New home for gay collection

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Heather Rousseau/Roanoake Times | 18304

The Roanoake Times reports that the local collection of gay books and artifacts has a new permanent home, after many years of being hidden from public view and moving around. The Roanoke LGBT Library has found a new home as a research collection in Roanoke Diversity Center, Roanoake, North Carolina.

Established in 2000, the collection now has a wide array of subjects, from medical and psychology books from the 1960s and ’70s, to mid-20th century lesbian pulp fiction novels. The collection was originally the personal collection of 1,200 volumes of Jim Ricketson, a gay man and retired book editor. The collection has since more than doubled to nearly 3,000 volumes, which have now been catalogued. Much of the collection is long out of print.

Members of Roanoke’s LGBT community continued to donate books, and some books came from a now-closed gay bookstore called Outward Connections.

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Patricia Highsmith and The Price of Salt

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“Carol” | The Weinstein Company – Rooney Mara, left, and Cate Blanchett | Wilson Webb/AP | 15489

Fans of the unsettling thrillers of Patricia Highsmith – and their many movie adaptations – should prepare for a new classic among Highsmith movies in Carol, Todd Haynes’s sombrely rapturous filming of the most atypical work in the author’s oeuvre, her early lesbian romance The Price Of Salt. Published in 1952 under a pseudonym, it enjoyed cult bestseller status with a largely lesbian readership for 30 years,

writes John Patterson in The Guardian reviewing the new film “Carol” which is an adaptation of her 1950s book “The Price of Salt”.

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The original edition | 15490

When The Price of Salt was first published in paperback in 1953, Highsmith was flooded with thousands of letters from readers. The letters came addressed to the author “Claire Morgan,” the pseudonym she had used for the book. Highsmith had been working in a department store while submitting mystery stories to digest-size magazines.

While by no means the first novel to tackle lesbian issues, the book became successful. Nathan Smith commented,

“The Price of Salt” was a landmark book for queer America, offering readers a powerful and hopeful ending.”

Moreover it started a publishing phenomenon.

As a 25-cent paperback with a lurid cover, The Price of Salt entered a growing market. A wave of lesbian pulp novels had first begun being published in the early 1950s, notably Women’s Barracks (1950) and Spring Fire (1952), both of which sold more of than a million copies each. Although these paperbacks were marketed as a cheap and tawdry form of entertainment, they offered many women solace and comfort in the knowledge that they were not the only ones struggling with their sexual identity. As an act of secretive reading, the lesbian pulp novel formed an invisible lesbian community,

explains Smith in New Republic.

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Patricia Highsmith | Uncredited/Denver Library | 15491

American novelist and short story writer Mary Patricia Plangman (Patricia Highsmith) was born on January 19, 1921 in Texas and died on February 4 1995. Her grandmother taught her to read and write and by the age of 9 she is said to have read and enjoyed The Human Mind by Karl Menninger, about Freudian analysis. Her short stories started appearing in print from 1942. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, was published in 1950 and became a famous Hitchcock film. The Price of Salt was her second novel, although she did not associate herself with it publicly for many years.

Patricia Highsmith was an unusual individual who was fonder of cats than other people yet had the ability to communicate so well with so many people. She may have been an alcoholic. Wikipedia records that

Highsmith had sexual relationships with women and men. She never married or had children.

Highsmith died of aplastic anemia and cancer in Locarno, Switzerland, aged 74, with her place and importance in gay history and gay literature, assured.

http://www.centredaily.com/entertainment/celebrities/article47542225.html

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/nov/23/carol-patricia-highsmith-todd-haynes

https://newrepublic.com/article/124220/patricia-highsmith-offered-gay-readers-hopeful-ending

https://www.denverlibrary.org/blog/patricia-highsmith

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Klaus Mann

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Klaus Mann | Public domain | 15438

Klaus Heinrich Thomas Mann was born on 18 November 1906 and died on 21 May 1949 in Cannes of an overdose of sleeping tablets. Born in Munich, Klaus Mann was the son of German writer Thomas Mann. He began writing short stories in 1924 and the following year became drama critic for a Berlin newspaper. His first book appeared in 1925.

