Browsing: Subcultures of Gaydom

September – October, 2010

A Martian Muse: Further Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry (Poets on Poetry) by Reginald Shepherd
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A Martian Muse contains 25 of Shepherd’s final essays, ranging across several categories, with titles that include “Poetics and Poetry,” “Art and Society,” “Artistic Production,” “Intention, Aspiration, Inspiration,” and “Illness, Identity, and Poetry.”

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WHY ARE WE still interested in the lesbian hipster? In part it’s because we can’t stop lurking around her pictures on Facebook, which are beyond cute. But it’s mostly because the “lesbian” and “hipster” worlds seem to have converged so naturally that there’s clearly something going on past Generation X/Y’s universal adoption of any eastward-blowing trend-wind.

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Insignificant Others: A Novel by Stephen McCauley
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Review of Insignificant Others by Stephen McCauley, and Missouri by Christine Wunnicke.

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COMPOSED PRIMARILY of African-American and Latino people, many or most of them transgendered, the House and Ball community is a system of “houses” that participate in competitive drag balls. Centered in New York City, the houses have names like Xtravaganza, Ninja, LaBeija, the Garavani, and so on, and are organized as “drag families” headed by a “house mother.” It’s a community that’s as amorphous, inclusive, and diverse as any other GLBT (or lgbtq, etc.) universe.

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Newcomer Adam Lambert, meanwhile, needn’t worry that the vacuum of doubt will sap his career of any strength. At 27, he raked in nearly 100 million votes as the runner-up on the eighth season of American Idol, and this was after photos of Lambert kissing an ex-boyfriend came to light. He acknowledged the pictures as authentic at the time, but waited until after the show’s finale to confirm the rumors.

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JOHN WATERS’ films have spanned more than three decades of what he calls “good bad taste.” Although he cringes at the designation “openly gay filmmaker,” there’s no denying that his queer, campy, and subversive signature runs all through his body of work.

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Just Kids Limited Edition by Patti Smith
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PATTI SMITH’S Just Kids is a memoir about the singer’s relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946–1989). The book resonates with all the portentousness of the Fates spinning threads around inextricably entangled mortals. Just Kids isn’t a lurid exposé but a serious reflection upon creative vision, regeneration, and devotion.

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PREVIOUSLY, I described my escape from Russia, via land and sailboat, to be with another woman in Canada (“Leaving Russia: A Personal Odyssey,” September-October 2009). My Canadian girlfriend Meg and I had been living together for two weeks in Kiev, Ukraine, when my parents, having followed me from Russia, physically attacked us for being gay.

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BEAR IDENTITY is inked into my flesh now. I turned fifty in August 2009 and, rather than marking my minor midlife crisis with an affair (too complicated) or a fancy car (too expensive), I opted for a tattoo sleeve, which took months to complete. Among the many symbols of sufficient import to me to wear permanently on my skin is a bear paw, a big one covering the inside of my upper left arm. This visual identification with the gay bear subculture seems timely, for 2010 appears to be my Annus Ursi, Year of the Bear.

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Mr Isherwood Changes Trains: Christopher Isherwood and the search for the 'home self'by Victor Marsh Clouds of Magellan
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IN 1965 AT UCLA, I took a class from Christopher Isherwood, and I recall him saying, “All I can do is to tell stories about my life.” He noted that he found support for this idea in Carl Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections, which had been translated recently into English. And he pointed to Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” in which “every flower … dreamed its own fairy tale, or its story.” Victor Marsh begins Mr. Isherwood Changes Trains with a discussion of the postmodern concept that the self doesn’t really exist …

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