Click through for the year's queer finest...
Click through for the year's queer finest...
She arrives at 4:40. Worth it.
Matthew Gallaway’s big-hearted, overstuffed first novel The Metropolis Case opens with a long email from 2003 which discusses the opera at the core of its four storylines, Tristan and Isolde, with the same infectious, digression-packed exuberance of his blog posts at The Gay Recluse. His protagonist Martin writes
“My own theory (by which I mean I may or may not have also read this somewhere) is that Tristan contains the seeds of modern “abstraction” and “psychology” that ultimately defined so much of the twentieth century, i.e., it’s no accident that in the wake of Tristan (1865) you have impressionism (Elstir!), cubism, Duchamp (specifically Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2), Freud and Jung and V.Woolf and Einstein (that’s for you, Professor Vallence), and eventually, I don’t know, the Smiths?”
Starting in 1960 with Anna Prus, an understudy opera singer at the Met who becomes a sensation replacing the star as Isolde, Gallaway weaves back and forth through time to tell three other stories: Lucien, a young gay opera singer in Paris in the 1860s who wants to premiere Wagner’s Tristan and whose scientist father works to create an elixir for extreme longevity. Martin, a single gay New York lawyer whose 41st birthday is 9/11 and whose adoptive parents died in a car crash. And Maria, a Pittsburgh opera student who gets to study with Anna at Julliard in 1978 and whose adoptive parents were killed in a house fire.
After 360 pages, the four strands are stretched and braided together in the concluding chapter 45 called “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out.” A major chord of the novel is exploiting life’s emotion for artistic expression and the chapter titles are appropriations of incongruous but fitting other titles. Using the Smiths’ song at the end is clever for about ten reasons, chief among them: it answers that initial question about T. and I.’s legacy; it’s counterintuitive as the standard image for endings is ‘lights out;’ the song’s lyrics play against the book’s action; and the title reinforces the opera’s struggle of the “unceasing torment and longing (represented by ‘the day’ or more broadly ‘life’), not just for each other but for a more permanent form of relief (otherwise known as ‘the night’ or ‘death’).” That struggle underscores the book’s many parental deaths, a lover’s suicide, and Lucien’s father’s quest for eternal life. The closing chapter brings the action up to 2002, but the opening email is dated 2003, sending the reader back to the beginning, creating one more eternal loop.
Another light that never goes out, all too rare in literary fiction, is confronting the challenge of how to be gay in the predominantly straight world, emphasized here by the character’s decision to “keep it burning in a remote corner of his mind.” Walking among the ash-covered and living dead in the hours after the Twin Towers fell, Martin thinks:
“…in a way that had been far beyond him twenty years earlier, he could now appreciate the advantages being gay offered him, not only in terms of access to the infinite reserves of seriously attractive men in New York City—some percentage of whom could be counted on to return his interest—but also for allowing him to see the world through different eyes—his own—to find beauty that in the past he would have overlooked or ignored in the effort to appear different than he really was. As Martin considered this, he felt a spark of desire—though more abstract than physical, a form of optimism, really—that he knew would be difficult if not impossible to reconcile with everything he had just witnessed (both in the present and in his memories), not to mention the accompanying waves of shock and sadness that continued periodically to wash through him and make him weak in the knees as he headed north. However small or illogical, he knew it was there, and he did not want to question or—worst of all—malign it; instead he resolved to keep it burning in a remote corner of his mind, unexamined for the moment but somehow reassuring as he returned his attention to the more pressing problem of getting home.”
Understandably, some readers may wonder whether all the book’s energy is expended on the bravura complexities and intellectual arias; what hope remains for characters grounded in realism? Yes, the operatic prose sometimes overreaches: A fire kills Maria’s parents “whose souls had departed long before their bodies dissolved into the molten memories of their daughter’s childhood.” Or, on 9/11, “He knew that, just as it had done outside, a tower had given way in his soul; it had been there for him to behold but then shuddered and collapsed and now was gone, leaving an empty space marked by an intense but purposeful sorrow and a vague longing… that nevertheless resonated with a beauty he could only describe as defiant.” And it’s possible that a trade-off for maintaining a harmony of tone among stories across three time periods shortchanges the 19th century chapters of some of their authenticity. But Lucien’s emotional life is nearly as rich and rounded as those of the 20th and 21st century Maria and Martin, both brilliantly drawn. In every era characters are ravaged by self-doubt and uncertainty about their talents, anxious through the “torpor of waiting” to see if they have the elusive spark of a true artist, and impatient for the world to recognize it and reward them. If those same demons ever haunted Matthew Gallaway, he’s vanquished them with The Metropolis Case.
