You just gotta love the Sisters…
I don’t think there are books in the Gay men’s community that compare to Ann Bannon’s 50s and 60s Lesbian bodice rippers…Odd Girl Out…I Am A Woman…Women in the Shadows…and Journey to A Woman…but while the stories are women’s stories, there is a universal truth in them, about the coming out process in another time, when shame and shadows and anguish — what the Radical Religious Right would call "The Good Old Days — were the words that ruled Gay and Lesbian lives.
Bannon’s Odd Girl Out was the second biggest selling paperback of 1957…something she didn’t learn until 30 years later! The books were popular when they were first released, and have proved a remarkable longevity especially for pulp fiction, being reprinted in three different issues, and several languages. That iconic longevity, the characters and the books themselves earned her the title of "Queen of Lesbian Pulp Fiction." When depictions of Lesbians in written literature were quite rare, and what there was was dismal and unhappy, her books set her apart from other authors who wrote about Lesbianism. She has been described as "the premier fictional representation of US lesbian life in the fifties and sixties," and that her books, "rest on the bookshelf of nearly every even faintly literate Lesbian."
Last night we went to see the Hourglass Group’s production of Kate Moira Ryan and Linda Chapman’s The Beebo Brinker Chronicles, an adaptation of three of Bannon’s books. Ms. Bannon was in attendance, looking stunning, and receiving the adulation of her fans. All of us. It was marvelous. Can’t recommend this play highly enough. If your first thought is "I’m not a Lesbian, what would this have to say to me?" you couldn’t be more mistaken. The writers could have easily played this for camp, but they didn’t. It is poignant, witty, thoroughly entertaining, smart, funny theater. There’s a fine cook’s hand at play, with just a soupçon of camp…enough to make you laugh out loud, partly from the humor, partly from the buzz of recognition. The writers (and Bannon) are word perfect in capturing the early Lesbian and Gay "zeitgeist," all the lies we all bought into before we knew we were more than the only queer on the planet.
If Logo was programming like this, instead of the dreck like "Rick and Steve" I’d probably be watching Logo a helluva lot more. This material could…should…easily be translated into one hot television series…Desperate Lesbians!
If you are, as they say, "of a certain age," Lesbian or Gay, you will see yourself up on the stage ( there is a bravura performance by Obie winner, David Greenspan, the likes of which we haven’t see since Take Me Out…as well as the marvelous performance…and buff body…of Bill Dawes, the cuckolded husband Laura leaves.)
If you’re lucky enough to have been born "post Stonewall" you need to know these stories. This is your heritage. This is where Stonewall came from.
There is something incredibly important about the "particularity of voice"…which is why we continue to insist that White Crane remains for and by Gay men. Welcoming, as they say, but we only purport to speak for ourselves as Gay men. Last night was an opportunity to hear the Lesbian voice…and it was proud and clear and true. For all of us. Brava to everyone who had anything to do with this play. By the way….Beebo playwright, Linda Chapman and her partner, Obie-award winning actor, Lola Pashalinski, have a featured article inthe fall White Crane, Lovers.
A limited run…through October 20. Tickets available here.
White Crane Institute has been presenting Mark Thompson’s Fellow Travelers photography exhibit for the past few months at the New York LGBT Community Center. In October it will move to the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia. While it was here, Out At The Center, the LGBT Center video project, interviewed Mark and Bo about the show. Ok…so they misspelled Kilheffner, Monette and Ram Dass…the photos are stunning and the history is deep.
In November, Fellow Travelers will move to Salt Lake City in support of the Queer Spirit Retreat work Jerry Buie is doing. If you are interested in Fellow Travelers coming to your city, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
OK…I almost forgot about this, and it was so cool, it’s something that needs to be shared. Earlier this week, Dan and I posted our thinking about the Larry Craig debacle [see below]. Or at least some of the thinking, there’s a lot to this story (not all of it negative: entrapment, the perils of the closet, the importance of not thinking in simplistic binary terms, "public" sex, MSM, "down low" — and why is that usually only applied to African American men…isn’t Larry Craig "down low"? — and bisexuality among the more interesting ideas).
