A Fresh Perspective on the Genre Fiction Debate, ‘James Baldwin and the Queer Imagination,’ and More LGBT News

Posted on 19. Nov, 2014 by in Features, News

This week in the LGBT-themed arts:

Jaswinder Bolina writes an essay for the Poetry Foundation on the vulnerability of MFA candidates to classist isolation, and the fallacies of believing that poetry is less relevant today.

Slate chronicles the brief but influential (and possibly romantic) relationship between the two most crucial English gay poets of World War I: Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen.

On December 2, the New York Public Library is hosting a talk with Ayana Mathis and Matt Brim about the latter’s forthcoming book James Baldwin and the Queer Imagination.

Joshua Rothman offers a fresh perspective on the current conflation of literary fiction and genre fiction, using Emily St. John Mandel’s novel Station Eleven as his jumping-off point.

The Cut interviews avant-garde fashion designer Jeremy Scott about coming of age, controversies, celebrities and his new book, which has a cover that uniquely employs the Droste effect.

Slate has posted an exclusive excerpt from Philip Gefter’s new biography on Sam Wagstaff, the foremost patron and boyfriend of groundbreaking late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

There is also an excerpt, on Vulture, from gay director Justin Simien’s companion book to his film Dear White People, about how reality television perpetrates stereotypes.

The Poetry Foundation also discusses this year’s Miami Book Fair International–which will also feature a commemoration of James Baldwin–with co-organizer Adam Fitzgerald.

The Hollywood Reporter covers the recent reunion–in Orange County, California–of Stephen Sondheim and the original cast of Into the Woods, which debuted in San Diego in 1987.

This past week saw this year’s annual Bent-Con, an LGBT-flavored science fiction and comic book convention in Los Angeles. Here’s a photo essay of the event.

Dan Schulman and Dana Goldstein reveal the process that their books went through from original conception, through development, to the bestseller list.

Joan Allen, William H. Macy, and Brie Larson are among the actors set to star in a Lenny Abrahamson-directed adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel Room.

Dave Holmes, TV personality and  columnist for Vulture, is at work on his first book, an autobiographical comedy tentatively titled Party of One.

– See more at: http://www.lambdaliterary.org/features/11/19/a-fresh-perspective-on-the-genre-fiction-debate-james-baldwin-and-the-queer-imagination-and-more-lgbt-news/?utm_source=Lambda+Literary+Review+November+14th%2C+2014&utm_campaign=Newsletters&utm_medium=email#sthash.DsOFJnGf.dpuf

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game: Homophobia is still with us 60 years after the death of Alan Turing

To combat anti-gay bullying, education against all prejudice should be a mandatory subject in every school, says Peter Tatchell

Movies rarely make me cry, but I cried when I watched The Imitation Game. Released today, it stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly, telling the heroic and tragic story of the British wartime code breaker, mathematical genius and computer pioneer, Alan Turing.

As well as decrypting Nazi military codes, shortening the war by two years and saving millions of lives, the entire modern digital age of computers, mobile phones, email, internet and space exploration is based on the principles he elaborated. Although Turing arguably possessed one of the greatest minds in history – on a par with Newton and Einstein – he was nevertheless prosecuted and hounded to his death in 1954 for being gay.

Upon conviction, Turing was given a stark choice: two years’ jail, or chemical castration via a hormone therapy that was uncannily similar to the Nazi “cures” for homosexuality that were used on gay men in Buchenwald concentration camp.

Unable to cope with the ghastly side effects of castration treatment, he committed suicide at the age of 41 – depriving humanity of future knowledge and inventions he might have pioneered had he lived.

I wept as I watched this film. I wept not only for Turing’s terrible personal suffering, but also for the estimated 50,000-100,000 other gay and bisexual men who were convicted in Britain under the same or similar anti-gay laws. Unlike Turing, most of them were given no choice. They were jailed and often brutally abused on the inside.

The Gathering – Gay Spiritual Group

 

Carols_2014The GatheringGay Men’s Spiritual Group, extend a warm invite to you and your friends and family to the annual “Community Christmas Carols by Candlelight” Service, on Thursday 11th December 2014, in All Soul’s Church, Elmwood Avenue, Belfast, BT9 at 7:30pm.
 
We are delighted that Pádraig Ó Tuama has agreed to be our speaker this year.  Pádraig is a Community Leader at Corrymela, a poet and theologian amongst other things and we are looking forward to his sharing with us.
 
The collection this year will be for the DEC Ebola appeal.
 
This is a great way to start the festive season and we warmly welcome all who genuinely want to share with us at this time.  Refreshment will be served afterwards.