Warning: You might cry. He writes in pen in a hardcover book.
The New York Times' Book Review's list of the year's 100 notable books does at least have Alan Hollinghurst's excellent The Stranger's Child, but it overflows with predictable, middle-grade, straight fare, and it omits nearly every LGBT favorite of the year in fiction and nonfiction. I can say this with some authority as I have spent all of November begging gathering and compiling Band of Thebes' annual authors' survey of the year's best queer books. Now that so very many remarkable works have been shunned by the mainstream, I'm doubly pleased to present the 2011 list, which is the biggest ever. And triply grateful to the 85+ writers who participated. Look for the list on Tuesday.
Twenty libraries in seven countries nominated Emma Donoghue's bestselling, much shortlisted Room for the very rich IMPAC Dublin fiction prize. Her nearest competition is David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet with thirteen nominations and Jonathan Franzen's Freedom with twelve.
The handful of queer titles on the very, very long longlist include Kathleen Winter's Annabel, Kathe Koja's gay-inclusive Victorian-era novel of brothels and puppets, Under the Poppy, and Michael Cunningham's By Nightfall.
Read the entire list of 147 titles here.
Listen to Bette Midler: "Bruce was the first man to put something in my mouth that made us both money." She and Vilanch began working together in 1970 after she read his Chicago Tribune review of her show saying she needed more jokes. She called him and said, So write me some. Thirty-eight years later, in 2008, he co-wrote her Caesars Palace gig The Showgirl Must Go On. The Oscars' head writer and New Hollywood Squares star has also created comic material for Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, Lily Tomlin, Diana Ross, David Letterman, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Florence Henderson, and this year Tab Hunter. Vilanch has punched up many, many Hollywood scripts, including films that don't immediately seem to bear his razor humor, like Die Hard 2 and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and he has acted in Mahogany, Ice Pirates, and The Morning After. He's also starred on Broadway as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, for which he shaved off his signature thirty-year shaggy blond beard, and off Broadway in his own show Almost Famous. He is the subject of the a-list love explosion Get Bruce! and appears in Laughing Matters. Beyond being funny, Vilanch has been a tireless supporter of many aids and gay rights causes.
Last week, the Pakistan Telecommunications Agency issued this list of 1,695 words to the nation's mobile phone companies, giving them one week to block users from texting the "obscene" terms. You've already guessed it includes gay, gay pride, homosexual, queer, lesbain, lesbayn, lesbian, lesbin, lesbo, lez, lezbo, dike (but not dyke), and ass clown... yet even you with your decades of linguistical depravity won't have guessed the crime of texting: athlete's foot, black out, harder, showtime, kmart, glazed donut, headlights, sixty nine, robber, oui, lowlife, limy, kill, killer, killing, hostage, honkey, hell no, hell yes, deeper, fatso, idiot, stupid, retard, creamy, drunk, jesus christ, or got jesus. The online banking industry won't like the block on "deposit," either. After widespread outcry and international mockery, PTA spokesman Mohammad Younis said the list was never intended to be made public and a final, shorter list will be released later. Chances are, gay terms will stay forbidden.
Filters are no joke. Even Amtrak's wifi blocks users from accessing gay news sites.
Meanwhile, Congress debates the awful, awful SOPA [Stop Online Piracy Act], which would allow any copyright-holding company unfettered power to kill any website it believes infringes upon or is perceived to help users to infringe upon its IP and to cut off advertising revenue and payments to any site thought to be "rogue" -- all without needing a judge's approval. Understated Google testified that they have "a lot of concerns the bill sweeps in legitimate sites." Overstated Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante testified the US system of copyright would "fail" without this bill. Earlier, Silicon Valley Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren said the terrible House proposal, courtesy of a Texas Republican, “would mean the end of the internet as we know it.” Time reports, "the chances it’ll pass are excellent, because it’s backed by powerful business lobbies and has bipartisan majority support in both the House and Senate." But Rep. Darrell Issa told The Hill it has "no chance" of passage in its current form.