Anyway, as I sit working at the computer every day, I am, invariably, listening to New York Public Radio Station, WNYC-FM, and one of my favorite shows is the Brian Lehrer Show. Next to Terry Gross, on Fresh Air, I think Lehrer is one of the best interviewers in the business.
So I was perturbed, when Brian was discussing the Craig story, that both he and his guest commentators, continued to refer to Craig as "Gay" and talking about "other Gay men" in the same breath as though just because at some point in time some men share a physical attraction to, and seek out sexual contact with other men, that all men who do so are ipso facto "Gay." So I wrote a letter. This is what it said:
Dear Mr. Lehrer, I am a huge fan of your show, listen daily and support WNYC on a monthly basis. I beg you, please please please stop referring to Larry Craig as "Gay" as though this was the problem.
He is sexually confused. At best, Larry Craig is bisexual or homosexual. But the problem with Craig is, plain and simple, his hypocrisy and the effect that has on innocent people’s lives. It is the issue with his constituency; it is the issue with his colleagues and it is the issue with the LGBT community. The LGBT community, and Gay men specifically, have worked long and hard to establish the term "Gay" as opposed to the medically derived "homosexual." This was to distinguish it as a sexual orientation as opposed to a medical diagnosis. "Gay" specifically has connotations of pride, self-worth, self-respect and integration of one’s sexuality with one’s life. It is a difficult thing to achieve…coming out to one’s self, as well as to one’s family and loved ones. It is harrowing. And those of us who identify as "Gay" deserve to make a distinction between us, and closeted, dishonest, confused, homosexuals who have real psychological issues.
It is extremely disheartening to be lumped into the same category as this man. And it confuses the issue. Homosexual hypocrisy is the issue here. Self-loathing is the issue. I hope you can finally come to understand…and share with your listeners, that there is a world of difference.
And as for the behavior in the bathroom, it is classic closet behavior. Bathrooms aren’t being plagued with prowling, predatory "Gay" men. But they are probably frequently filled with closeted men looking to connect with other closeted men. It’s what almost every closeted homosexual man I ever knew did before he discovered he was not the only one, not sick, and could live a healthy, happy and fulfilling life…as a Gay man.
White Crane Journal
The Journal of Gay Wisdom, Spirit and Culture.
Well…imagine my surprise on Friday, when the show does a segment they call "Follow Up Fridays" on stories of the week that continue to call for comment, Brian Lehrer starts talking about the difference between "Gay" and "homosexual" and asking listeners to call in! I just about fell out of my chair when he gets to the segment, and without identifying me personally (or more importantly, alas, White Crane), proceeds to read my letter…verbatim. I was kvelling.
Mostly people responded positively. A woman called in and said she hadn’t been able to put her finger on why the story had been bothering her until she heard this. One gentleman called in and accused me of trying to "hijack the language for political purposes"…well duh! A "professor" (of …I don’t know what) called in and quibbled with my description of "homosexual" as a "medical term" averring, correctly, that homosexuality is no longer a diagnosis in the DSM. Again…well duh! But it was, at one time. It was only taken out of the DSM as a diagnosis in 1973, thanks to the tireless efforts of Barbara Gittings, Judd Marmor, Franklin Kameny and "Dr. H Anonymous" who later turned out to be Psychiatrist John E. Fryer, and the origins of the term are, in fact, from the medical community, and the origins of same-sex sexuality being pathologized. Knowing history is important. Claiming it is imperative.
IDOL THOUGHTS: GAY MEN AND THEIR HEROES.
