Category Archives: Bo Young

The 2007 Triangle Awards


I count myself among the "word-loving, book-besotted" and last night I found my people.

I sat with author and White Crane Institute Advisor, Perry Brass and the Gay Glitterati, last night, at a lovely evening honoring LGBT writers, the annual Publishing Triangle’s Awards presented in the Tishman Auditorium at The New School.

Yoshino Eight Publishing Triangle Awards were presented to various men and women, including The Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction, which was awarded to Kenji Yoshino (at the left), for his groundbreaking and important book, Covering. Other nominees in the category were Bernard Cooper for The Bill from My Father and Rigaberto Gonzalez for the beautiful and poetic, Butterfly Boy. Coveringcov

Nancy Bereano (below right), a frequent Lammy winner, was honored by PT for her two decades of work as the founder and publisher of Firebrand Books, one of the most successful lesbian/feminist presses in the world. The press publishes such titles as Alison Bechdel’s (another honoree last night) Dykes To Watch Out For, Audre Lorde, Dorothy Allison and Barbara Smith. Nancy_bereano

Along with Alison Bechdel, who won for Lesbian Nonfiction for her masterful Fun Home, Catherine Friend was nominated for the delightful Hit By A Farm, and Marcia Gallo was acknowledged for Different Daughters, an important history of the Daughters of Bilitis.

Chris Weikel, a founder of the Tosos II Theater Company, received the Robert Chesley Emerging Playwright Award.

Gutted Poets Jennifer Rose and Justin Chin won, respectively, for Lesbian and Gay Male poetry. Justin’s Gutted was nominated along with Jim Elledge’s A History of My Tattoo and Greg Hewett’s The Eros Conspiracy. Robin Becker and Kate Lynn Hibbard were nominated for The Domain of Perfect Affection and Sleeping Upside Down, respectively.

Fiction was ably represented in both Men’s and Women’s categories. Rebecca Brown’s The Last Time I Saw You, Lisa Carey’s Every Visible Thing, and Ivan E. Coyote’s Bow Grip in the Lesbian Fiction catergory. Men’s Fiction was acknowledged with Martin Hyatt’s A Scarecrow’s Bible (from Suspect Thoughts), Steven McCauley’s Alternatives to Sex and (the winner) Christopher Bram’s elegial Exiles in America. Exiles_2

Bentley230_2 The truly remarkable renaissance man, Eric Bentley (at the left) was recognized for his lifetime (when he mentioned in passing that he was 90, the room gasped!) of writing and activism…critic, playwright, editor, translator of Brecht, chronicler of Oscar Wilde in the play, Lord Alfred’s Lover…Bentley’s comments, which we hope to be able to reproduce here or in the pages of White Crane, reminded everyone present that LGBT people are still the targets of religious fanatics. He spoke of the pivotal roles that "love and death" play in the arts and literature and cautioned that there was still plenty of both in store for LGBT people.

Grief_2 Finally, Andrew Holleran, recent author of Grief, and the fabled Dancer From the Dance, received the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement.

The Publishing Triangle presents the annual Triangle Awards in collaboration with The Ferro-Grumley Literary Awards, the Robert Chesley Foundation and the New School.

Stay tuned…in just over two weeks, we will be reporting onthe 19th Annual Lambda Literary Awards. White Crane Books’ Charmed Lives is a finalist in the Anthology Category.

WC72 – First Words…

From the Editors


Bo: I think there was probably as much consternation about doing an issue on “movies” as there was about doing the issue on “food.”

Dan: I didn’t think it’d be controversial. I mean everyone loves movies. At the very least everyone loves talking about movies. We’ve been told by our faithful readers — when we hear from them (ahem—a blatant plug for Letters to the Editor) that we need to lighten the topics. “Don’t do so many heady, serious themes all the time.” So we try to liven them up with some amusing themes — to use Frank O’Hara’s term. He defined something as amusing as an artwork that spoke to his muse…that a-Mused him. This is certainly the case with material we’re covering and also the conversation with Mark Thompson in this issue about fellow travelers.

Bo: They’re a fitting companion to the four portraits from the touring Fellow Travelers show we’re sponsoring. I’m just sorry we don’t have enough space to run more of them in the issue. But…on to the issue at hand. So, where were you and how old were you when Making Love came out?

Dan: Well, that’s going to date me. Making Love came out in 1982 so I would’ve been 15 years old at the time. But I remember the hubbub that occasioned the film. I remembered hunky Harry Hamlin from the Clash of the Titans movie a few years before and it was one of those films that caused Gay ripples in my consciousness way down in South Texas. So was Cruising, which was a big film with Al Pacino. Of course it’s an awful movie for many of the reasons Gay film critics have mentioned, but it was also a film on Gay subjects and it opened up the possibility that Gay people were out there somewhere.

Bo: I don’t think anyone can honestly make the argument that movies, film, cinema, isn’t an important component of “Gay culture” and always has been.

Dan: Well, it’s a mass medium and as such it has presented views of Gay life. I was talking to a friend of mine about the old Doris Day/Rock Hudson movies. He has teen-aged daughters who are pretty savvy and hip and they just love those old films. He’d gotten them three of the films in a DVD package called “The Romance Collection.” We were talking about how those films have a valance they didn’t have when they first came out. Movies like Pillow Talk are perfect little films because now, in retrospect, they tell a tale about the ridiculousness of gender lines. I mean Rock playing straight, playing Gay “mama’s boy” is funnier in hindsight. It renders the conventions ludicrous on so many levels.