On December 10, 1947, at City Hall in Stockholm, a Swedish man spoke to France's ambassador about "the venerable master of French literature whose genius has so profoundly influenced our time." Of course, that was André Gide and he was, at seventy-eight, too ill to receive his Nobel Prize for Literature in person. (Read the full citation here.) The award capped a rollercoaster career that began with the publication of a novella when Gide was twenty-two in 1891, reached successive peaks with The Immoralist(1902), Strait Is the Gate (1909), and Lafcadio's Adventures (1914); plummeted with the publication of Corydon (1920), his nonfiction book in praise of homosexuality'; soared again with his best novel, The Counterfeiters (1925); and immediately shocked certain segments of the public again with his autobiography, If It Die (1926) with his joyful memories of teenage masturbating under the dining room table with the concierge's son or his adult lovemaking with an Arab youth on a sand dune in Algeria. While in North Africa, Gide had also befriended Oscar Wilde. The following year he published Travels in the Congo, his greatly influential attack on French colonialism. That trip marked the end of his eleven year relationship with Marc Allégret, who had eloped with him when he was fifteen or sixteen and Gide was forty-seven. (Allégret's father had been the best man at Gide's never-consummated wedding and wasn't bothered at all by their affair; Gide's wife, however, didn't like being left behind and she burned all of his letters in retaliation. Marc Allégret went on to direct more than fifty films.) After spending the war and post-war years in Tunis, Gide returned to Paris where he died in 1951. In 1952, the Catholic church put all of his works on their Index of Forbidden Books.
August 1920: William Butler Yeats, Marc Allégret, and Gide photographed by Lady Ottoline Morrell
Two facts: The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is among the most-watched televised events in Australia each year and as a condition of sponsorship all corporations had to give an explicit statement of support for the LGBT community. Last week, the mardi gras board removed Gay and Lesbian from the event's name. A furious former SG&LMG president Richard Cobden told Same Same:
“This morning’s Sydney Morning Herald front page sums it up: Mardi Gras goes straight.
“Neither the organisation, and especially not this Board or staff, had any permission or mandate to make Mardi Gras straight. Peter Urmson says ‘this is our gift to the city’. It was not his to give.”
“For 20-plus years we have been able to force the mainstream media to call it the GAY AND LESBIAN MARDI GRAS. They had to say the words. For a long time they did not want to but we made them. That has been thrown away.”
“Even major sponsors had to do that [give a message of queer support]. How can the organisation possibly ask for that now when they themselves have dropped an explicit gay and lesbian message?
“Finally, sponsors had to use the words ‘gay and lesbian’ when associating themselves with Mardi Gras. Making them do so was a powerful force for liberation. Now they don’t have to use those words. Easier for marketing people to get sponsorship dollars and keep their jobs; a big step backwards for gay and lesbian rights.”
The men responsible for putting the name back in the closet use inclusivity as their excuse, saying they want to emphasize that Mardi Gras is for everyone.
Where would Todd Haynes be without Christine Vachon? Poison, Safe, Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven, I'm Not There, HBO's Mildred Pierce -- she produced them all. For that matter, where would independent cinema be if the New York native had chosen another career? Forty-nine today, she's produced more than forty features. A few highlights: Swoon, Go Fish, Kids, Stonewall, Office Killer, I Shot Andy Warhol, Happiness, Boys Don't Cry, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Storytelling, and One Hour Photo; as well as Robert Altman's The Company, John Waters' A Dirty Shame, The Notorious Betty Paige, Infamous, Party Monster, and A Home at the End of the World. In her spare time she has written two books about making meaningful movies with no money, Shooting To Kill and A Killer Life. A breast cancer survivor, she lives in the east village with her partner Marlene McCarty (a Guggenheim-honored artist) and their daughter, Guthrie.
