LGBTQ INFORMATION NETWORK │ RAINBOW OF RESOURCES

ARTS
 

Stephen Sondheim, Musical Theater Legend, Dead at 91
Out Acclaimed Shakespearean Actor Antony Sher Dies at 72
Jane Lynch and Beanie Feldstein Star in Revamped 'Funny Girl' Revival
Dancing with the Stars: JoJo Siwa’s Viennese Waltz
How LGBTQ Excellence Helped Shape Broadway

Strictly Come Dancing: LGBTQ Fans Blown Away by History-Making Same-Sex Dance

Gay Playwright Matthew López: First Latino to Win Tony Award for Best Play

Tango: John Whaite and Johannes Radebe
LGBTQ Art Shows: Now Showing at Museums From Boston to Berlin

Meet the Creators that Are Proving that Pride Is a State of Mind

GQ Magazine: Keith Haring Blew Up the Art and Fashion World

Hairspray Pandemic Spectacular: You Can't Stop the Beat

Kellen Stancil: Dance Performance at Stonewall Day 2020

Brave: Duet Dance by Cleo and Jude

 

 

SNL: Ariana DeBose and Kate McKinnon

Broadway Tribute to Stephen Sondheim
Dancing with the Stars: JoJo Siwa’s Viennese Waltz

Ellen DeGeneres: Gay Cartoon Characters

Glenn Copeland: Trans Musical Genius

Billy Porter and Kinky Boots Cast: Raise You Up

LGBTQ Writers, Artists and Activists of the 80s and 90s

Smooth and Wicked: The Art of  Mel Odum

Only Us: Laura Dreyfus and Ben Platt

Tom of Finland Exhibit in Los Angeles

Hymn for Alvin Ailey

Dear Evan Hansen: Waving Through a Window

Ian McKellan Reading Harvey Milk's Hope Speech

Neil Patrick Harris: It’s Not Just for Gays Anymore

Boys in the Band Finally Nominated for a Tony Award

Vancouver Men's Chorus performs Anthem by Leonard Cohen
Queer Composers You Should Know

Autostraddle: Lesbian Photographers You Should Know About

I Am What I Am: Song From La Cage Aux Folles


 

LGBTQ Visual Artists: Painters and Photographers
 

Keith Haring
Annie Leibovitz
Frida Kahlo (Mexico)
Robert Mapplethorpe
Andy Warhol

Raphael Perez (Israel)

Alvin Baltrop

Terry Hastings

Vincent Keith (London)

Oliver Zeuke (Germany)

Mickalene Thomas

Heather Glazzard

Donna Gottschalk

Herb Ritts

Rotimi Fani Kayode (Nigeria)
Brian Kenny
Cy Twombly (England)

Steven Menendez

Robert Rauschenberg

Gilbert Baker (Creator of Original Rainbow Flag)

Kehine Wiley

Zanele Muholi (South Africa)
Richard Fung (Trinidad, Toronto)

Jasper Johns
Laurie Toby Edison

Ottilie Landmark
Nora Nord

 
 

Vaginal Davis (Germany)
Hannah Hoch (Germany)

K8 Hardy
Felix Gonzalez Torres
Ellsworth Kelly
David Hockney (England)
Adi Nes (Israel)
Betty Parsons
Zackary Drucker

Michael Stokes

Meg Allen

Vincent Keith
Oliver Zeuke

Mel Odum

Gilbert & George (England)

Touko Laaksonen (Tom of Finland)

Catherine Opie
Berenice Abbott
Isaac Julien (England)

Lope Navo

Alice Neel (England)
David Wojnarowicz

Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt

Leo Herrera

Ron Amato

Terry Hastings

Steven Menendez

Joan E. Biren

 

The Art Story: Queer Art
LGBTQ America: Arts and Artists
Raising LGBTQ Awareness Through Art
How Curators Are Queering Art History
Queer Arts: List of LGBTQ Artists

Wikipedia: List of LGBTQ Dancers

Little Shop of Horrors: With Trans and Gay Leads
Neil Patrick Harris: Medley of Broadway Songs

Poet Mary Oliver Dies at 83

Celebrating 100th Birthday of Tom of Finland

I Am What I Am: La Cage Aux Folles

Why Queer People Love Evan Hanson

SF Gay Men's Chorus: Every Sperm is Sacred

Gay Photographer: Terry Hastings

Origin of Love: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Info: LGBTQ Television and Media

Hamilton: Schuyler Sisters Miscast

Billy Porter and Kinky Boots Cast: Marriage Equality Curtain Call Speech

Photographer Ron Amato: Wet Gay Nudes

 

 

30 Different Pride Flags on Display

Dear Evan Hansen: Waving Through a Window

Ian McKellan Reading Harvey Milk's Hope Speech

Virtual Tours of Queer Art Shows

LA Gay Men's Chorus: Love On Top

Sculpture Unveiled in NYC Honoring Trans and Nonbinary Communities

Richard Blanco: Inauguration Poem

Stars of Dear Evan Hansen are a Couple in Real Life

Neil Patrick Harris: It’s Not Just for Gays Anymore

Queer Culture: Spring 2020

Info: LGBTQ Movies and Film

Polari Mag: LGBTQ Arts & Culture

Boys in the Band Finally Nominated for a Tony Award

Queer Composers You Should Know

Autostraddle: Lesbian Photographers You Should Know About

I Am What I Am: Song From La Cage Aux Folles

Advocate: Emerging Queer Artists

Info: LGBTQ Music and Songs

 

Stephen Sondheim, Musical Theater Legend, Dead at 91

The gay composer and lyricist of greats like
Into the Woods and Company died suddenly after reportedly spending Thanksgiving with friends. Out songwriter and composer Stephen Sondheim died November 2021 at the age of 91. Sondheim’s work reshaped American musical theater and has influenced generations of songwriters.

His death was announced by his lawyer and friend, Richard Pappas, according to The New York Times. Pappas said Sondheim wasn’t known to be ill, and his death was sudden. The Broadway legend had spent Thanksgiving with some friends, Pappas said.

 



Sondheim’s success stretched from the 1950s, writing lyrics for
West Side Story, to the 1990s, writing for such musicals as Assassins and Passion. The first Broadway show that he wrote the music and lyrics for was the 1962 comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. It won a Tony Award for best musical.

The Times noted that the 1970s and 1980s were his “most productive” years. His works in those decades included
Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Into the Woods, and Sunday in the Park With George.

“If you think of a theater lyric as a short story, as I do, then every line has the weight of a paragraph,” he wrote in his 2010 book
Finishing the Hat, which was the first volume of his collection of lyrics and comments.

Sondheim majored in music at Williams College in Massachusetts, going on to study with avant-garde composer Milton Babbitt after graduation, reports the Associated Press.

 



According to a 2013 HBO documentary,
Six by Sondheim, he liked to write his music lying down and would occasionally have a cocktail to help him write. He also revealed in the documentary, directed by frequent collaborator James Lapine, that he only fell in love after he turned 60. Most recently, he had been in a relationship for several years with Jeff Romley.

In April of 2020, at the height of lockdowns, musical theater luminaries came together in a virtual event to celebrate Sondheim’s momentous birthday with Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration. The event was hosted by Raúl Esparza and included performances from Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone, Ben Platt, Jake Gyllenhaal, Beanie Feldstein, Bernadette Peters, Mandy Patinkin, and Katrina Lenk, among so many others. The comedic showstopper of the evening arrived courtesy of Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald, and Meryl Streep, who delivered a boozy “The Ladies Who Lunch.”

During a 2010 event renaming the Henry Miller Theatre on Broadway as the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, Sondheim said, “I’m deeply embarrassed. I’m thrilled, but deeply embarrassed,” according to the AP. “I’ve always hated my last name. It just doesn’t sing.”

[Source: Alex Cooper, Advocate Magazine, November 2021]
 

Stephen Sondheim, Musical Theater Legend, Dead at 91

Musical Theater Master Stephen Sondheim Dies at 91

Stephen Sondheim, Master of Musical Theater, Dead at 91
Remembering Stephen Sondheim: The Best There Ever Was
Stephen Sondheim, Legendary Broadway Composer and Lyricist, Dies at 91

 

 

Queer Art
 

Queer art, also known as LGBTQ art or queer aesthetics, broadly refers to modern and contemporary visual art practices that draw on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer imagery and issues. While by definition there can be no singular "queer art", contemporary artists who identify their practices as queer often call upon “utopian and dystopian alternatives to the ordinary, adopt outlaw stances, embrace criminality and opacity, and forge unprecedented kinships and relationships.” Queer art is also occasionally very much about sex and the embracing of unauthorized desires.

Queer art is highly site-specific, with queer art practices emerging very differently depending on context, the visibility of which possibly ranging from being advocated for, to conversely being met with backlash, censorship, or criminalization. With sex and gender operating differently in various national, religious, and ethnic contexts, queer art necessarily holds varied meanings.

 


 

While historically, the term 'queer' is a homophobic slur from the 1980s AIDS crisis in the United States, it has been since re-appropriated and embraced by queer activists and integrated into many English-speaking contexts, academic or otherwise. International art practices by LGBTQ individuals are thus often placed under the umbrella term of 'queer art' within English-speaking contexts, even though they emerge outside the historical developments of the gender and identity politics of the United States in the 1980s.

'Queer art' has also been used to retroactively refer to the historic work of LGBTQ artists who practiced at a time before present-day terminology of ‘lesbian’, ‘gay’, ‘bisexual’ and ‘trans’ were recognized, as seen deployed in the 2017 exhibition by Tate, Queer British Art 1861–1967. The term “queer” is situated in the politics of non-normative, gay, lesbian and bisexual communities, though it is not equivalent to such categories, and remains a fluid identity.

Adhering to no particular style or medium, queer art practices may span performance art, video art, installation, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, film, and mixed media, among many others.

 

How Lauren Ys Channels Queerness Through Their Art
Walt Whitman: America's Poet as Queer Pioneer

GQ Magazine: Keith Haring Blew Up the Art and Fashion World

LGBTQ Art Shows: Now Showing at Museums From Boston to Berlin

Poetry Slam: God is Gay

Autostraddle: Lesbian Photographers You Should Know About

Justin Sayre's Love-In: Music, Laughs, and Hope Through Gay Lens

Brief History of LGBTQ Art and Symbolism

Wikipedia: LGBTQ Related Plays

Isaac Julien: Behind the Scenes at MoMA

Mart Crowley: Boys in the Band Playwright Dies

Queer Artists Whose Work is Making Us Pay Attention

Spring Awakening: A Rock Musical

Hannah Gadsby: All Stars Supershow

List of Queer Poetry

Lion King: London Gay Men's Chorus

History of the Queer Art Movement

Gay American Composers

Most Influential LGBTQ Plays

 

 

Opera: The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Poetry Slam: Princess in Distress

LGBTQ Writers Everyone Should Know

Taboo: Musical by Boy George

Queer Composers You Should Know

Pride in Poetry: LGBTQ Poets

Frida Kahlo: Queer Mexican Painter

Avenue Q: If You Were Gay

Out Plays: Landmark LGBTQ Plays of the 20th Century

American Theatre: New Generation of LGBTQ Theatre

Torch Song Trilogy: 35 Years Later

Ursula K. LeGuin: On Being a Writer and a Man

Pride Flag Sewn From Over 3500 Diversity Messages

Twisted Broadway: Hey Big Spender

Photographer Meg Allen: Butch Photo Project

Dear Evan Hanson: You Will Be Found

LGBTQ Writers Who Have Won the Pulitzer Prize

Poetry Foundation: LGBTQ Pride Poems

Joan E. Biren: Portraits of Lesbians


 

Three Theatre Titans: Mart, Larry, Terrence
 

2020 saw the loss of three gay giants in worlds of theater and activism: Mart Crowley, Larry Kramer, and Terrence McNally. McNally passed at 81 of the novel coronavirus. The four-time Tony Award-winner wrote many pioneering plays, including The Ritz, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, and Love! Valour! Compassion!, which told the heartfelt story of a circle of gay men friends grappling with the AIDS epidemic. Kramer, who died at 84, was the playwright of the Tony-winning The Normal Heart, a fictionalized account of Kramer’s early AIDS activism as he cofounded Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP. The Normal Heart was later adapted into an acclaimed HBO movie by Ryan Murphy. Murphy also helped bring Crowley, who also died at 84, to a new generation with the Netflix adaptation of The Boys in the Band, which centered on a gay dinner party and societal stigma. A 2018 Broadway revival with the same all-gay cast won a Tony for Best Revival of a Play.
 