Bo: I think one of the reasons Gay folk love movies so much is it’s a reflection of the “play acting” we all experience in our own lives — of “acting” straight. We relate on a very deep, psychic level to the medium. So when someone like Rock shows up, well, there’s just all this double entendre and subterfuge and wink-wink that we all are in on and straight culture may or may not be.

Dan: This might be the moment to talk about Vito Russo. His work was so helpful in helping me make connections to all these movies I enjoyed as a kid. I’m so happy to have Arnie Kantrowitz’s memoir of Russo in this issue. It seems like a proper act of paying due homage to the foremost Gay Cinema Maven.

Bo: It was only a matter of time before Gay Lib got into the movies. That’s the mirror America uses to look at itself and create its own mythology, which Vito so beautifully illustrated. I think another reason movies are so important to Gay folk has to do with how important it is as a tool and how important it is to American culture. It is probably the single most important export in the American economy.

Dan: But how telling is it that the healthiest depictions of Gay life aren’t usually American? Some of the best Gay films I’ve seen of late are films from France, Germany and England. The American Gay trope, even when it’s helmed by Gay creators, is mired in alienation, despair and death. How many times have we seen a Gay film from another country and thought, “if this were an American film, it’d end with a shooting or suicide.” Films like Cachorro (Bear Cub) from Spain, Sommersturm (Summerstorm) from Germany, Drôle de Félix (Adventures of Felix) from France. Those films are electrically vivid, very honest, and not mired in the trope of despair that most American Gay cinema is. And they accomplish it without being overly saccharine.

Bo: And it comes as no surprise that these are also the countries where we are more equal, less oppressed, more integrated. It seems Modern Europe is much more mature around matters of sex. These are also countries where fundamentalist Christianity isn’t as much in power. They’ve done a better job of keeping the secular separate from the church. And look what Hollywood has contributed to the religious community…the whole Biblical Epic movie. It becomes the entire vernacular for scripture for the man/woman on the street.

Dan: Yet even in biblical epics the best examples have profound Gay curves, whether it’s the campiness of Ten Commandments, Gore Vidal’s spin on Ben Hur, or in a more serious vein, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew. Which makes Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ look like a toddler’s horrific temper tantrum.

Bo: It’s powerful stuff that celluloid. We haven’t really talked about the powerful images of women in film and how Gay men have traditionally, and still do I suspect, been part of that adoration of women. Some even identify with them — all these butch men who can cite chapter and verse of Sunset Boulevard or Bette Davis in All About Eve. “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” I mean what is that about? I suspect there’s some identifying with “hidden power” just lying under the surface of all that…

Dan: I think a lot of Gay men can come up with a list of strong women characters that made an impression even when they’re over the top. Eve Arden in Mildred Pierce, Greta Garbo in Ninotchka. The role of Gay men in creating that is clear. The image we have of Katherine Hepburn as an independent, strong-willed woman comes from the roles George Cukor directed her in — movies like Philadelphia Story, Pat & Mike and Adam’s Rib.

Bo: And James Whale who directed all the Frankenstein movies and The Invisible Man.
It’s fitting that we lead the cinema section with one of the most honored avant-garde directors of the last century, James Broughton. He was highly intellectual, if a bit giddy at times. It’s an excerpt from the forthcoming edition and our next book, ALL: A James Broughton Reader. The timing of the book with this issue was a beautiful bit of serendipity. So, we have a long honored history of Gay directors. Why is it, do you think, that there’s no lead actor, no leading man, who’s come out? Obviously we know that Lesbians are going to feed straight male fantasies. But the whole “brave to play Gay” thing, which so pisses me off — is still very much alive for men.

Dan: Well, the old saw we get handed is that actors are put up there to play heroic action/adventure heartthrob types and the viewing public won’t believe it from a Gay man. It shatters their illusions. And perhaps that’s a proof of sorts that the medium is very grounded in a society that still has deeply entrenched homophobia.

Bo: And I want to say horsefeathers! It’s called ACTING!

Dan: Well, that’s true. But the sad reality is that Rock Hudson, being who he was, would not have the same career today he had then if he’d been out of the closet. That supposition has not been disproved by a reality in the form of an out Gay actor. I mean we know they’re out there — Gay actors that is — but they’re still trapped in smaller roles or in complete silence. But I’d like to focus a bit on the role of out Gay people in cinema. A few years back we published that delightful piece by Josh Adler on Ian McKellen as a Gay Gandalf [WC#60 Greying Temples: Honoring Elderhood.] It was a lovely essay about Adler’s experience with his younger brother and how McKellen in the role of the sage Wizard in Lord of the Rings was a breakthrough for his little brother. His brother was able to understand and accept his Gay brother a little more because of that depiction.

Bo: Which brings us back to the power of imagery and that flickering light in a dark room with a group of people all round you…it’s intensely powerful in its ability to portray, project and build image and there’s also Gay people’s attraction to dark, sexy places. Movie houses are almost another one of the Sacred Groves.