If gay director Bill Condon (Gods & Monsters, Kinsey, Dreamgirls) making the best use of Taylor Lautner and Rob Pattinson this weekend has you wanting to suck some blood, you can thank Christopher Rice for turning me on to a new novel inclusive of gay vampires. Michael Rowe says of his Enter, Night:
"In many ways, I guess, Enter, Night is a very retro vampire novel. The devastation that vampirism wreaks on the population it infects is significant in the book. In many ways, it mirrors the devastation that other parasitic elements in the story also wreak -- anti-Indian prejudice, homophobia, tyrannical families, and carnivorous small towns.
"And underlying it, of course, is the fact that the vampire himself is a resurrected Catholic priest who came to Canada in the 17th century to colonize the Indians. The concept of colonialism is surely the ultimate vampirism -- feeding off an indigenous population, consuming them, and making them like you."
Read the full interview in the Winnipeg Free Press.
Craving more? Here's a Good Reads list of 210 novels with gay vampires.
[Yes, I know he's a werewolf.]
In 1958, when native Texan Morris Kight arrived in Los Angeles, he was almost forty and ready to fight for gay rights, but he considered the Mattachine Society elitist. In reaction, he co-founded the third outpost of the Gay Liberation Front, after New York and Berkeley. One of their earliest battles was against a West Hollywood diner called Barney's Beanery which had a painted sign and printed matchbooks with the misspelled warning Fagots Stay Out. After three months of protests, sit-ins, and media glare, the owner removed the original sign, but as soon as the attention subsided, he remounted an identical sign and kept it on display until 1984. In June 1970 to celebrate the first anniversary of Stonewall, Kight helped organize Christopher Street West, which was only permitted after he, Troy Perry, and the ACLU sued reluctant city officials and the hostile police department for the right to have a parade.
Kight's proudest moment came in October 1971, when he and two other activists opened the nation's first gay and lesbian community center. With his sometimes abrasive strategies and leftist politics, Kight had many detractors within the movement. One of those was David Goodstein who transformed the Advocate from a newspaper to a magazine and prohibited his reporters from writing about Kight and other people he thought hurt the image of gay rights. Kight's protest of anti-gay Coors created a public disaster for Outfest, which had finally convinced the brewery to sponsor their film festival. He was also a vocal critic of 1978's proposed amendment to ban gay teachers from public schools. In January 2003, Kight donated his 3,000-item collection of art, papers, and memorabilia to the ONE Institute. Three days later he died, at eighty-three, survived by his partner of twenty-five years, Roy Zucheran.
I met him backstage at the Stonewall 25 rally in New York. He was awesome and very, very cranky when the announcer called him Morris Knight.
+ + +
Two global icons of the Glass Closet were born exactly 20 years apart, and both are maybe or maybe not inching their way out: Jodie Foster, 49, publicly thanked her partner "my beautiful Cydney" when she accepted the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award, but that was way back in 2007. And they broke up in 2008, when Jodie left Cydney B. for Cindy Mort, who in turn dumped Jodie to return to her former girlfriend Amanda Demme. This year Jodie had an epic failure with The Beaver, in which she directed and defended her longtime pal, homophobe, sexist, racist, anti-Semite Mel Gibson. Shown on 168 theaters, Gibson's big comeback movie grossed under one million dollars. Jodie can now be seen opposite Kate Winslet in Carnage and next in Elysium the follow-up from the director of District 9.
Calvin Klein is 69 today with his boyfriend of more than a year, model Nick Gruber, who graduated from high school in 2009. In January, Calvin rented Indochine to throw Nick a 21st birthday party with Anna Wintour, Donna Karan, Vera Wang, Daphne Guinness, Ian Schrager, and "100 male models." That doesn't sound so private. They broke up in July, and got back together within three weeks, when they were seen holding hands on the street and kissing in broad daylight in Manhattan. They were still together as recently as October 31 but who can say if these are costumes or their everyday look at home.
Diane Keaton dedicates her new book Then Again [[Kindle]] to her "city of women" and to two gay men: Her editor/novelist David Ebershoff and her agent/memoirist Bill Clegg. Against the odds, she succeeds in the pastiche of mixing her mother's diary entries with her own recollections and in her collage-style of assembling them in not-quite chronological order. Or, succeeds on her terms. They may not be your terms, if you're looking for prolonged passages about most of her movies, her documentaries, her photography, her famous house flipping, her art collection, her love life, or her experience of being an intelligent women in a sexist industry that prizes mediocrity. Those topics are touched upon rather than dwelt upon because the primary focus here is family, particularly her mother. And yes, Annie Hall is based on her immediate family, the Halls. (Keaton is her mother's maiden name.) Although she deftly skewers Marlon Brando (who passes her once and says only, "Nice tits,") the book might well carry a disclaimer reading "No Bridges Were Burnt In the Making of This Memoir." After forty years in a ruthless business, she has no bad thoughts about anyone living. Despite its lacking the level of candor and honesty about Hollywood that I wanted, I was gripped enough to read it in one night.
