Browsing: Another Country

July – August, 2010

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WHAT’S WITH THE “GOOD” in the subtitle of your book? people ask me. Couldn’t you get the “best” writing? or (tongue in cheek) is it writing by “good lesbians”? The subtitle of Something to Declare echoes that of an earlier anthology, Wonderlands: Good Gay Travel Writing.

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“PARIS IS WHERE the 20th century was,” declared that eccentric raconteur and occasional aphorist, Gertrude Stein. Writers like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Stein herself, artists like Picasso, Dalí, and…More

The Pride
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PART OF a spate of gay-themed plays on the boards in New York this season, two from Off-Broadway present contrasting approaches to the recent history of same-sex male love. The Temperamentals by Jon Marans dramatizes early activism: the creation in Los Angeles of the Mattachine Society by Communist organizer Harry Hay and his then lover, costume designer Rudi Gernreich, and a small circle of friends. The story unfolds in the early 1950’s with America moving from the war years into the McCarthy Era. The Pride, on the other hand, a first play by Alexi Kaye Campbell, is a British import that views the gay present through the lens of the past. It features two different male couples in London in 1958 and 2008; each pair must come to terms with the personal price of gay relations. In 1958, the context is one of social repression; in 2008, one of sexual and social liberation.

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THE DISCOURSE on homosexuality is a major part of current American culture, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing. Thus, it is all the more noteworthy that a recent production of As You Like It that ran at the Brooklyn Academy of Music earlier this year, directed by Sam Mendes and cast with a bi-national troupe of American and British actors, seems to go out of its way to suppress the homosexual dynamics that are inherent in Shakespeare’s play. An eerie sense of homophobia comes across as this production unfolds.

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LADY GAGA could be a cannibal. If you don’t believe me, have a listen to the most dental song to date, “Teeth” (from her EP The Fame Monster), in which the 23-year-old New Yorker growls: “Take a bite of my bad girl meat.” The fantasy of being eaten alive recurs in “Monster” with the lyric, “He ate my heart/ He licked his lips, said to me/ Girl, you look good enough to eat.”

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BETWEEN THE SUMMERS of 2007 and 2009, I traveled the country interviewing a diverse group of prominent, interesting, and accomplished gay Americans. Out of those interviews—102 in all—came a book, Travels in a Gay Nation: Portraits of LGBTQ Americans, which was published this spring by the University of Wisconsin Press. Throughout the project, diversity was my guiding principle.

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Materializing Queer Desire: Oscar Wilde to Andy Warhol by Elisa Glick
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AT THE END of this tantalizing, informative, erudite and resourceful book, English and Women & Gender Studies academic Elisa Glick quotes one of her illustrious predecessors, Rhonda Garelick, on the figure of the dandy: “Critics writing about dandies or their texts fall easily into dandyist style, and succumb to its charms.”

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IN JUNE 2010, the GLBT community is observing its 40th year of Pride. The first annual celebration of Gay Pride took place in New York a year after the Stonewall Riots of June 1969. Movement pioneer Craig Rodwell, who founded the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, took the lead in organizing the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee (csldc) to commemorate the first anniversary of Stonewall. The celebration centered on the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade, held in New York on June 28, 1970. Although they could not have known it at the time, the 1970 march would give rise to “GLBT Pride” worldwide, which millions celebrate each year.

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I’M ON A SHIP, a small one built for the rigors of icy seas, not for transporting people comfortably, and so as it rocks and rolls, dips and surges, so does my stomach. We’re riding 25-foot waves, and explosions of salt water are smashing against the small porthole of my cabin. Eventually we get to our destination, where I’m unloaded with the rest of the cargo and a few other people. Here I am, at a station in Antarctica where I’ll be living for a couple of months with a group of scientists and their support staffs.

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