Dan: I’m curious if you remember the first time you saw a Gay character and thought to yourself “Hey. That’s me up on the screen.” Do you remember the movie and the actor?

Bo: I’d have to say Women In Love. I soooo wanted to get into that wrestling scene…and I wanted to live in Alan Bates’ little stone cottage in the woods. But actually seeing someone who I thought was like me…I don’t think I have yet. Maybe Harold in Harold and Maude? But he wasn’t really Gay, either…at least not overtly so.

Dan: That is rightfully one of the best movies ever made.

Bo: So what’s yours?

Dan: Well it’s interesting. I think a lot of earlier movies spoke to me before I came out but they’re in a haze really. I guess it isn’t fair to ask a question you don’t have a clear answer to yourself. But I think the movies that spoke to me were those where people were misfits. Ergo my loving Harold and Maude too. I know this is going to sound odd, but Woody Allen’s Sleeper is one of my all time favorites. In hindsight it may have been the humor of the protaganist in a world where he just didn’t fit in. That and Woody’s Blanche Dubois imitation from Streetcar Named Desire is just delicious.

Bo: Woody does Blanche Dubois?

Dan: It’s a funny bit of gender bending towards the end of the movie where Diane Keaton does the Marlon Brando role and Woody Allen plays Blanche Dubois.

Bo: I didn’t remember that. I think one of the key things here is when you bring up movies in a room full of Gay men, you’re going to get a lot of response. I think one of the most interesting things in this issue is the section where we asked people to tell us about their favorite movie or most important movie. The response was huge! And it’s one of the most interesting and telling pieces in this issue.

Dan: So at the risk of treating cinema as light — which is only part of its power — we hope readers just enjoy a great issue and are inspired to look at some of these movies again.

Bo: We’re ready for our close up…

Bo Young and Dan Vera are editorials mid-wives and co-conspirators in creating each issue of White Crane.   Bo lives in Brooklyn, NY a few blocks from a museum and Dan lives in Washington, DC a few blocks from a Shrine.  Bo is the author of First Touch: A Passion for Men and Day Trilogy and Other Poems. Dan is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, Crespuscalario and Seven Steps Up.

If they sometimes seem interchangeable in the minds of White Crane readers it’s because they talk on the phone each day and bask under the shade of the same growing tree, the watering of which they consider their contribution to the continued flowering of gaiety.

You can write them at

The Irish Sports Pages – Hattoy

Next to the crossword puzzle, it’s the reason I buy the New York Times every morning.

Call it morbid if you like…but I read the obituaries, or as my mother called them "the Irish Sports Pages" every morning. I have no idea from where that reference derives, aside from the trenchant wit the Irish bring to everything and a sort of philosophical resignation to the tragedies of life. Was it Ben Franklin who said he checked them every morning, and if he wasn’t in them, he carried on as usual?

A long time ago, in a California galaxy far, far away, I worked for the Los Angeles City Council as an assistant to Councilwoman Peggy Stevenson. I replaced Steve Schulte who had moved on to become the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Community Services Center. It was 1979 if memory serves. I was 29 years old. Not long after starting the job, I met a large and voluble figure in the hallways who worked for Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky. He was 29 too. And we became fast friends. His name was Bob Hattoy and this morning I opened the Irish Sports Pages to find my friend’s name there on page C13. The headline on his obit: Bob Hattoy, 56, Clinton Aide And Powerful Voice on Gay Issues.

Hattoy_obit_1_1  While I don’t dispute that, it isn’t how I remember Bob. Bob and I would commute to work together most mornings, driving from West Hollywood (in those ancient days only a neighborhood in Los Angeles, not a separate city) to downtown Los Angeles, braving the Hollywood Freeway. There was the time we arrived at the downtown parking lot where council employees parked, a short walk from the offices in the iconic Los Angeles City Hall building, and it was just too beautiful a day…we decided that we just couldn’t cope with angry constituents and boring committee meetings this morning. We called my boyfriend at the time, the one with the ’76 red Corvette…let’s call him RC…and had RC meet us downtown and took off, the three of us, loaded into the Vette, and drove up the coast to Santa Barbara for the day. Bob was the kind of person who could talk you all the way to Santa Barbara and make you laugh the whole way. He had a facility for saying the outrageous thing that made you slack jaw…but also made you think.

Later, RC and I moved out to Rancho Mirage and were doing the reverse commute back and forth to L.A. Hattoy would come out and spend most weekends with us. The Times says "he found his calling" and went to work for the Sierra Club at age 28, but that can’t be right. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say it’s flat out wrong. Here’s how I know: The No On Six Campaign…the despicable Briggs Initiative to ban gay people and their friends from teaching…was in 1978, and it was immediately after that that I started working for Peggy Stevenson and that’s when I met Hattoy. We were still working for the L.A. City Council at 28 and ditching work and driving red Corvettes to Santa Barbara. The NY Times has that wrong.

Anyway, what I remember most about Bob was laughing. He was one of the funniest people, one of the sweetest people, I ever knew.Hatt2

Then life happened…and I moved to the East coast and I didn’t see Hattoy again for a long long time.

