BOOK REVIEW: Barbra: An Actress Who Sings

Barbra: An Actress Who Sings
An unauthorised biography by James Kimbrell, published by Branden Publishing Company, Boston

Filmography, Discography, bibliography are all words that spring to mind when trying to describe this book. Volume I (of presumably a 2-volume set) gives us Ms Streisand the Acress and Singer, but precious little about Streisand the Woman. Certainly we learn of her affair with Jon Peters; but this is probably one of the too-few instances when we hear about her private life.
Streisand the Actress seems to be an entirely different person from the plitical and social-awareness campaigner, as th singer is totally different fromthe aforementioned two. Her temper is legendary, and she does not sufer fools gladly- but she has also alienated many co-stars, directors, producers, camera-men etc. Mr Kimbrell is obviously a fan of Ms Streisand, but he is not afraid to pull any punches when describing her behaviour on and off the set.
The gorgeous voice (we learn) is a little unsure of itself, which accounts for her giving only four (I was surprised to learn) publich performances in her entire career. Her singing career is very well covered in this volume – but Please! no more underlining of titles, dates, names etc. It is so infuriating and distracting.
Streisand is not afraind to tackel political issues as well. Money form her own pocket was used to fund a campaign to unseat Senator Jesse Helms. All that can be said is Good Luck on this one, Barbra!
Certainly a book for all Streisand fans; but I think I will wait a while, as this is definetly not the Definitive Biography.

Peter G Simms

Good Will Hunting, a gay scene?

Yes, Ben Affleck And Matt Damon Put A Gay Sex Scene In ‘Good Will Hunting’ Script

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There was once a gay sex scene in the script of “Good Will Hunting.”

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were rookie screenwriters when they wrote the 1997 film about a gifted janitor working at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They ultimately decided to go with Miramax Films, then run by Harvey Weinstein, to distribute the movie. Weinstein, whose company was known for independent and foreign flicks, beat out the competition for one reason: he actually read the script, and noticed the scene seemed out of place.

“Every studio wanted the movie, every studio wanted them to be in the movie and make this film,” Weinstein said on “The Graham Norton” show earlier this month. “They were young kids, just really starting out, but they had some good roles behind them. They came to my office, and I read the script [before] the meeting, and we walked in and everything was pleasant, and then about 10 minutes into the meeting I said, ‘Guys, there’s just one thing on the script … I just have one really big note. About page 60, the two professors give each other oral sex and they’re on their knees andthis whole big sex scene. What the hell is that? Because the guys are straight, and there’s no hint of anything like that … I don’t get that scene.'”

Apparently, the inclusion was a purposeful one.

“They go, ‘That’s the scene that we wrote to find out whether guys in your job actually read the script, because every studio executive we went to … no one brought that scene up, or maybe people thought it was a mistake or maybe nobody read it themselves.’ They said, ‘You’re the only guy that brought it up. You get the movie.'”

Affleck and Damon had originally sold the rights to Castle Rock, but they began suspecting no one at the company was actually reading the rewrites the two were instructed to hand in. Or at least not reading them very closely.

“We were so frustrated that Castle Rock wasn’t reading the script, so we felt like we had to develop this test,” Affleck told Boston Magazine in 2013. “We started writing in screen direction like, ‘Sean talks to Will and unloads his conscience.’ And then: ‘Will takes a moment and then gives Sean a soulful look and leans in and starts blowing him’ … We would turn that in, and they wouldn’t ever mention all those scenes where Sean and Will were jerking each other off.”

“Good Will Hunting” went on to gross over $200 million worldwide. The film earned Affleck and Damon the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, as well as the Best Supporting Actor award for Robin Williams.

Vito Russo – Visionary and Humanitarian

Vito Russo (July 11, 1946 – November 7, 1990), was a visionary, a humanitarian, an evangelist and a activist.  Everyone who met him became part of his campaign group, whether that campaign was about LGBT rights or about the provision of medical aid to cover AIDS in the USA during the time of the Regan administration.


He was a writer, a historian, and an acclaimed presenter on ‘The Celluloid Closet’; he travelled the length and breath of the USA educating and trying to galvanize people into fighting for their rights and to stand up for themselves.


He was in the forefront of the battle to get the US administration to invest in developing a medical solution to AIDS and also in the provision of support for those suffering from this disease – President Reagan did not recognise the LGBT lifestyle, and through his direction the administration did nothing to help those suffering from ‘the gay plague’.  Indeed Vito’s partner later developed AIDS, as did he himself some years after Jeff’s death.


