Showing posts with label Gay Literature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Literature. Show all posts

April 18, 2018

The 80's Changed Gay Literature Forever

Since I've read or seen every work mentioned on this article I could talk about them for a long time but I think Michael Cunningham does a way better job than I🦊          
   “Clemens and Jens embracing in my hall, Paris,” (2001) by Nan Goldin. Gay literature changed in dramatic ways with the arrival of the AIDS epidemic.credit an Goldin

 

By Michael Cunningham
ANDREW HOLLERAN’S 1978 novel,“Dancer From the Dance,” was not the first gay novel I read. It was, however, the first gay novel everybody read.

At any rate, it was the first gay novel every gay man I knew seemed to have read. It was the first Big Gay Literary Sensation.

Although “Dancer From the Dance” centers on two gay men named Malone and Sutherland, it’s as much a story about New York City’s gay life in the 1970s as it is the story of Malone’s and Sutherland’s own lives. It’s the story of going out dancing six or seven nights a week. It’s the story of having sex in parks and bathhouses and back rooms and, really, just about anywhere. It’s the story of packing Speedos, sunglasses and not much else for weekends on Fire Island.

It’s the story of youth and beauty and money and drugs.

But overarchingly, it’s the story of a new queer future. It’s a story about jumping the white picket fence; fleeing house and garden to join a battalion of remarkable creatures dreaming up a sexy, shimmering new world on the Isle of Manhattan, where glamour and freedom had been promoted from intoxicating distractions to primary virtues.

In Holleran’s New York, life generally proved to be free and glamorous until it wasn’t anymore. For some, looking back, the house with the front porch and the flower beds didn’t look quite as baleful as it once had.

[Spoiler alert:]

Both Malone and Sutherland come to bad (if ambiguous) ends, in the general tradition of the time, whereby gay characters were allowed onto the bus of narrative as long as they were thrown off again before the bus reached its destination. 

That said, Malone and Sutherland float away as much as they expire — their departures are more like that of Ophelia in “Hamlet” than they are like that of Tennessee Williams’s Sebastian Venable, hacked to death and eaten by village children. 

The first edition cover of Andrew Holleran’s “Dancer From the Dance” (1978) about gay life on Fire Island.

CreditWeichia Huang, courtesy of Harper Collins Publishers
Some of us loved “Dancer,” and some of us didn’t. We argued over its merits. Was it serious literature, or did we just want it to be serious literature because when we read it, it read us back? Were Malone and Sutherland genuinely tragic figures, or were they merely ciphers, in tragedy drag?

No one, however, argued about the book’s fidelity to the reckless, riotous life lived in certain (white, well-favored) circles on Planet Gay. In the mid-to-late-70s, the party was on. And here, courtesy of Holleran, was not only the first novel about the party, here was a novel that chronicled the party’s capacities to transport us to great heights, and (or) to hollow us out like Halloween pumpkins and dump us on some autumnal beach. 

We had no way of knowing, then, that it was also the last significant book about the party. Three years later, in 1981, the first report of Gay-Related Immune Deficiency appeared.

The AIDS epidemic didn’t mean the end of dancing, or sex, or drugs. It didn’t have much effect at all on the general interest in youth, beauty and money.

But it’s putting it mildly to say that this new guest, the silently grinning one standing by itself in a corner, dankened and befouled the atmosphere.  
Starting in 1981, it was shock upon shock upon shock. One particular shock, only one of many, did stand out from the rest.

President Reagan first mentioned the word AIDS in public in 1985, after about 8,000 people had died. The Food and Drug Administration was slow to accelerate its protocol for testing new drugs, which takes up to 10 years, in spite of pleas from people with AIDS who were willing to risk any adverse side effect because, without treatment, they’d be dead within two years. Which is, one has to admit, the ultimate adverse side effect.

It was impossible not to receive the message. Gay people and intravenous drug users — those most at risk at the time — had been deemed expendable.

The dilemma of the self-hating homo looking for love in all the wrong places paled — it paled for some of us — in the face of a plague about which no one in power seemed to give a damn. It paled as nights spent in hospitals replaced nights spent on the disco floor. 

The mordant (if all too true) tale of gay men enjoying themselves to death made way for the (all too true) AIDS-era tale of gay men fingered randomly by death.

ANY ATTEMPT TO name the noteworthy narratives about gay life since 1981 would involve too many omissions. Let’s confine ourselves to a play that wasn’t the first gay AIDS play I saw, but was the first gay AIDS play almost everybody saw: Tony Kushner’s 1991 “Angels in America.”

In “Angels in America,” the party is over, though the fabulous queer future has not been called off. Devotion to freedom and fleshliness live on, albeit under this new and unanticipated shadow. 