Bob was the kind of friend who would suddenly show up on the news…and not in a bad way…and you weren’t really surprised. So when Bob showed up speaking at the Democratic Convention that nominated Bill Clinton it just seemed, well, normal. Bob had always been a force to reckon with…funny…witty, even…clever…maddening more often than not. But this was a moment that Bob Hattoy had been born to…a national audience for someone who knew precisely where to hit with righteous language. This wasn’t "funny Bob" …this was "a big bite of the reality sandwich" Bob, as he used to put it. Here’s what he said: "We are part of the American family," he said, speaking to Bush senior. "And Mr. President, your family has AIDS, and we’re dying, and you are doing nothing about it." It wasn’t "funny Bob." It wasn’t even "outrageous Bob." I can’t even imagine what he’d have to say about Shrub. Or the Iraq. Or VA Hospitals. The thing is, I more expected Bob Hattoy to show up on The Daily Show than in the NY Times obituaries. I actually gasped when I opened the paper and saw his name there.

He came to my home one more time after that, before disappearing into the ether of Washington D.C. politics and the Clinton administration and then back to California. I had a cocktail party in honor of my old friend and then I never saw him again. I tried several times over the past few years…since my own diagnosis…to find him. I Googled him to no avail. Oh there were stories, but nothing I could track…and I’ve tracked down and found old friends.

I read the obituaries every morning because in many ways they are some of the best mini-biographies out there, but this morning I saw how much they could miss. Some of the best parts of my friend’s life, his activism, his Vietnam War protesting, his work on the Los Angeles City Council, his work for the Sierra Club…even his stint as…was he one of the Seven Dwarves?…that would be ironic considering how big a man he was…I can’t remember now…there was always something just completely insane thinking of Hattoy as a Disneyland animated character…I think he said he was fired for insulting Snow White. How truly incisively smart Bob Hattoy was, how outrageously funny this man could be…all of this…reduced to a paragraph.

And of course, every Gay man has a scrapbook of obituary clippings…too many obituary clippings…Howard, Kip, David, Alan, Mark, Greg…

I’ll add one more this morning. It never gets any easier.


When I was growing up I would have given anything to have had a relative who might have been, could have been…not discussed. That "funny uncle" whose name would immediately elicit a change of subject. I would have beat a path to his door and demanded answers, guidance…the protection only family can offer. Instead, as soon as I was able, I high-tailed it to the West Coast (I’d always had crushes on surfers) and San Francisco, under the pretense of accepting a "job opportunity." Somehow  I managed to survive the early 70s in S.F.and find a semblance of "Gay identity" in the process without succumbing to drugs and the street. Many of us are not so lucky, and every time I see a news story about some young person’s suicide, my first supposition is "Gay."

Uncle This, of course, is an oft-told tale. Escape from the middle west, the deep south, the constraints of whoever you are, wherever you grew up to a place where anonymity promises opportunity to define self. Gay self. This is the basis of a new play by playwright Dean Gray, Uncle, playing for a maddingly brief run at the ArcLight Theater on the Upper West Side in NYC. Gray’s name may be famliar to some readers as the playwright behind the adaptation of Will Fellows’ fine anthology of oral histories titled Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest. Fellows has gone on to write Passion to Preserve: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture. While Uncle is not another Fellows-based piece it is in the same vein…midwest roots.

Uncle is fine piece of stage work by a talented playwright who readily admits to putting much of himself up there on the stage. The protagonist, Brent (played handsomely by Brian Patacca) is from rural Wisconsin. Now living in New York City, pursuing a composing career, his psyche is perilously on the edge…the first scenes, wordlessly show him alone, and suicidal despite having achieved what, by any standards in the NY music scene, would be considered "success." As Brent explains to his mother, Iris (played lovingly by actress Nancy McDoniel, most recently seen in  the 9/11 film, United 93) he’s  "tired of being alone."

Uncle_2 [L: James Heatherly and R: Brian Patacca – photo: Jim Baldassare]

He’s not alone anymore, and hasn’t really been alone for some time. First, there’s the handsome and sweet Sean, (actor James Heatherly) working in the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library, who is immediately smitten with Brent and drawn into his intensity. But Brent’s other constant companion is the ghost of his long dead Uncle Irvin (actor Darren Lougee) that uncle that no one spoke of, and when they did, someone changed the subject. Finding a snapshot of his Uncle Irvin (that, in this production, is actually of the playwright’s own family), on one more "good-son" journey home to Wisconsin, he questions his mother about the other man in the picture, the one wearing the matching sweater to Uncle Irvin’s. Mom plays dumb and changes the subject to cheese.

Surprisingly spare, the play is, in the end, moving and sweet without cloying. There are ghosts and flashbacks. There are moments in which Gray comes perilously close to "sending a message," and there are some close-to-soap-opera moments, but he dodges these (for me) cringe-inducing pitfalls with well-drawn, human characters…characters we’ve all known or been at one point or another in our lives as Gay people. My partner and I were crying at the end…and they were tears Gray earned honestly. And I hasten to add, they were not the tears of another Brokeback "dead queer" at the end of a morality tale, but tears of reconciliation and the power of love and family. Nor, I might add, is there gratuitous parading of half-dressed handsome men. For those of us for whom this is kind of exposure is important, or at least desirable, yes, shirts and pants are removed. But I’d have to say the sexiest moments are fully clothed and simply sealed with a kiss. Sometimes less really is more.