Vito was a great orator, who had the ability to bring people from all walks of life on board to the campaigns – gay straight, black, white, red – the ordinary man and woman on the street to high profile stars like Liz Tayle or Lily Tonlinson – and through this ability society recognised the injustice of the administration’s stand and practice.


Vito was born in New York City , and grew up in East Harlem, graduating from New York Universityand died in 1990, having been in slow decline due to AIDS for some years.  The LGBT community, indeed a much wider community than this, came out for his funeral and expressed their feelings at the loss of his life – his life stands out for those who have listened to him speak, watched him campaign and read his writings; indeed he is comparable to Martin Luther, Ghandi and others who stood up and fought injustice I believe.


I would urge you to make the time and find his book, watch him on YouTube and read about his life – become inspired to fight injustice no matter where you see it – your life will be enriched and so will society’s.



The Controversial Cartoons that are Said to Have Inspired the Terrorist Attack Against Charlie Hebdo

Freedom to speak ‘within the law’ is a fundamental right for all civilised people.  It is not that long ago that Mary Whitehouse seeked to prevent plays, TV programmes and publications that reflected our LGBT society.  Our own government has been equally two faced in the past when it comes to LGBT rights, including initiating surveillance on individuals and organisations, including trade unions, who did (do) not meet with its agenda.

We as individuals and as part of the wider society, owe it to ourselves and our future to be vigilant and fight and secure our rights and our liberties.


Yesterday was an extreme case of horror, but it’s not Charlie Hebdo’s first experience with violence. The newspaper’s history of taboo-challenging content is as old as the magazine itself.

At least 12 people were killed in a shooting at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo Wednesday morning. Multiple masked gunmen entered the building, opened fire on the writers, and escaped in a getaway car. The shooters reportedly yelled “Allahu Akhbar” (“God is greatest”) during the assault and “We have avenged the prophet” as they sped out of the office. Among the confirmed dead are two police officers and Stephane Charbonnier, a journalist and editorial director. French President Francois Hollande has called the shooting “a terrorist attack.” The gunmen and driver are still at large.

The French Muslim community has condemned the attack. Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, announced on behalf of French Muslims, “I want to denounce the horror and the unspeakable and show our compassion. We condemn what just [happened] in the name of all Muslims. This is an act of war in the middle of Paris. “

Chances are, if you’ve heard of Charlie Hebdo before, it has been because their satire has inspired the ire of Islamic extremists; the target of the magazine’s humor is frequently religious, political and social mores.

The Guardian‘s Anne Penketh reported from Paris that the magazine’s latest cover (featured in the most recent tweet from @Charlie_Hebdo_) took aim at Islam:

The weekly’s latest jibe, published on Twitter moments before the terrorist attack, was a cartoon wishing a Happy New Year ‘and particularly good health’ to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic militant group Islamic State (Isis).

The magazine describes itself on the social network as the ‘irresponsible newspaper’. Its cover this week features the provocative new novel by Michel Houellebecq, Submission, which satirises France under a Muslim president.

Charlie Hebdo’s editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, has received death threats and lives under police protection. He has always insisted that the cartoons depicting the Prophet were harmless fun, although he is well aware that Islam does not allow public images of Muhammad, which are believed by Muslims to be sacrilegious.

View image on Twitter

Today is an extreme case of horror, but it’s not Charlie Hebdo’s first experience with violence.

The offices were firebombed in late 2011, after running a spoof issue “guest edited” by the Prophet Muhammad honoring an Islamist party’s victory in Tunisian elections. The special issue, in a winking reference to “Shariah law,” was named “Charia Hebdo,” and showed a cartoon of Muhammad along with the line, “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter.” At the time, editor Stephane Charbonnier described the post-attack wreckage of the office: “We can’t put out the magazine under these conditions. The stocks are burned, smoke is everywhere, the paste-up board is unusable, everything is melted, there’s no more electricity.” The website was also hacked, and members of the staff received death threats.


Less than a week later, the magazine’s front page read “L’Amour plus fort que la haine” (Love is stronger than hate) and showed a male Charlie Hebdo cartoonist and a bearded Muslim man engaged in a kiss, the still-smoking magazine Charlie Hebdo offices burning in the background.

In 2012, the magazine included multiple caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in which he appeared naked; one was called “Mohammad: a star is born,” and showed a man bent over so his beard was the only thing covering the lower half of his body. The cover depicted Mohammad in a wheelchair being pushed by an Orthodox Jew.


