What I’m Thinking About: Counting Chickens Before They Hatch

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02_Ostern,_Hahn,_Küken,_Prägekarte_1910No. I’m not wishing everyone a Happy Easter in German, and prematurely at that. Although I do want to wish all my German-speaking readers and all others who do celebrate Easter, a Frohliche Ostern nevertheless. When is Easter anyway this year?

What I do wish to comment upon is the celebration, seemingly in state after state these days, of Marriage Equality.

Two quick points:

First, it is too early to be celebrating.  Many of these seeming wins are tentative to say the least, and will surely go through more courts and judges and legislatures before they become law. This is not the time to give up the fight, but rather to push further and not give up any ground we may have gained.

Which leads me to my second point. There is legislation pending in many states similar to the recent “religious freedom” legislation in Arizona, which Governor Brewer has wisely decided to veto.  With every step  towards Marriage Equality there will be push-back from those who do not want to see change. Even today, 150 years since The American Civil War, and fifty years since the Civil Rights Movement, there remain individuals who are still fighting the forces of progressive change.

So don’t count those chickens before they’re hatched.  And once they are hatched take good care of them or they may get eaten by a skulk of foxes!

 

What I’m Looking Forward to: Gay Broadway 2014

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npharrisFinally, after months of snow and cold and more snow and more cold, it feels like Winter is finally making a retreat.  With temperatures today in the low 50s,  New Yorkers are warily heading out-of-doors once again.  And just in time for a new Broadway season to commence.

Well over a dozen shows are planned to finish out the season, with something for every taste.  Already up and running are the brilliantly staged Machinal and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical featuring the music of Carole King (think “It’s Too Late”, “One Fine Day”, “You’ve Got a Friend” and over a dozen more of her best).  Rocky the Musical is in previews, and while my expectations are low, it has a great creative team putting it together.  It just might work.  Shows still to arrive, but much looked forward to include Bullets Over Broadway (based on the Woody Allen movie), Act One (based on Moss Hart’s autobiography), The Realistic Jones (Starring Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts and Marisa Tomei), The Velocity of Autumn (with Estelle Parsons!) and a new production of Les Miserables.  And that’s just the half of it.  There’s Disney’s Aladdin, Violet with Sutton Foster and Of Mice and Men with James Franco and Chris O’Dowd, to name just a few.

Several of this Spring’s shows have a specific gay connections worth noting.

First up among these is Mothers and Sons, with previews beginning February 23rd, opening on March 24th at The John Golden. Terrance McNally, the Tony Award winning playwright penned this drama concerning a mother, played by Tyne Daly, who visits her deceased son’s former partner, who has married another man and is raising a son. This one has got to be a heart-breaker, and I can’t wait to see it.

I’m especially excited about seeing Cabaret  with previews beginning March 21st, opening on April 24th at Studio 54. Based on Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories, and set in a decadent 1930′s German night club, stars Michael Cumming  reprising his role of Emcee and Michelle Williams as Sally Bowles.  I expect this one is going to be sexy and delicious.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch begins previews at The Belasco on March 29th, and opens on April 22nd. This musical revival stars the glorious Neil Patrick Harris and concerns an East German refugee who has given up more than she bargained for in order to come to The West. While it played off-Broadway for two years, this is the Hedwig’s first Broadway gig. And with Neil Patrick Harris, it’s guaranteed to be a wild run.  For more on Hedwig and Neil Patrick Harris, read his recent interview in Time Out.

Also up this spring is Casa Valentina with previews beginning April 1st, opening on April 23rd at The Samuel J. Friedman. Set in the early 60′s, this Harvey Fierstein play focuses on a group of heterosexual men who escape to the Catskills where they enjoy dressing as women. If it’s anything like Fierstein’s other work, it promises to be a brilliant and insightful work.

Before there were M/M Romances, there was Gay Pulp

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lllJust stumbled upon this well written and footnoted overview of the Gay Pulp Novel. Fascinating stuff.

It’s difficult sometimes to imagine a time when gay men did not have a literature nor even a culture to call their own, but such was very much the case before The Stonewall Riots in 1969.  In writing Gay Pulp Fiction, 1950-70, David Seubert has opened up a door to a time, when gay men, especially those in small town and rural settings, were largely isolated and alone. Gay pulp fiction was sometimes the only place they could turn for a recognition, no matter how negative, of their existence, and sometimes, an affirmation that there was a hope for something more, maybe even happiness.

Since those days, gay literature has exploded and expanded in a variety of directions: Hard-core and soft-core stroke books, erotica, literary fiction, genre fiction (there have to be a thousand gay vampires out there,) and a host of others. While the M/M romances that myself and others write are read by both men and women, some straight and some gay, is a testament to how far we have come.

For those who are curious, I have posted some Gay Pulp  cover art on my Pinterest and Tumblr pages which you might find interesting as well. Please note, the Tumblr page will have photos on it which are NSFW!

Who’s Making A Point: Brian Boitano Comes Out

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bio-brian-boitano_s3x4_al Kudos to Brian Boitano for making it official!

I’ve always admired him as a skater (remember the Battle of the Brians, way back when?) In fact he inspired me to take up figure skating myself sans the dream of Olympic stardom.

And Gold Medal Kudos to Brian for coming out for a purpose.  When President Obama announced Brian would be on the official US delegation to this year’s Olympics in Sochi Russia, alongside Billy Jean King and other out athletes, I wondered if perhaps I had missed something.  Brian was not out of the closet…or was he?  Hours later he made it official.  He was out and he was going to be on the official US delegation in Russia, in protest of the backwards policies of Putin’s Russia.  Bravo Brian!

Brian has joined scores of celebrities who are taking a stand against the new Russian policies including Madonna, Jamie-Lee Curtis and Wentworth Miller, who also came out in protest of Russian anti-gay laws.

What I’m Looking at: Broadway Bares

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20DD16F73-B789-8776-A7F10CE352CCCBDC With one Winter Vortex after another hitting the city,  I can think of no better way of warming my heart, and other nether parts, than attending my first Broadway Bares .  Broadway Bares: Equity Fights AIDS, features some of the city’s finest and hottest dancers, stripping down for a cause.  The first Broadway Bares was back in 1992, and featured seven nearly naked men dancing at the now defunct Splash.  Since then, the productions have grown larger and more elaborate, raising millions of dollars to fight AIDS.  Broadway Bares: Winter Burlesque will be on Sunday, January 26th at XL Nightclub between 10th and 11th Avenues, with shows at 8:00 and 10:00 PM.

What I’m Reading: American Savage

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American-Savage-thumb-225x339-12294 Just finished reading Dan Savage’s latest book,  American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics. As the title suggests, there was nothing surprising here–Dan is pro-sex, anti-bullying, and as one of America’s top advice columnists, more than willing to give his opinion on any number of topics.

And more power to him.  The progressive movement needs an articulate, smart and often funny spokesperson, like Dan, to speak with the voice of reason.  The  stark-raving rants of the far-right evangelical, Tea Baggers have become so much a part of our culture, that at times it is only their voices that can be heard.  Thank you, Dan, for rising above the fray.

I was curious what Dan’s take was on Pope Francis–as American Savage was written while Benedict was still pope,  and he had written extensively on his thoughts concerning the Catholic Church.  A cursory search on the internet came up with a couple of slog posts at Dan’s Seattle paper, The Stranger, and an odd report from Protect the Pope.com concerning mandatory abortion.  If any of my readers know what Dan’s thoughts are on Pope Francis, please let me know.

Where I’m Going: The Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

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tumblr_mpre8dPwE61spuhh1o1_1280Last Sunday, I was lucky enough to visit  The Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in Soho which is currently featuring the Art of Sascha Schneider.  The exhibit is running between now and 12.8.13.

Sascha Schneider was a turn-of-the century, German artist, whose art had a significant homoerotic content.  I was initially drawn to the exhibit through my Men of Waverly Court Series.  Schneider was drawing and painting his extraordinary male erotic works at the same time as Arthur Carlisle, who appears in Between Artist and Model.  But here the similarities between the two end.  While I imagined Arthur’s work as a cross between John Singer Sargent and early Picasso, Schneider’s work has a distinct Pre-Raphaelite sensibility.

Still, I was delighted to discover Schneider’s compelling work, and the Leslie Lohman Museum, which I will certainly visit again.

What I’m Supporting: Save Our Village

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DSCN1019As I was wandering around The Village the other day, I stumbled upon, more than once, posters like this one.  I wasn’t shocked actually–this city is all about money, first, last and always–but selling a corporate sponsorship to the Washington Square Arch is taking things just too far.  Next thing you know, we won’t be calling her THE STATUE OF LIBERTY, but rather THE STATUE OF KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN.  Yes, I exaggerate, but to make a point.  The Village is, as the poster describes, fast becoming a “JUNK RETAIL MALL OR COLLEGE DORM.”  I say: enough already.   Save our Village NYC seems to be on the right track. Check out their facebook page and their website for details.

What I’m Thinking About: Gay Rumors–William Shakespeare

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As I mentioned the other day, gay rumors are nothing new.  Take for example William Shakespeare.  If you Google “Was Shakespeare Gay?” about 30,000 results pop up.  Of course, there is no definitive answer and never will be.  Does it matter?  Is it relevant?    Yes and No.   Hw-shakespeare

While men have been playing with other men since the dawn of time (you remember Adam & Steve?) the idea of homosexuals or gay men, is a relatively new phenomenon.  It’s very possible that Shakespeare had sexual relationships with other men, but if you would have asked him if he was gay, he most certainly would not have replied,  as Joseph Gordon-Levitt recently did when asked the same question, with “It would be tacky to answer that.”  More likely, he would  have stared blankly in your direction wondering whatever it was you were referring to, or asked what his being happy had to do with the price of tea in China.

But is the question of Shakespeare’s sexual preference relevant today?  That I would answer with a resounding, yes.   For if the father of English literature, venerated by millions over the centuries, was indeed, sleeping with men, it confirms that great and lasting contributions to our culture and world, can come from any corner–gay, straight, transgender, etc., and knocks the wind out of the sails of those who would degrade or discredit any of these.

However–and it’s a big HOWEVER, there is no earthly way for us to know who Shakespeare was sharing his bed with.  Hell, we don’t even know, with one hundred percent certainty, who actually wrote Shakespeare’s plays!   Perhaps the best idea then, is to look at everyone as a person first, and to measure them against their lasting contributions and the good they accomplished in their lives.