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Article Categories Archives: Essays

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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Gay Resilience and HIV Prevention

WE HEAR a lot about advances in HIV treatment, the use of Truvada or PrEP to prevent HIV infection for the sexually active, and the latest programs designed to promote safer sex. Largely unreported, however, has been a huge shift toward addressing “upstream” mental health issues—such as depression, substance abuse, or partner violence—because it has finally become clear that gay men who don’t feel good about themselves or their lives are less likely to protect themselves and more likely to take risks.

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Where HIV Has Not Been Tamed

OVER THE PAST DECADE, we’ve seen a great deal of progress on HIV/Aids in the U.S. Data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in late 2015 indicate that diagnoses of HIV in the U.S. declined significantly over the last decade. … However, black and Latino gay and bisexual men actually saw an increase in HIV diagnoses of 22 percent and 24 percent.

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Playwrights Who Rewrote the Rules

By writing plays that call attention to the unreality of theater, Albee and Shaffer called attention to the inauthenticity of modern life: both how people are influenced by movies and commercials and how they fashion their sexuality to conform to socially celebrated norms. Relying heavily upon the conventions of Greek tragedy, plays like Albee’s The Goat and Shaffer’s Equus attempted to return theater to its ancient roots in which one wore a mask to deliver a primal authenticity that could not be enacted in everyday life.

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