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441 posts categorized "HISTORY"

Jun 17 2017
Pride Month: Richard Inman, Problematic Southern Trailblazer Comments (0)

  Screen Shot 2017-06-17 at 9.16.13 AMImagine being asked if you were gay — on TV — in 1966? (Video still via PBS)

Tampa, Florida, native Richard Inman (1926-1985) is a unique figure in the early gay-rights movement.

He was married and divorced twice, moving to Miami, where he lived as a gay Screen Shot 2017-06-17 at 8.41.55 AMman. He faced arrests for patronizing gay bars, which may have contributed to the decline of his business as an owner of various properties. He wound up driving a cab before deciding to become political about his sexual orientation.

Inman founded the first Southern gay-rights org, the Atheneum Society, in 1963, a ballsy move. It would later be changed into a chapter of the Mattachine Society in order to bring his efforts into line with those of Frank Kameny's (1925-2011).

Inman's aggressive stance on gay rights riled politicians, was a magnet for attention and also attracted the ire of many closeted gay people, who didn't appreciate his posturing, which threatened to blow their cover. It is thought that many gay people actively worked with officials against Inman behind the scenes via letter-writing and complaints.

Gay activist Jack Nichols (1938-2005(, in Vern L. Bullough's (1928-2006) exhaustively researched Before Stonewall (2002), said of Inman:

Inman was the first Southerner to challenge anti-gay laws in the courts, to write in mass circulation publications about gay men and lesbians and to appear on local television and radio programs.

He was quite a character, and had no problem playing dirty to achieve his goals, including enlisting the aid of anti-gay forces when it would work to his cause's benefit. If he were alive today, he might well like Milo — he was take-no-prisoners on the issue of activism vs. education, but hated Communists and was in favor of the Vietnam War. He also was not in favor of pushing for gay marriage, adoption or the legalization of gay pornography, deeming them all no-big-deal issues in the face of overall acceptance or tolerance of gay people.

Owing to his reputation as an out gay Floridian, Inman was one of the first people ever to appear on TV as a self-professed gay man on April 19, 1966, when he was invited to be a guest on news program FYI's “The Homosexual” on WTVJ Channel 4 in Miami. The show was focused on gay men as child molesters, which may explain why Inman chickened out and claimed, once on the air, that he was no longer gay, even while arguing that children were safe from gay men.

I was a homosexual ... But I gave it up about, oh, I forget, some years ago, over four years ago. It's not my cup of tea.

— Richard Inman (1967)

After his poor showing on TV, Inman's power as a gay voice waned. He opened a gay bookstore that was raided for porn, but wound up beating the charges.

Still, the charges may have beat him — into submission.

Inman later moved to California. There are some records of people having seen him here or there post-1970, but for the most part, he disappeared. Author James T. Sears (b. 1951) has since revealed that Inman lived out the rest of his life in Long Beach, and died February 3, 1985.

 
Jun 12 2017
Pride Month: Cover To Cover — First & Last Sentences Of Gay Novels & Novellas Comments (0)

Today's Pride Month post honors gay writers (well, most of them are — some are/were just writers of gay stories) with a re-post of this piece I did in 2014, chronicling the first and last lines of many gay books.

The bonus is that you get to see the sometimes incredible covers, too.

Enjoy, and please feel free to share ...

Nocturnes-for-the-King-of-NaplesCover by Mel Odom.

What's a “gay book,” anyway?

Is it a book with a gay theme? One with no gay theme but whose author is gay? One specifically about being gay, written by a gay author? Must it be pro-gay, or can it be anti-? Does it count if it's exploitative and prurient?

Faggots-KramerRegardless of your definition, the heyday of the gay novel is behind us. Yes, there are still books by, for, and about gay people, but it's not like in the '70s and '80s, when gay novels took off, or the early '90s, when they'd become a bona fide boom business.

Not long after, they went bust, and the days when you might read a review calling a work of fiction, “The best gay novel of the year!” went with them. As did gay bookstores...when was the last time you were inside a gay bookstore? Were there any woolly mammoth footprints pressed into the clay?

City-and-the-pillar-gore-vidalGore, Gore, Gore...how do you like it, how do you like it?

Part of the reason a booming literary niche was decimated is good—we became less concerned with obsessing over our place in the world as the world became less convinced we were aliens and/or carriers of disease and/or agents of Satan. (Not that a huge chunk of the world doesn't still ponder those questions.) As we have been assimilated, we've become less excited by existentialist literary endeavors and more likely to spring for, say, books about the first time various anonymous narrators had gay sex, or coffee-table books of nude men or books with no discernible gay sensibility at all.