The French government implored the magazine not to publish the issue — at the time, protests over a prophet-mocking video produced in the U.S., “The Innocence of Muslims,” were raging across South Asia and the Middle East — but Charlie Hebdo persisted; the government shut down schools, consulates, cultural centers and embassies in 20 counties as a precautionary measure. Riot police were also stationed at the Charlie Hebdo offices for protection.

The then-editor-in-chief, Gérard Biard, did not back down from the magazine’s call to publish the issue. “We’re a newspaper that respects French law. Now, if there’s a law that is different in Kabul or Riyadh, we’re not going to bother ourselves with respecting it. What are we supposed to do when there’s news like this?” Biard went on to describe the magazine as “atheist,” “democratic,” and a supporter of “laïcité,” France’s secularity.

Charlie Hebdo republished cartoons of Mohammad in 2006 that had originally appeared in a Danish newspaper; the images sparked protests throughout the Muslim community.

Charlie Hebdo’s history of taboo-challenging content is as old as the magazine itself. Its earlier form, Hara-Kiri Hebdo, was banned in 1970 for spoofing what they saw as the too-deferential coverage of former president Charles de Gaulle’s death by the French media. Editors picked Charlie Hebdo as a new name to get around the ban; the new title jokingly referenced both de Gaulle and a monthly comic book, Charlie Mensuel, which got its name from Charlie Brown.

The magazine, which comes out every Wednesday, came on the scene in 1969; it folded in 1981 due to poor sales but was revived 11 years later. Charbonnier, one of today’s victims, had held his post as editor in chief since 2012. This is reportedly his last cartoon:

View image on Twitter
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a statement, reported in Le Monde, expressing outrage at the violence and affirming the importance of French free speech: “This attack is a national tragedy. This is a direct, savage attack on one of our most cherished republican principles: freedom of expression. Our democracy has been attacked. We must defend it without any weakness. Absolute resoluteness is the only possible response. Our nation is in mourning, struck in the heart, the Republic must gather assemble together. I call on all French people to reject the temptation of stereotyping.”

20 Books That Changed The Way We Felt About Ourselves As LGBT People

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It’s in literature that true life can be found,” Nobel Prize-winning author Gao Xingjian was once quoted as saying.

The Chinese novelist and playwright may not have been speaking directly to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, but to those of us in the community, he might as well have been. Widespread representation of LGBT life in literature was present well before Hollywood came to embrace it; scribes like Leslie Feinberg andDavid Sedaris have been making us laugh, cry and feel all the feelings for decades — and who could ever forget their first encounter with Armistead Maupin or Oscar Wilde?

We asked our readers to name the books that shaped the way they felt about themselves as LGBT people. While this is by no means a definitive literary list, the responses we received on Facebook and Twitter reflect the community’s wit, strength and overall diversity.

Take a look at 20 books that changed the way we felt about ourselves as LGBT people below.

  • TALES OF THE CITY by Armistead Maupin
    “When I discovered Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, I knew in my heart that it was time to go out into the world and be the man I was born to be and truly live life. His stories are a blessing to us all.” –Chad Thompson, Facebook
  • STONE BUTCH BLUES by Leslie Feinberg
    “…Not because I identify as stone butch, but because it taught me about our history, how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go.” — Charli Brown, Facebook
    “I hadn’t ever seen or read about a trans character who was accepted with love.” –Daya Curley, Twitter
  • MIDDLESEX by Jeffrey Eugenides
    “Amazing!” — Zoe Brinnand, Facebook
    — Julian Damiani, Facebook
  • ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY by David Sedaris
    “[David Sedaris] just slayed me. I never laughed so hard in my life.” — Todd Vaughn Wright, Facebook
  • RUBYFRUIT JUNGLE by Rita Mae Brown
    — Sonya Race, Facebook
    “Read it in the stacks at NYU as a freshman in 1978.” — Tom Judson, Twitter
  • COMING OUT: AN ACT OF LOVE by Rob Eichberg
    “Twenty years ago, I bought Rob Eichberg’s Coming Out: An Act of Love. I had thought I was about to ruin my life by coming out, but with this book (which I relied on for a few years, as well as with the help of a counselor), I somehow made it through. I kept the book as a reminder never to live a lie again or be so afraid.” — Laurie Dominick, Facebook
  • MAN ALIVE by Thomas Page McBee
    “So many, but Man Alive by Thomas Page McBee helped give me courage and language for who I am.” — Emmett Findley, Twitter
  • GAY SOUL by Mark Thompson
    “It taught me that we are a unique tribe, but that sexuality was only one facet of who I really am.” — Preston McKinley, Facebook
    “The book that stands out most for me was a book I gave my conservative Christian parents that helped them accept my being gay: Stranger at the Gate by Mel White.” –Steve Cooper, Facebook
    “So many great bueer books out there, but Charles Nelson’s The Boy Who Picked the Bullets Up is my underrepresented favorite.” –Joe, Twitter
    Barnes and Noble
    Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette caused me to re-examine my past (especially my childhood), and I was astonished to find just how much my life and my relationships had been affected by being closeted for so long. Suddenly so many things make so much more sense.” –Christopher Twyman, Facebook
  • THE FRONT RUNNER by Patricia Nell Warren
    “[This book] and Gordon Merrick’s works made me believe I could have the world: career success, great friends, and true love.” — Gerald Stover, Facebook
    “The book that changed my soul.” — Todd Vaughan Wright, Facebook
  • OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS by Truman Capote
    — Don Levy, Facebook
  • THE SOUL BENEATH THE SKIN by David Nimmons
    “Nimmons inspired me to ‘be the change.'” — Nick Sabatasso, Facebook
  • BOY MEETS BOY by David Levithan
    “David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy was the first LGBT book I ever read and it’s stuck with me all these years.” –Peter Wright, Facebook
  • THE SWIMMING POOL LIBRARY by Alan Hollinghurst
    — Sasha Quentin, Facebook