IDOL THOUGHTS [a working title] will be a collection of personal essays and short fiction (as patterned after the Lambda Literary Award-finalist CHARMED LIVES published in 2006 by White Crane Books) that offer Gay authors the chance to express their admiration for historical and literary Gay figures that have inspired them, motivated them, served as role models and muses. Whether it be Michelangelo or Andy Warhol, Lord Byron or James Broughton, John Grimes or Harvey Milk, there are many figures that reaffirm our cultural and artistic sensibilities.
White Crane Books is an imprint of Lethe Press and is funded by White Crane Institute, a 501(c)(3) foundation, that promotes the study of the role of Gay men in the evolution of society, psychology, sociology, and practice of spirituality, ritual, and religion. Since WCI is a non-profit, the editors are asking authors donate their short work to the anthology rather than offering payment for one-time anthology rights. All contributors will received two  copies of the book and will have a copy donated in their name to a local Gay organization of their choice.
All submissions must be received by February 1st. The book is scheduled to release in 2008.
Bo Young is a publisher, journalist, editor, poet, and publicist. In addition to publishing White Crane Journal and White Crane Books, his writings appear regularly in White Crane, and have been seen in Fine Cooking, RFD, POZ Magazine. He is the author of First Touch (White Crane Press, 1998). He lives in Brooklyn.
Steve Berman edited the Lammie Finalist anthology Charmed Lives, as well as So Fey: Queer Fairy Fiction, and Magic in the Mirrorstone. His debut novel, Vintage, released to enthusiastic critical review, proved that readers enjoy good old fashioned boy-meets-ghost stories. A member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, he lives in southern New Jersey and has has sold over 80 articles and short stories of queer and weird fiction.
|ZEITGEIST, The Movie – Official Release – Full Production
Visit www.zeitgeistmovie.com for information and the full source list for this work.
Faerie Camp Destiny is a wonderful sanctuary in Vermont. And the faeries there have been busy…
This is the start of the new kitchen they’re putting up. For more information about Faerie Camp Destiny…and how you can provide financial support or helping hands…go here.
We get letters because we have….Charmed Lives.
Greetings on behalf of the American Library Association’s
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Roundtable’s Stonewall Book Awards. As a member of the Stonewall Book Award Committee Jury, I am seeking review copies of books being considered for the 2008 award.
We are very pleased to inform you that CHARMED LIVES: GAY SPIRIT IN STORYTELLING, edited by Toby Johnson and Steve Berman, has been recommended for nomination for the 2008 Stonewall Book Award.
Formerly called the GLBTRT Book Award, the Stonewall Award is the oldest book award given for outstanding achievement in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Literature nationally. It is an official award of the American Library Association and is given each year at the Association’s annual conference. Additional information about the award can be found on our website.
Each year two awards are given in Literature and Nonfiction for outstanding works about GLBT issues or by GLBT authors. Each award comes with a $1,000.00 honorarium. Winners will be notified in January, 2008. The committee would greatly appreciate if the entire committee of 10 jurors could receive review copies within 10 working days. Juror contact information is below. Thank you for your assistance in this matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
White Crane Books is proud to have Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling in the White Crane Wisdom Series, and warmly congratulates Toby Johnson and Steve Berman — and all the participating authors — for the continued success and recognition for this fine book.
On this day in 1991, the groundbreaking film on Black Gay experience, Tongues Untied, was broadcast on national television in the United States. The director Marlon Riggs stated that the piece was created to
"…shatter the nation’s brutalising silence on matters of sexual and racial difference. [Tongues Untied] is partly about community-building. It’s an affirmation of some of the things that we as black Gay men take for granted. For example, lots of people snap. They snap on every syllable, and they don’t think about it. You can go from Mississippi to California to New York and this cultural form will be recognized-there will be a response. Some people are ashamed about snap because they look at it and think, ‘Oh, we know he’s a Gay man.’ Yet, snap is also a form of resistance, a form of saying, ‘Yes, I’m different and I’m also proud of it.’"