In 1932 Klaus wrote the first part of his autobiography, which got him in trouble with the Nazis. Apolitical cabaret, the Pepper-Mill, in 1933, also came to the attention of the Nazi regime. To escape prosecution he fled to Paris, then Amsterdam and Switzerland, where his family had a house. In November 1934 he was stripped of German citizenship and became a Czechoslovak citizen.

Mann’s most famous novel, Mephisto, was written in 1936 and first published in Amsterdam. His novel Der Vulkan is one of the 20th century’s most famous novels about German exiles during World War II.

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Thomas Quinn Curtiss | Public domain | 15439

Not long after he moved to the US where in 1937, he met his partner Thomas Quinn Curtiss, who was later a film and theater reviewer for Variety and the International Herald Tribune. Mann became a US citizen in 1943.

During World War II, he served as a Staff Sergeant of the 5th US Army in Italy (picture) and in summer 1945 he was sent by the Stars and Stripes to report from postwar Germany.

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German gay literature’s use of suicide to make political points

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A still image from the 1919 German film Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others) depicting a concert violinist who killed himself because of adverse publicity about his homosexual orientation | 15436

Historian Samuel Clowes Huneke has discovered that gay suicide is a historical phenomenon, with a distinct and varied past. Huneke is the first scholar in the field of modern German history to examine the relationship between suicide and gay identity. He is also the first to historicize gay suicide and trace the ways in which it pervades the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“A striking trend of gay suicide evolved in German culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” he said. Through a close examination of German suicide notes, letters, diaries, medical records, gay literary magazines and novels, Huneke has identified clear connections between the suicide trope and the development of gay identity in modern Germany.

“In the late 1860s, just at the moment when the earliest texts on homosexuality began to appear, German doctors, activists, and writers also began to discuss and depict gay suicide with increasing frequency.” This phenomenon of linking homosexuality with suicide sparked the beginning of what he sees as a trend in poetry, plays and novels in which suicide is a recurring theme. This group “pointed to a handful of gay suicides in order to claim that there was an epidemic of gay men killing themselves because of anti-sodomy laws and fear of exposure.”

Klaus Mann, the first prominent German gay novelist in Western history, was the son of writer Thomas Mann. Klaus Mann published in the 1920s, and his work treated homosexuality openly. The suicide of gay characters recurs in most of Mann’s books. In his novel Treffpunkt im Unendlichen (Meeting-Point at Infinity, 1932), the unrequited love of a gay man for a heterosexual man leads the gay character to take his own life. Mann chose to make the suicide appear romantic and gentle: The gay man committed suicide in the straight man’s bed, in what Mann describes as a wedding-night scene. “It’s seen as a romantic fulfillment of life … instead of depicting something like suicide as a brutal, tragic act, it is depicted as a grand capstone to a miserable life. As if the best thing this character has done with his life is to kill himself.”

Klaus Mann himself committed suicide in a hotel in Cannes, in 1949.

http://phys.org/news/2015-11-historian-uncovers-historical-insidious-gay.html

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Paul Monette

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Paul Monette (left) and his partner Roger Horwitz (right) | The Monette-Horwitz Trust | 15191

Writer Paul Monette, whose autobiography, “Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story,” a memoir of suppressing and then celebrating his homosexuality, won the US 1992 National Book Award for nonfiction, died at home of complications from AIDS on February 10, 1995 aged 49. New York Times writer Esther B. Fein observed that

Mr. Monette’s memoir and a previous book about nursing a lover who died of AIDS humanized the tragedy of the disease and the torment of denying one’s homosexuality, but it also brought to life the rich relationships that some gay men enjoy.