Gay_bar_book_1_1 Speaking with playwright Dean Gray, this morning, he tells me his next project is another adaptation of a book titled Gay Bar. He’s not really interested, he says, in being tagged as "a gay issues playwright," and I sympathize…but then again, you write what you know. He spoke of his aging parents, something we all come to terms with at some stage of life…but something that takes on even more weight in the lives of many gay men, either because we’re estranged from family or, as is more often the case, and less often acknowledged, the "good sons and daughters" who take on the burdens of aging parents when heterosexual siblings are otherwise engaged with their own children and their own families. 

All too often…and all too often at the hands of our own media…GLBT people are portrayed as care-free with plenty of surplus income for disposal on fashion and style and travel. Tra-fucking-lah!

I may have known one or two gay men like that in my life, but by and large most GLBT people I know are hard-working, just trying to get by and, at the same time, frequently the people who are most involved in taking care of family matters. I’m far from being a proponent of "we’re just like straight people, except for what we do in bed" but the fact of the matter is, this is sadly NOT the image we see of most GLBT people and it is the one I find most common in my own experience…family is important to us. In fact, family is probably THE critical consideration in most GLBT people’s lives when thinking about coming out. [Memo to Oprah…next time you sit there wide-eyed and clutching your fucking pearls, trying to find out why some Gay man would "lie" to people he loves, please remember that unlike Gay people, black folk  were never in any danger of losing the love of family because of race. Neither is being African-American reviled as an abomination in the eyes of god. Nor is there the state-sanctioned pressure to become White. Please…you’ve got a joint checking account with god now, Oprah…buy a clue.]

Anyway, for my own part, as I prepared to come out, I finally had to reach the place where I had to prepare myself for the chance…even the probability I thought…that I might actually never see my family again once I came out. While that wasn’t the case, the strain and estrangement with my own family went on for decades. I don’t think this is unusual. Dean Gray has put it on stage in Uncle and it is well worth seeing. As this production will only be there for a short run, we can only urge readers to watch for more from Dean Gray. It’s a nice antidote to Queer Eye. Or at least some much-needed balance.

Essentialism & Constructionism

For those of you interested in the debate between "essentialism" and "constructionism" in queer theory, there is an interesting web site from Rictor Norton in the U.K. based on his book The Myth of the Modern Homosexual: Queer History and the Search for Cultural Unity (London and Washington: Continnum International 1997 ISBN 0-304-33892-3)

Also from Mr. Norton, a nice background page on John Addington Symonds.

Happy Valentine’s Day…

WC71 – Editor’s Note

Opening Words from the Editors

Our Special Role
Dan Vera & Bo Young

Bo: So this was an issue long in the “a-borning” process.

Dan: Gestating?

Bo: We’ve had the germ of this issue for almost two years

Dan: Wow. Has it been that long?

Bo: Victor Marsh’s interview with Don Bachardy sat for a long time until we could figure out how to present it. I’m not really sure “Beats & Bohemians” is the right rubric for it.

Dan: Well we have talked about the term “Beats” being a misnomer. “Beats” was coined from “beatific” and applied by people outside the movement. It was an invention of the press, if memory serves.

Bo: And that “Bohemian” is a term that stretches from the turn of the century.

Dan: Yes. Andrew Ramer writes about the confusion-inducing nature of that term in his column this issue.

Bo: I think the idea is about “outsider” being “different” and the perspective that offers. And “Bohemia” has always seemed like a place where the sexual “transgressive” fit in. Andrew Ramer talks about it in his column, how there was this perception of sexual freedom right from the earliest notion of the term. I remember in my own “coming out” days wanting to get away. The Hippies were the bohemians of my youth and I wanted to be one.

Dan: What was it about them that attracted you?

Bo: The pretty men with long hair. The whole communal thing and the experimental nature of it all. They were trying out new ways of being in a time when I didn’t think much of the way I’d seen things being done. I wanted nothing so much as to put as much distance between me and Suburbia as I could. And Suburbia is still the only place I’m afraid of – that Stepford effect.

Dan: There is a geographic element to this discussion. I’m reminded of Edward Field’s recent memoir on the Bohemians of New York’s Greenwich Village after World War II. He writes about how they found this enclave where they were free to explore their lives and their art.

Bo: The dictionary’s first definition of “bohemian” is geographic. The second is about people who “live and act free of regard for conventional rules.” It’s about being unconventional.

Dan: Sure, but the question is what happens when the conventional rules change. Being gay in Chelsea or Washington DC’s Dupont Circle is not an act of brazen liberty is it?

Bo: No, but it was when those neighborhoods weren’t so trendy we made them trendy. In fact I’d go so far as to say we fix cities we settle areas that others desert.

Dan: So trendyness is today’s bohemianism?

Bo: No. That’s the wake, the afterward. It is about pioneering.

Dan: So Bohemianism gives birth to banality.

Bo: Only when it gets commodified after the true bohemians have moved on. It’s just one of the social roles that same sex people have always played. I don’t think it’s simply a subset of the group that sexual freedom is part of it. I think in some ways it defines it.

Dan: Where have they moved to? I guess that’s what I’m curious about. Cause I go back to the theory that Bohemianism has a direct relation to cheap rent. Allen Ginsberg could live on unemployment and do his art.

