Marsha P. Johnson fought, and perhaps even died, for gay liberation. Although we still witness and experience violence and discrimination today, we live in an America that is vastly safer for gays and lesbians because of the life she lived. Yet the very movement that idolizes her does too little for black transgender women like her.Read More
On January 14th, 1916, when Antonio Bellavicini went to his job as a bartender at 32 Sands Street (near the Brooklyn Navy Yard), he had no way of knowing that before the evening was out, he would be caught up in New York City’s early, inchoate attempts at policing homosexuality. At that time, the Navy Yard area was renowned for its lawlessness and – to those in the know – for its gay cruising. Sands Street, in particular, was so infamous that in 1932, when Charles Demuth painted an image of a john trying to pick up two sailors there, he simply titled it “On ‘That’ Street.”Read More
As a queer historian, a frustrating amount of my research comes from records of arrests. Sodomy, prostitution, disorderly conduct, masquerading, vagrancy, the crime against nature, solicitation – the list of laws that have been used in New York City to criminalize queer lives is long, varied, and stretches all the way back to 1634, when a Dutch colonial anti-sodomy law was used to prosecute a settler named Harmen van den Bogaert and an enslaved African man called Tobias.
I say frustrating because these arrests rarely say much to the historian interested in queer life: a name, a date, a charge; perhaps if you’re lucky you can find a newspaper squib that gives a line or two of context.
On January 19th, the night before Trump's inauguration, the theater community will band together for a show of solidarity in the form of The Ghostlight Project. Named after the light left on on a theater's stage when the auditorium is unoccupied, the protest will gather hundreds of groups in free-form events designed to express support for vulnerable communities targeted by the Trump administration.Read More
there’s a lot of queer history to be explored in these working-class communities, but it’s not as simple as finding the gay bar in Red Hook they all went to. And because these folks were poor and queer, they rarely had the opportunity to write their own histories, so I often find myself reading "against" an official source, trying to ferret out information about queer life from an arrest record, or a medical report, or an angry jeremiad written for a newspaper by a straight person.
Despite what some early buzz suggested, director Justin Kelly avoided representing Kocis (Christian Slater) as a one-note sexual predator, and Slater's depiction of him is by far the best part of the film. And Clayton is a serviceable Corrigan, melding his boyish Nickelodeon charm with a hint of more adult mischievousness. Unfortunately, the rest lacks much in the way of nuance, particularly in the scenes between Kerekes (James Franco) and Cuadra (Keegan Allen), which are wooden and a bit boring. It probably isn't a coincidence that in a film featuring no out gay actors, there is an almost palpable lack of passion or sensuality.Read More
Midway through award-winning author Rabih Alameddine’s new novel-in-fragments, The Angel of History, his narrator Jacob compares AIDS to a river that drowned everything he knew but him. “I thought I had triumphed,” he says, “only to discover years later that the river’s persistence, it’s restlessness, trickled into tiny rivulets that reached every remote corner of my being.”Read More
In the case of AIDS, direct action and medical advancement, are inextricably linked, and the history presented here is fascinating and complex. “I was at all the ACT UP meetings as a reporter, so I was theoretically standing back and trying to get the bigger picture,” France recalls. “But it wasn’t until I spent years going back over the documents that I saw that it was directly impacting the way science was being conducted.”Read More