Reprinting old gay books



Huffington Post | 14089

Walter Baxter’s novel of the British campaign in Burma, “Look Down in Mercy”, has been republished in the US. It is one of a series of gay British titles that have been unavailable but are now reprinted. Joint publisher James Jenkins of Valancourt Books comments to the Huff:

WWII-themed novels were still very popular in 1951 when it was first published, and it was a bestseller in both the U.S. and UK, perhaps a little surprisingly, since a significant portion of the book has to do with the love between an officer and an enlisted man. An intriguing thing about the book is that in the UK edition, the officer is consumed by guilt and self-hatred and throws himself out of a window at the end, but in the U.S. edition, the author rewrote the last chapter to give a happy ending and a possible future for the two men.

…Many of the gay classics we’ve been reissuing are ones that were last published in the 1980s by the UK’s Gay Men’s Press in their Gay Modern Classics series. We’ve reprinted most of that series now — great titles like Kenneth Martin’s Aubade, about a teenager’s first love (written when Martin was only 16!) Gillian Freeman’s The Leather Boys, the first novel to focus on love between young working-class men, (everything before that time had featured gay men who were wealthy aristocrats, emperors, etc.), and Michael Nelson’s A Room in Chelsea Square, a wonderfully camp classic about bitchy queens in 1950s London that elicits some really strong reactions from today’s readers — people either think the novel is hilarious fun, or else they view the main character, Patrick, as a reprehensible predator. I think it’s great that a gay novel from 1958 can still inspire such interest and passionate responses.

James Jenkins and Ryan Cagle founded Valancourt Books in 2005 to bring back the many great gay, gothic and horror titles that remain out-of-print and inaccessible.


Huffington Post | 14090



Harlem’s hidden gay history: The Rockland Palace Drag Balls



The Rockland Palace | New York City Gangs | 14091

The Hamilton Lodge was a black gay social group that held extravagant drag balls in Harlem, New York, in the 1930s. Prohibition put an end to the Hamilton Lodge drag formals at the Rockland Palace on West 155th Street.


Inside the Rockland Palace | The Black Archives | 14092

New York’s drag balls were given national exposure by the 1990 documentary “Paris is Burning.” Harlem’s gay scene was well known before Prohibition, and Hamilton Lodge was one of the foremost venues for the area’s thriving LGBT community. Artists who supported Harlem’s gay community during the 1930s included Tallulah Bankhead.

“You had a large majority of drag queens and what we now call gender-queer pushing the boundaries,” says Hael Fisher, who is relaunching the Hamilton Lodge drag balls. “And you had a lot of white onlookers who came up from the West Village to be a part of this.”

The Rockland was torn down in the 1960s and the site became a car park.


Jeff Dudgeon


This post was updated on 27 May 2014.


Jeff Dudgeon | | 14093

In January 2012 Jeff Dudgeon was honoured with an MBE for services to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in Northern Ireland.

Dudgeon is best known for his role in the case of Dudgeon vs United Kingdom, where he challenged the criminalisation of gay acts between men in Northern Ireland at the European Court of Human Rights. The case, in 1982, forced Northern Ireland to bring its laws into line with Scotland, which decriminalised in 1980, and England and Wales, which decriminalised in 1967, with ramifications for the Republic of Ireland and led to the Council of Europe’s declaration that no European state should criminalise consensual homosexual acts between men or women.

In a speech to the International Lesbian and Gay Association in October, Dudgeon described being arrested alongside 25 others in 1976 as he claimed police tried to disband the first campaigning LGBT organisations in Northern Ireland, Cara-Friend and NIGRA.

In the May 2014 local elections, Mr Dudgeon was elected to serve as a councillor on Belfast City Council.


How the US Civil Service tried to expel gays



Charles Francis and some of the documents he uncovered | Stephen Crowley/The New York Times | 14094

Charles Francis has been digging in the US archives and making freedom of information requests to discover the methods used by the US Civil Service to rid itself of gays.

Days after President Lyndon B. Johnson’s election to his first full term, an administration official asked a subordinate to explain the policy on firing gays. In particular, he wondered whether someone with a history of gay liaisons could, through years of marriage, be “rehabilitated” into a trustworthy civil servant.

The response came quickly, and in language that would be shocking by today’s standards. Technically, rehabilitated gays could keep their jobs. But John W. Steele, a staff member of the Civil Service Commission, which handled personnel matters for the government, said that seldom happened.

It was November 1964. Four months earlier, the president had signed the landmark Civil Rights Act banning discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex and national origin. The policies laid out in Mr. Steele’s memo would continue for more than another decade.

As we all know, FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover imparted two obsessions into the FBI he headed: an obsession with communists, and an obsession with homosexuality. Under the “Sex Deviate program” the F.B.I. collected information on people suspected of being gay. They passed it on to government agencies and when it suited them, newspapers. Informants, including doctors, helped alert the FBI to what was seen as a growing national security threat.


US Post has Harvey licked



US Postal Service | 14095

The U.S. Postal Service will dedicate its Harvey Milk stamp during a ceremony at the White House on Thursday, the day the stamp is released. Mr Milk won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, becoming one of the nation’s first openly gay elected officials.

The Postal Service said in a statement that Mr Milk’s achievements “gave hope and confidence to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in the United States and elsewhere at a time when the community was encountering widespread hostility and discrimination.”


Michael Sam becomes first openly gay NFL player



Michael Sam | LG Patterson/AP | 14096

President Barack Obama greeted the St Louis Rams’ draft selection of Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to join an NFL team, as “an important step forward in our nation’s journey”. Sam came out in February.

His endorsement is controversial, however. Many questioned whether any NFL team would draft an openly gay player, perhaps deterred by ingrained social attitudes or unwillingness to deal with the inevitable media attention. One NFL coach, speaking anonymously to Sports Illustrated after Sam came out, said: “I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet.”

On Twitter, Chris Kluwe, a former Minnesota Vikings punter who has become an outspoken critic of attitudes to homosexuality within the NFL, said: “At least one team finally showed some balls. Good job Rams. However, it’s still a very real problem that it took this long.”


Conchita Wurst



Conchita Wurst | Reuters | 14097

2014 Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst returned home to Vienna.

Popularly known as ‘the bearded lady’, Conchita won with the James Bond-like theme “Rise Like A Phoenix” before a global TV audience estimated to be around 180 million people in 45 countries.

Austrian drag queen Conchita is the alter ego of 25-year-old Thomas Neuwirth and as his grande dame he delivered one of the most glamorous and sultry performances of the contest, which was held in Copenhagen, Denmark.