 

Manchester library unveils public LGBT archives

LGFUK Logo

Manchester library unveils public LGBT archives

By John Mack Freeman

The Manchester Libraries have teamed with the Lesbian and Gay Foundation to make the Foundation’s holdings more publicly accessible. Via PinkNews:

The LGF’s history collection – made available at Central Library in Manchester – includes a comprehensive catalogues of LGB magazines, including Mancunian Gay, Outnorthwest, Gay Times, Diva, and several grassroots publications.

The collection, housed in the Libraries Archives+ Centre, also includes several historic documents about early Pride celebrations, Manchester’s gay movement, and literature from the AIDS crisis.

Heather Williams of the LGF said: “We are delighted to be working with Manchester Central Library to make our archives accessible to the public.

“These archives contain valuable records of the development of LGBT rights and changing attitudes in society, and now the people of Manchester will be able to discover and celebrate the history of the North West’s LGBT communities.”

Oscars’ Foreign Language Preview: Gay Contenders Come Out With Pride

Oscar Contenders Gay Cinema

Oscars’ Foreging Language Preview

 

At last year’s Cesar Awards, three of the top contenders for France’s top film prize — specifically, “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” “Stranger by the Lake” and “Me, Myself and Mum” — centered on LGBT issues. Compare that with the Oscars, where just one of the nine best picture nominees — “Dallas Buyers Club” — even so much as acknowledged homosexuality as a part of human existence.

What gives? It’s not merely a question of France being more progressive than the U.S. (It’s not, judging by widespread protests against marriage equality seen in Gaul over the past year.) Other countries, including several we think of as more conservative than the States, are also getting behind gay-themed pics.

Study the list of submissions for the upcoming Oscar foreign language prize — always an interesting indicator, since selection committees from each country are allowed only one film to represent them at the Academy Awards — and it’s clear that the U.S. lags in its willingness to make, much less celebrate, films dealing with homosexual themes.

Brazil picked Daniel Ribeiro’s “The Way He Looks,” a coming-out story centered on a blind teen.

Portugal went for Joaquim Pinto’s first-person documentary “What Now? Remind Me,” in which the HIV-positive helmer reflects on living with the virus. It was awarded the Fipresci prize at the Locarno film fest.

Switzerland’s selection, “The Circle,” from director Stefan Haupt, blends scripted reenactment and non-fiction interview segments to convey a sense of the country’s nascent post-war gay scene.

Finally, France is sending Bertrand Bonello’s “Saint Laurent,” a Cannes-anointed biopic on the influential fashion designer that doesn’t shy away from its subject’s sexual proclivities.

(One could also count Canadian submission “Mommy,” from openly gay director Xavier Dolan, whose flamboyant protagonist isn’t identified as gay, per se, but certainly defies Hollywood’s heteronormative paradigm in nearly all respects.)

Past Is Prologue

Considering the Academy’s historical reluctance to reward films with queer content (exceptions being “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “Milk”), it’s surprising to see five countries submit pics that, were they competing in other categories, show little precedent for nominations. Such a move suggests that regardless of how Oscar voters might feel, a group of key influencers in each country sincerely believes these films are the best they have to offer.

It’s hard to imagine an American committee deciding to throw its support behind a “gay movie.” But then, Americans seem uniquely inclined to pigeonhole films according to the sexual persuasion of their protagonists, whereas foreign directors have been far more successful in achieving mainstream success with human-interest stories in which the characters happen to be gay — though it hardly goes for all countries, with serious cultural obstacles in Russia, Iran, the Middle East and Japan.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., cinematic representations of homosexual identity are typically relegated to one of two categories: either “gay movies” (typically low-budget fare made for LGBT auds and released, often directly to homevid, by a handful of specialty distribs) or as side characters in mainstream movies (a relatively recent phenom for pics looking to score PC points, often revealing the news as a third-act surprise, a la “ParaNorman’s” gay jock).

Rare Crossover Success

This year brings an interesting exception in Ira Sachs’ “Love Is Strange,” a sweet, low-key romantic drama centered on a longtime gay couple, finally allowed to marry, who find themselves kicked out of their New York apartment and forced to rely on family and friends for housing — essentially a same-sex twist on Leo McCarey’s 1937 “Make Way for Tomorrow.” Sachs’ film was a rare crossover success, overcoming the obstacles one imagines facing a film in which the characters are not only gay, but gray (that is, well past the age of the average American moviegoer). This, of course, is what filmmakers want: for their work to appeal beyond the rigidly defined demographic of the characters themselves.

“If you look at the bulk of the work coming out of other countries, they’re still making human dramas about everyday life that are not being made here,” says Sachs, who deliberately — and somewhat defiantly — chose to tell stories centered on gay lead characters (first “Keep the Lights On” and now “Love Is Strange”) after a gap of 15 years.