Broadway United: We Are the World

Gay Photographers: Vincent Keith and Oliver Zeuke

Gay Playwright Matthew López: First Latino to Win Tony Award for Best Play
Poetry Slam: Dear Straight People

Renowned Shakespearean Actor, Author and Playwright Sir Antony Sher Dies of Cancer at 72
Funny That Way: Documentary About Trans Comic Julia Scotti

Fire Island Dance Festival

Advocate: Queer Composers Who Made History

Sculpture Unveiled in NYC Honoring Trans and Nonbinary Communities

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre: Full Performance

Broadway Backwards: Cell Block Tangy

Photographer Ron Amato: Wet Gay Nudes

Fun Home: Ring of Keys

Janelle Monae: Being a Queer Black Artist

Kehinde Wiley: Black Gay Artist

Elska Magazine: Photo Spread of Gorgeous Global Men

LGBTQ Theatre Makers to Pay Attention to Right Now

Queer Men and Their Tattoos
How LGBTQ Excellence Helped Shape Broadway

Gay Comedian Joe Lycett: Live at the Apollo

Dear Evan Hansen: Waving Through a Window

Tig Notaro Montage

Gay Photographer: Terry Hastings

 

Alison Bechdel: Winner of McArthur Grant
 

Alison Bechdel, a lesbian artist and writer from Vermont, was the winner of the 2014 Mac Arthur Foundation Fellowship award, commonly referred to as the Genius Grant. She is known for such literary works as Fun Home, Dykes to Watch Out For, and Are You My Mother?  Alison Bechdel is a cartoonist and graphic memoirist exploring the complexities of familial relationships in multilayered works that use the interplay of word and image to weave sophisticated narratives. Bechdel’s command of sequential narrative and her aesthetic as a visual artist was established in her long-running comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For (1983–2008), which realistically captured the lives of women in the lesbian community as they influenced and were influenced by the important cultural and political events of the day.

 

 

Garnering a devoted and diverse following, this pioneering work was a precursor to her book-length graphic memoirs. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006) is a nuanced depiction of a childhood spent in an artistic family in a small Pennsylvania town and of her relationship with her father, a high school English teacher and funeral home director. An impeccable observer and record keeper, Bechdel incorporates drawings of archival materials, such as diaries, letters, photographs, and news clippings, as well as a variety of literary references in deep reflections into her own past.

Bechdel came out as a lesbian at age 19. Bechdel's gender and sexual identity are a large part of the core message of her work. "The secret subversive goal of my work is to show that women, not just lesbians, are regular human beings," she explains. In February 2004, Bechdel married her girlfriend since 1992, Amy Rubin, in a civil ceremony in San Francisco. Bechdel and Rubin separated in 2006. As of 2013, Bechdel lives in Bolton, Vermont with her partner, Holly Rae Taylor.

 

Vermont Artist Receives MacArthur Fellowship

Washington Post: Bechdel Wins Genius Grant

Washington Post: Graphic Novelist Breaks Ground

MacArthur Foundation: Alison Bechdel

Home Page: Dykes to Watch Out For

Wikipedia: Dykes to Watch Out For

Fun Home: Ring of Keys



LGBTQ Musicians and Composers
 

Leonard Bernstein
Aaron Copland
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Cole Porter

Gertrude "Ma" Rainey

Dave Koz
Samuel Barber

Ethel Waters

Andy Bey
Johannes Brahms

Bessie Smith
John Cage

Billy Strayhorn

Jennifer Higdon
Jean-Baptiste de Lully
Ethel Smyth
Lou Harrison
Pauline Oliveros

Franz Schubert

Cecil Taylor

Gladys Bently
Stephen Sondheim
Igor Stravinsky
Frederic Chopin

Bill Stewart
Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov

Gary Burton
Maurice Ravel

Alberta Hunter
George Friderick Handel
Fred Hersch

Patricia Barber

Benjamin Britten
Wendy Carlos
Nico Muhly

Julius Eastman

 

Best Gay Musicals

Falsettos: Falsettoland

Wendy Carlos: Switched On Bach

How Lauren Ys Channels Queerness Through Their Art

Billy Strayhorn Introduced by Duke Elligton

The Art Story: Queer Art

LA Gay Men's Chorus: Love On Top

The Prom Broadway Show: You Happened

Kehinde Wiley: Painter of President Obama Official Portrait

Spring Awakening: Those You've Known

Huff Post: 30 LGBTQ Artists You Should Know

Mae Martin: Stand Up Comic

List of Queer Poetry

Advocate: Queer Composers Who Made History

Poetry Slam: God is Gay

Same Sex Relationships Hidden in Classic Literature

Info: LGBTQ Books and Publications

Queer Arts: Queer Culture and Literature List

La Cage Aux Folles

Fire Island Dance Festival 2

Poetry Foundation: LGBTQ Pride Poems

Sinners and Saints: Photography of Michael Stokes

 

 

LGBTQ Art History: Art, Sexuality, Culture

Art and sexuality have been synonymous with each other almost as long as the existence of art itself. From Praxiteles’ revolutionary Knidian Aphrodite to Erin M Reily’s tapestries of sexts in 2013’s brazenly modern Nudes, art has frequently been seen as the perfect platform to convey feelings and desires that aren’t always expressible in ordinary life.

With awareness of LGBTQ issues and rights over the past century rapidly increasing, gay artists and their sexuality have been brought to the forefront of contemporary culture. Whilst liberating, being open about their sexuality also runs the risk of being put into a box – gay artists can only paint about sex or queerness, and their work can only be analyzed and appreciated from that viewpoint. This can, and has been, extremely damaging to queer creators.

As Andy Warhol stated when speaking about his work, ‘there’s nothing behind it’. Not every element of his work has to be, or indeed can be, picked apart, and sexuality is only one contributing factor to his impressive oeuvre. However, it is important to recognize the impact his and other gay artists’ work has had on the LGBTQ movement. Both he and David Hockney were key figures in the sexual revolution of the sixties and seventies, elevating them to the position of gay icons. Think of Hockney’s iconic series ‘Love Painting’ and the detailed drawings of copulating couples from Warhol’s early career for reference of one side of their approach to sexuality.


 


Despite how central queerness was to their artistic identities, these artists didn’t as much create ‘gay art’ as they developed how sexuality was expressed through different medias. It was instead the more implicitly sexualized of their work that became notable. The overt and fluorescent colors of Warhol’s pop art and campy subject choices scooped from pop culture defined camp culture; Hockney’s bright studies of hot summers in 1970’s LA run along a similar vein.

Many women in the artworld have utilized, or equally omitted, sexuality in their work to make a statement about the modern world

We mustn’t forget the impact queer female artists have also had on culture, however. Although noticeably (and erroneously) less known than their male counterparts, many women in the artworld have utilized, or equally omitted, sexuality in their work to make a statement about the modern world.

Diane Arbus is one great example. An American photographer, excluded not only due to her gender but also because of her bisexuality, her isolation from the wider community likely influenced her interest in outsiders; gritty, monochrome portraits of prostitutes, nudists and street urchins populate her photography and suggest her own fearless outlook on sexuality.

 

Romaine Brooks could be considered the flipside of this. Rather than portraying sexuality in all its brazen beauty as Arbus does, she instead rebelled through androgyny and reticence. Although she had many relationships with women throughout her life, it was never a fact she wore on her sleeve, even marrying her also closeted male friend for a short period.

Her work instead explores female sexuality not through the male gaze, but in spite of it. Muted portraits of women in heavy, enveloping gowns or suits and top-hats show how the feminine body can be appreciated in many different forms – a far cry from the provocative nudity of other contemporary works like Manet’s Ophelia. Her art was incendiary in an implicit way.

There is the danger that, if artists choose to be open about their sexuality, they will always be marked with the same brush

As a result of the wave of LGBTQ rights and acceptance over recent decades, artists previously not considered to be gay are now having their work looked at through a different lens. A new opera has unveiled intriguing information about Leonardo da Vinci’s relationship with his young assistants, Metzi and Salaí, and the potentially sexual nature of their close bond. Da Vinci lived at a time when sexual liberty, especially for men, was culturally normalized, even if it was decried by the Florentinian state. This revelation provides a new perspective on his intensely detailed and anatomical studies of the male form, shining a whole new light on such works as the Vitruvian Man.

 



An artist’s reluctance in revealing their queerness can be both the bain and the blessing of their professional lives; while on one hand they have the freedom to paint, sculpt or photograph as they wish, without receiving the reductive ‘provocative’, ‘liberal’ or ‘licentious’ labels that often emerge when an individual is open about their sexuality, they also have to suffer the anguish of repressing their emotions in art.

There is the danger that, if artists choose to be open about their sexuality, they will always be marked with the same brush. That’s not to suggest that there is anything wrong with being known as the ‘gay artist’ – many creators have embraced how their work has been accepted by the LGBTQ community. However, it does run the risk of making their art appear one-dimensional, as if everything they produce has to in some way be linked to their sexuality when in fact an artist’s influences are far-ranging and delimited.

However, times are changing. Now it has become increasingly important for queerness to be analyzed as one contributing element or influence of an artist’s oeuvre, rather than being the overriding feature that makes appreciating it worth-while. It is perhaps the rebellion that their work represents, in whatever form that takes, that is inspiring to the queer community. As Warhol details in his 1980 book POPISM, “one straight kid said to me, “It’s nice not to be trapped into something, even if that’s what you are”. This freedom is exactly what makes LGBTQ art so rousing – it stands for people that have so long been repressed finally receiving the liberty they have fought for.

[Source: Cerys Turner, February 2020]

 


 

Broadway Backwards: Sixteen Going on Seventeen

Joan E. Biren: Portraits of Lesbians

Smooth and Wicked: The Art of  Mel Odum

Little Shop of Horrors: With Trans and Gay Leads

Why Aren't There More Famous Gay Comedians?

3D Artists: Famous LGBTQ Scupltors

Elska Magazine: Photo Spread of Gorgeous Global Men

Voguing with Kia LaBeija: Drafted

Background Notes: The Musical Spring Awakening

Info: LGBTQ Music and Songs

Photographer Ron Amato: Wet Gay Nudes

LGBTQ Designers: Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan

Lion King: London Gay Men's Chorus

Character: Fancy Gay Art Magazine

LGBTQ Theatre Makers to Pay Attention to Right Now

Walt Whitman: America's Poet as Queer Pioneer

Gay Photographer: Steven Menendez

Art History Teaching Resources: Queer Art 1960s to Present

Trans Nonbinary Performer Tackles Greek Tragedy

 

 

How LGBTQ Excellence Helped Shape Broadway

The Art Story: Queer Art

LGBTQ Art Shows: Now Showing at Museums From Boston to Berlin

Gay Playwright Matthew López: First Latino to Win Tony Award for Best Play

Interview with Comedian Hannah Gadsby

Queer Composers You Should Know

Sculpture Unveiled in NYC Honoring Trans and Nonbinary Communities

Photographer Ron Amato: Nude Men Among the Dunes

Hallelujah: Queer Dance About Love, Hate, and Religion

Slam Poetry: Queer Marriage Poem

History of the Queer Art Movement

Avenue Q: If You Were Gay

Broadway Star Joel Gray: Multifaceted Artist

Polari Mag: LGBTQ Arts & Culture

I Am What I Am: La Cage Aux Folles

Dear Evan Hansen: Waving Through a Window

LGBTQ Writers Who Have Won the Pulitzer Prize

Queer Artists Whose Work is Making Us Pay Attention

Joe Lycett: Sunday Night at the Palladium

Poetry Slam: Dear Straight People

Only Us: Dear Evan Hanson

 

LGBTQ Visual Artists: Sculptors
 

Michelangelo

Edmonia Lewis

Adolf Hildebrand
Antonio Canova

Jasper Johns

Richmond Barthe

Louise Abbema

Prem Sahib

Jehangir Jani
Jehoshua Rozenman

Raul de Nieves

Robert Pruitt
Florence Wyle
Frances Loring

Robert Indiana

Ellsworth Kelly

Robert Wilson

Charles Pachter
Maggi Hambling
Ugo Rondinonen

 

Emerging Queer Culture

Spring 2020 ushered in a variety of new talent in the LGBTQ arts and entertainment community.

