Browsing: Thiry Years of HIV, Part I

March – April, 2011

The Flamboyant Life and Forbidden Art of George Quaintance by Reed Massengill
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FEW ARTISTS, even those of great fame or historical importance, receive such magnificent treatment in a published monograph as George Quaintance (1902-1957), painter of beefcake images from the 1940’s and 50’s, receives in this volume. Known mostly to bodybuilders and physical culture fans of those decades and to legions of gay men of the pre-Stonewall years who were starving for images of hot men, Quaintance’s paintings graced the covers of many now-classic physique magazines. …

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IN OCTOBER 2010, the Smithsonian Institution corrected a decades-long oversight by staging the first major museum exhibition focused on GLBT American figurative art. Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, at the National Portrait Gallery, met with critical acclaim and enthusiastic attendance—as well as an explosive controversy worthy of the “culture wars” of the late 1980’s. When reactionary forces demanded the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s video “A Fire in My Belly”—and when the demand was met—many people were reminded of the controversy around a Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective in 1989 and the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s decision to cancel the exhibit …

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The International Homosexual Conspiracy by Larry-bob Roberts
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The International Homosexual Conspiracy is a testament to Larry-bob’s consistent growth as a writer. Always curious and never complacent, this collection may just attract that larger audience of readers who will find themselves challenged, examining their assumptions, and frequently laughing out loud.

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The following text is drawn from the catalog for an art exhibit called Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of International AIDS Awareness Posters: 1985–2010, which ran at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston last fall. The international poster collection of James Lapides formed the basis for the exhibit; several of the 153 posters that were on display are shown here.

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THE KIDS Are All Right deals in matters of sexual ambiguity and raises some bold questions about desire and identity-questions that the movie then ignores for the most part. Let me say that I enjoyed watching these fine actors in this artfully written script. It will succeed for many in presenting a normalized portrait of two women in love who are raising a family.

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WHEN Carolyn Forché released her groundbreaking anthology Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness, she did not include poems from the struggle for gay rights. The anthology was published in 1993, a bleak point in the history of the gay community due to the impact of AIDS on gay men and on the arts community. But, as readers today, we can easily situate AIDS poets in the panoply of poets of witness—those who write poetry that transcends the purely personal or the purely political and operates at their intersection. This is a type of poetry that exists in a space of resistance and re-orients points of view toward new ways of seeing and speaking. As a critical lens for understanding the cultural impact of poetry, Forché establishes an especially fruitful way of seeing poetry responding to AIDS.

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WHEN the opening credits conclude in the biopic I Love You Phillip Morris with the bold announcement “This Really Happened,” one can’t help but speculate that the creators of this recently released movie knew that what was about to unfold onscreen would challenge credibility. What does happen in this based-on-a-true-story tale is …

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I STARTED TEACHING courses on hiv/aids literature to undergraduates after spending more than five years researching the subject for my doctorate. The period in which I initially sought out and devoured any and all types of “AIDS literature” was uneven enough. During my first year as a graduate student, 1990–91, it felt like a narrowly delimited topic with a few score works of creative literature in all genres, and just a handful with substantial literary interest.

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