This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids: A Question-and-Answer Guide to Everyday Life

Life for gay teens has changed, but advice books for parents have lagged behind – until now. Zoe Schlanger meets the authors of a manual that even ‘cool’ parents should read

When Kristin Russo came out at the age of 17, her Catholic mother withdrew – for a short spell, anyway. This was in 1998. Like many parents of gay kids, Rose Russo was struggling to reconcile her daughter’s sexuality with her own religious life. Extended family referred Rose to Bible passages. She spoke with her priest, who advised her that “under no circumstances should she close her door to her daughter or anyone else important in her life”, Russo remembers her mother recounting. It helped, but Rose was still grasping for perspective. After a while, she sought advice from a few gay people she found through family and friends.

“My mum would just corner lesbians and just be like: ‘I don’t understand, how did you do this, are you having kids?’ She would ask them a hundred questions, and that was her only information about how my life might turn out,” Russo says. For nearly a decade, any trip Russo took home from college and later New York City ended with her mother bursting into tears. “I think she was just wanting it to go away,” Russo says.

As far as Russo, who is now 33, knows, in those pre-Google days Rose never went to the library to find books on parenting gay teens. Even if she had, the few books available may have made her mother feel worse, not better. Their approach was largely clinical and gloomy, and they escorted parents through a grieving process and toward acceptance, as if their child had been diagnosed with a disease.

Now, in 2014, the internet is awash in parenting blogs. Dozens of books are published each year on raising children and teens, but the literature landscape for parents of gay kids is virtually unchanged. A handful of books, mostly updates of editions written in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, relate stories of parents struggling to come to terms with their children’s sexuality.

Popular culture has undergone a revolution in attitudes toward LGBT people in the past five or so years. A generation is coming out younger, and parents are more willing to embrace them. But resources for those parents have lagged behind. That is, until September, when Russo and her co-author Dannielle Owens-Reid, 28, released a remarkably simple book.

Kristin Russo, left, and Dannielle Owens-Reid



Kristin Russo, left, and Dannielle Owens-Reid

This Is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids is for parents who want to be accepting, but “maybe they aren’t right now and maybe they’re really uncomfortable, and maybe they think their kid is going to hell”, Owens-Reid says. But it is also for a “new breed of parent”, as Russo puts it: those who are so eager to be accepting that they fail to recognise the difference of their child’s experience. “I see it so often,” Russo says. “These parents are so cool with their kid being gay that they don’t ask any questions, either because they think it would betray that they are indeed struggling, or because they think they don’t have any.Their kid is gay, they still love them, case closed.”

Of course, that support is a great start. But, Russo says: “It kind of forecloses the way that you can love your kid if you can’t let yourself ask any questions. It is different to walk down the street as a queer person than it is to walk down the street as a straight person. I think there is a real danger in saying no one is different.”

The book consists of a big, blunt Q&A: “How should I handle sleepovers?”; “How do I talk to my child about safe sex?”; “Who should I tell?”. A glossary in the back decodes the mystifying constellation of words – heterosexism, FTM, queer, genderqueer – that a straight parent is likely to hear for the first time. Personal stories are sprinkled throughout, from kids and parents everywhere on the experience spectrum – gay, bisexual, transgender, religious, bullied, the parent who always knew, the kid who threw everyone for a loop. It is such a necessary resource, it is hard to believe it didn’t already exist. Then again, Russo and Owens-Reid are the duo behind the and its corresponding YouTube channel, known to LGBT teens on the internet as the place to go for straightforward advice.