Bo: Oh yes. Cheap rent is very much a part of it. Except after the bohemians move in, the rents end up going up. We make it safe and profitable

Dan: So, I’m just asking the question that cities may not be where Bohemianism is living today because people can’t make art free of constraints if they’re working for Smith Barney to pay the rent. I was reminded from our recent time there that the same is true of the Castro. I’m sort of haunted by the conversations we had there with artists who struggle to make sense of what’s around them.

Bo: Well, there are surely “bohemian” people in rural places, too. I don’t think “bohemia” as a concept has a geography, per se. There are rural bohemians, and there are urban bohemians. The connection is living outside the boundaries, and moving the boundaries. It gets back to the traditional social role of same sex people, to my eye. It’s another “contrary” role – the “re-interpreter.”

Dan: I don’t think people struggled to create communities or neighborhoods so they could be co-opted. I think they wanted more – still want more. I don’t think the end result was to be tastemakers. That’s way too safe and we didn’t need liberation to perform that function—those of us who perform that function (not all of us do of course).

Bo: Oh I agree. I think the motivation is about finding a better, more satisfying way to live—unconstrained by social rules that have become constraints.

Dan: Well by most definitions the movement’s sort of hit a wall. I think the social rules can only apply if you’re living in Anniston or Pagosa Springs.

Bo: I don’t know those references.

Dan: Anniston, Alabama or Pagosa Springs, Colorado. I was just referencing more rural locales.

Bo: I think that’s the whole point. There isn’t any one “movement.” Bohemia is about the individual. The minute it becomes a “movement” it’s something else.

Dan: No. I disagree. The Beats, as we call them, were not individuals. That’s a total myth. They functioned and “succeeded” through their collective efforts. The reason we know of Burroughs and Kerouac is because of Ginsberg and the reason we have Ginsberg – as David Carter’s piece demonstrates beautifully – is because of his interaction with Burroughs and Kerouac. Ginsberg championed his friends’ work when no one would pay any attention. If the world loves On The Road, they owe a debt of gratitude to Ginsberg who used the his Howlfame to push for its publication

Bo: I think that’s the other side of this, too. All these radical “individualists” like the Goths now, or even the Hippies all dress alike, all look alike. It becomes about being identifiable. There is always this regression to a mean. But I think that is precisely what the “true bohemian” is responding to.

Dan: Sure. “The 50s begat the Beats which begat the Hippies, which begat the Punks” etcetera, but it sort of falls apart somewhere there at the end.

Bo: But there’s always one, or a few, who wander off and try to reestablish some individuality. It’s a very scary place to live, though, and it is certainly one of my interests with respect to modern gay folk. Getting back to Harry Hay’s whole idea that “the bedroom is the only place we’re like straight people.” It’s amazing how threatening that is to a large group of gay people and how easy it is to slip back into that Stockholm Syndrome of trying to convince hetero-society that we’re “just like them.” And how really difficult it is to stand outside and declare your differences. But this issue seems to confirm how important that is.

Dan: I just had a conversation with an artist we both know. He’s devoted his entire life to living simply so he can do his art. I asked him if he knew where the gay bohemians were today. His reply was a question. “Is there such a thing? I thought gay was part of the norm now so that we don’t need to live in special areas.”

Bo: Well, that is interesting. But for me it reinforces that the whole “gay lib” thing isn’t about sex. It’s about social roles. Sex is just sex, like Harry says. It’s the only place we’re the same as “them.” It’s every other way that makes us another “them.” As desperately as people will try to hold on to being “just like everyone else.” The feeling that it’s important to “fit in” is deeply tribal. It’s scary to be on the outs or feel like you’re on the outs. I think the point is that we actually have a special role and the sooner we go about defining it the better off we’ll all be.

Dan: What are some of those roles?

Bo: One of those roles is to be the outside commentor – the perspective that being outside, even briefly, offers. That’s very important for culture and society. Sometimes that outsider role is the joker, the jester making fun of things. That’s revolutionary by definition. And sometimes it is as the contrary: deliberately going against the flow. These are all definitions of “bohemians.”

Dan: I just think it’s near impossible to do that from a point of comfort. And we’re way too comfortable as an enclave. Chelsea is way too comfortable and cozy. Part of the dynamic is the carving out of space that is other, that is protected – a liberated zone if you will. Is there any chance to break from the rootlessness of that role? I mean to actually put down roots in a community? To not be the cultural interior decorator for the society or for realtors?

Bo: Well, for me that’s the point. “Bohemia” isn’t geographic. It’s a state of mind with very strong ego boundaries. Rootlessness is another synonym. They just don’t want to be confined by convention.

Dan: Maybe we’re challenged by trying to talk about them in general terms. Maybe it’s about intentionality. How you do things authentically.

Bachardyday2no3 Bo: There is a social co-dependency that is considered “the norm.” It’s easy if you fit in but not so easy if you don’t. Some people get bent out of shape with it all. Still others turn it into an art form. “Life as Art.” Which is certainly what Mr. Bachardy is doing.

Dan: It’s a big thing for our humble and solid little publication to be printing four of Don Bachardy’s nudes in this issue. They are truly works of art and they signify a threshold for us in keeping to our mission. You had the chance to sit for him. What was that experience like?