 

She Sings Too - Based on Chelsea Clinton’s (and illustrator Alexandra Boiger’s) bestselling children’s book, She Persisted: The Musical, follows fourth-grader Naomi on a field trip to a women’s history museum that turns into an adventurous and inspiring voyage through time. “With so many kids’ shows based on fairy tales,” said one Broadway insider, “it’s a treat to have one inspired by feminist tales.”

Queering the Classics - New mobile-based media innovators Quibi has given the green light on a modern-day queer romantic comedy inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, written by rising Asian-American comedy star Joel Kim Booster (NBC’s Sunnyside). Trip follows two besties embarking on a wine-filled week on Fire Island during the summer.

We Like Pike - Austin-based duo Patrice Pike and Wayne Sutton (cofounders of formative ‘90s band Sister 7) have released their debut album, Heart Is A Compass, as their newest musical incarnation, Pike & Sutton. Pike, who Rolling Stone called “Tina Turner, Bessie Smith, Janis Jopin, and Robert Plant all rolled up into a tiny but explore package,” has been a longtime visible LGBTQ activist, participating in everything from Stonewall marches to ACT UP protests.

 

 

Queer Culture: Spring 2020

Advocate: Emerging Queer Artists

Queer Artists Whose Work is Making Us Pay Attention


Healing Power - Transmasculine Latinx pop artist Jakk Fynn’s EP, Cancelled, features his latest single, “Heal,” an emotional track telling the story of how he rebuilt himself from scratch at the end of an emotionally draining relationship. “Not being true to yourself in a relationship can feel like suffocation, like death,” he said of the song. “‘Heal’ is a chance to do just that by embracing the vulnerabilities that make me who I am.”

Something Witchy - Freeform’s Motherland tells the story of an alternate America where witches ended their persecution over 300 years ago by cutting a deal with the government. The parallels are uncanny.

Thank God for Saint Frances - Saint Frances stars Kelly O’Sullivan as Bridget, the nanny of Frances, the 6-year-old daughter of a same-sex couple. O’Sullivan was inspired to pen the script from her own experiences as a caregiver who decided to end an unwanted pregnancy. With humanity and comedy, she fights stigmas surrounding abortion, post-partum depression, and rainbow families.

Not so GLAAD - GLAAD announced the cancellation of its 31st Annual Media Awards in NYC, joining the growing list of LGBTQ events nixed over concerns of the COVID-19 outbreak. The ceremony was set to be hosted by bisexual comedian Lilly Singh and had planned on honoring Ryan Murphy, Judith Light, Janet Mock, and Taylor Swift, among others. GLAAD stated it was working to ensure that honorees’ “game-changing work is rightfully recognized at another time.”
 

 

Queer Culture: Spring 2020

Advocate: Emerging Queer Artists

Queer Artists Whose Work is Making Us Pay Attention

Gay Photographer: Steven Menendez

Gay American Composers

Most Influential LGBTQ Plays

John Holiday: Black Gay Opera Singer

LGBTQ Anime

Gay Comedian Joe Lycett: Live at the Apollo

Fire Island Dance Festival

Poetry Slam: Dear Straight People
Pride Flag Sewn From Over 3500 Diversity Messages

Avenue Q: If You Were Gay

Gay Photographer: Terry Hastings

Celebrating 100th Birthday of Tom of Finland

Neil Patrick Harris: Medley of Broadway Songs

Fire Island Dance Festival 2

Elska Magazine: Photo Spread of Gorgeous Global Men

Ethan Smith Poem: Letter to the Girl I Used to Be

Info: LGBTQ Music and Musicians

 

 

 

Hannah Gadsby: Allstars Supershow

I Am What I Am: Song From La Cage Aux Folles

LGBTQ Theatre Makers to Pay Attention to Right Now

How Lauren Ys Channels Queerness Through Their Art

Autostraddle: Lesbian Photographers You Should Know About

Janelle Monae: Being a Queer Black Artist

Isaac Julien: Behind the Scenes at MoMA

Little Shop of Horrors: With Trans and Gay Leads

LGBTQ Art Shows: Now Showing at Museums From Boston to Berlin

EW: Review of Dear Evan Hanson and More

Sinners and Saints: Photography of Michael Stokes

Funny That Way: Documentary About Trans Comic Julia Scotti

Walt Whitman: America's Poet as Queer Pioneer

Photographer Meg Allen: Butch Photo Project

List of Queer Poetry

Hamilton: Schuyler Sisters Miscast

Meet the Creators that Are Proving that Pride Is a State of Mind

LGBTQ Artists You Should Know

Playbill: LGBTQ Theatre Heroes Who Inspire

 

Brief History of Queer Theatre

What do we mean by ‘Queer’? Well, once a derogatory slur, it’s now an umbrella term reclaimed by the LGBTQ community and  means someone who is not heterosexual and/or does not conform to the established ideas of sexuality and gender. It’s also important to say that Queer artists have existed throughout history and, as a society, we’re still very much at the beginning of bringing these stories into the mainstream. Moreover, there is not one singular ‘Queer’ experience or narrative. There are certainly commonalities in experiences, but we do a disservice to the complexity of LGBTQ stories by conflating everything. Part of the beauty of the Queer community lies in its diversity and its rejection of heteronormativity. ‘Queer theatre’ doesn’t have to be defined being a ‘play’ or ‘musical’. Queerness exists in all mediums: in drag, dance, burlesque, circus, cabaret etc., and we are seeing these lines blurred more and more often with new shows incorporating aspects of all disciplines. So, where do we begin?

It’s often forgotten that up until 1968, British theatre was at the mercy of censorship. All plays intended for public performance had to be approved and licensed by the Lord Chamberlain’s Office, which was a legal requirement under the Licensing Act of 1737 and the Theatres Act of 1843. Essentially, this was to prevent anything indecent, offensive or blasphemous taking place in theatres; censorship was particularly strict on homosexuality.

 



Whilst openly or overt Queer work was banned from our stages, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. Elements of Queerness can be seen in the works of Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream / Twelfth Night) as well as in the actual performances of his plays with men cross-dressing (as women were banned from performing until the 1660s). Check out Goran Stanivukovic’s book Queer Shakespeare, Desire and Sexuality for more on this. The act of cross-dressing in theatre has been popular since the Medieval period and is a particularly important part of one of Britain’s most-treasured traditions – panto!

Queer activities were merely pushed underground particularly during the Georgian era with the proliferation of Molly Houses in the 18th and 19th centuries. The clampdown on ‘morality’ came during the Victorian era, which ushered in an openly hostile environment towards ‘deviants’, perhaps most evident in the treatment of writer Oscar Wilde.

The aggression towards Queerness pervaded throughout society in the first half of the 20th century yet, in spite of this, Queer nightlife flourished in London with well-known Queer-friendly bars and cabarets including The Cave of the Golden Calf and The Shim Sham Club. Frequented by artists, writers and musicians, The Shim Sham Club was also a reputed safe space for Queer Black and Jewish patrons. Check out this great article on Bohemian London to learn more.

 



During this time, there was also an increased persecution of Queer people in the United States, yet, like in the UK, the arts were a centre of resistance, particularly in the successful plays The Drag by Mae West and The Captive by Édouard Bourdet, the latter being one of the first plays to deal with lesbianism. It’s also interesting that some of the most famous and respected playwrights and performers of the ‘30s - ‘50s were Queer (whether publicly ‘out’ or not), including John Gielgud, Noel Coward, Ivor Novello, and Terrence Rattigan to name but a few. It’s as if Queer people were only acceptable within certain parameters, set and defined by straight people.

Attitudes towards homosexuality showed signs of change when the Wolfenden Report was published in 1957, which recommended for the decriminalization of homosexuality. However, it was still impossible to show same sex relationships on stage. Despite this, Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop Company staged Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey here at Stratford East in 1958. Ground-breaking in many ways, Delaney’s play evaded censorship and featured Geof, a gay student (played by Murray Melvin) who lives with protagonist Jo and helps her through her illegitimate pregnancy. This marked a change in depicting gay people with sensitivity rather than as a joke or miscreant.

When homosexuality was decriminalized in England and Wales in 1967 (and 1981 in Scotland, 1982 in Northern Ireland), Queer artists were no longer under the threat of legal persecution. Whether the public actually wanted to see Queer work was another question. As a result, Queer artists were confined to the fringes – both of society and the theatre landscape. 1967 was also the year that influential Queer playwright Joe Orton was murdered by his partner. His black comedies and satires would go on to inspire countless artists (check out Loot and Entertaining Mr Sloane).

 



The 1970s saw the emergence of Gay Sweatshop Theatre Company, whose aim was to counteract the prevailing perception in mainstream theatre of what homosexuals were like. Performing at theatres, festivals and working men’s clubs across the country, their sell-out first season took place at InterAction’s Almost-Free Theatre in Soho and included plays Thinking Straight by Lawrence Collinson and Ships by Alan Wakeman. Read more about Gay Sweatshop’s fascinating history here.

Artists Jane Boston, Tash Fairbanks and Debs Threthewey created the band Devil’s Dykes, later Bright Girls. They were part of the company that formed Theatre Against Sexism and then in 1979 the feminist theatre company Siren. Venues such as The Drill Hall (now RADA Studio) were dedicated to platforming gay, lesbian and bisexual work. Other key shows of the ‘70s include Martin Sherman’s play Bent and Richard O’Brien’s musical The Rocky Horror Show, which began life at the Royal Court Upstairs in 1973 before going on to become one of the most influential cult classics of all time.

As we enter the 1980s, moral reformer Mary Whitehouse attempted to prosecute director Michael Bogdanov for his production of The Romans in Britain by Howard Brenton at the National Theatre for procuring an act of gross indecency as defined by the Sexual Offences Act 1956. The prosecution lost, but there were further attempts at censorship throughout the decade. Queer work and writers persisted regardless with plays such as Sarah Daniels’ Ripen Our Darkness, Julian Mitchell’s Another Country, Hugh Whitemore’s Breaking the Code, Kevin Elyot’s Coming Clean and Harvey Fierstein’s acclaimed Torch Song Trilogy.

The first play produced in Britain to address the AIDS crisis was Louise Parker Kelley’s Anti Body in 1983, years before any film or TV series. A wealth of work came in the following two decades that defined the gay experience of HIV and AIDS with artists such as Neil Bartlett and plays including Robert Chelsey’s Night Sweat, Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart (the first play about AIDS in the West End), Janet Hood and Bill Russell’s Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens as well as Tony Kushner’s monumental Angels in America.

 



In 1988, Jackie Kay’s Twice Over was Gay Sweatshop’s first play by a Black playwright and helped raise the profile of the women’s company within Gay Sweatshop. Kay’s other influential work includes Chiaroscuro (recently revived by Bush Theatre). 1988 also saw Gay Sweatshop’s widely celebrated play This Island’s Mine by Philip Osment.

Perhaps partly down to the likes of Danny La Rue in the ‘70s, we also began to see the transition of Drag from the nightclubs to the theatres in the ‘80s with Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman’s La Cage Aux Folles playing the London Palladium in 1986.

The ‘90s saw a stream of important Queer works such as Phyllis Nagy’s Weldon Rising, Kevin Elyot’s My Night With Reg, Jonathan Larson’s Rent, Diana Son’s Stop Kiss, Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing and John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation to name but a few. It was also the decade of the ‘in yer face’ movement with dramatists such as Mark Ravenhill and his play Shopping and Fucking. The Drill Hall continued to be a centre for LGBTQ shows, including work from performance artists Djola Bernard Branner, Brian Freeman and Eric Gupton, otherwise known as Pomo Afro Homos (Postmodern African American Homosexuals) – their show Fierce Love played at the venue in 1992.