On video, the pair lip-synch to pop songs and respond to questions from viewers, such as “How do I get the person I’m interested in to know I’m queer?” or “I want to talk to the other gay girl at my school without being awkward. Help?” Other questions illuminate darker worries: there’s the caller who is worried she might be going to hell for being gay, or the guy who isn’t sure how to come out, because his sister already came out as gay and their parents turned out not to be accepting.

Even when the advice gets serious – when addressing questions about homophobic parents, for example – there is still humour.

“We still keep things very light-hearted. Because I think before you talk about anything, it feels so heavy. But once you do it, you’re getting over that little hump,” Owens-Reid says.

Russo and Owens-Reid never really meant to start an LGBT advice empire. In fact, their site began as something of a joke. At the time, in 2010, Owens-Reid was stocking a Tumblr called “Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber” with, yes, photos of lesbians whose aesthetic and swoopiness of hair resembled those of the boyish pop star. The blog attracted attention from media outlets such as the New York Post, and from lesbians who were offended.

“There were people who were fans of the site who would be asking me questions about love and heartbreak, and then there were a huge chunk of people telling me I was stereotyping the community and making lesbians look bad,” Owens-Reid tell me. They began in 2010 as a place to respond to the Bieber Tumblr criticism. “We didn’t really have any intention of doing anything past, like, sassily talking back to some people and answering some advice that was funny and very light-hearted,” Russo says. The first request was “How do I know if my dog is gay?” It was submitted by Russo’s sister.

Soon, the requests for advice came pouring in, and they weren’t all light-hearted. “It was like, ‘Oh, this person is afraid to come out to their family because they might get thrown out of their house’. That was a turning point for us. And so we sort of looked at each other and decided to try it,” Russo remembers.

In the autumn of 2010, within a matter of weeks, four American teens between the ages of 13 and 18 killed themselves after enduring harassment from peers for being gay. The news shed new light on the pressures faced by gay teens. By 2011, colleges and schools began asking Russo and Owens-Reid to speak in their classrooms and auditoriums. Bullying of gay students had gone unaddressed for so long. Now, schools knew they had to talk about it, but didn’t know how. The pair have been to more than 100 schools to date.

Meanwhile, Russo and her mother, Rose, have come a long way. Rose, 61, now accepts and embraces her daughter, and her daughter’s wife. “I don’t know exactly what happened. The only thing I can tell you is that in 2001, I was very sick,” says Rose. “A gall bladder operation went wrong. I could have died. You have these near-death experiences, and afterward you reflect. Kristin was my biggest reflection. I didn’t know if she would have known how much I loved her, if I passed away.”

Rose recalls feeling deep regret for the years of strife. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, how could I have done that to her?’ I’m almost ashamed of how I was. I thought, ‘This is my child; if I can’t accept her for who she is, I’m not such a good mum’. I just didn’t care any more what people thought. That totally changed things for me.”

It was a number of years before Russo felt that her mother had fully come around. Six years ago – 10 years after Russo came out – she says she could tell for the first time that Rose felt comfortable around Russo’s then-girlfriend. “I would say 27 was the age,” Russo says. “That was when I could go home without her sitting me down and bursting into tears.”

But now, Rose says she’s proud of Russo and Owens-Reid’s work with LGBT youth, and wishes something like This Is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids could have existed then.

“I was struggling so badly then with her being gay, and I didn’t know if I could ever overcome that. Now, I look back and can’t believe I went through all that turmoil,” Rose says. “She’s a wonderful girl. She really is. To me, the book is a wonderful thing. It’s all coming full circle.”

(c) Newsweek, Inc. All rights reserved.

New in November: Andy Cohen, Shelly Oria, Barbara Smith, D.A. Powell, Hubert, and Marie Caillou

New month, new books! November is upon us, and so are a slew of new and noteworthy LGBT books.

Love in the modern age is anything but easy. Author Shelly Oria explores the joys and pitfalls of contemporary relationships in her debut short story collection New York 1, Tel Aviv 0 (FSG Originals).

From FSG:

Enter the world of New York 1, Tel Aviv 0, where the characters are as intelligent and charming as they are lonely. A couple discovers the ability to stop time together; another couple lives with a constant loud beeping in their apartment, though only one of them can hear it. A father leaves his daughter in Israel to pursue a painting career in New York; a sex worker falls in love with the Israeli photographer who studies her.