“Angels in America,” however, is no gimlet-eyed critique of homo high jinks. The play celebrates queerness and queenliness — as it encompasses different ethnicities, different social classes — but no one dances the night away, no one gossips idly over brunch. Fire Island might as well be on another planet entirely.

The protagonists in “Angels in America” are confronted not only by homophobia and self-destruction but also by their own natures, by love’s power and love’s failure, by censorious religions and callous politicians, by racism and classism. And of course by a virus even deadlier and more indifferent than Reagan or the F.D.A. — just to name a few.

Ironically enough, “Dancer” ends with the demise of its primary characters, whereas “Angels” ends with lives continuing on.

If we open this segment of the ongoing gay story, then, in 1978, with an ambitious tale of gay self-destruction, we wriggle through the wormhole of 1981 and emerge in 1991, with an epic about gay men who refuse to be destroyed. 

Narrative is an act of witnessing, a part of the historical record. If anything, “Dancer” seems more tragic today for all the tragedy its author could not possibly have foreseen. One can only wonder if aging and jadedness would have felt less catastrophic had we been able to see just slightly beyond the horizon, where the hooded soldiers were already mounting their skeletal horses.

Even at the height of the plague, youth still vanishes, parties still get down to ash and wine-spills, and we still seem to care about it all.

But fabulousness survives as well, from “Dancer” through to “Angels.” The final lines of “Angels,” spoken to the audience by one Prior Walter, who is surviving AIDS, are:

You are fabulous creatures, each and every one.
And I bless you: More Life.
The Great Work Begins.

And, it would seem, the great work continues.

March 31, 2017

Controversial “Christ was Gay” by Christopher Marlowe


A controversial document in which the playwright Christopher Marlowe reportedly declared that Christ was gay, that the only purpose of religion was to intimidate people, and that “all they that love not tobacco and boys were fools” is to go on show online for the first time.

The so-called “Baines note”, a star item in the British Library’s Renaissance manuscript collection, offers tantalizing evidence about the private life of Marlowe, one of the most scandalous and magnetic figures of the Elizabeth period.  

 Christopher Marlowe. Photograph: Alamy
Compiled in May 1593 by the police informant and part-time spy Richard Baines, it claims to record a conversation between the two men in which the playwright airs a long list of what Baines describes as “monstrous opinions:


Richard Baines to the Privy Council
Shortly before Marlowe's death, the informer Richard Baines made the following accusations against the playwright in a note to the Privy Council, the group of advisors who worked closely with Queen Elizabeth.
[One Christopher Marly]
A note containing the opinion of one Christopher Marly concerning his damnable judgment of religion, and scorn of God's word:
"That the Indians, and many authors of antiquity, have assuredly written of above 16 thousand years agone, whereas Adam >> note 1 is proved to have lived within six thousand years.
He affirmeth that Moses was but a juggler, >> note 2 and that one Hariot>> note 3 being Sir Walter Raleigh's man can do more than he.
That Moses made the Jews to travel 40 years in the wilderness (which journey might have been done in less than one year) ere they came to the promised land, to the intent that those who were privy to many of his subtleties might perish, and so an everlasting superstition reign in the hearts of the people.
That the beginning of religion was only to keep men in awe.
That it was an easy matter for Moses being brought up in all the arts of the Egyptians to abuse the Jews, being a rude and gross people.
That Christ was a bastard and his mother dishonest. >> note 4
That he was the son of a carpenter, and that if the Jews among whom he was born did crucify him, they best knew him and whence he came.
That Christ deserved better to die than Barabas, >> note 5 and that the Jews made a good choice, though Barabas were both a thief and a murderer.
That if there be any God or any good religion, then it is in the Papists,>> note 6 because the service of God is performed with more ceremonies, as elevation of the mass, organs, singing men, shaven crowns, etc. That all Protestants are hypocritical asses.
That if he were put to write a new religion, he would undertake both a more excellent and admirable method, and that all the New Testament is filthily written.
That the woman of Samaria >> note 7 and her sister were whores and that Christ knew them dishonestly.
That Saint John the Evangelist was bedfellow to Christ and leaned always in his bosom; that he used him as the sinners of Sodoma. >> note 8
That all they that love not tobacco and boys are fools.
That all the apostles were fishermen and base fellows, neither of wit nor worth; that Paul >> note 9 only had wit, but he was a timorous fellow in bidding men to be subject to magistrates against his conscience.
That he had as good a right to coin >> note 10 as the Queen of England, and that he was acquainted with one Poole, a prisoner in Newgate, who hath great skill in mixture of metals, and having learned some things of him, he meant through help of a cunning stamp-maker to coin French crowns, pistolets, and English shillings.
That if Christ would have instituted the sacrament with more ceremonial reverence, it would have been in more admiration; that it would have been better much better being administered in a tobacco pipe.
That the angel Gabriel was bawd >> note 11 to the Holy Ghost, because he brought the salutation to Mary.
That one Richard Cholmley hath confessed that he was persuaded by Marlowe's reasons to become an atheist."
Among them, Marlowe casts doubt on the existence of God, claims that the New Testament was so “filthily written” that he himself could do a better job, and makes the eyebrow-raising assertion that the Christian communion would be more satisfying if it were smoked “in a tobacco pipe”.