Bo: It was an honor to sit for him and fascinating. He works so fast and the concentration and meditation he speaks of in this interview, is palpable. There is a clear connection made with him as you sit there and his laser eye takes you in and translates you into color on the page. I think it’s Fauvist (another bohemian split from the art establishment in its time!) He really colors outside the lines. But I really got a sense that he lives to paint.

Dan: That may be the purest way to understand this issue. To talk about life as art. Or the pursuit of art. But I don’t think it has much to do with these creators thinking of themselves as Bohemians. It had more to do with their being honest about their lives and their expression of that liberated life through their art. I think these larger sociological conversations are just dead ends. They get too convoluted. Just sound like catch-phrases. Maybe because so much of the language has been co-opted on to Gap Ads.

Bo: Well I think that’s certainly true. Everything and everyone is capable of being coopted. But there will always be bohemians. Whatever they call themselves.

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are a reader-supported journal and need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Bo Young and Dan Vera are editorials mid-wives and co-conspirators in creating each issue of White Crane. Bo lives in Brooklyn, NY a few blocks from a museum and Dan lives in Washington, DC a few blocks from a Shrine. Bo is the author of First Touch: A Passion for Men and Day Trilogy and Other Poems. Dan is the author of two chapbooks of poetry, Crespuscalario and Seven Steps Up. If they sometimes seem interchangeable in the minds of White Crane readers it’s because they talk on the phone each day and bask under the shade of the same growing tree, the watering of which they consider their contribution to the continued flowering of gaiety.

WC71 – Review of Gay L.A.

Rvu_gayla Gay L.A.
A History of Sexual Outlaws,
Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians

By Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons
Basic Books (Perseus Books Group) 2006
ISBN -13978-0-465-02288-5
431 pages, $27.50

Reviewed by Bo Young

If you stopped the average, well-read gay man on …say, Castro Street or Eighth Avenue Chelsea or even Santa Monica Boulevard (can you find “well-read” gay men on any of those streets?) and asked them where the modern Gay liberation movement got its start, it’s a safe bet the majority of responses would be something about Stonewall and New York City. Such is the power of publicity (and urban density, according to Gay L.A. authors, Faderman and Timmons). Because, in a fair appraisal of the developments of what might be called GLBT history, Los Angeles would necessarily play a major, if not the starring role. By any measure of “apples and oranges” Los Angeles and its cultural contributions to GLBT Liberation was ahead of the curve and ahead of New York City.
This, of course, sticks in the craw of a lot of city chauvinists. But facts are facts. If you trace modern Gay liberation back to the Harry Hay and Rudy Gernreich and their circle that became the Mattachine Society, you will find yourself in the sunny climes of Southern California. And if you want to talk about “riots” that resulted in gay people organizing, we’re not in Greenwich Village, 1969, anymore, Toto, we’re on Cahuenga Boulevard in Los Angeles; and 1967 is a full two years earlier.

When the religious fundies started their goose-stepping, church-state, church-state, church-state march across the country from Dade County, it was the political savvy of Southern California that made them break their stride, at least for the time being. It was not, for example, as legend and hagio-documentary would have it, Harvey Milk single-handedly standing up to Anita Bryant. In fact, as this reviewer remembers the story (and I was, in fact, the Assistant State Press Secretary to the great Sally Fiske on the No On 6 campaign in So-Cal) the job was to keep Harvey away from microphones, so as to allow John Briggs to hoist himself by his own language petard.
Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons, the co-authors of Gay L.A., have written an entertaining and fascinating history of, yes, GLBT people in Los Angeles — Gay people, lesbians, two spirits, drag queens, wayward sailors and closeted leading actors, and other assorted sexual outlaws, as the subtitle promises. In a most, for Los Angeles, unusual self-effacing way, the collective march-of-time stories make a serious argument for Los Angeles’ honored place in the history of Gay people in America.

If the time line the authors relate is necessarily limited in its depth — and it is — it is also nothing short of dazzling in its breadth. In fairness, much like getting around L.A. by highway, there is a good deal of ground to cover, and having personally lived through a number of the stories related regarding the halcyon disco days (your humble reviewer was doorman at the Cabaret/After Dark disco in S.F.) and bathhouse bacchanalia of the late 70s (every Monday, said reviewer took Sheldon Andelson’s 8709 receipts to the gay-owned bank he and others started in   L.A.) and the political and medical dramas of the early 80s (and slept with his share of the main characters…which he will most certainly not review here) this writer can personally attest to there being a good deal more to tell. But again, in fairness, probably any one of the chapters in the book could be expanded into a stand-alone book. And probably will.

Given this, the range of stories — from pre-publicist times of indigenous Chumash Two Spirit culture, (when the name of the place was translated as “the smoke” because of the environmental peculiarities of the geography), to the modern political action and multicultural influences of this smoggy Hollywood dream citym — makes the book laudable. The writing partnership of Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons offers a tasty combination of women’s stories — I suspect in her voice — as well as the men’s — in his. Rising above male/female binaries, they have made an equally concerted effort to tell the multicultural rainbow of stories, all without the feeling of forced PC-ness, feeling more like what political correctness really is meant to be: the whole story with respect to all the players. It is heartwarming to see the names of Gayle Wilson, Sally Fiske, Roberta Bennett, Diane Abbit and Valerie Terrigno brought to the worthy fore, to say nothing of better known names like Jean O’Leary, Ivy Bottini, Colt handsome Steve Schulte and Mixner with the name Scott appended to it. These were people and stories I knew personally and they are well-honored and well-served here.

