parade of society portrait commissions and physically exhausted by the nightly clubbing on the New York social circuit.”

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