Baines added a personal note, apparently aimed at watching government officials: “All men in Christianity ought to endeavour that the mouth of so dangerous a member may be stopped.” A few days later, Marlowe was stabbed to death in Deptford, south London, in circumstances still regarded as suspicious.

The document has been in the collection at the British Library since its founding in 1753 and has often been consulted by scholars, but this is the first time the public will be able to examine it in detail.

Curator Andrea Varney told the Guardian: “There’s nothing quite like being able to look at the real thing, and this will let students and readers from all over the world get close to Baines’s original report. The manuscript itself is over 400 years old and fragile, so digitisation really helps.”

The document and accompanying transcript are being made public in the latest phase of the British Library’s Discovering Literature project, aimed at students, teachers and the general public. Some 2,000 documents are now online, accompanied by 370 background essays and other resources. Four million visitors have visited the site since its launch in 2014. 

One of the biggest attractions to date has been a late 16th-century play text calling for tolerance towards refugees. It is seemingly in the handwriting of a man even more famous than Marlowe, albeit somewhat better behaved – William Shakespeare.

In the centuries since his violent death, Marlowe has been celebrated as gay icon whose works explored the realities of homosexual desire while it was still deeply dangerous to do so. Alongside the Baines note, the British Library has uploaded scans of the director Derek Jarman’s notebooks for his avant-garde film of Marlowe’s Edward II (1991). The play focuses on Edward’s love for his favourite male companion, Piers Gaveston; Jarman’s take on the story is nakedly political, featuring references to contemporary battles over gay rights.

The library is also making available resources on other contemporary writers, among them Ben Jonson and the poets John Donne and Emilia Lanier.

Varney said: “So often we focus only on Shakespeare, but there are a whole world of other people out there, many of them just as brilliant. It’s about opening a window on that.”

The Baines document itself is highly contentious, with some scholars arguing that Baines was a fantasist, and that his “note” was a put-up job designed to get Marlowe, who was arrested at almost exactly the same time, in even more trouble with the authorities.

Charles Nicholl, whose 1992 book The Reckoning examines the shady circumstances surrounding the playwright’s death, said: “The one thing you can say for certain about it is that the note was designed to incriminate Marlowe. These are pretty dangerous and wild utterances that he is making.”

Nonetheless, Nicholl added, the document has a rare power: “It does sound like Marlowe; it’s almost as if he walked into the room. After all this time, that’s still rather shocking.”

The documents are available at bl.uk/discovering-literature

The information here is from the Guardian below:

August 6, 2011


 
The independent editorial Lethe Press today announced the U.S. publication of a new anthology of stories of gay-themed fiction in English signed by 29 writers of Latin origin.

Titled "From Macho to Butterfly: New Gay Latino Fiction", the anthology contains stories by the parading "divas challenging bad guys or teens seductive sensual," but also "not powerful youth questioning their sexuality," said the publisher said in a statement.

Edited by Charles Rice-Gonzalez Puerto Rican and New Yorker Charlie Vazquez is the first collection of stories of gay-themed fiction created by Latinos is published in English in this country since 1999.

"The stories are vibrant and varied, and are clearly connected with the signal was lost in which we live," added the editorial stories that contain 'experiences and emotions of our day. "

The scenarios in which pass the stories are as different as a nightclub in Los Angeles, a beach in New York, the New York borough of the Bronx, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the border between Guatemala and Mexico en route to the United States, or bakery in Kansas, among others.

The authors involved in the collection are David Caleb Acevedo, Miguel Angel Angeles, Ricardo Bracho, C. Adam Cabrera, Bronco Castro, Johnathan Cedano, Edouardo Booh, Ben Francisco, Danny Gonzalez, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Anthony Haro, W. Brandon Lacy Campos and Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes.

Also included texts Jimmy Lam, Miguel M. Morales, Bryan Pacheco, Alfonso Ramirez, Guillermo Reyes, Charles Rice-Gonzalez, Alex G. Romero, Chuy Sanchez, Edwin Sanchez, Rick J. Santos, Jesus Suarez, David Andrew Talamantes, Justin Torres, Benny Vasquez, Charlie Vazquez and Robert Vázquez-Pacheco.
 


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