The vast majority of independent helmers responsible for making the landmarks of American queer cinema — Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, Kimberly Peirce, Gregg Araki — have subsequently gravitated toward more mainstream (i.e. straight) subjects in order to sustain their careers and court a wider audience. Sachs blames the system, not the filmmakers, since American distribs remain gun-shy about supporting directors who incorporate that aspect of their identity into their work.

“If there’s no economic incentive or possibility of sustaining a career as an American filmmaker making strictly personal, human films, there’s no way for those filmmakers to develop or become better over time,” notes Sachs, whose freedom comes from working outside the system. “I’ve built a community (of individual investors) around me that has supported my own personal filmmaking.”

Alternative to Hollywood

In other countries, where big-budget Hollywood tentpoles make it tough for local cinema to compete, there remains a wide gap for relatively inexpensive adult dramas, which have all but disappeared from American studios’ diet.

That creates an opportunity for foreign directors working to tackle stories not being done bigger and better by Hollywood — which is where gay-themed pics stand to shine and be recognized in their respective countries. The phenomenon is hardly limited to LGBT stories either: In Germany, a modest, black-and-white portrait of a twentysomething slacker called “Oh Boy” (retitled “A Coffee in Berlin” for U.S. release) connected in a big way, winning six Lolas.

The same was true in France of “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” “Stranger by the Lake” and “Me, Myself and Mum”: All three connected with audiences because they presented mature, human-interest portraits seen lacking among the flashier American imports.

Ironically, the most commercially successful — Guillaume Gallienne’s “Me, Myself and Mum,” about an effeminate young mama’s boy who’s the last to accept himself as gay, whereas his entire family has long since accepted his identity — has yet to find distribution in the U.S., where it has two big strikes against it: The film is not only perceived as “gay,” but it’s also foreign to boot (whereas “Blue Is the Warmest Color” and “Stranger by the Lake” had a more sexually explicit hook, landing distribution from Sundance Selects and Strand Releasing, respectively).

Just because a film is submitted by its country to compete for the foreign-language Oscar doesn’t mean it’s assured a U.S. release. Of the five pics mentioned, only “Saint Laurent” (Sony Pictures Classics) and “Mommy” (Roadside Attractions) stand to do much business in the U.S. But they also represent what pics like “Love Is Strange” and British-made Alan Turing biopic “The Imitation Game” got right: They tell compelling human-interest stories in which the characters’ sexuality is acknowledged, but not the pic’s sole focus.

“People are always asking me, ‘Don’t you think this is a great time for gay cinema?’ And I think, what about Visconti, Fassbinder, Chereau? There’s a history that I feel connected to, that American cinema has forgotten, that existed of gay filmmakers making films that were not culturally positioned: They were part of art cinema in a larger way,” says Sachs.

Granted, there is more gay representation on American screens than ever before, but it’s been pushed to the margins: supporting characters and niche pics. However progressive its politics, the U.S. could stand to learn from other countries, where such stories are getting the treatment — and recognition — they deserve.

 

Variety – http://variety.com/2014/film/spotlight/oscar-race-foreign-gay-themed-pics-coming-out-with-pride-1201353064/

Outburst Queer Arts Festival

The Outburst Queer Arts Festival runs from the 14th to 22nd November 2014.  It’s programme is wide ranging and will have something for everyone, so please do try and get to at least one event and support a cracking organisation and series of events

Click HERE to be taken to their website check out the events

Nick Jonas and Ellen DeGeneres

Tired of taking his shirt off, Nick Jonas takes his pants off for Ellen DeGeneres instead

Singer drives talk show host’s audience wild

Nick_Jonas and Ellen_DeGeneres

Photo: EllenTube

Nick Jonas has got it and he’s going to flaunt it.

The singer, doing a publicity blitz for his new self-titled album, appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show this week and pulled down his pants for her screaming audience.

DeGeneres set the mood when she began to show the audience photos of a shirtless Jonas from a shoot he did for Flaunt magazine.

When the talk show host remarked that Jonas had put on a lot of muscle weight for his role on the TV series Kingdom and that she wanted to ask him to take his shirt off, Jonas drew the line.

‘I’m done taking my shirt off,’ he said.

The audience expressed their disappointment.

Then, the payoff.

‘However I did get some really great underwear from you and now I’ll take my pants off.’

– See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/tired-taking-his-shirt-nick-jonas-takes-his-pants-ellen-degeneres-instead131114#sthash.vmBgIiqg.dpuf

NIHRF 2014 Programme Launched!

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NIHRF 2014 Programme Launched!

