The Boys In The Band

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The Boys In The Band | Video cover | Amazon | 15051

Time remembers the seminal stage play and film “The Boys in The Band”, which made its film debut 45 years ago on 17 March 1970, making history because it was one of the first American films to focus on gay characters. Adapted from Mart Crowley’s 1968 off-Broadway play, and directed by William Friedkin, the movie, funded by the CBS television network, was a candid illustration of gay life in New York at the time, and its’ realism helped it succeed.

The original 1968 Off-Broadway, New York stage cast and production | Unknown photographer | San Francisco Sentinel | 15052

The film featured Kenneth Nelson, Leonard Frey, Cliff Gorman, Frederick Combs, Keith Prentice, Robert La Tourneaux, Reuben Greene, Peter White, Maud Adams and Elaine Kaufman (the last two uncredited on the movie titles).

Sascha Cohen puts the film into context:

To the generation of gay Americans who came of age amidst the positive imagery of the contemporary LGBT rights movement — pride, love, rainbows and the message that “It Gets Better” — the plight of these men can look unrecognizable. With its bitter angst and grim outlook (the film’s most famous line is “show me a happy homosexual and I’ll show you a gay corpse”) The Boys in the Band feels like something of a relic.

But in 1970, it was a milestone for gay representation in Hollywood. For decades, homosexuality did not appear onscreen at all; the 1930 Motion Picture Production Code, enforced until 1968, prohibited the portrayal of “sex perversion.” Although a handful of characters from classic films — Plato in Rebel Without a Cause, the “sissy” cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz and the murderous aesthetes in Hitchcock’s Rope — managed to slip past the censors, those who would interpret such figures as gay are stuck reading subtext. In The Boys in the Band, on the other hand, gay desire and identity are explicit; each character announces his presence as a “fairy” or a “queen.” The film helped make the gay community culturally visible during a moment in which openly discussing homosexuality was still taboo, and many Americans had yet to encounter an “out” gay man in person.

Mart Crowley’s commented, “What did I have to lose?” to explain how a fey Hollywood failure wrote the play in a week, won a five-day workshop way off-off Broadway that turned into the event absolutely Everybody Had to See, then turned down big Tinsel town money to insist the 1970 film be made with its original, very brave, cast of unknowns,

wrote Seán Martinfield of the San Francisco Sentinel, reviewing the event “The Making of The Boys” which took place at San Francisco’s 33rd Frameline Film Festival, in an undated article.

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Remembering Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

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Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, an engraving taken from “Jahrbuch für sexuelle Zwischenstufen, (“Yearbook of sexual intermediates”), vol. 1″, 1899 | Geschichtswerkstatt | 15031

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was a German writer and lawyer who played key roles both in defining homosexuality and establishing the movement for gay rights.

Hans Rollman, reviewing the book “Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity” by Robert Beachy, explains.

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Amazon | 15032

A homosexual himself, his promising legal career was cut short when rumours began to spread about his sexual activities with other men. Shut out of the legal profession, he gradually rebuilt himself a career in journalism and writing. But as Beachy points out, he was a true product of the Protestant Reformation (his family were ardent Lutherans), with its drive to question accepted traditions in the search for truth. No matter which way he looked at it, he couldn’t find anything wrong with his sexual attraction to other men, and concluded that it was normal behaviour, and that some people are simply born homosexual.

All this was, of course, highly revolutionary for his time, as was his decision to begin campaigning for an end to the existing anti-sodomy laws and moral persecution which accompanied them. He first opened up a remarkable correspondence with his own family in what was essentially the first documented coming-out in history. He tested his own theories on them, and while they clearly disapproved and urged him to change, they didn’t reject him and even re-affirmed their love and support for him.

Thus bolstered, he began issuing a series of anonymous pamphlets, arguing that homosexuality, or ‘Urning’, as he called it, was natural behaviour. In 1867 he ratcheted things up a notch, giving an address to the Association of German Jurists where he presented his views and argued for revision of the sodomy laws. He was shouted down and unable to finish his speech, but he had opened the dialogue, and at the same time emerged as its public spokesperson. As he continued his courageous campaign, he also refined his theories of sexuality to embrace a diversity of sexual and gender identities.

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was born on 28 August 1825 and died on 14 July 1895.

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Unscrambling Keynes

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Time | 15027

Keynes had all the unpleasant elitist and anti-Jewish prejudices of his class and generation. And what to make of his voracious homosexuality, which was a large part of his life? He was part of the Bloomsbury set in London, where sexual encounters among the same sexes was frequent and from where many of his lovers came. He travelled far and wide to satisfy his sexual appetites. In the end he found love and happiness in his forties, getting married in 1925 (with his former lover Duncan Grant as his best man) to Lydia Lopokova, a Russian ballerina in whose arms he died of a heart attack in his early sixties…

writes Vicky Price in The Independent, reviewing a new biography, “Universal Man: The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes” by Richard Davenport-Hines, which goes into some detail of his sexual activities – he was fond of cruising and baths – shedding more light on London’s gay scene of the early 20th century.

.. he liked sleeping with men. He had no qualms about himself and his male friends all falling in love with each other, although the shadow cast by Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment in 1895 encouraged Keynes and many of his like- minded contemporaries (there were many) to compartmentalise their private and public lives and be as secretive as possible. Much has been written about his activities and the book relishes going into details of who was sleeping with whom, who was enjoying a ménage à trois and how many of the men in later life, who worked alongside Keynes in public life, had been his ex-lovers.

British economist John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, CB, FBA was born on 5 June 1883 and died on 21 April 1946 after a heart attack. The artist Duncan Grant was one of Keynes’s great loves.

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James Molyneaux. He never married

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James Molyneaux | Press Association | 15025

James Molyneaux was admitted to the Privy Council in 1983. He was knighted in 1996 and given a life peerage in 1997. He never married.

writes David McKittrick in The Independent.

James Molyneaux was the leader of Northern Ireland’s Protestant Orange Order and an MP and Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. He was a friend of Enoch Powell, and served as Party Leader until he lost his Parliamentary seat in 1995.

Never a bigot, and remembered for his twinkling eyes and softly softly approach, he was a traditionalist who hated change and worked to preserve the status quo in the Province – domination by the Unionists.

…when John Hume entered talks with Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein, Molyneaux said he had “sold his soul to the devil”.

James Henry Molyneaux, politician: born County Antrim 27 August 1920; Kt 1996, created a life peer 1997; died 9 March 2015 age 94.

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Madonna’s old disco ball unearthed in Detroit!

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Metro Times | 15022

Bar owners in Detroit, where many gay bars and venues have disappeared in recent years, have started collecting artefacts from some of those missing venues. Lee De Vito of the Metro Times talks to local gay businessman Mike Shannon:

… a beat-up disco ball, missing some of its glass tiles (if someone could photograph it properly, it would make an awesome album cover). “That’s the original 1976 disco ball that Madonna used to dance under here at Menjo’s. She was 16 years old,” Shannon says.

One of the things that attracted Madonna to the old Menjo’s was its notoriety as a music hotspot, which Shannon says they’re trying to continue. “One day we play disco, the next day we’re playing hip-hop, and the next day we’re playing top 40,” he says. “It used to be there was never anything played anywhere until it was played at Menjo’s. Menjo’s was the leader of new music and new dance music in Detroit.”

As we look at the disco ball, Shannon can’t help but wax poetic. “Another reason we really love this idea is the stories that these things have — sort of like, ‘if these walls could talk,'” he says. “Could you imagine how many loves were found under this disco ball?”

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