Born in Lawrence, Mass., on Oct. 16, 1945, he described in “Becoming a Man” growing up in an ordinary middle-class world in which he became obsessed with his homosexual yearnings but had to suppress them: “Never lost my temper, never raised my voice. A bland insipid smile glazed my face instead, twin to the sexless vanilla of my body.” He went to Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., and Yale, then taught English at Milton Academy in Milton, Mass., and Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. He noted that his background was frighteningly similar to many of the “conservative homophobes” with whom he crossed political swords.

Mr. Monette came out in 1974 when he met Roger Horwitz and the two set up home in Los Angeles, where they lived together for 10 years while Mr. Monette wrote what he described as “glib and silly little novels,” many with gay protagonists, including “Taking Care of Mrs. Carrol” and “The Gold Diggers.”

Mr. Horwitz died of AIDS in 1985 which Monette chronicled in the best-selling and acclaimed “Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir” (1988). In a review in The New York Times, William M. Hoffman praised the book, saying,

“Mr. Monette has etched a magnificent monument to his lover’s bravery, their commitment to each other and the plague of hatred and ignorance they had to endure.”

A few years later, Monette lost a second companion to AIDS, Stephen F. Kolzak, a casting director for several television shows, including “Cheers” and “Starsky and Hutch.” When he was found to have full-blown AIDS he wrote his last book, “Last Watch of the Night,” while hooked up to three intravenous tubes and taking a mound of tablets every day.

Paul Monette mentored many aspiring writers. He said that the torment of suppressing his sexuality for so long and the inescapable threat of AIDS inspired him to become active in gay politics and to encourage young writers, whenever his health allowed.

The Monette-Horwitz Trust founded in his and Rogers’ names, honours individuals and organizations making significant contributions toward eradicating homophobia.

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Berlin: “150 Years of Homosexual History” Exhibition opens

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SV-Bilderdienst | 15156

The German Historical Museum in Berlin has opened an exhibition tracing 150 years of gay history in the country. The exhibition includes the first uses of the term “homosexual,” the brutal Nazi-era repression of gays and gradual moves toward legal equality starting in the 1960s.

The exhibition is a joint production with Berlin’s Gay Museum and has been four years in the planning.

“Homosexuality_ies,” runs through to Dec. 1, 2015. It features photo and film material, an electric shock device used for “aversion therapy” in the 1950s, other artifacts, and an “A to Z” section exploring issues ranging from gay marriage to censorship.

One of the earliest exhibits is a handwritten 1868 letter from Vienna-born writer Karl Maria Kertbeny to a German advocate of legal reform, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, which is believed to be the oldest written record anywhere of the words “homosexual” and “heterosexual.”

It also features the work of scientists such as sex researcher Magnus Hirschfeld, whose pioneering Institute for Sexual Research was shut down and looted shortly after the Nazis took power in 1933. The Nazi regime toughened the 1872 law criminalizing sex between men; West Germany changed the so-called “paragraph 175” to decriminalize it only in 1969.

In the words of Visit Berlin, the exhibition

puts the political contribution the homosexual liberation movements made toward the development of our democratic society in the visual range of a broader public for the first time.

http://www.startribune.com/german-museum-launches-show-on-150-years-of-gay-history/309500731/

https://www.dhm.de/en/ausstellungen/preview/homosexuality-ies.html

http://www.visitberlin.de/en/event/09-20-2015/guided-tours-with-curators-homosexualityies-guided-tour


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Long Beach, 1914: When actors entrapped cruisers and cottagers

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A scene from the play | O&M Co | 15147

A new play, “The twentieth century way” by Tom Jacobson is reviewed by The Daily Beast.

In 1914 the Long Beach Police Department recruited the services of two actors – one rugged, one more delicate – to act as bait to entrap men who had sex with men.

The actors recruited for the job were W.H. Warren and B.C. Brown.

The two would encourage their targets to show their penises through ‘glory holes’ between walls or stalls, after which they would score a cross on the men’s penises with a permanent marker. The men and their marked penises, indicative of their ‘guilt,’ would then be hauled down to the police station, and the men would be prosecuted for ‘social vagrancy.’

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/19/the-actors-who-trapped-gay-men-into-having-illegal-sex.html

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