Issue Categories Archives: Essays

Kirstein’s Letters, Part 1: Balanchine

LINCOLN KIRSTEIN was born in 1907 to a newly prosperous Jewish couple—his father Louis had risen to a top executive post in Filene’s, the famed department store. As a young man, Kirstein was precocity personified.

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A Farewell to Edward Albee

Edward Albee died on Friday, September 16th, 2016, at the age of 88. He passed away at his summer home in Montauk, New York, after a short illness. He was one of the most important and iconic American playwrights of the 20th century.

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What Is Sex? What Is Gender?

“Gender,” as distinct from sex, is normally thought of as pertaining uniquely to humans, something that’s constructed by culture and finding highly divergent expression in different cultures.

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On the Medicalization of Gender

Sex Science Self … is a legitimate and earnest expression of cultural anxieties (particularly in the gay community) about the prominence of transgender issues and the role of the pharmaceutical-industrial complex in the medical construction of gender.

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Gender Fluidity in Hawaiian Culture

In pre-Christian Hawaii, Māhū was a category of revered and admired individuals. Māhūs were regarded as the keepers of certain customs, and they played a vital role in passing on their wisdom to the next generations through traditional practices, such as hula and chant. They were what we would term transgender

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Vito Russo’s Secret Papers Unsealed!

Five days later, Russo entered NYU Medical Center for the last time. Five years later, Arnie Kantrowitz donated Russo’s papers to NYPL. Twenty-one years further on, I’m honored to study papers deemed too personal for immediate access. Scandalous they generally aren’t. But they do offer a richer portrait of this passionate, funny, sometimes difficult, always loving activist: America’s fiercest film queen, one whose political legacy reaches far into a century he never knew.

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The Tolkien in Bilbo Baggins

Tolkien injects sexual passion into The Hobbit when Bilbo meets the dwarves, led by the gruff, charismatic Thorin Oakenshield. Thorin instructs the dwarves to bring out their musical instruments and …

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Xena’s Quest for Transcendent Love

“WHAT WOULD XENA DO?” The question became a trademark of the syndicated TV series, Xena: Warrior Princess (1995–2001), highlighting the religious references that saturated Xena’s mystical universe.

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The Grindrization of Gay Identity

To move back to the “negative space” for GLBT identity, it is in the nature of the Internet to enable the closeted to operate in full stealth mode. The unprecedented success of a mobile geosocial networking application such as Grindr, created by Joel Simkhai in 2009, is testament to the fact that cyberspace has become the new haven for closeted gay men.

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THINGS I WAS surprised to learn in William E. Jones’ biography of the legendary pornographer … Boyd McDonald: first, that he got the idea for his magazine Straight to Hell after reading a passage in Myra Breckinridge lambasting circumcision; second …

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