Today saw the launch of the programme for the 2014 Northern Ireland Human Rights Festival (NIHRF) which you can access here. The festival, which will take place from 8-13 December, consists of a series of events on a range of human rights issues from home and abroad in celebration of International Human Rights Day on 10 December.

All events are open to the public and the majority are free. The festival is coordinated by the Human Rights Consortium, with individual events hosted by a wide range of charities, NGOs, colleges, trade unions, community groups and other organisations from across civil society.

This is the third year of the NIHRF and the 2014 programme covers topics and events as diverse as stand-up comedy by human rights activists, a Superhero Pub Quiz, to rights issues around the use of drones and restrictive libel laws. Other events remind us of discrimination groups in our society still face, whether women, the trans community, children and young people or Travellers, while others look at struggles beyond our shores, for Congolese women, campesinos in Peru, and others whether in Rwanda, Kenya or the Golan.

In launching the programme, Fiona McCausland, Chairperson of the Human Rights Consortium which coordinates the festival said:

“In this third year of the festival we continue to be delighted by the passion and commitment to human rights among the wealth of contributors to this year’s programme.

The festival hopes to showcase the simple truth that, at their core, human rights are about the recognition and defence of the inherent dignity of each individual human being.”

For more full listings, information on the individual events and a downloadable programme, please check out the NIHRF website:

http://www.humanrightsfestivalni.com/ 

Information is also available on our Facebook (/NIHRF) and Twitter (@nihrf), so please get liking, sharing and tweeting!

Dear straight people, this is how you should act in gay bars

Gay man writes an incredible open letter

Gay bars are not just for LGBTI people, we all know this, but it is a sanctuary for them.

We all know that feeling when we see a drunk straight girl angry she’s not getting any attention or when a straight guy reacts badly to getting hit on.

So a gay guy has absolutely nailed how the straights should act when they’re in a gay space, and it essentially comes down to ‘have respect’.

Reddit was asked: ‘Gay men or anybody – Do you find it slightly weird or disrespectful when a group of straight people (often liberal college girls) want to hang out at gay bars or clubs?

And one user responded by saying: ‘Speaking as a gay guy, I don’t think it’s categorically rude; it depends on the circumstances, and how the straight person in question acts while there. I have written an open letter to the straight community to explain the nuances,

‘Dear straight people:

‘Generally speaking, you are perfectly welcome in our bars, as long as you keep in mind that they are spaces that are not intended to cater to you – if you think that’s unfair, then go cry about it ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD, since that’s the space that DOES cater to you, pretty much exclusively. You know that sense of discomfort and alienation that you sometimes feel in our bars? That’s how we feel in virtually every social space we go to, so please do not begrudge us this one public place on Earth where we can pay for the “privilege” to hit on, dance with, and make out with people we actually find attractive without watching our backs.

‘For straight women, respecting the importance of our sanctuaries means that you should recognize gay bars are not an ideal place to hold your bachelorette party (in jurisdictions where we are not allowed to marry, that’s particularly tacky); that, if you are a young attractive woman, you will not be the centre of attention that you are accustomed to being in straight bars, and that just because you are among a bunch of gay dudes does not mean you have free reign to drunkenly grope us on the dance floor or at the bar (by the same token, we do not have the right to paw at your boobs just because we are gay; I invite you to put any drunken gay lout who does so firmly in his place).

‘For straight men (particularly good-looking ones), you should prepare for the very real possibility that a gay dude might make a pass at you while you are at a gay bar. If you can’t find it in yourself to politely decline a pass from another guy, then stay the hell out. Most of the time saying something like, “I’m flattered, but straight” will be the end of it, but remember that some gay guys are jerks, just like some straight guys are jerks, and will likewise not respond well to having their advances rebuffed. If you don’t think you can handle that, then you can be sure that your night will be better spent in a straight bar, no matter how much better our music is (and it IS).

‘Finally, for straight couples, try to have some decorum. We don’t resent your dancing together or engaging in modest displays of affection. If, however, you descend into a full-blown grinding/makeout session on the dance floor, it kind of sends the signal that you are trying to lay claim to our space, and we may not take kindly to that. Again, you can console yourself with the knowledge that you can do that kind of thing pretty much anywhere else on the planet; you should be more than content with that.

‘In closing, feel free to come to a gay bar, as long as you respect the fact that it’s a GAY bar.

‘Gaily Yours,

‘Esperandopara’

– See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/dear-straight-people-how-you-should-act-gay-bars141114#sthash.WWBGfIsf.dpuf

The Year's 10 Best Transgender Non-Fiction Books

Today we have added to our Booklists page a new listing of the 10 Best Transgender Non-Fiction Books as presented by The Advocate – to look at the list then click HERE