 



The turn of the century saw a continuation of gay plays as well as new venues specifically dedicating their programming to Queer work, including Above The Stag (founded in 2008). Key shows included Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, the Boy George musical Taboo, Jonathan Harvey and Pet Shop Boys’ musical Closer to Heaven, Tarrell Alvin McCraney’s Wig Out!, Joe DiPietro’s Fucking Men and Nicholas de Jongh’s Plague Over England. There was also the hugely successful Australian musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

In 2012, Jo Clifford became the first openly trans playwright to have a play in the West End with her adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Prolific playwright Rikki Beadle-Blair had several plays performed here at Stratford East including Bashment in 2005, which tackled homophobia in the hip-hop scene. He would later write and direct Summer In London in 2017, which was the first full-scale show to featuring an all-trans cast on a mainstream stage in the UK. In 2015, The Lyric Hammersmith staged Laura Wade’s adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel Tipping The Velvet showcasing an upfront and unapologetic celebration of sexuality.

In the last few years we’ve seen several Queer productions hitting the mainstream including a musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance and blockbusters Kinky Boots, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Death Drop and &Juliet.

We also have performance artists and theatre makers including Travis Alabanza, Le Gateau Chocolat, Temi Wilkey, Tabby Lamb, Scottee, Mika Onyx Johnson, Chiyo, Alexander Luttley, Daisy Hale, Debbie Hannan and Zachary Hing who are now shaping our perceptions of Queer work and making waves in mainstream venues. Plus, Queer bars like The Glory, Royal Vauxhall Tavern and Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club continue to pave the way as training grounds for emerging Queer talent.

But what’s next? It’s obvious that major progress has been made since the days of censorship with Queer stories being told on our stages. However, the work is far from done. There is still a lack of voices from marginalized sections of the LGBT community, particularly trans/non-binary voices, working class voices, disabled voices and Black, Asian and Latinx voices. Our physical spaces may currently be shut, but it’s never too late to start learning, reading and sharing more work by Queer artists.

[Source: Holly Adomah Thompson and Sean Brooks, Stratford East, February 2021]

 


 

Queer Composers You Should Know

Joan E. Biren: Portraits of Lesbians

Acclaimed Shakespearean Actor Antony Sher Dies at 72

Opera: The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Lion King: London Gay Men's Chorus

Billy Strayhorn Introduced by Duke Elligton

Queer-Inclusive Bluegrass Music

Boys in the Band Finally Nominated for a Tony Award

Wendy Carlos: Switched On Bach

History of the Queer Art Movement

Gay Playwright Matthew López: First Latino to Win Tony Award for Best Play

Avenue Q: If You Were Gay

Fire Island Artists Registry

GQ Magazine: Keith Haring Blew Up the Art and Fashion World

Art Scene Today: LGBTQ Artists

Queer Arts: List of LGBTQ Museums and Galleries
 

Richard Blanco: Gay Latino Poet

 

In 2013, President Obama selected gay Latino poet Richard Blanco to recite an original poem at the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony. Blanco, who was born in Cuba, was the first LGBTQ person and the first Hispanic-American person to recite a poem at the presidential swearing-in event.  At 44 years old, he was also the youngest.


 

Richard Blanco: Inauguration Poem

Video & Text: Richard Blanco Reads Inauguration Poem

Pres Obama Selects Richard Blanco to Read at Inauguration Ceremony

Openly Gay Hispanic American Selected as Inaugural Poet

Wash Post: Blanco is First Gay, First Hispanic, Youngest Inaugural Poet

Richard Blanco Marriage Equality Poem: Until We Could

Richard Blanco Book: How to Love a Country

 

Rainbow Halo

Elżbieta Podlesna, a 51-year-old Polish woman was arrested in May 2019 for blasphemy after she painted the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo.   Polish interior minister Joachim Brudziński announced the arrest, saying she was detained for “carrying out a profanation of the Virgin Mary of Częstochowa.” The Black Madonna of Częstochowa is a Byzantine icon that is housed in the country’s holiest Catholic shrine.

“Offending religious feeling” is a crime in Poland punishable by up to two years in prison. “Telling stories about freedom and tolerance doesn’t give anyone the right to offend the feelings of believers,” Brudziński said, adding that the paintings are “cultural barbarism.”



The LGBTQ community in Poland has been under increasing attack in recent years as the country’s rightwing government attempts to copy Russian methods of demonizing LGBTQ people to hide their own failings.  “We are dealing with a direct attack on the family and children inspired by the LBGTQ movement,” Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the ruling rightwing Law and Justice party, told supporters. “They actually threaten our identity, our nation, and the Polish state."  

HRW: Arrest in Poland Over Virgin Mary's Rainbow Halo

Artist Arrested for Blasphemy for Painting Virgin May with Rainbow Halo

Art, Religion, and LGBTQ Rights in Poland

Unbreakable LGBTQ Art Installation in Warsaw

Art Exhibition: Gay in Trumpland

LGBTQ Latinix Mural Defaced in San Francisco

Artists Speak Up: LGBTQ People Under Attack in Brazil

Brazilian LGBTQ Art Show Shut Down
Boston Exhibits Artwork by LGBTQ Refugees  

Maurice Sendak: Author and Illustrator of Children's Books

The beloved children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak died in 2012 at age 83. He is best known for his book, Where the Wild Things Are. Winner of countless awards and recognitions, Maurice Sendak is widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche.

 



He was born in Brooklyn in 1928 to Polish-Jewish parents. As Maurice Sendak grew up (lower class, Jewish, gay) he felt permanently shunted to the margins of things. “All I wanted was to be straight so my parents could be happy,” he told The New York Times in a 2008 interview. “They never, never, never knew.”  Sendak lived with his partner, psychoanalyst Dr. Eugene Glynn, for 50 years before Glynn's death in May 2007.  

Maurice Sendak's NY Times Obituary

Believer: Maurice Sendak Interview

Vanity Fair: Sendak's Last Book

Only Us: Laura Dreyfuss and Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hanson)

Poetry Foundation: LGBTQ Pride Poems

I Am What I Am: Song From La Cage Aux Folles

Good Reads: Best Gay Plays

Young LGBTQ Contemporary Artists

Meet the Creators that Are Proving that Pride Is a State of Mind

Kehinde Wiley: Black Gay Artist

Why Queer People Love Evan Hanson

Queer Artists Whose Work is Making Us Pay Attention

Broadway Backwards: Sixteen Going on Seventeen

Queer Men and Their Tattoos

LGBTQ Writers Who Have Won the Pulitzer Prize

Joan E. Biren: Portraits of Lesbians

Ethan Smith Poem: Letter to the Girl I Used to Be

The Art Story: Queer Art

Walt Whitman: America's Poet as Queer Pioneer

LGBTQ Art Shows: Now Showing at Museums From Boston to Berlin

Gay Comedian Joe Lycett: Live at the Apollo
List of Queer Poetry

 

 

Evolution of Contemporary Gay Theatre


It seems almost inconceivable today, with the abundance of openly gay playwrights and gay-themed plays, that less than 50 years ago a drama critic for The New York Times felt the need to call for “social and theatrical convention” to be “widened so that homosexual life may be as freely dramatized as heterosexual life, may be as frankly treated in our drama as in contemporary fiction.” The impetus for Stanley Kauffmann’s 1966 article was his contention that three unnamed “reputed” homosexual playwrights—clearly identifiable then and now as Tennessee Williams, William Inge, and Edward Albee—were presenting a “badly distorted picture of American women, marriage, and society.” Although Kauffmann’s premise is highly debatable, he does end up advocating that the gay playwright be free to write about himself and his world without having to “disguise his nature.”

Less than two years later a play opened in New York that portrayed gay life onstage in a way it had never been before. In the words of another Times critic, Clive Barnes, it was “by far the frankest treatment of homosexuality I have ever seen on the stage.” Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band made theatrical history for gay theater just as Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, being performed at Juilliard this month, had done in the previous decade for African-American drama.

The Boys in the Band played 1,001 performances Off Broadway and was then filmed by William Friedkin with the original cast, marking a cinematic milestone as well. Over the years critics within the gay community have criticized Crowley for presenting stereotyped characters and an excessively negative view of gay life. Yet this play, staged a year before the Stonewall riots that are often cited as the beginning of the modern gay civil-rights movement, portrays the humor and resilience of the characters as well as their pain.

 


Earlier this year, on the occasion of a new production of The Boys in the Band in New York, New York Times writer Patrick Healy interviewed several openly gay playwrights about the ways in which they had been influenced by The Boys in the Band. For Tony Kushner, “It was the first time I saw gay men represented in any other way than as a pathetic fuddy-duddy old bachelor or a figure of complete hatred and mockery.” Larry Kramer commented on the professional aspect of the play, noting that “it showed me as a writer, as a gay person, as a gay writer, what was possible in the commercial theater.” Doug Wright responded, “Personally it helped me to stop hiding. It showed me that there was a world where I could talk to other gay men and write about gay people and live in a manner consistent with myself.”

Two of the first “gay plays” to be performed on Broadway could not have been more different and established a pattern of diversity and the exploration of the past as well as the present that continues to this day. Martin Sherman’s Bent opened in London with Ian McKellen in 1979 and then in New York with Richard Gere. Sherman dramatized, in fictional form, the plight of gay men in Nazi Germany who were arrested and sent to concentration camps for their sexual orientation. Bent not only brought to audiences’ attention tragic historical events of which they may heretofore been unaware, but provided a symbol for the modern gay movement in the pink triangle, which became a badge of pride rather than opprobrium as it had been under the Nazis.

 

In a completely different vein, Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy, originally produced in 1978 and 1979 as three separate plays by La MaMa E.T.C., became a one-evening trilogy Off Broadway in 1981 and 1982. It moved to Broadway later in 1982, ran for more than 1,200 performances, and won Tony Awards for Fierstein in both the best play and best actor in a play categories. A contemporary comedy about a gay man’s relationship with his lover, ex-lover, mother, friends, and adopted son, the play touched on such topics as gender identity, coming out, gay bashing, and gay parenting well before these issues were being discussed and analyzed the way they are today.

 



When Fierstein’s next Broadway production—an evening of three one-act plays titled Safe Sex—opened in 1987, the gay community had been galvanized by the AIDS pandemic that was causing widespread devastation through its ranks. Just as AIDS transformed the gay community as a whole, it transformed gay playwriting as well, becoming an almost unavoidable source of subject matter. The irony that AIDS made the gay community more visible than it had ever been before was not lost on Ghee, one of Fierstein’s characters in Safe Sex: “Now they know who we are. ... We’ve found our voices. We know who we are. They know who we are. And they know that we care what they think. And all because of a disease. A virus. A virus that you don’t get because you’re Gay, just because you’re human. We were Gay. Now we’re human.”

Two years earlier two major nonprofit Off-Broadway theaters had produced plays that represented the opening salvo in the theatrical war against AIDS. One of these works, As Is by William Hoffmann, presented at the Circle Repertory Theater and then moved to Broadway, was more personal in nature, portraying a man with AIDS and his relationships with family, friends, business associates, and an ex-lover who stands by him throughout his illness. To show the widespread effect of AIDS, however, Hoffmann intersperses the scenes of his narrative with choral voices that present a variety of perspectives and responses to the pandemic.

While Hoffman wrote of AIDS primarily with sorrow and compassion, Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, the longest-running production ever presented at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater, is suffused with anger and outrage at the lack of response to the crisis by the medical establishment, politicians, society as a whole, and the gay community itself. Based on Kramer’s own experiences as an early gay activist and founding member of Gay Men’s Heath Crisis (G.M.H.C.), it is part polemic, part call-to-arms, and part love story—The Normal Heart pulled no punches in confronting its audiences with the enormity of AIDS and its devastation of the gay community.

 



Although many successful plays dealing with AIDS followed in the 1990s—including Terrence McNally’s notable Love! Valour! Compassion!—none had a more profound and lasting impact than Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, the first part of which, Millenium Approaches, was given its New York premiere in 1992 at Juilliard when Kushner was a playwright-in-residence at the School. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for drama and two successive Tony Awards for Millenium Approaces and Perestroika, it was later filmed by Mike Nichols for HBO with a cast headed by Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, and is currently opening the Signature Theater season devoted to Kushner’s work. Subtitled A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, Angels in America mixes historical and fictional characters, humor and heartbreak, to dramatize not only the effect that AIDS had on gay Americans but how they are inextricably bound into the fabric of American life.

Certainly AIDS is not the almost unavoidable topic of gay theater today that it was 20 years ago, but it continues to be addressed and many playwrights are investigating both positive and negative aspects of gay history. In the 2009-10 season one play, Looking for Billy Haines, sought to acquaint audiences with a real-life, openly gay actor whose successful film career in the early days of Hollywood was ended when he refused to live in the closet and pretend to be straight. Another play, The Temperamentals, told the story of Harry Hay and the founding of the Mattachine Society, one of the first gay rights organizations established in the 1950s. This past summer the New York International Fringe Festival presented Veritas, dramatizing a witch hunt designed to drive gay men from Harvard in the 1920s and The Twentieth-Century Way, based on an incident in which the Long Beach, Calif., police department hired actors to entrap gay men in public restrooms in 1914.

While the case can be made, as Patrick Healy did in an article earlier this year in The New York Times, that gay theater today focuses more on personal relationships than political and social issues, the genre has arrived at a point where it is impossible to categorize it in any particular way. Geoffrey Naufft’s Next Fall does present a crisis precipitated by an accident rather than a health crisis, but it also dramatizes the tensions in a relationship where one man’s religious beliefs prevent him from being open about his sexuality to his family. Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride, an English play that centered on the relationship between two men and a woman, showed the contrast between life for gay men in the 1950s and today. And on the horizon is Tony Kushner’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, which opens at the Public Theater in March 2011 and promises Kushner’s usual mix of the personal and the political. Whatever their differences in time period, subject matter, and point of view, most of these plays combine comic and serious elements—perhaps the only generalization about gay theater, both then and now, that can ultimately be made with any degree of certainty.

[Source: Roger Oliver, The Julliard Journal, 2010]

 


 

Avenue Q: If You Were Gay

Acclaimed Shakespearean Actor Antony Sher Dies at 72

GQ Magazine: Keith Haring Blew Up the Art and Fashion World

Lesbian Literature

Sculpture Unveiled in NYC Honoring Trans and Nonbinary Communities

Photographer Ron Amato: Wet Gay Nudes

UK Comedian Joe Lycett: Living in Birmingham

Fire Island Dance Festival

Ian McKellan Reading Harvey Milk's Hope Speech

Washington DC Gay Men's Chorus: I Am What I Am

Great Gay Moments in 20th Century Dance

Voguing with Kia LaBeija: Drafted

History of the Queer Art Movement

LGBTQ Theatre Makers to Pay Attention to Right Now

La Cage Aux Folles

How Lauren Ys Channels Queerness Through Their Art

Gay Photographers: Vincent Keith and Oliver Zeuke

Isaac Julien: Behind the Scenes at MoMA

Trans Nonbinary Performer Tackles Greek Tragedy

 

 

3D Artists: Famous LGBTQ Scupltors

Smooth and Wicked: The Art of  Mel Odum

Origin of Love: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Poetry Slam: God is Gay

Lion King: London Gay Men's Chorus

Info: Queer Fashion Design

Dear Evan Hanson: You Will Be Found

Sinners and Saints: Photography of Michael Stokes

Pride Flag Sewn From Over 3500 Diversity Messages

Tribute to Gay Classical Musicians

Pride in Poetry: LGBTQ Poets

Best Gay Musicals

Autostraddle: Lesbian Photographers You Should Know About

Fire Island Dance Festival 2

Joe Lycett: Sunday Night at the Palladium

Falsettos: Falsettoland

Neil Patrick Harris: It’s Not Just for Gays Anymore

List of Queer Poetry

Brief History of LGBTQ Art and Symbolism

Twisted Broadway: Hey Big Spender  
NPR: When Art is Queer

Philadelphia: Opera Scene

LGBTQ Theatre Makers to Pay Attention to Right Now

Queer Composers You Should Know

 

LGBTQ Thespians: Theatre and Plays

Fun Home - By Alison Bechdel, Adapted by Kron, Tesori
Kinky Boots - By Harvey Fierstein, Cyndi Lauper

Bare - By Jon Hartmere Jr., Damon Intrabartolo
Spring Awakening - By Sater, Sheik

Dear Evan Hanson - By Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
Unnatural Acts - By Tony Speciale
Man of No Importance - By Flaherty, Ahrens, McNally

Avenue Q - By Lopez, Marx, Whitty
Invisible Thread - By Gould, Matthews

The Prom - By Beguelin, Sklar, Martin, Mitchell

Rent - By Jonathan Larson
Angels in America - By Tony Kushner

Hedwig and the Angry Inch - By JC Mitchell, S Trask

Standing on Ceremony: Gay Marriage Plays
The Boy From Oz - By Nick Enright

Laramie Project - By Moises Kaufman
Taboo - By Boy George

Torch Song Trilogy - By Harvey Fierstein

Bent - By Martin Sherman
Falsettos - By Finn and Lapine

Telling Moments - By Robert C. Reinhart
La Cage Aux Folles - By Harvey Fierstein
Jeffrey - By Paul Rudnick
The Sum of Us - By David Stevens
Cabaret - By Kander, Ebb, Masteroff

Boys in the Band - By Mart Crowley
The Pink Unicorn - By Elise Forier Edie

 

Play About Gay Life After Marriage Equality

Hannah Gadsby: Allstars Supershow

Critically Queer: Being a Gay Student in the Humanities

Ethan Smith Poem: Letter to the Girl I Used to Be

EW: Review of Dear Evan Hanson and More

Info: LGBTQ Books and Publications

Broadway Star Joel Gray: Multifaceted Artist

MOMA: Creating Safe Spaces for Art-Loving LGBTQ Youth

Broadway Backwards: Cell Block Tangy

Vancouver Men's Chorus performs Anthem by Leonard Cohen

Coming Out: Broadway Star Jonathan Burke

Slam Poetry: Coming Out Straight

Mart Crowley: Boys in the Band Playwright Dies

Sculpture Unveiled in NYC Honoring Trans and Nonbinary Communities

Young LGBTQ Contemporary Artists

Funny That Way: Documentary About Trans Comic Julia Scotti

History of the Queer Art Movement

Info: Queer Fashion Design

LGBTQ Anime

 

 

 

Neil Patrick Harris: Medley of Broadway Songs

Little Shop of Horrors: With Trans and Gay Leads

Acclaimed Shakespearean Actor Antony Sher Dies at 72

Fire Island Dance Festival

Billy Strayhorn Introduced by Duke Elligton

Info: LGBTQ Magazines and Periodicals

Gay Photographer: Terry Hastings

UK Comedian Joe Lycett: Living in Birmingham

Joan E. Biren: Portraits of Lesbians

Up and Coming LGBTQ Musicians

Poetry Foundation: LGBTQ Pride Poems

La Cage Aux Folles (Film)

3D Artists: Famous LGBTQ Scupltors

Photographer Ron Amato: Nude Men Among the Dunes

Avenue Q: If You Were Gay

Only Us: Laura Dreyfuss and Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hanson)

Fire Island Dance Festival 2

Gay Photographers: Vincent Keith and Oliver Zeuke

Poetry Slam: Dear Straight People

The Prom Broadway Show: You Happened

Info: LGBTQ Television and Media

Sinners and Saints: Photography of Michael Stokes

Avenue Q: If You Were Gay

LGBTQ Artists in Bay Area
Voguing with Kia LaBeija: Drafted


 

The Iterations of La Cage Aux Folles

1973 - La Cage Aux Folles - French play written by Jean Poiret

1978 - La Cage Aux Folles - French-Italian film directed by Édouard Molinaro, starring Ugo Tognazzi, Michel Serrault

1983 - La Cage Aux Folles - America musical play by Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman

1996 - The Birdcage - American film directed by Mike Nichols, staring Robin Williams, Nathan Lane  


LGBTQ Broadway Performers
 

Antony Sher - British Shakespearean Actor, Author, Playwright
Andrew Rannells - Actor (Book of Mormon, Hamilton, Falsettos, Boys in the Band)

Neil Patrick Harris - Actor (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)
Jonathan Groff - Actor (New Brain)

Joel Grey - Actor (Cabaret, George M, Chicago)
Harvey Fierstein - Playwright (La Cage Aux Folles, Torch Song Trilogy, Kinky Boots)

Billy Porter - Actor (Kinky Boots)
Stephen Sondheim - Playwright

Tina Landau - Director (Brother Sister Plays, Hot L Baltimore, Spongebob Squarepants)
Gavin Creel - Actor (Book of Mormon, Holly Dolly, Hair, Waitress)

Mart Crowley - Playwright (Boys in the Band)
Todrick Hall - Actor (Chicago, Kinky Boots, Waitress)

Nathan Lane - Actor (The Producers)

Jenn Colella - Actor (Come From Far Away, Me and the Sky)

Ben Platt - Actor (Dear Evan Hanson)

Jonathan Burke - Actor (Choir Boy, Tuck Everlasting, Cats)

 

Alison Bechdel - Playwright (Fun House)
Tituss Bergess - Actor (Guys and Dolls, Little Mermaid, The Wiz)

Derek Jacobi - Actor (Much Ado About Nothing)

Alan Cumming - Actor (Cabaret)
John Tartaglia - Actor (Avenue Q)

Ben Levi Ross - Actor (Dear Evan Hansen)
Javier Munoz - Actor (Hamilton)
Beth Malone - Actor (Fun Home)

Jerry Mitchell - Actor (Hairspray, Full Monty, Rocky Horror Picture Show)
Lisa Kron - Playwright (Fun Home, 2.5 Minute Ride)

Chita Rivera - Actor (Kiss of the Spider Woman)

Grey Henson - Actor (Book of Mormon, Mean Girls)
Laverne Cox - Actor (Rocky Horror Picture Show)

William Finn - Composer, Lyricist (Spelling Bee, Falsettos)
Indina Menzel - Actor (Rent)
Rory O'Malley - Actor (Book of Mormon)

Taylor Trensch - Actor (To Kill a Mockingbird, Dear Evan Hansen, Wicked)

Andy Mientus - Actor (Spring Awakening, Les Miserables)



LGBTQ Heroes in Theatre

LGBTQ-Related Broadway Musicals

List of LGBTQ-Related Musicals

LGBTQ Experiences on Stage

Best LGBTQ Plays and Musicals  

Io Tillett Wright: Fifty Shades of Gay

Artist iO Tillett Wright has photographed 2,000 people who consider themselves somewhere on the LBGTQ spectrum and asked many of them: Can you assign a percentage to how gay or straight you are? Most people, it turns out, consider themselves to exist in the gray areas of sexuality, not 100% gay or straight. Which presents a real problem when it comes to discrimination: Where do you draw the line?

 



As a child actor, iO Tillett Wright turned her shoes around in the bathroom stall so that people would think she was a boy. As a teenager, she fell in love with both women and men. Her life in the grey areas of gender and sexuality deeply inform her work as an artist.
 

iO Tillett Wright is an artist whose work focuses on the leading margins of contemporary life and culture. Her photography is regularly featured on two blogs at the New York Times: Notes from the Underground and The Lowdown. iO created the Self Evident Truths project, an ongoing document of LGBTQ America, which she continues to work on. She had her first solo show at Fuse gallery in New York City in 2010, and exhibited her latest work at The Hole Gallery in early summer of 2012. She has published three limited edition books of photographs; Lose My Number, KISSER, and Look Ma No Hands. iO has directed several music videos, and worked as a professional film actor for nineteen years, in addition to founding the world’s first nationally distributed street art magazine.

Her TED Talk, released in 2013, entitled, Fifty Shades of Gay, is worth viewing.

 

Fifty Shades of Gay: iO Tillett Wright's TED Talk

iO Tillett Wright's Bio Notes

Gallery of iO Tillett Wright's Photography

TED Talk: Hannah Gadsby

Walt Whitman: America's Poet as Queer Pioneer

The Art Story: Queer Art

3D Artists: Famous LGBTQ Scupltors

Photographer Meg Allen: Butch Photo Project

Before Night: Short Film Tells Queer Stories in New and Authentic Ways

Love is Lifting: LGBTQ Couples in Trick Photo Series

Poetry Foundation: LGBTQ Pride Poems

Queer Arts: LGBTQ Photography

LGBTQ Writers Who Have Won the Pulitzer Prize

Lion King: London Gay Men's Chorus

Autostraddle: Lesbian Photographers You Should Know About

LGBTQ Theatre Makers to Pay Attention to Right Now

UK Comedian Joe Lycett: Living in Birmingham

Only Us: Laura Dreyfus and Ben Platt

Smooth and Wicked: The Art of  Mel Odum

Brief History of LGBTQ Art and Symbolism

Info: Queer Fashion Design

 


 

Summary of Queer Art

Any art that can be considered "queer" refers to the re-appropriation of the term in the 1980s, when it was snatched back from the homophobes and oppressors to become a powerful political and celebratory term to describe the experience of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people. Adhering to no particular style, for over more than a century, Queer Art has used photography, portraiture, abstract painting, sculpture, and collage to explore the varieties and depths of queer identity.

While homosexuality has a long history, the modern sense of the term is relatively new. Since the late 19th century, cultural and legal responses to homosexuality have evolved, but it was only in the second half of the 20th century that many of the laws criminalizing homosexual acts were overturned. It wasn't until the late 20th century that homosexuality was no longer considered a pathology by psychiatrists, and it wasn't until the 21st century that marriage rights were granted to same-sex couples. Throughout all of these circumstances, Queer Art has addressed these issues covertly and overtly, insisting on a voice in the art world that routinely suppressed it.

Because of the early criminalization of homosexual acts and the social stigma connected to homosexuality, much Queer Art employs coded visual language that would not arouse suspicion among the general public but would allow those familiar with the tropes of the subculture to glean the hidden meaning.

With the rise of activism in the wake of the Civil Rights protests and the AIDS epidemic, Queer Art became more frank and political in its subject matter, forcing the viewers to recognize queer culture and to underscore the institutional inequities and hypocrisy that fueled homophobia.

The Identity Politics surrounding Queer Art has sparked much debate, with some artists embracing Identity Politics and other eschewing it as not important for their work. The shifting nature of identities in particular and changing contexts has induced much questioning in queer communities and produced a myriad of answers.

 



"I feel ever so strongly that an artist must be nourished by his passions and his despairs. These things alter an artist whether for the good or the better or the worse."
-Francis Bacon

"There's a certain kind of equality I'm trying to create, which is what I believe American democracy is about."
-Catherine Opie

"Gay men today want to be ordinary. They want to fit in. Well, I didn't care about that. I didn't care about fitting in."
-David Hockney

"Works of art sometimes help us feel less out of place in the world. Alongside queer novels, films, poems and songs, art has played its part in nurturing the self-awareness and confidence of queer people around the world."
-Alex Pilcher

 

Gay Photographer: Steven Menendez

LGBTQ Designers: Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan

Billy Strayhorn Introduced by Duke Elligton

Young LGBTQ Contemporary Artists

Pride Flag Sewn From Over 3500 Diversity Messages

Joan E. Biren: Portraits of Lesbians

Sculpture Unveiled in NYC Honoring Trans and Nonbinary Communities

Queer Artists Whose Work is Making Us Pay Attention

Little Shop of Horrors: With Trans and Gay Leads

Poetry Slam: God is Gay

Celebrating 100th Birthday of Tom of Finland

Joe Lycett: Sunday Night at the Palladium

Avenue Q: If You Were Gay

Photographer Ron Amato: Wet Gay Nudes

LGBTQ Art Shows: Now Showing at Museums From Boston to Berlin

These Men and Their Glitter Beards

Sinners and Saints: Photography of Michael Stokes

Interview with Comedian Hannah Gadsby
Poetry Slam: Dear Straight People


 

LGBTQ Authors, Poets, and Playwrights

Francis Bacon - English Statesman, Author
TE Lawrence - English Soldier, Author
Lord Byron - English Poet
Walt Whitman - US Poet, Author
Oscar Wilde - Irish Author
Marcel Proust - French Author
Gertrude Stein - US Poet, Author
Alice B. Toklas - US Author

Percy Bysshe Shelley - English Poet
James Baldwin - US Author
Herman Melville - US Author

Jack Kerouac - US Author

Federico Garcia Lorca - Spanish Poet  

   

Thomas Love Peacock - English Poet
Willa Cather - US Author
Langston Hughes - US Author

Christina Rossetti - English Poet
EM Forster - English Author
Hans Christian Andersen - Danish Author

Alice Walker - US Author
Ralph Waldo Emerson - US Author
Virginia Woolf - English Author
Tennessee Williams - US Playwright
Rainer Maria Rilke - German Poet
Edward Albee - US Playwright

Lord Alfred Douglas - English Poet

 

Armistead Maupin - US Writer

Adrienne Rich - US Poet
Pierre Louys - French Poet

William S. Burroughs - US Author
Rita Mae Brown - US Novelist
Algernon Charles Swinburne - English Poet

Mary Oliver - US Poet

Gore Vidal - US Novelist
Antonio Botto - Portuguese Poet

Allen Ginsberg - US Poet
WH Auden - English Poet

Pat Parker - US Poet
Truman Capote - US Author
Frank O'Hara - US Poet

Maurice Sendak - US Author, Illustrator

Carl Phillips - US Poet

Audre Lorde - US Poet

Elizabeth Gilbert - US Author (Eat Pray Love)

Countee Cullen - US Poet

Oliver Sacks - British Author (Awakenings)

   
 

Art History Teaching Resources: Queer Art 1960s to Present

Gay Culture: Ancient Wonder or Modern Creation

Broadway Star Joel Gray: Multifaceted Artist

Pride in Poetry: LGBTQ Poets

Avenue Q: If You Were Gay

Joe Lycett: Sunday Night at the Palladium

LGBTQ Writers Who Have Won the Pulitzer Prize

Pride Flag Sewn From Over 3500 Diversity Messages

Same Sex Relationships Hidden in Classic Literature

Walt Whitman: America's Poet as Queer Pioneer

Ian McKellan Reading Harvey Milk's Hope Speech

Photographer Ron Amato: Nude Men Among the Dunes

Kehinde Wiley: Black Gay Artist

 

Queer Art: 1960s to Present

From ancient Greece to contemporary art, queer art can be taught through many art historical trajectories. This lesson takes a contemporary approach and can be utilized within surveys of modern/contemporary art or in seminars pertaining to “art and identity” topics. This lecture has two key concepts: censorship and visibility. Until very recently it was not socially acceptable to be out as an LGBT or Q person. As such, queer art over the twentieth century has been shaped by, on the one hand—the need to conceal references to queer identity and experiences and, on the other—a desire for visibility: the cultural imperative to create representations of queer identity because none exist.

 

       

Scholars, namely Richard Meyer and Jonathan D. Katz, have explored how mid-twentieth century artists (including Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Agnes Martin) developed visual codes to signify queerness in clandestine ways. After this period, the Stonewell Riots of 1969 marked a shift towards more visibility. This is an event that is largely defined as the “before/after” moment in LGBTQ history, when patrons (many of them queer and trans people of color) of a mafia-owned gay bar in New York’s West Village fought back against a routine police raid. The confrontation was part of a groundswell of activism tied to the protest spirit of the period, including civil rights and women’s liberation, and it led to a new social movement for lesbian and gay rights.

Unlike previous forms of gay activism, gay liberation promoted visibility by encouraging people to “come out” as LGBTQ, rather than remain closeted and/or assimilate to dominant social norms. This ethos was manifested in art as well as art history: artists became emboldened to make art about their sexual identity, and LGBTQ art historians began to recuperate the work of LGBTQ art that went unnoticed, had been censored, or written out of history books. The desire to document and celebrate depictions of queer identity, life, and history is an example of the politicization of sexuality that emerged during this period.

 

      

In the 1980s, militant gay activists reclaimed the term “queer” to confront the homophobia unleashed by the HIV/AIDS crisis that emerged in that decade, which disproportionally affected gay men. “Queer” became the preferred label for many people on the LGBT spectrum because of its lack of a fixed meaning and the spirit of social deviance it connotes. Many queer artists embrace marginality as a position from which to create self-empowered narratives that resist dominant understandings of gender, race, class, and sexuality. For others, queer identity has little to do with their art. Queer is a reclaimed pejorative for people who desire someone of the same sex, is pansexual, bisexual, or any other sexuality that is not lesbian or gay, while transgender refers to a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender. While queer and trans are often related and overlapping identities, they are distinct and not interchangeable.

[Source: Tara Burk and Amy Raffel, Art History Teaching Resources]

 

 

Info: LGBTQ Books and Publications

History of Gay Art and Symbolism

Queer Tango

Art History: Queer Art 1960s to Present

Funny That Way: Documentary About Trans Comic Julia Scotti

How Lauren Ys Channels Queerness Through Their Art

Fire Island Dance Festival

UK Comedian Joe Lycett: Living in Birmingham

Info: Fashion and Clothing

LGBTQ Poets Who Inspire

LGBTQ Art Shows: Now Showing at Museums From Boston to Berlin

Billy Strayhorn Introduced by Duke Elligton

Poetry Foundation: LGBTQ Pride Poems

Lion King: London Gay Men's Chorus

Elska Magazine: Photo Spread of Gorgeous Global Men

NYC Gay Men's Chorus: All I Want for Christmas

Info: LGBTQ Movies and Film
Meet the Creators that Are Proving that Pride Is a State of Mind

Broadway Backwards: Sixteen Going on Seventeen

Brief History of LGBTQ Art and Symbolism

 

 

Neil Patrick Harris: Medley of Broadway Songs

Young LGBTQ Contemporary Artists

Smooth and Wicked: The Art of  Mel Odum

Gay Playwright Matthew López: First Latino to Win Tony Award for Best Play

Info: LGBTQ Music and Musicians
Voguing with Kia LaBeija: Drafted

Joan E. Biren: Portraits of Lesbians

Fire Island Dance Festival 2

LGBTQ Designers: Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan

Poetry Slam: Dear Straight People

Hamilton: Schuyler Sisters Miscast
Isaac Julien: Behind the Scenes at MoMA

Autostraddle: Lesbian Photographers You Should Know About

Gay Comedian Joe Lycett: Live at the Apollo

I Am What I Am: Song From La Cage Aux Folles  
Only Us: Laura Dreyfus and Ben Platt

Gay Photographer: Steven Menendez

 

Tom of Finland: Homoerotic Artist
 

"My whole life long I have done nothing but interpret my dreams of ultimate masculinity, and draw them.

-Tom of Finland

"Tom of Finland defied homophobic censorship. He affirmed and glamorized our sexuality; giving hope and confidence to gay men at a time when many had internalized homophobia and sexual guilt. His imagery turned upside down the stereotype that we were weak and disgusting. It portrayed gay men as strong and desirable, which was refreshing and empowering. What Tom of Finland gave us was an antidote to the negative, demeaning heterosexual supremacist representations of homosexuality."

-Peter Tatchell, British LGBTQ Human Rights Activist

"Tom of Finland is one of the five most influential artists of the 20th century. As an artist he was superb, as an influence he was transcendent."

-Harvey Miller, Art Patron

 

 

 

Tom of Finland (1920-1991) was an artist whose sexually charged drawings of musclemen impacted gay culture. He is known as the most influential creator of homoerotic images.

Born Touko Laaksonen in a small Finnish town, he was the son of two school teachers. At 19, Laaksonen moved to Helsinki to study advertising and began drawing erotic images. In 1957, he submitted drawings to Physique Pictorial, an American magazine, under the pseudonym Tom. When his gay-themed illustrations were published, the magazine credited Tom of Finland, a name he assumed for the remainder of his career.

Tom introduced to mainstream culture a stylized masculinity in sharp contrast to the effeminate stereotypes of gay men. His work, which embraced sailors, bikers, lumberjacks and construction workers in leather and jeans, became popular and widely distributed in the gay community.

 



In the late 1950s, US censorship codes restricted depiction of “overt homosexual acts” and limited the distribution of Tom’s work. In the 1962 case of MANual Enterprises v. Day, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that nude male photographs were not obscene. As soft-core gay pornography flourished, Tom’s illustrations became more explicit, including exaggerated musculature and genitalia.

By 1973, Tom was publishing erotic comic books and exhibiting his work in the mainstream art world. In 1984, he cofounded the Tom of Finland Foundation, which is dedicated to the preservation of homoerotic artwork. In 1995, the Tom of Finland Clothing Company introduced a fashion line based on his art.

Tom created more than 3,500 illustrations in his four-decade career. Five of Tom of Finland’s drawings are featured in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

 

[Source: LGBTQ Nation, Archives, Equality Forum, LGBTQ History Month Profile, October 2013]

 

Tom of Finland Exhibit in Los Angeles

Celebrating 100th Birthday of Tom of Finland

David Kordansky Gallery: View the Works of Tom of Finland

Tom of Finland Foundation: Let's Go Camping

Love and Liberation Exhibit

The Darkroom Exhibit


 

LGBTQ Theatre Companies
 

Aputheatre Buddies in Bad Times

Celebration Theatre

Five Lesbian Brothers

Frank Theatre Company

Pomo Afro Homos

Split Britches

Stage Q Theatre Offensive

Theatre Rhinoceros

Triangle Theatre Company

Who Wants Cake Theatre

 

Playbill: Regional Companies Leading the Charge in Gay Theatre

Pride Youth Theatre Alliance
List: LGBTQ Related Plays
Playbill: LGBTQ Theatre Heroes Who Inspire
Purple Circuit: Most Influential LGBTQ Plays  


   

LGBTQ Poets Who Inspire


Audre Lorde was a Black feminist, lesbian, poet, mother and justice warrior. Her writing, activism and poetry speak to the struggle often faced by people who have been marginalized by society, including LGBTQ people and people of color. The last four stanzas of one of her most famous poems, “The Black Unicorn,” show that even though progress has been made, more work remains in the fight for full equality for all people: “The black unicorn is restless, the black unicorn is unrelenting, the black unicorn is not free.”

Mary Oliver, an out poet who believed “poetry mustn’t be fancy,” wrote at length about nature and the beauty of the world around us. Inspired by other queer women poets including Edna St. Vincent Millay, she explored the intersection of herself as a queer woman and the world in which she lived, embracing everyday beauty.

 

Andrea Gibson is a poet and activist whose work focuses on gender, politics and the struggles that LGBTQ people still face. Many of their poems are spoken word, a form of poetry and performance art characterized by rhyme, repetition, improvisation and word play that frequently speaks to issues of social justice and community. One of Gibson’s most moving poems is their tribute to the victims of the deadly Pulse nightclub shooting in June 2016.

Fatimah Asghar is a Pakistani, Kashmiri, American poet and queer woman. In her debut book of poems, “If They Come For Us,” Asghar focuses on navigating coming of age and questioning her sexuality without guidance from her parents, who passed away when she was young. The book explores what it means to hold an intersectional identity in today’s world, while still remembering the history of those who came before.

 



Chen Chen is an up-and-coming poet who also explores the intersection of identities in today’s world in his poetry. His poem “When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities” captures the heart of his work: “To be, in my spare time, / America for my uncle, who wants to be China / for me. … To be a cyclone / of laughter when my parents say / their new coworker is like that, they can tell / because he wears pink socks, see, you don’t, so you can’t, / can’t be one of them. To be the one / my parents raised me to be -- / a season from the planet / of planet-sized storms.”

A.W. is another young poet who is taking up the reins of the next generation of poets advocating for equality. A.W.’s poem “Differences” inspires us to be who we are, treat everyone equally and always stand up for ourselves and our friends: “Treat people well, don’t treat them different because they're different, all people should be able to do what other people can do if it is a good choice.”
 

[Source: Human Rights Campaign]

LGBTQ Poets Who Inspire
Broadway Star Joel Gray: Multifaceted Artist

Poetry Slam: Dear Straight People

Falsettos: Falsettoland

Sinners and Saints: Photography of Michael Stokes

Walt Whitman: America's Poet as Queer Pioneer

Kehinde Wiley: Painter of President Obama Official Portrait

LGBTQ Writers Who Have Won the Pulitzer Prize

Info: LGBTQ Books and Publications

Queer Men and Their Tattoos

Gay Comedian Joe Lycett: Live at the Apollo

Photographer Meg Allen: Butch Photo Project

Art History: Queer Art 1960s to Present

LGBTQ Art Shows: Now Showing at Museums From Boston to Berlin

 

 

Opera: The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Isaac Julien: Behind the Scenes at MoMA

Wendy Carlos: Switched On Bach

Gay Photographers: Vincent Keith and Oliver Zeuke

Brief History of LGBTQ Art and Symbolism

Neil Patrick Harris: Medley of Broadway Songs

Info: LGBTQ Music and Musicians
Queer Artists Whose Work is Making Us Pay Attention

Critically Queer: Being a Gay Student in the Humanities

MOMA: Creating Safe Spaces for Art-Loving LGBTQ Youth

Slam Poetry: Coming Out Straight

UK Comedian Joe Lycett: Living in Birmingham

I Am What I Am: Song From La Cage Aux Folles

Art History Teaching Resources: Queer Art 1960s to Present

History of the Queer Art Movement

Info: LGBTQ Magazines and Periodicals

Fire Island Dance Festival

NPR: When Art is Queer


 

Laurie Rubin: Blind Jewish Lesbian Opera Singer

Blind since birth, mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin tells her empowering story in memoir Do You Dream in Color? Insights From a Girl Without Sight. Acclaimed mezzo-soprano opera singer Laurie Rubin has been blind since birth, is openly lesbian, and of Jewish background. What better reason to write a memoir? On paper, she was, obviously, not your typical everyday teenager growing up. But with determination and a strong support system, she continually surpassed and redefined others’ expectations, both professionally in the music industry and outside of it.

 



Defying the naysayers since childhood, the lively and charismatic Rubin released Do You Dream in Color? Insights From a Girl Without Sight in 2012, recounting her experiences from childhood to full-fledged opera singer. An uplifting story about her journey to follow her dreams, Rubin’s story asks those universal questions (Who am I? and Where do I fit in?) while giving an insight into a musical world you probably know nothing about. Not only does she have a busy concert schedule, Rubin is also in developing a curriculum for Yale music (where she earned her master's degree) that will aim to dispel stereotypes and better the perceived value of people living with disabilities by allowing people of all ages and walks of life to share in the experiences of blindness.  
 

TED Talk: Hannah Gadsby

Queer Tango

You Tube: Do You Dream in Color?

Funny That Way: Documentary About Trans Comic Julia Scotti

Washington Post: Laurie Rubin Describes Her World of Color

Info: LGBTQ Television and Media

Ellen DeGeneres: Gay Cartoon Characters

List of Gay Men's Choruses

Slam Poetry: Third Gender

Info: LGBTQ Magazines and Periodicals

LGBTQ Community Center: Arts and Culture

Blithe House Quarterly: LGBTQ Short Stories

Interview with Comedian Hannah Gadsby

Photographer Ron Amato: Wet Gay Nudes

Only Us: Laura Dreyfus and Ben Platt

Poetry Slam: God is Gay

Young LGBTQ Contemporary Artists

Pride Flag Sewn From Over 3500 Diversity Messages

Queer Arts: List of LGBTQ Organizations


 

LGBTQ Comedians

 

Ellen DeGeneres
Ross Matthews
Tig Notaro
Hannah Gadsby
Suzanne Westenhofer
DeAnne Smith
Margaret Cho
Dana Goldberg
Mario Cantone
Simon Amstell
Paula Pell
Paris Sashay

Moms Mabley

Sophie Santos

Kate McKinnon
Lea DeLaria
Eddie Izzard
Sandra Bernhard
Kate Clinton
Wanda Sykes
Gabe Liedman
Sabrina Jalees
Franqi French
Maggie Casella
Alec Mapa
Kelli Dunham

Julia Scotti

Sampson McCormick
Lilly Singh
Eliot Glazer
Erin Foley
James Adomian
Fortune Feimster
Mae Martin
KeLanna Spiller
Stephen Guarino
Joel Creasey
Joe Lycett
Matteo Lane

Kelsey Darraugh

Benito Skinner


LGBTQ Dancers

Rudolf Nuryev - Russian Ballet Dancer
Tommy Tune - US Tap Dancer, Broadway Star
Josephine Baker - US Dancer
Isadora Duncan - US Dancer

Alvin Ailey - US Dancer, Choreographer
Bronislava Nijinska - Russian Dancer
Vaslav Nijinsky - Russian Dancer

Bill T Jones - US Dancer, Choreographer

Kellen Stancil - US Dancer, Choreographer  



LGBTQ Fashion Icons and Designers

 

Giorgio Armani

Pierre Cardin

Christian Dior

André Leon Talley

Domenico Dolce

Stefano Gabbana

Perry Ellis

Karl Lagerfeld

Halston
Isaac Mizrahi
Yves Saint Laurent

 

Hallelujah: Queer Dance About Love, Hate, and Religion

Slam Poetry: Queer Marriage Poem

History of the Queer Art Movement

Avenue Q: If You Were Gay

Broadway Star Joel Gray: Multifaceted Artist

Only Us: Laura Dreyfus and Ben Platt

Polari Mag: LGBTQ Arts & Culture

I Am What I Am: La Cage Aux Folles

Dear Evan Hansen: Waving Through a Window

LGBTQ Writers Who Have Won the Pulitzer Prize

Autostraddle: Lesbian Photographers You Should Know About

Isaac Julien: Behind the Scenes at MoMA

Pride in Poetry: LGBTQ Poets

Fire Island Dance Festival

 

 

Dancer Rudolph Nureyev

 

The heartbreaking letter to dance that Nureyev wrote while dying of AIDS in 1993:

It was the smell of my skin changing, it was getting ready before class, it was running away from school and after working in the fields with my dad because we were ten brothers, walking those two kilometers to dance school.
 

I would never have been a dancer, I couldn't afford this dream, but I was there, with my shoes worn on my feet, with my body opening to music, with the breath making me above the clouds. It was the sense I gave to my being, it was standing there and making my muscles words and poetry, it was the wind in my arms, it was the other guys like me that were there and maybe wouldn't be dancers, but we swapped the sweat, silences, barely. For thirteen years I studied and worked, no auditions, nothing, because I needed my arms to work in the fields. But I didn't care: I learned to dance and dance because it was impossible for me not to do it, it was impossible for me to think I was elsewhere, not to feel the earth transforming under my feet plants, impossible not to get lost in music, impossible not not to get lost in music using my eyes to look in the mirror, to try new steps. Everyday I woke up thinking about the moment I would put my feet inside my slippers and do everything by tasting that moment. And when I was there, with the smell of camphor, wood, tights, I was an eagle on the rooftop of the world, I was the poet among poets, I was everywhere and I was everything.

 


I remember a ballerina El èna Vadislowa, rich family, well taken care of, beautiful. She wanted to dance like me, but later I realized it wasn't like that. She danced for all the auditions, for the end of the course show, for the teachers watching her, to pay tribute to her beauty. Two years prepared for the Djenko contest. The expectations were all about her. Two years he sacrificed part of his life. He didn't win the contest. She stopped dancing, forever. He didn't resist. That was the difference between me and her. I used to dance because it was my creed, my need, my words that I didn't speak, my struggle, my poverty, my crying. I used to dance because only there my being broke the limits of my social condition, my shyness, my shame. I used to dance and I was with the universe on my hands, and while I was at school, I was studying, arraising the fields at six am, my mind endured because it was drunk with my body capturing the air.
 

I was poor, and they paraded in front of me guys performing for pageants, they had new clothes, they made trips. I didn't suffer from it, my suffering would have been stopping me from entering the hall and feeling my sweat coming out of the pores of my face. My suffering would have been not being there, not being there, surrounded by that poetry that only the sublimation of art can give. I was a painter, poet, sculptor.


The first dancer of the year-end show got hurt. I was the only one who knew every move because I sucked, quietly every step. They made me wear his new, shiny clothes and dictated me after thirteen years, the responsibility to demonstrate. Nothing was different in those moments I danced on stage, I was like in the hall with my clothes off. I was and I used to perform, but it was dancing that I cared. The applause reached me far away. Behind the scenes, all I wanted was to take off that uncomfortable tights, but everyone's compliments came to me and I had to wait. My sleep wasn't different from other nights. I had danced and whoever was watching me was just a cloud far away on the horizon. From that moment my life changed, but not my passion and need to dance. I kept helping my dad in the fields even though my name was on everyone's mouth. I became one of the brightest stars in dance.

 


Now I know I'm going to die, because this disease doesn't forgive, and my body is trapped in a pram, blood doesn't circulate, I lose weight. But the only thing that goes with me is my dance my freedom to be. I'm here, but I dance with my mind, fly beyond my words and my pain. I dance my being with the wealth I know I have and will follow me everywhere: that I have given myself the chance to exist above effort and have learned that if you experience tiredness and effort dancing, what if you dance sits for effort, if we pity our bleeding feet, if we chase only the aim and don't understand the full and unique pleasure of moving, we don't understand the deep essence of life, where the meaning is in its becoming and not in appearing. Every man should dance, for life. Not being a dancer, but dancing.


Who will never know the pleasure of walking into a hall with wooden bars and mirrors, who stops because they don't get results, who always needs stimulus to love or live, hasn't stepped into the depths of life, and will abandon every time life won't give him what he wants. It's the law of love: you love because you feel the need to do it, not to get something or to be reciprocated, otherwise you're bound to unhappiness. I'm dying, and I thank God for giving me a body to dance so that I wouldn't waste a moment of the wonderful gift of life.

 

Queer Tango

Brief History of LGBTQ Art and Symbolism

Sinners and Saints: Photography of Michael Stokes

GQ Magazine: Keith Haring Blew Up the Art and Fashion World

Billy Strayhorn Introduced by Duke Elligton

Vancouver Men's Chorus performs Anthem by Leonard Cohen

Info: Fashion and Clothing

LGBTQ Theatre Makers to Pay Attention to Right Now

Gay Photographer: Terry Hastings

LGBTQ Art Shows: Now Showing at Museums From Boston to Berlin

Lesbian Stand-Up Comedian: DeAnne Smith

Joe Lycett: Sunday Night at the Palladium

Philadelphia: Opera Scene

Neil Patrick Harris: It’s Not Just for Gays Anymore

Info: LGBTQ Authors and Books

Kelli Dunham: Nun Turned Genderqueer Standup Comic

 

 

Wendy Carlos: Trans Musician of Electronic Baroque
 

Wendy Carlos (born Walter Carlos, 1939) is a transgender American musician and composer best known for her electronic music and film scores. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Carlos studied physics and music at Brown University before moving to New York City in 1962 to study music composition at Columbia University. Studying and working with various electronic musicians and technicians at the city's Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, she helped in the development of the Moog synthesizer, the first commercially available keyboard instrument created by Robert Moog. Carlos came to prominence with Switched-On Bach (1968), an album of music by Johann Sebastian Bach performed on a Moog synthesizer, which helped popularize its use in the 1970s and won her three Grammy Awards. Its commercial success led to several more albums, including further synthesized classical music adaptations, and experimental and ambient music. She composed the score to two Stanley Kubrick films -- A Clockwork Orange (1971) and The Shining (1980) -- and Tron (1982) for Walt Disney Productions. In 1979, Carlos raised public awareness of transgender issues by disclosing she had been living as a woman since at least 1968, and in 1972 had undergone sex reassignment surgery.

 

Biographical Notes: Wendy Carlos

NPR: New Biography of Trans Woman Wendy Carlos

Wendy Carlos: Beauty and trauma of Being Openly Trans

Wendy Carlos: Switched On Bach

 



Classical Composers: What's So Gay About American Music?

Musicologists now seem to agree that Handel was gay. So, it is thought, was Schubert. About Tchaikovsky there is no doubt: definitely gay, along with Britten, Copland and many other major composers and musicians. They may not have been gay in the modern sense of the word, as the defining component of their sexual identity. Certainly not Handel, who hid what must have been terrible loneliness under a cloak of irascible heartiness. Nor Schubert, whose relationships with the young men in his circle still elude our understanding. Schubert's devoted friends considered the pudgy, bespectacled and sickly composer a genius in their midst. But who was sleeping with whom? We're not sure.

That we can now flesh out these giants' stories with this crucial missing component of their character is due to the efforts of some pioneering cultural historians and musicologists. Yet, along with the outing of past master composers and musicians there has been a more dubious effort by some to find evidence of a collective gay sensibility in their music. What exactly is a gay sensibility? With today's gay icons ranging from the brainy, unkempt liberal firebrand Congressman Barney Frank to the stylish, flamboyant and cuttingly funny fashion guru Carson Kressley of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, who can say? And if it does exist, just how is a gay sensibility expressed in music? Especially purely instrumental, or "absolute," music?




The latest to enter the discussion is Nadine Hubbs, a professor of music and women's studies at the University of Michigan, whose new book, The Queer Composition of America's Sound: Gay Modernists, American Music and National Identity, has just been released by University of California Press. This is an ambitious, provocative and impressively documented work, with more than 70 pages of detailed footnotes for a 178-page text. It tries to prove that what has come to be considered the distinctive American sound in mid-20th-century American music (that Coplandesque tableau of widely spaced harmonies and melancholic tunes run through with elements of elegiac folk music and spiked with jerky American dance rhythms) was essentially invented by a group of Manhattan-based gay composers: Copland, of course, and Virgil Thomson, Paul Bowles, David Diamond, Marc Blitzstein, Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber and Ned Rorem.
 

Ms. Hubbs's treatise, which focuses mostly on Copland and Thomson, is enriched by her keen sensitivity to traces of coded gay sexuality, veiled homophobia and cultural anxieties in American music and life during the early decades of the 20th century. The book will rightly provoke heated discussion in musicological and queer-history circles. My gay brothers and sisters should welcome Ms. Hubbs's account of the pivotal role played by gay composers in the development of a musical idiom that as the book argues, still signifies "America," not just in the concert hall but also in movies, television and commercial culture.



Yet, I suspect that many musicians, however fascinated by Ms. Hubbs's treatise, will share my discomfort over the notion of trying to identify anything as elusive as a gay sensibility in music. It's significant, I think, that most of the advance praise for the book ("a landmark study," "breathtakingly original history") comes from cultural historians, not musicians. My aim here is not to review the book but to raise the stakes for the debate Ms. Hubbs's work is sure to provoke.
 

One admiring blurb on the dust jacket comes from a well-known musicologist, Susan McClary, winner of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award, whose contentious 1991 article Constructions of Subjectivity in Schubert's Music became a manifesto for a number of queer theorists. Ms. McClary tried to identify homosexual qualities in the slow movement of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony. Her notion that Schubert was inviting listeners to "forgo the security of a centered, stable tonality" and "experience (even enjoy) a flexible sense of self," has always struck me as a convoluted way to account for perfectly explicable disruptions of key.

 



But Ms. McClary's lead was followed by smart critics like K. Robert Schwarz, long a contributor to The New York Times, who died in 1999. Schwarz wrote impassioned liner notes for a shamelessly commercial though perfectly harmless 1995 recording, Out Classics: Seductive Classics by the World's Greatest Gay Composers.

 

Before long, Schwarz speculated, "we may possess the analytic tools to decode a gay aesthetic in music." As I suggested at the time, I cannot imagine how this would work. Will theorists check chord components against a table of telltale interval combinations? Will we someday speak not only of tonic and dominant chords but also of butch and femme chords? Is Ms. Hubbs heading down that path? She is least convincing when discussing the particulars of the music in question. What she does brilliantly is amass evidence of the pervasive influence Copland and his gay composer colleagues had on the formation of the American national identity.  



In her introduction Ms. Hubbs points out that no less an authority than the United States Army confirms Copland's status as "America's most prominent composer." This claim comes from an essay accompanying a pair of recordings of Copland's music by the Army Field Band and Soldiers' Chorus, released in 2000 to celebrate the centennial of his birth. Moreover, the essay points to Copland's life and career as a quintessentially American story and talks glowingly of his Jewish heritage, his Russian immigrant parents, his sensitivity to racial prejudice and admirable collaborations with black artists. But never hinted at is Copland's homosexuality, which of course would have branded him as unfit for service in the military.

So how did Copland's music, with its "sonic representation of American vastness and rugged, simple beauty," as Ms. Hubbs puts it, come to be the most potent cultural emblem of Americanness? How did Copland and the gay composers in his circle come to write music the way they did? Though often too sweeping and sometimes laden with jargon (one subchapter is titled Music as Sex as Identity and as Identity Solvent), the book sheds more light on these questions than any study to date. Take Ms. Hubbs's comments on the aggressively homophobic Charles Ives in the subchapter Ives, American Music and Mutating Manliness. Ives came of age at a time when American music was obsequiously beholden, Ives believed, to European late Romanticism. Ives considered American composers sissified. He wanted them to shape up, get some spine and invent a radically new American sound that embraced vernacular American music. He wanted the audience to stop whining and take its dissonance like a man.



Ms. Hubbs places Ives's diatribes in the context of the genuine crisis of confidence in American music at the time. The composer appears "less as an eccentric crank with personal issues concerning women, queers and music," she writes, "than as a stentorian mouthpiece for interlinked cultural anxieties around gender, sexuality, musicality and national identity that significantly shaped 20th-century American music."

Paradoxically, it was Copland and his gay composer colleagues who answered Ives's call, steered American music through those anxieties and found the new American voice. They were bound together by codes of secrecy, and with good reason. To understand the social climate they faced, consider that in 1942, while he was the powerful chief music critic of The New York Herald Tribune, Thomson was arrested in a raid on a private house in Brooklyn where gay professionals socialized with young men, including sailors from the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard. After he spent a night in jail, the charges against Thomson were dropped, and the incident was hushed up, though a veiled reference to his disgrace turned up in a Walter Winchell gossip column.

Perhaps a sense of separateness emboldened this circle of gay composers, who shared an affinity for French culture and aesthetics, to distance themselves from the domineering, aggressive (meaning rigorously German) brand of 1920's modernism. Copland first turned to jazz as a vehicle to break free. Jazz was by far the most original American music. But eventually he found it hard to incorporate this improvised art into formal concert works. Thomson impishly called Copland's short-lived venture writing jazz-infused concert works his "one wild oat."



In later life Thomson claimed (fairly, most historians agree) that he provided the impetus for Copland's invention of the quintessential American sound through the example of his own simplified musical style. The late 1920's was a time of growing musical complexity and "100 percent dissonance saturation," as Thomson put it. Thinking this direction a dead end, he chose to simplify his language radically. The Thomson work in this vein that most impressed Copland was the Symphony on a Hymn Tune, which used hymns familiar to Thomson from his Kansas City, Mo., youth as thematic materials for a genre-busting, unconventional cut-and-paste symphony.

By the late 1930's, Copland, with his language now simplified as well, was writing the works that would make him famous, especially the ballet scores Billy the Kid and Rodeo. Still, what is so gay about a symphony that uses hymns as thematic fodder, or a ballet score run through with cowboy tunes and Old West dance rhythms? What is the gay sensibility of Copland's 1939 Quiet City or the vibrant 1943 Violin Sonata?

Words have meanings, of course, as does all music with words. Even if you did not know that Britten was gay, you might guess as much from the content of his operas. Some deal with thwarted or idealized homoerotic yearning (Billy Budd, Death in Venice). Others are moral parables about sensitive, volatile and ostracized souls (Peter Grimes, even the comedy Albert Herring). But is there anything gay about Britten's instrumental work, like the Symphony for Cello and Orchestra, an ingenious, exciting and deeply moving work?

Ms. Hubbs offers a provocative subchapter, Complexity Music and the American Way, on the challenge posed by the American composers who championed 12-tone techniques starting in the 1950's, and an apt analysis of "Frenchness as Queer Americanness." But the gender identity questions she raises cannot be answered. How do you explain the crucial presence of thoroughly heterosexual composers like Roy Harris and Walter Piston in the "commando squad," as Thomson called the circle of composers who set out to establish American music in the mid-20th century? How do you explain that after branding 12-tone music as elitist, arid and Germanic (meaning bad) in the 1940's, Copland took up the technique in the 50's and 60's? To me, his inexplicably neglected 12-tone works still have that clarion, widely spaced harmonic vigor that characterized his influential music in the much-beloved "American" style. Ms. Hubbs takes on this question but leaves it as one of many loose ends.

Ultimately, what we may most value about music is that it moves us in powerful but indistinct ways. It's the one thing that cannot be analyzed or deconstructed for its expressive content, and thank goodness for that.

[Source: Anthony Tommasini, New York Times]

 

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