Interview-with-the-VampireBut I miss the days when the gay novel was a big deal. I miss being in my college bookstore and grabbing an Edmund White tome and flipping it to a passage where two farmboys “cornhole” each other, and realizing that it wasn't pornography, but rather was frank, familiar, terrifyingly emotional art.

For fun, I'm including a collection of the first and last sentences of as many gay novels as I could readily lay my hands on. I'm sticking with the books' proper first and last sentences, so am leaving out things like dates and places (“New York, 1983") in the case of books that begin or end with letters, and I'm also ignoring the “hmmm”-inspiring epigraphs that so often appear at the beginning of a novel.

Giovannis_room-frontThese are not meant to be my choices for "the best gay books." But most of my favorite gay novels are included and you will undoubtedly have read and loved many of them.

Actually...how many have you read?

If these tantalizingly brief samples don't make you curious to read some of these books, nothing will.

I would absolutely love to receive your contributions (title, year, author, first line, last line) so I can make this a living post...

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Gay Reading Shelf: 3 Books I Recommend Comments (0)

IMG_1151(Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Three books with which I've recently shared a bed:

Seriously... What Am I Doing Here?: The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew by Ken Schneck (1984Publishing.com, $21.95)

This non-fiction book is like the written version of attempting a geographic cure, filled with Schneck's oddball journeys into hitherto unimaginable territories for him (most shockingly, Uganda). Written with a warm humor, the book goes down a lot easier than that crazy 400-plus-mile bike ride he takes.

**********

The '49 Indian by Craig Moody (VividImageryPublishing.com, $12.99/$2.99 Kindle)

A great debut novel that begins with a painfully detailed description of an assault in a bathhouse, The '49 Indian establishes a unique bond between a 20-year-old gay kid and his opaque next-door neighbor, a dude obsessed with restoring a 1949 motorcycle. The bike will eventually take them far from their homes, and other circumstances will also take them from their humdrum lives. Set in 1983, this coming-of-age story will stick with you for the long run.

**********

Alan Sues: A Funny Man by Michael Gregg Michaud (BearManorMedia.com, $24.95)

Michaud wrote Sal Mineo: A Biography (Crown, 2010), one of the best movie-star bios I've ever read. In Alan Sues, he adds to his painstaking researching skills a genuine friendship with Sues, a glass-closeted gay pioneer who was a regular on Laugh-In in the '60s. The bio is not only the definitive record of one man's life, it also documents the ins and outs of not being out in the entertainment business in the '60s, '70s and '80s. Fantastic!

 
Jun 11 2017
Pride Month: Door-Opener Jobriath Comments (0)

Jobriath-bus-sign-photoThe image used as Jobriath's first album cover (Image via Elektra)

My good friend John Cox was a friend of Bruce Wayne Campbell aka Jobriath, 220px-Jobriath_Elektraand his fandom and support for Jobriath's legacy is what drew my attention to this one-of-a-kind rocker.

Born in Pennsylvania, raised in Texas, Bruce was a pianist and musician whose approach to the world did not mix with the army — he went AWOL in the '60s, renaming himself Jobriath Salisbury and moving to L.A.

Shortly after his arrival, he played Woof in the West Coast production of the musical Hair in 1968, leaving to form the band Pidgeon. Pidgeon landed a record deal with Decca, but had limited success. Around this time, Jobriath did jail time for desertion, a miserable period in his life that nonetheless inspired him to write songs. He was supporting himself via hustling while he worked on a demo.

Carly Simon's ex-manager heard Jobriath's demo in Clive Davis's office in 1972 and got him signed as Jobriath Boone to Elektra for a $500,000 advance, making Jobriath the first openly gay person signed to a major record label. David Geffen, Elektra's head at the time, poured money into a marketing campaign for Jobriath that included ads in national magazines and even a Times Square billboard, but an early Euro tour was axed when the costs piled up.

Jobriath's self-titled album debuted to good reviews, although he was often referred to as a Bowie knock-off, but his TV debut on The Midnight Special and gigs in NYC didn't move records — it wasn't selling, a huge problem when so much cash has been (not so judiciously) spilled on your behalf. A quickie follow-up album, Creatures of the Street, tanked harder.

Though Elektra and his management pulled the plug on Jobriath during what would be his final tour, his last show drew raves.

In 1975, Jobriath said he was retired from music and focused on acting, to no avail. Instead, he reinvented himself once more, as Cole Berlin, working as a cabaret singer in NYC, and continuing to turn tricks.

Jobriath died of AIDS on August 4, 1983.

In spite of Jobriath's fearlessness, he is little remembered today; so let's remember him a little this day.

 
Jun 10 2017
6-PACK — En-GAY-Ged + Top Dem Donor Urges Impeachment + Biden Sucks Up To Romney + Log Cabin Traitors + Cosby's Anti-Lesbian Defense + TOWERING INFERNO Passing Comments (0)

Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 6.00.14 PMCongrats! (Image via Instagram@jjknightxx)

WIDGETGay Fleshbot: Brent Corrigan and J.J. Knight are gay-porn stars in love — and they're now engaged.

WIDGETHuff Post: Major Dem donor Tom Steyer is on board with impeaching Trump.

WIDGETPolitico: I hope Biden does not run in 2020. He's still attacking Hillary and now is encouraging ... Romney ... to run for Senate.

WIDGETJoe.My.God.: Log Cabin Republicans are MOCKING this weekend's LGBTQ Equality March. History lesson: How early LGBTQ activists did it.

WIDGETRollingOut: Bill Cosby's team wanted to out Andrea Constand to jurors; she is a lesbian, but that was not brought up. Denied.

WIDGETTHR: Frank Koenekamp, The Towering Inferno (1974) cinematographer, dies @ 94.

GiphyThat's hot. (GIF via 20th Century Fox)

 
Jun 09 2017
Pride Month: Sculptor Edmonia Wildfire Lewis, An 1800s Trailblazer Comments (0)

Edmonia-lewis_02-e1446141118834-647x1024Lewis during her years as a respected artist

Edmonia Lewis, an African-Haitian-Native American sculptor, was born in New York State around July 4 (an auspicious date!), 1844.

Her mother was a weaver and her father a servant, but Lewis was drawn to sculpting. She studied at an abolitionist school for three years, but was shown the door for being too “wild.” DeathOfCelopatraGoing forward, her nickname was Wildfire.

At the age of approximately 15, Lewis attended Oberlin College, making her one of the first black women to study at a U.S. university. There, she was accused of poisoning two classmates who fell ill, and while she was eventually acquitted and no evidence was ever produced that she intentionally poisoned anyway, she was beaten and left for dead by citizens of Oberlin.

It didn't help that Lewis dressed androgynously and had no male suitors; she never married. (Thoughts on her probable lesbianism here.)

After that adversity, Lewis moved to Boston to sculpt, opening her first studio in 1864. Her skill as an artist made her the first internationally renowned black sculptor, and the first Native American to achieve acclaim in the field, too. She was commissioned by President Ulysses S. Grant to do his portrait, as well as winning commissions to capture the likenesses of many esteemed figures.

She moved to Rome, where she spent most of her life, creating such famous works as Forever Free, which shows a black man and woman emerging from slavery, and the 3,000-pound marble sculpture The Death of Cleopatra (pictured).

Moving to England, she died there on September 17, 1907.

 
Jun 08 2017
The Family That Slays Together: A Review of MENENDEZ: BLOOD BROTHERS & A Discussion With Directors Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato Comments (0)

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 6.39.42 PMMyko Olivier (L) & Nico Tortorella (R) as Erik & Lyle Menendez (All images via Lifetime)

“This is a case Randy and I were gripped by when it happened,” acclaimed filmmaker Fenton Bailey told me of his work with Randy Barbato co-directing a new scripted film about the Menendez Brothers' murders. “Now, 25 years later, it felt like, 'You can take a new look at the story.' We're always drawn to stories where people are overexposed but, we feel, underrevealed.”

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 6.41.55 PMThe Menendezes as envisioned by Bailey & Barbato

From its creepy opening, showing idyllic images of Beverly Hills while the late Kitty Menendez (Courtney Love) types up her son Erik's (Myko Olivier) gory manuscript — ahead of a nightmarish sequence depicting the shotgun killings of Kitty and her husband Jose (Benito Martinez) by their sons — Menendez: Blood Brothers (Lifetime, June 11) is a gripping, suspenseful, stylish take on one of the most shocking crimes of the late 20th Century.

It is also, as promised, revelatory.

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Pride Month: Groomer At The Top — James Haedikevich Comments (0)

19030728_1142557722556134_8228732207110978538_nJames (L) & Shawn (R) (Image via Shawn Mayotte)

I was so moved by my friend Shawn Mayotte's lengthy remembrance of hairstylist James Haedikevich — who he remembers as being a top groomer of the '80s and a kind soul — that I decided to use it as my Pride Month post of the day.

I know he wasn't famous-famous, but did he have to be?

Keep reading for Shawn's touching story ...

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