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What Makes a Queen a Queen?

SOME MONTHS AGO, an older gentleman at the center of a wide circle of friends his own age and younger died. A week after the funeral a text arrives from a fellow mourner: “I miss that queen.”           So do I. But it occurred to me that had that message shown up on someone else’s phone, the digital equivalent of a wrong number, it would almost certainly have mystified the receiver.

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‘I’ll Go Forth Alone’

Sweet Bird of Youth, however, is how sexual it is. … Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to Sweet Bird of Youth to even a one-act like “At Liberty”—though in a play that I see two nights later, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, that life force is nearly spent.

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The Action Is at the Cuban Ballet

If life in the ballet company provides only a highly restricted space for gay identity, the real gay space takes place in the audience.

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Starstruck

  Money, Murder, and Dominick Dunne: A Life in Several Acts by Robert Hofler Wisconsin. 352 pages, $26.95   IT WOULD BE HARD to imagine a gayer life than the one led by Dominick Dunne. Growing up in Hartford (across the street from Katherine Hepburn), he was not only called a “sissy” by his father […]

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The Multi-Talented Harry Hervey

Harry Hervey’s academic career had not been distinguished, but amazingly, at sixteen, he sold a lurid adventure story to a magazine edited by cultural critic H. L. Mencken.

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Camping in the Cold War South

Many contemporary San Antonio natives would describe Cornyation as a hilariously campy political satire, a veritable Beach Blanket Babylon performed every spring for six shows as a major fundraiser for HIV/AIDS and other causes.

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Camille of Fire Island

  “A DAY AT THE BEACH” was a well-established national pastime by the turn of the 20th century. Beach colonies developed on land adjacent to waterfronts—Coney Island in New York, Atlantic City and the New Jersey shore, Mission Beach in California—all convenient to large cities. Many locations provided amenities for visitors, including bathhouse changing facilities, […]

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When the Movies Went to Sodom

IF YOUR ACQUAINTANCE with Sodom and Gomorrah were limited to what you see in movies, your impression might differ only slightly from the story in Genesis 19. That’s because the biblical version is already as farfetched as the script of a Hollywood epic.

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Kirstein’s Letters 2: Friends & Lovers

  In Part I of this essay, published in the January-February 2017 issue of this magazine, I described the recent discovery of a large amount of new archival material on Lincoln Kirstein, America’s “cultural czar” for much of the 20th century. The material is now housed in two manuscript depositories, the Houghton Library at Harvard […]

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Seasons in Hell

DAVID FRANCE’S HISTORY of AIDS opens with a memorial service for Spencer Cox, an ACT UP activist, to whom we come back in the epilogue. In between are approximately thirteen years of Hell. Although How to Survive a Plague pretty much follows the plot of the documentary film he released four years ago with the same title, the difference between the two is enormous. When the film came out, this reviewer wondered if a book would not give us more nuance, more insight into what people were really thinking in those ACT UP meetings we saw on screen. Well, here is the answer to that wish.

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