Browsing: The Otherworldly

November – December, 2010

From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law by Martha C. Nussbaum
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In From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation & Constitutional Law, Martha Nussbaum argues that homosexuals in particular have borne the brunt of disgust used as a political weapon.

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THE PROBLEM with biographies of Somerset Maugham is that the last ten years of his life have always overwhelmed what went before them. Indeed, the man Maugham chose as his literary executor allowed Ted Morgan to write his excellent biography in 1980 in order to dispel the myths that had built up over Maugham’s “final tragic years” in his villa in the south of France.

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Gay Bar: The Fabulous, True Story of a Daring Woman and Her Boys in the 1950s by Will Fellows and Helen Branson
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GAY BAR is a queer little book by a queer little woman who, yes, owned a gay bar on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles in the 1950’s. The book is a rediscovery, having been published more than half a century ago (in 1957) by a company owned by the early gay rights activist Hal Call. Now, writer-historian Will Fellows has repackaged the book, with a new introduction and copious notes and commentary.

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AT NOON on Wednesday, March 28, 1894, thirty-year-old Guy T. Olmstead shot William L. Clifford in the back four times—once in his “loins” and three times in the back of his head—as Clifford walked north on Clark Street, approaching Madison Avenue in Chicago’s Loop. When the shots rang out and Clifford fell, a lunch-hour crowd burst out of local restaurants and swarmed Olmstead, who made no effort to run away. They yelled, “‘Lynch him!’” as Olmstead waved his pistol, swore, “‘I’ll never be taken alive!’” and yelled at the top of his voice, “‘Don’t take my gun; let me finish what I have to do.’”

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A Life Like Other People's by Alan Bennett
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A Life Like Other People’s, Bennett’s latest memoir, was first published in his autobiographical essay collection Untold Stories (2005). This detailed and moving account of his early memories of his family, with closest attention given to his mother …

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The following article provides an update to a “Guest Opinion” piece that I contributed to the January–February 2006 issue of this magazine. It is also my addition to the series of articles published under the heading “Gay Rights in the Age of Obama” in the March–April 2010 issue.

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Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation Edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman
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THIS BOOK is a kind of sequel to Kate Bornstein’s Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us, published in 1994. Gender Outlaw, which has become a staple in Queer Studies classrooms, questions the fundamental necessity of dividing the human race into only two genders assumed to be “natural” and mutually exclusive.

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“DID HE BROWN YEH, Jimmy?” one young man asks another in Roddy Doyle’s popular novel The Commitments, referring to the local priest. “No,” Jimmy responds. “He just ran his fingers through me curly fellas.” The church has little effect on the unemployed young men in Doyle’s 1987 novel about a would-be soul band from north Dublin, which is the basis for Alan Parker’s 1991 film.

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Madre and I: A Memoir of Our Immigrant Lives by Guillermo Reyes
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GUILLERMO REYES’ Madre and I: A Memoir of Our Immigrant Lives follows the parallel lives of María, a Chilean single mother, and her gay son Guillermo, who immigrate to the United States in the 1970’s.

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FOR MOST OF US who have ever traveled to East Asia, the trip involves a several-hour flight across the Pacific. For Lucy Horne, her first excursion to Japan took her a full two weeks. She traveled by train. “Denmark to Warsaw, Moscow, Vladivostok,” she tells me the afternoon we meet. “And then over to Japan. I don’t like plane travel. You miss what’s in between. I wanted to know what was in between.”

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