Novelist (Mephisto), memoirist (Turning Point), and playwright (Anja and Esther), Klaus Mann could never outrun his father's preeminence as a writer, but could he also never get over his father's love? Colm Tóibín notes the many times in Thomas Mann's diaries when he expresses sexual interest in Klaus, nicknamed Eissi, here at fourteen:
"‘terribly handsome in his swimming trunks. Find it quite natural that I should fall in love with my son . . . It seems I am once and for all done with women? . . . Eissi was lying tanned and shirtless on his bed, reading; I was disconcerted.’ Later that year he ‘came upon Eissi totally nude and up to some nonsense by Golo’s bed’ and was ‘deeply struck by his radiant adolescent body; overwhelming’"
Far quicker than his father to grasp the evil of the Nazi ascent, Klaus left Germany for Paris in 1933 when he was 26. He was granted Czech citizenship and came to America in 1936, the year of Mephisto, dividing his time between Princeton and New York. The following year he met his partner, Thomas Quinn Curtiss, who would become a critic for the IHT and Variety and wrote the screenplay for The Iceman Cometh. Klaus wrote one more novel, Der Vulken, about German exiles during WWII, published in 1939; his autobiography; and one nonfiction work Andre Gide and the Crisis of Modern Thought. As Tóibín says, Klaus "was fluid and generous and flighty. He kept nothing in reserve, and this, despite his obvious literary talent, or maybe because of it, made him melancholy...instead of writing about death as his father did obsessively, he allowed the aura of death to enter his own spirit." He was also addicted to heroin. He killed himself with an overdose of pills, in Cannes, in 1949. Curtiss lived until 2000. Andrea Weiss illuminates it all in her fascinating dual biography, In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story, including their mainly queer circle of friends: Gide, Isherwood, Cocteau, Brecht, McCullers, and Auden, whom Erika married for citizenship.
Half Italian and half East Indian, Toronto native Emanuel Sandhu enrolled in dance school when he was three and won a spot in Canada's National Ballet School when he was eight. He stayed for ten years before devoting himself full-time to ice skating, winning his first Canadian Men's Skating Championship three years later with a perfect score. He has won it twice more, placing first or second each of the nine years between 1998 and 2006. In 2007 he was third. The clip from his audition for So You Think You Can Dance Canada shows his coach saying, "The ego! Sometimes too big!" followed by Sandhu announcing, "Dancing is my favorite language. It's body language. And I love it." Sandhu un-retired and tried for a skating comeback earlier this year but was sidelined by an injury. Today, he's 31.
The only shot because the young guard warned me there is "no photographizing anywhere in Gertrude Stein."
Tomorrow, Hide/Seek re-emerges at the Brooklyn Museum but the best queer show of the year is now on display at its former home, the National Portrait Gallery in DC, where a gallery wall is emblazoned with the quote, "We are surrounded by homosexuals, they do all the good things in all the arts." So wrote Gertrude Stein in a 1934 letter to Samuel Steward, and co-curators Wanda Corn and Tirza True Latimer have created their marvelous show about Gertrude & Alice with major emphasis on queerness. Again, this is painted on the wall at the entrance:
"This exhibition tells five stories about Stein and the sensorium of seeing, taking seriously the writer’s repeated insistence that eyes “were more important than ears.” Story one, “Picturing Gertrude,” presents portraits of Stein, who modeled freely for artists. The second story, “Domestic Stein,” looks at the lesbian partnership of Stein and Alice B. Toklas, focusing on their distinctive dress, home décor, hospitality, food, and pets. “Art of Friendship” explores Stein’s relationships and collaborations after World War I with the neoromantics, a circle of international artists who were young, male, and gay. “Celebrity Stein” tells of Stein’s triumphant return to the United States in 1934–35, and the last story, “Legacies,” explores her ongoing presence in contemporary art."
Corn and Latimer restore Alice as the essential figure she was in that sphere, and they deconstruct how both women dressed to announce and highlight their lesbianism and coupledom to the public. The curators also emphasize nine gay men in their circle: Marsden Hartley, Charles Demuth, Carl Van Vechten, Virgil Thomson, Pavel Tchelitchew, George Platt Lynes, Francis Rose, Frederick Ashton, and Kristians Tonny. Forty years before Mapplethorpe, Lynes photographed white Frederick Ashton standing clothed amid three reclining nude black male dancers from Four Saints in Three Acts. Far from degaying the image, the text by the photos explains choreographer Ashton had sex with at least two of the company's male principals.
Seeing Gertrude Stein began at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. If you missed it there and are unlikely to be in DC before January 22, get the show's smart, fascinating companion book.
Winnetka's Roy Scherer Jr was renamed and remade by a Hollywood gay impresario and total mess whom you can read about in dastardly detail in The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson. Although in his first movie, Fighter Squadron, the 6'5" hunk needed 38 takes to nail his only spoken line, with coaching he became an affable, natural superstar. He reached a new high with Douglas Sirk's Magnificent Obsession in 1954 and the next year barely dodged certain doom: The tabloid Confidential threatened to report his secret gay affairs. Instead, Willson gave them dirt on two of his other, less lucrative clients, Rory Calhoun (prison stint) and Tab Hunter (arrested at a gay party five years earlier), and shoehorned Hudson into a sham marriage with his secretary. In 1956, Hudson and fellow closet case James Dean both earned Oscar nominations for Giant opposite Elizabeth Taylor, who would 29 years later be galvanized by Hudson's death to force an unwilling nation to confront AIDS. As much as his public acknowledgement finally "gave a face" to the disease that had already killed thousands, it also fueled a panicked distrust of all gay men because he had hidden his status from his sex partners like Marc Christian and his kissing co-stars like Linda Evans. Succumbing just before he turned 60, he would have been 86 today. He lives on in celluloid glory and in the pages of his friend Armistead Maupin's Further Tales of the City as the virile icon Blank Blank.
Like any other future drag star born in 1960, RuPaul Andre Charles spent his childhood in San Diego lipsynching Supremes songs, being called names, avoiding sports, and winning the two most important prizes in junior high: Best Dancer and Best Afro. High school didn't go as well (he was expelled for not attending), until he moved to Atlanta with his brother and sister-in-law at sixteen. He began to blossom, thanks largely to drama class, though his attendance in every other subject was still a problem. Eventually he dropped out, got his GED, started community college, and quit. When he was twenty-two he appeared on the American Music Show with two girls as RuPaul and the U-Hauls. When he was thirty-two, the nation was coming down from twelve years of Reagan-Bush, grunge was peaking, and RuPaul put on her best blond wig, her brightest jewels, her fiercest heels, and taught the whole world to sing, "Sashay, chante!" "Work it, girl!" and "You better work!"
Oddly, that hit, Supermodel, only reached #45 on the pop charts, but it remained in heavy rotation on MTV forever and became a cultural moment. Whereas most drag representations before her were catty and bitchy, RuPaul's message was love everybody; everybody, love! Subsequent singles milked the same bouncy vibe but failed to catch on with the masses, though Back to my Roots is an essential history of black hairstyles in three danceable minutes. Adding to her list of drag queen firsts, RuPaul became the face of MAC cosmetics and sang a duet with Elton John. She co-hosted KTU's popular morning show for two years and hosted her own tv show on VH1. Season four of her popular RuPaul's Drag Race begins on Logo in January 2012 with 13 contestants and more episodes (18) than ever before.
NONFICTION: Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
In all the hoopla over The Tiger's Wife [[Kindle]], did you somehow miss that the tiger's wife's husband is gay? (No, not the tiger.) He is. And he's even more unlucky than most rural Balkan gay men, because his wise plan to marry a woman who refuses to have sex ever and intends to die a virgin is horribly thwarted at their wedding when he lifts the veil to discover he's been tricked into marrying a deaf mute 13 year-old girl instead. His situation gets worse, as does hers. Just one more thread in the larger tapestry of life during war. Of course the novel is full of fireworks and forcibly impressive, but I couldn't shake the feeling I was irrelevant; Téa Obreht tells you absolutely everything and there's not much for the reader to do... other than be impressed by her fireworks and her skill at telling you everything.