The national broadcast ignited a firestorm among the conservative Religious Right because of the film’s focus on Gay sexuality and its funding through a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Jesse Helms railed against the film from the floor of the U.S. Senate mistitling the film "Tongues United." Months later Patrick Buchanan, who was running against the first George Bush for the presidential nomination, cited "Tongues Untied" as an example of how President Bush was using taxpayer’s money to fund "pornographic art." He featured excerpts from the film in his political campaign commercials, curiously editing out any images of Black Gay men.
The Gay theorist and film critic Vito Russo wrote that "Usually, politically and socially admirable films fall short of the mark in the aesthetics department. They are praised more for their good intentions…Marlon Riggs has created that rarest of birds — a brilliant, innovative work of art that delivers a knock-out political punch." The film featured poetic and visual segments including the work of Essex Hemphill, Brian Freeman, Joseph Beam and many others.
The film would go on to win countless awards and accolades including Best Documentary Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, Best Independent Experimental Work by the Los Angeles Film Critics and Best Video at the New York Documentary Film Festival.
Today’s Gay Wisdom comes from Marlon Riggs:
"Frankly, with Tongues Untied if white heterosexuals don’t understand the reasons why black people are angry and just consider this piece militant, then so be it. I’m not going to take time to justify this for people for whom this experience is totally alien. Tongues Untied is an affirmation of the feelings and experiences of black Gay men, made for them by a black Gay man, or actually by black Gay men because the piece has a number of voices. If others understand, fine, but making sure everyone understands was not my prerequisite in making this."
— Marlon Riggs
"(The Christian Right says) Bring back the melting pot. Restore ‘traditional values.’ Re-institute prayer in schools. Preserve the primacy of Western civilization (the only one that matters anyway). And not least, protect that critical bedrock of American greatness: ‘the American family’ Such pronouncements reveal an intense, even pathological desire to perpetuate a thoroughly obsolete myth of America, and through this, a repressively orthodox system of sociocultural entitlement."
— Marlon Riggs
“My struggle has allowed me to transcend that sense of shame and stigma identified with my being a black Gay man. Having come through that fire, they can’t touch me.” – Marlon T. Riggs
Read a great interview with Marlon Riggs titled "Listen to the Heartbeat" here.
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THIS DAY IN GAY HISTORY
Today is the birthday of Emperor Hadrian’s great love Antinous (110).
Today is also the birthday of Cuban poet, novelist & memoirist Reinaldo Arenas (July 16, 1943 – December 7, 1990. Most known for his memoir Before Night Falls, about his childhood and life in Cuba, Arenas was also the author of over twenty books including his Pentagonia, a series of books detailing the secret history of post-revolutionary Cuba. He emigrated to the United States in 1980 during the Mariel boatlife and lived in Miami for a short time before settling permanently in New York City.
Today is also the birthday of the great playwright Tony Kushner (1956) playwright Angels In America series.
TODAY’S GAY WISDOM
Today’s gay wisdom comes from Tony Kushner and Reinaldo Arenas:
"Mine is not an obedient writing. I think that literature as any art has to be irreverent. And in a totalitarian system irreverence is punished." Reinaldo Arenas
"Now, needless to say, after ten years, I have realised that an exile has no place anywhere, because there is no place, because the place where we started to dream, where we discovered the natural world around us, read our first book, loved for the first time, is a ghost, the shadow of someone who never achieves full reality. I ceased to exist when I went into exile; I started to run away from myself." Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls
"Well, I write and survive. I am a dissident." – Reinaldo Arenas
Here’s a great little film featuring Reinaldo Arenas and those who knew him.
This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all. And the dead will be commemorated, and we’ll struggle on with the living. And we are not going away. We won’t die secret deaths anymore.. The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come.
Bye now. You are fabulous each and everyone. And I bless you. More life. The great work begins.
Tony Kushner, Angels In America Part II – Perestroika
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