Together these stories explore the tension between an anonymous, globalized world and an irrepressible lust for connection—they form an intimate document of niche moments between characters who are so brilliantly, subtly, and magically rendered by Shelly Oria’s capable hands.

This month, writer Hubert and illustrator Marie Caillou explore the emotional fraught world of gay adolescence in the beautifully rendered graphic novel Adrian and the Tree of Secrets (Arsenal Pulp Press Books).

Adrian isn’t very happy these days. He lives in a small town and goes to a Catholic high school. He wears glasses, secretly reads philosophy books, and wishes he had more muscles. He’s dogged by a strict mother, bullied by fellow players on the soccer field, and chastised by the school principal, who considers gay rumors about Adrian as a sign that he is “ill.” But Jeremy, the coolest kid at school, thinks otherwise; he takes Adrian on scooter trips, where they end up in Jeremy’s secret treehouse stealing kisses. Adrian finds himself falling in love, until Jeremy’s girlfriend rats them out, sending Jeremy into a tailspin of embarrassment for being different than the rest. What will become of him?

Adrian and the Tree of Secrets is a poignant, beautifully illustrated graphic novel about first love, growing up, and having the courage to be true to yourself.

The new collection Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith (SUNY Press) delves into the cultural work of iconic writer and activist Barbara Smith.

As an organizer, writer, publisher, scholar-activist, and elected official, Barbara Smith has played key roles in multiple social justice movements, including Civil Rights, feminism, lesbian and gay liberation, anti-racism, and Black feminism. Her four decades of grassroots activism forged collaborations that introduced the idea that oppression must be fought on a variety of fronts simultaneously, including gender, race, class, and sexuality. By combining hard-to-find historical documents with new unpublished interviews with fellow activists, this book uncovers the deep roots of today’s “identity politics” and “intersectionality” and serves as an essential primer for practicing solidarity and resistance.

This month, Knopf is publishing Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity by Robert Beachy, a detailed accounting of pre-Wiemar Berlin.

An unprecedented examination of the ways in which the uninhibited urban sexuality, sexual experimentation, and medical advances of pre-Weimar Berlin created and molded our modern understanding of sexual orientation and gay identity.

Known already in the 1850s for the friendly company of its “warm brothers” (German slang for men who love other men), Berlin, before the turn of the twentieth century, became a place where scholars, activists, and medical professionals could explore and begin to educate both themselves and Europe about new and emerging sexual identities. From Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a German activist described by some as the first openly gay man, to the world of Berlin’s vast homosexual subcultures, to a major sex scandal that enraptured the daily newspapers and shook the court of Emperor William II—and on through some of the very first sex reassignment surgeries—Robert Beachy uncovers the long-forgotten events and characters that continue to shape and influence the way we think of sexuality today.

What happens when a “shallow” personality goes deep? The Andy Cohen Dairies: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year (Henry Holt and Company ) offers a self reflective look at the comings and goings of a pop culture savant.

A year in the whirlwind life of the beloved pop icon Andy Cohen, in his own cheeky, candid, and irreverent words

As a TV Producer and host of the smash late night show Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen has a front row seat to an exciting world not many get to see. In this dishy, detailed diary of one year in his life, Andy goes out on the town, drops names, hosts a ton of shows, becomes codependent with Real Housewives, makes trouble, calls his mom, drops some more names, and, while searching for love, finds it with a dog. We learn everything from which celebrity peed in her WWHL dressing room to which Housewives are causing trouble and how. Nothing is off limits – including dating. We see Andy at home and with close friends and family (including his beloved and unforgettable mom). Throughout, Andy tells us not only what goes down, but exactly what he thinks about it. Inspired by the diaries of another celebrity-obsessed Andy (Warhol), this honest, irreverent, and laugh-out-loud funny book is a one-of-a-kind account of the whos and whats of pop culture in the 21st century.

D.A. Powell fans rejoice! This month sees the publication of Repast (Graywolf Press), a collection that assembles “D. A. Powell’s landmark trilogy of TeaLunch, and Cocktails […]” into one handsome volume.

As always, if we missed an author or book, or if you have a book coming out next month, please email us.