At yesterday’s memorial service for Frank Kameny [see AP's story], each speaker praised his fiery, ornery, valiant pioneering of gay rights activism, with Tammy Baldwin quoting Emerson’s “...go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Barney Frank expressed gratitude for a forerunner who proved it possible “to be a leader in the gay rights movement without an obligation to dress well.” Barney also honored Kameny as a “great strategist” and acknowledged his “profound insight” that “the gap between their bigotry and who we are is so great their case would inevitably collapse.” Eleanor Holmes Norton said Kameny stands “alongside the nation’s great human rights champions” and compared him to Rosa Parks. Tripling that, Yale law professor William Eskridge tried to claim that Kameny was our Rosa Parks, our Martin Luther King Jr., and our Thurgood Marshall. Yet isn’t what makes Kameny’s struggle so noble that he persevered largely alone and often in obscurity, without the support of millions of followers and media celebrity, and without the Supreme stature, earned by Dr. King and Justice Marshall?
But everyone agreed that Kameny would have loved the impressive service in the grand caucus hall of the Cannon building, organized by Kameny Papers Project cofounders, Bob Witeck and Charles Francis, my pard. In his opening remarks Charles pointed out that the event was taking place 50 years to the day after Kameny formed the Mattachine Society of DC, and was held in the very room where the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee got an indignant earful from Kameny on the subject of the government’s banning gay employees. As Barney Frank said, Kameny was the “walking repudiation of the notion of the shrinking violet.” He added, “I never met anyone less inclined to shade his opinion.” Charles also noted that Kameny’s military grave marker and an additional plaque reading “Gay Is Good,” will lie in Congressional Cemetery near Leonard Matlovich’s and “just far enough away” from Hoover’s and Clyde Tolson’s.
From 1998 to 2003 Francois Ozon made the frothy Sitcom; the suburban noir-cum-folktale closet allegory Criminal Lovers; Fassbinder's Water Drops on Burning Rocks; followed by his three greatest films: the extraordinary Under the Sand, with Charlotte Rampling as a woman whose husband vanishes; 8 Women, a mystery-musical with France's all-star all-female cast of all-time (Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Béart, Fanny Ardant, Virginie Ledoyen, Danielle Darrieux, Ludivine Sagnier); and Swimming Pool, again with Sagnier and Rampling as an uptight thriller writer whose life changes while hosting her publisher's seductive, freewheeling teenage daughter. From 2004 to 2009 Ozon made five other films: 5 x 2, Time To Leave, the costume drama Angel, the flying baby fable Ricky, and Le Refuge. Last year he returned to form with a semisweet 70s sexism comedy Potiche in which Catherine Deneuve played an ignored, huge haired matron who triumphs when she must take over her husband's umbrella factory but ends up alone. Next year comes Dans la Maison, with Kristen Scott Thomas, Emmanuelle Seigner, and Denis Menochet.
In the 1970s, most interracial gay couples could expect tension with their partner's parents, but in Glenn Burke's case, his boyfriend's father was his own baseball team's manager, homophobe Tommy Lasorda. Glenn played for the Dodgers for three seasons, including the '77 World Series, before they dealt him to his native Oakland. His relationship with A's manager Billy Martin wasn't complicated by family ties but was no less welcoming: in front of the team, Martin called Glenn a faggot. He lasted one season. A knee injury either ended his career with the majors or was a good enough excuse to send him to the minors in Utah. He quit baseball in 1979, when he was 27. Although he had been out to his team, he came out publicly in 1982, the same year he medaled as a sprinter at Gay Games. Four years later he competed in basketball at Gay Games 1986, by which time he was addicted to cocaine. He became homeless in San Francisco and in 1994 he revealed he was fighting aids. In the months before his death at 42 in 1995, he published his autobiography Out at Home and told People magazine, "My mission as a gay ballplayer was to break a stereotype . . . I think it worked." Last year SportsNet profiled him in a documentary "Out: The Glenn Burke Story."