Despite my own personal history there, I was…and I think most readers will find themselves…surprised, really, at the not merely important role Los Angeles has had in GLBT history, but the very central, truly groundbreaking force and fertile ground it has been. This is a much needed addition to and clarification of the national history of our struggle that should sit proudly on any bookshelf right next to David Carter’s Stonewall.

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are a reader-supported journal and need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Where is the Winter Issue?

A lot of people have been calling and writing and wanting to know why they haven’t received their winter 2006 issue. We hold our writers to a fairly tight deadline (and by the way…the deadlines never change. It is always the first of the month prior to the pubdate. So winter (Dec. 21…usually) the deadline is November 1. Always. Spring (March 21)…deadline: February 1. Always. Summer (June 21)…deadline: May 1. Always. And fall (September 21)…the deadline is August 1. Always.

So…if we’re so hard ass about our writer’s deadlines, how come we’re so lax on our own publishing dates? Well, we’re not happy about it and we try very hard to get everything layed out and nice for you and do it as quickly as we can so you get it as close to the day you expect it as we can. In December that can be a particular problem, too, with all the holiday mail. But this winter issue is extraordinarily late.

Well here’s why:

We have used the same printer for the past ten years. He’s in Texas and because we’ve tried to keep our overhead to a minimum so we can keep the subscription rates reasonable, we’ve stuck with him even though he was unable to do full color, didn’t have digital capability, couldn’t do photography, etc.

There have been a lot of improvements in the magazine that we would have loved to do…but we just couldn’t. Or our Texas printer (let’s just call him TP) couldn’t. We stuck with him out of a sense of loyalty, too. He managed our fulfillment (mailing), too. And there are very few printers who would do both the printing and the fulfillment for the price we were getting it done. So despite numerous issues…like last summer’s debacle with the marvelous Don Kilhefner article "Gay Adults: Where Are You?" that were squarely and by any measure the printer’s mistake…we stuck with him. To his credit, he reprinted it (at his own expense) and sent it out to all the subscribers with the fall issue. But bookstore readers never saw the complete Kilhefner piece (except here online). Bummer.

So, with this winter issue we had some serious concerns about color reproduction. (I don’t want to give too much away here…we still want you to be delighted when you open your mail and see it)…so we called TP to make arrangements to ensure that the color reproduction was perfect.  We called him months in advance.

I’ll just cut to the chase here: TP never answered a single phone call. He never responded to multiple phone messages and never replied to multiple email messages. No "I think you should find someone else." No "I don’t want to do this anymore." Nothing.

So at the worst possible moment, we had to find a new printer, and a new fulfillment house. And we had to find them fast. And we had to find a printer who would do a good job who would take a small magazine. Most printers won’t even look at you unless you’re doing 5000+ pieces. We’d like to be that big, but, alas, we’re not. We were under the gun and a lot of printers wouldn’t even look at us.

Well…the good news is we found one. Turns out to be the same printers who print such fine publications as McSweeney’s and The Paris Review, no less! And they have been friendly and helpful and so much more capable that we didn’t mind (here’s the bad news) that it nearly doubled our printing costs (and no…this isn’t leading up to "we’re raising our subscription rates"…not yet at least.)

Not nearly…it doubled our printing costs…and they don’t even do fulfillment. We had to find a new fulfillment house, too. And that’s an added expense, too. Fortunately the good news there is the wonderful fulfillment house we found — recommended by our wonderful printers — are helping us to get the [reduced] postal rates a nonprofit publication is supposed to get. So over time…the next three mailings, to be exact…our postal rates will show a significant savings. A savings that is more than eaten up by the new printers, to be sure, but that’s a trade-up and we think you will actually SEE that difference and probably agree with us that it was a good call.

So that’s why winter is late this year.

Dan and I go through virtually the same psychological process with every issue, usually ending up with us thinking “this is the best issue we’ve ever done.”

This is the best issue we’ve ever done.

We hope you think so, too, when you see it.  That will be soon and then we’ll be back and humming along to the Spring issue, which is on Cinema.  So start thinking about your favorite movies and the way that movies enrich your life and send us your stories!

An Artist of Note – Gonzalo Benard

Received word this morning that Gonzalo Benard, a young Spanish artist who graciously gave us permission to use his beautiful Wings of Pleasure on the cover of White CrWings_of_pleasure_2ane’s edition of Mark Thompson’s Gay Spirit: Myth & Meaning has been nominated for the Premio Luso Espanol de Arte Y Cultura (The Spanish Luso Prize for Art & Culture.) The prize includes a cash award of 75,000 Euros and is presented by the Ministries of Culture of both Spain and Portugal as a way of strengthening artistic and cultural relations between the two countries.

On_fire This is one of Benard’s recent works pictured here, entitled On Fire.

Benard lives in Barcelona and works in acrylics and other media.

Buena Suerte Gonza!