Browsing: Ransacking History

January – February, 2011

Blog Posts

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“PHOTOGRAPHY is a kind of primitive theater, a kind of tableau vivant,” Roland Barthes remarked, shifting attention away from the medium’s significance as an evolutionary event in the history…More

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IN AUGUST, 2010, I traveled from my home in Bangkok to Mandalay, finally to visit the Taungbyon Nat Pwe. Stories have circulated about this “gay” event, but nothing very coherent was available.

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WHEN DID Camille Paglia become so old-fashioned? Last summer, the famed feminist and Sexual Personae author decried the death of rock music in a painfully unhip piece published in The New York Times (6/25/10): “Rock music, once sexually pioneering, is in the dumps,” she lamented, since “step by step, rock lost its visceral rawness and seductive sensuality.”

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NEARLY 200 YEARS AGO, the French novelist Honoré de Balzac created a remarkable character, Vautrin, a charming, hyper-masculine master criminal, and a man who loves men. In three of Balzac’s most popular novels, an important part of the plot turns on Vautrin’s love for an exceptionally handsome, much younger man …

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YOU CAN GET TO Hide/Seek, the groundbreaking exhibit of gay art at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., which runs through February 13, 2011, in one of two ways. The first is down a corridor lined with photographs of Elvis Presley. The second is through an exhibit called The Search for Justice displaying black civil rights figures, Earl Warren, and two white feminists.

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GEORGE GORDON, LORD BYRON (1788–1824) was the reigning male sex symbol of the early 19th century. His sporadic personal beauty (alternating between plumpness and emaciation), his flamboyant lifestyle, and his real and imagined affairs with women all fed the image. But Byron’s love life also included males. His bisexuality was known, not only within his own close circle, but “on the street.”

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THE “REVULSION LETTER” is on its way to the Supreme Court. Triggered by gay and lesbian Americans picketing the White House in 1965, and hidden away in the attic of pioneer gay civil rights activist Frank Kameny until he donated it to the Library of Congress in 2006, this single-spaced, three-page letter established a viciously discriminatory federal policy toward homosexuals that lasted for decades.

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Takes on news of the day.

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Joan Schenkar is an award-winning wrier and dramatist (see her website at “http://www.joanschenkar.com/). In the following interview, conducted in person last October, she comments on the strange life and even stranger psychology of a novelist whose stories have enthralled millions of readers.

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