 LGBT Studies








Speculative Fiction/Horror










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Edited by Wendell Ricketts, ‘Blue,Too: More Writing By (For or About) Working-Class Queers’

Repost from Lambda Literary Posted on 18. Nov, 2014 by in Anthology, Reviews – See more at:


The story of Wendell Ricketts’ one-of-a-kind anthology Blue, Too: More Writing By (For or About) Working-Class Queers is that of so much literature that examines intersections of marginalized identities: An initial dead-end. His predecessor to this book, Everything I Have Is Blue: Short Fiction by Working-Class Men About More-Or-Less Gay Life, encountered a whopping 57 rejections before it found a publisher–and it was a press that eventually shuttered its doors. So what’s the difference with Blue, Too? Why didn’t it get added to the heap of rejected concepts that are just too “much” or too complexifying or too honest to fit into marketing paradigms? Well, it’s mostly just the fact Ricketts kept pushing until he had the means to publish on his own terms — something he considers a distinctly working-class ethos. This year, he established FourCats Press, and finally he was able to create the book he’s always envisioned. In so doing, Blue, Too represents much more than a sequel–it is a reinvention of what a “collection of creative writing by working-class queers” can be. In sharing the book’s genesis in the foreword, Ricketts reveals why he needed to start anew in a tale that’s deeply telling about of this collection’s necessity. While trying for years to find a publisher who thought readers would be interested in writing that explored the intersection of queerness and class, and even while finally finding a publisher in the now-defunct Suspect Thoughts Press, he discovered that readers–or, at least, the ones reviewing Everything I Have Is Blue–still didn’t get it. He explains: More than a few reviewers missed the point entirely. Take one who wrote “Lend [thebook] to the cute guy who delivers bottled water to your office every month. Or your hunky garbage man. Basically anyone hot with a blue collar.” Because, of course, “hot and hunky” blue collar guys probably wouldn’t buy their own books, and it might help you–you big, bottled-water drinking corporate exec, you–get laid. The field of working-class studies politely ignored the book, as did queer and gay studies programs[.] Armed with that knowledge and the clear vision that working-class queer voices still matter, Ricketts’ expanded upon Everything in every way: in size and scope, in accepting more gender and sexual minorities than solely gay men, and in commenting on the importance of closely reading working-class queer narratives by providing detailed “reading guides” for each of the twenty stories anthologized. Further, one-third of the 486-page volume is taken up by an annotated bibliography about working-class queers in all cultural mediums and an extensive analytical essay titled “Class/Mates: Further Outings.” Blue, Too is, without a doubt, the authority on working-class queer writing in the English language. So let’s hope that a decade after Ricketts’ first attempt, this anthology isn’t still ahead-of-its time. At the very least, its long-overdue presence begs some consideration: What is so dangerous about this writing? The answers, of course, could be endless, but one thing becomes apparent quickly: Blue, Too shakes up both mainstream, straight, cisgender expectations of queers and queers’ expectations of queers.In a similar vein to Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform, albeit in a more understated fashion, Blue, Too interrogates an aspect of queer communities that is often the source of invisibility and discomfort as LG(BT) people gain rights and social acceptance: Some queers are working-class, some are working-poor, and some are even downright impoverished. Our shiny, happy visions of who “queer” people are, especially in mainstream media, often can’t acknowledge that, to quote the oft-used activist slogan, “We Are Everywhere.” Rather, “working-class” and “queer” have come to seem almost like a antonyms because of the other specters that “working-class” raises. So what are the cultural associations with “working-class” complicating queer identity that find illumination in Blue, Too? Immediately, we see the theme of non-white racial identities emerge in C. Baird Cole’s “Flowers, Flames” and Rane Arroyo’s “My Blue Midnights.” In Marcel Devon’s “There Are No Pretty Girls at the Tabernacle,” we feel the threat of fundamentalist religion.Rick Laurent Feely’s “Skins” and Timothy Anderson’s “Hooters, Tooters, and the Big Dog” we get rough, coarse language, hints of violence and rougue-ish criminality–“class-less” behavior. And in Keith Banner’s “Lowest of the Low,” Robby Nadler’s “Austin,” Wendell Ricketts’ “Financial Aid,” and Rigoberto Gonzalez’s “Men Without Bliss” we feel the limitations of fore-shortened educations and dead-end jobs. All of these things scare queers seeking assimilation–and a couple, like violence and poverty, seem to be rightfully frightening, as they portend our extinction. But all of these things also scare queers for the wrong reasons–they disrupt a clean, palatable vision of queerness that could slip seamlessly into an affluent, white-dominant mainstream. Blue, Too is an intervention into queer culture that demands we look at what homogenizing “LGBT” discourses–which are often, in truth, only really about the “G” and maybe the “L”–leave out. Yet, it’s worth noting, Ricketts’ call of “We exist too!” is anything but self-pitying. The writing in Blue, Too is fierce, forthright, and often exquisitely brutal while being tender and deeply real. Highlights include Banner’s “Lowest of the Low,” Feely’s “Skins,” Carter Sickel’s “Saving,” Dean Durber’s “Bleeding Toy Boys,” and Judy Grahn’s “Boys at the Rodeo.” These stories bring up the kinds of questions without easy answers that multiply marginalized folks face daily. How do I feel whole when I must choose between being “out” and making enough money to survive? How do I find belonging when I enter contexts where class and sexual expectations shift? If my queerness and my class seem to be at odds, how can I find a sense of rootedness or “home”? – See more at:

‘Now and Yesterday’ by Stephen Greco

Fresh out of college, Peter moved to New York City in 1975. Wide-eyed and

Posted on 20. Nov, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews – See more at: Lamda Literary
</iframe>determined to make it as a poet, he and his boyfriend, Harold, moved into a place in Brooklyn, ready to face whatever hurdles came their way. Fast-forward to 2012, Peter is a bigwig at an advertising agency and Harold has long since died of AIDS, along with dozens more of their friends. The city has changed; Peter has changed, but he still longs for fulfillment, for family and for love. Is that too much to ask for at 59? In Now and Yesterday, Stephen Greco richly details gay life in New York  City, providing a nuanced account of how it’s changed throughout the decades. And by splitting the narrative between the 28-year-old literary hopeful, Will, and the aging Peter, Greco explores generational issues often overlooked within this “Peter Pan” gay culture of ours. Peter first met Will at a party his friend Jacob was throwing. Will was the bartender, and while Peter stood out for his looks and physique among an aging crowd of New York City gay socialites, the recognition was not mutual. A relatively successful journalist back in San Francisco, Will learned quickly that this eastern metropolis was not an easy place to make one’s way. There were the challenges of establishing oneself on a career path, of manoeuvring through a cityscape built upon the foundations of drugs, sex, and money. Peter, too, had had to learn to navigate the scene, and while there were certainly differences, the struggle to remain true to oneself  amidst a sea of superficiality was central to both of their concerns. When Jacob recommends Will for a party Peter is throwing, the two meet properly, and a friendship begins to grow that surprised them both. Yet as feelings unfurl and make themselves known, the specifics of their circumstance begin to confuse. Peter isn’t looking to be a “daddy,” and he doesn’t want to just fool around. His feelings for Will are deep and ever growing, but he fears making a move. Is he too old for Will to see him as sexual, as desirable? The longer we live, the more learn to endure, but one is never too old to be afraid. The fear of being kindly rejected because of his age, the shame of having to watch Will squirm as he explains he’d rather be friends, prevents Peter from expressing his true feelings. As young as Peter may feel, their generational differences stand out stark against an otherwise placid background New York is a haven of gay culture and society–and it has been for a long time–but it’s easy for this present generation to forget that these streets were once a battleground. The same density of people that allowed the gay arts to flourish ensured that AIDS would ravish a generation. Those who lived though it, like Peter, carry the loss they experienced with them. Death, which made itself known in such a dramatic way, is always just beneath the surface. And especially as his fellow survivors begin to age, death returns in new and frightening manifestations. Jacob who, like Peter, survived his partner’s death, is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. To have been conscious of one’s own mortality for decades breeds a unique approach to life–and the closer they move towards death, the more nuanced their understanding becomes. The weight of his past is something that Will can see in Peter, but not fully understand. It’s a burden that Peter doesn’t realize is inhibiting his future. By allowing the spectre of Harold to remain so absolutely, he ensures that there isn’t space for anyone to truly fill the void he left. It took many years, and the love of a guy as special as Will, to show him that he needed to move on from his loss, not merely survive it. At its heart, this is a novel about love. By focusing largely on the insecurities of Peter, Greco allows his internal dialogue, which does come off as slightly sophomoric at times, to highlight the universality of our approaches to romance. Increased age does not carry with it a lessened desire for companionship. At 59, Peter doesn’t want to settle for a boy-toy– he’s still after the romance of his life. Greco’s novel shares the important message that even within a community that idealizes youth, it’s never too late to find true happiness, and it’s not wrong to want it. Now And Yesterday richly details the cultural evolution and history of New York’s gay scene and its attention to the AIDS crisis, in particular, makes it an important addition to the canon of gay literature. The fact that the history of HIV isn’t included in most school curricula, coupled with the generational barriers that the gay community has yet to properly dismantle, makes this a uniquely accessible and relevant piece of work that educates as much as it enchants. – See more at:

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: