(Blogmensgo, gay blog of 14 July 2019) June 2019 was special in two ways. On the one hand, the Pride month today is clearly part of the festival and protest calendar even at the Library of Congress, and on the other hand, the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots was celebrated this year, in New York and everywhere else. On this occasion a lot of books and articles have been published lately. Here are some more more or less recent publications.
Gore Vidal, the Revival
Who remembers Myra Breckinridge? This novel made Gore Vidal famous.
In May 2019, Vintage International released a new edition of Myra Breckinridge, with an introduction by feminism and transgender icon Camille Paglia. The editor presents this new edition on the occasion of the 50th anniversary, although the book was first published in February 1968, i.e. 51 years ago.
Hopefully this mythical book is better than Gore Vidal’s many historical fictions, which are less interesting than most of his literary, social and political essays.
Julien Green’s diary in an unpublished version
Who remembers the endless years of Julien Green’s diary? Often the texts were quite commonplace, and the interesting remarks were hidden under too many banal or boring considerations.
The Bouquins collection, which celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year, reports that the first volume of Julien Green’s Journal intégral will be published on 19 September 2019. It will be complete, i.e. uncensored, and with all his notes on the author’s sexuality, homosexuality and love life – which were missing in all previous editions of his diary.
The webzine ActuaLitté has reported this, with a cover that explains that this first volume will cover the period 1926-1940. There should be “about 60% more text.” We can assume that the issues will cover well over a thousand pages. For comparison: The same period 1926-1940 ends on page 549 in the luxurious but chaste edition of La Pléiade.
Julien Green’s love and sex life, which was described in great detail and explicitly in the manuscript of the diary, was systematically omitted from the published version – self-censored, anonymized, and ultimately very distanced.
(Victor de Sepausy, in ActuaLitté, 21 May 2019)
Green has often portrayed gay or bisexual authors such as Gide, Mauriac, Cocteau, Montherlant, Jouhandeau and many others, but his manuscript was probably shortened by half, suggests Victor de Sepausy in ActuaLitté.
We will find out in September.
Martin Sherman, Tom Wright or Samuel Adamson?
The excellent collection of Methuen’s dramas now published by the Bloomsbury Group has just released two plays with open LGBT themes. Good news in several ways.
The play Gently Down the Stream by American playwright Martin Sherman was published in 2017 and premiered in New York. So it is not really new. But the first London edition dates from 13 February 2019 and the second edition of the book from 22 February in paper form and from 3 May in digital form, according to the publisher.
The cover is explicit: It is a gay love story. In addition to the story of a threesome relationship, there are reflections on the development of gay encounters on the Internet and notes on the most important figures in the history of LGBT rights.
The play Undetectable by English playwright Tom Wright deals with more current topics: The printed version was released on 12 March 2019, the premiere took place at King's Head Theatre London on 15 March 2019, and the digital version was released on 28 May, again by Bloomsbury.
This is a gay love story as well, but much more modern, open and focused on sex. Unlike previous covers, Undetectable‘s is as explicit as public places like bookstores or libraries allow: Two guys with naked chests hug and kiss each other.
Some digital libraries used Pride month as an occasion to purchase these two books and make them accessible to everyone.
Australian playwright Samuel Adamson published his latest play with Faber & Faber, one of the leading British theater publishers. The premiere of Wife took place end of May 2019 and the performances ended on 7 July. So, impatient people will have to read the book template until it will come onto stage again.
According to his Twitter account, Samuel Anderson has been greatly influenced by his colleague Alan Hollinghurst, one of the most widely read LGBT authors in the world, and Wife contains many references to the English writer. He received a Stonewall Book Award for The Swimming-Pool Library in 1989 and a nomination for The Line of Beauty in 2005.
The play Wife tells of four couples and their queer lives, at four different moments in time (1959, 1988, 2019, 2042), using Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House as the common thread. For example, in 1959 Daisy had to choose between a heteronormal life with her husband Robert and a real love life with Suzannah.
A “cross-generational” play in the truest sense of the word, as the official trailer of the play calls it.
This interview with Sirine Saba (who plays Suzannah) also reveals more about this.
Samuel Anderson’s play is dedicated to Scott Forbes, one of the co-founders of Studio One. This famous LGBT nightclub in West Hollywood is now known as The Factory.
You can find many other suggestions for plays with LGBT themes in this article by Alex Wood.
Gender and sexuality, from A to Z
Jessica Kingsley Publishers has made a name for herself in the publishing world by publishing numerous books on autism. A lesser known topic in her catalog is the LGBT universe – and of course LGBT people with autism.
In The A-Z of Gender and Sexuality: From Ace to Ze, Morgan Lev Edward Holleb explains concepts and events, and places them in their respective historical and sociological contexts. In fact, the book ranges from A (asexual) to zucchini, which means “good friend but not partner.”
As the LGBTQIA vocabulary and word meanings are changing at Internet speed today, the publication of such a glossary in 2019 is very welcome. In the digital version, hypertext links to related words and concepts are particularly useful.
Here are two more recent books about the riots at the Stonewall Inn.
The first book is a new edition. Written by Martin Duberman and published by Plume, Stonewall: The Definitive Story of the LGBTQ Rights Uprising that Changed America is the expanded and updated 2019 edition of a 1993 title. The introduction comes from a text published in 2018 and the closing word corresponds to an unpublished text from 2019.
The book contains many original photos, all in black and white, and many hints. The digital edition has an extensive index (of names, places, concepts) with hyperlinks. In short, this book remains one of the great works on Stonewall, its origins and consequences.
Another reference work on Stonewall, unlike Duberman’s book, is a new title from 2019 for a more youthful audience. The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets was edited by Abrams Books for Young Readers. The author Gayle E. Pitman reminds us of Stonewall and its 50th anniversary with 50 emblematic things: Archive photos, posters, signs, books, leaflets, shop windows, television programs, etc. In short: An illustrious collection on the subject.
By the way, Gayle E. Pitman has also won the Stonewall Book Award in the category Children and Youth 2015 (for This Day in June).
Greetings to Stonewall
Riots did not only take place in the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969 and the following days in New York City. They have also left a visible trace in the general or “heterosexual” press in many Western countries. What do Bloomberg Businessweek, Entertainment Weekly, Harper’s Magazine, Le Monde Magazine, Publishers Weekly and many others have in common? They all dedicated a more or less extensive article to the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.
We are not talking about the three pages per year about the Pride month or a local CSD, but about articles with several dozen pages. They are intended for a relatively large target group that does not actually have much to do with LGBT topics. Of course, each of these magazines looks at Stonewall and the LGBT community from their specific perspective – for example, an economic one in the Bloomberg Businessweek or with a focus on news in Publishers Weekly.
We see this as evidence of the progress that has been made in fifty years and of the irreversible development of mentalities towards a better acceptance of homosexuality and LGBT people, despite some reactionary developments here and there. Let us hope that the major magazines in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab world will also report positively on Stonewall and LGBT issues in less than fifty years from now.
Ten years before the Stonewall Inn in New York
Who remembers the American writer John Rechy? He had his greatest successes from the early 1960s to the late 1990s. Since 2017, he has been in the spotlight again with his novel After the Blue Hour, which won a Lambda Literary Award in the category Gay Fiction in 2018. In 2018, even Rechy’s first (and previously unpublished) novel Pablo! was published – a strong indication that the almost ninety-year-old author has returned to fashion.
John Rechy’s return to the top dates back to 2013, when Grove Press reissued City of Night in a 50-year anniversary issue with an unpublished epilogue by the author. In City of Night, Rechy recalls the Cooper Do-nuts riots in which he had participated himself.
Cooper Do-nuts was a café open day and night in downtown Los Angeles that was frequented by a large number of LGBT customers, especially Trans people. In May 1959, frustrated by the constant harassment of the police, the guests rebelled when three of them, including John Rechy, were picked up by the police. They threw everything they could find at the policemen. Donuts, coffee cups and much more.
That was the Cooper Do-nuts riots ten years before Stonewall Inn. No big riots in Los Angeles because they lasted only a few hours. But still an event strong enough to have an effect and to leave a mark in literature.
For all bookworms and theater lovers: A nice read and interesting performances.
Frank-S / MensGo