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Thread: the lgbt history thread.

  1. #1
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    the lgbt history thread.

    inspired by coming across this earlier today: Paul Thek and His Circle in the 1950s via this blog post about that exhibition: Gay Pride and Self-Representation Under the Lavender Scare



    Before pride parades, Stonewall, the It Gets Better Project, and “Born This Way,” a circle of friends, lovers and artists unabashedly embodied and represented their own homosexuality. This group coalesced around Paul Thek, expressing their identity during a deeply conservative era, as seen in the important and enlightening exhibition Paul Thek and His Circle in the 1950s at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.

    Looking back to this group of artists, based mainly in New York and Miami, the exhibition both asserts the presence of an out-and-proud gay culture and questions the dominant LGBT narrative of progression from closeted isolation in the 1950s to today’s liberated gay community.

    [...]

    In 1953, President Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450, which prevented gay and lesbians from serving in the US government in any capacity. Despite the dominance of McCarthy’s Red Scare in the collective memory of the 1950s, more people were discharged from their positions for homosexuality than communism. Not only did the US government bar gays and lesbians from employment, but many states prohibited serving gay and lesbian patrons in bars and restaurants.
    You can see photos of pieces in the exhibition on that link I posted and even stuff like this wonderful letter:



    I always find stories of LGBT history absolutely fascinating (so much so that I helped start to document some of our own local history here) so seeing more and more facets of pre-stonewall history being exhibited and written about is something I love to see. Actually, the "Before Stonewall" documentary is on Netflix, and is well worth watching, and is better than the "after stonewall" one I think. Perhaps I just find it more interesting as I personally know less about the pre-Pride days despite reading a lot of work from the turn of the 20th century. I'm a big fan of Auden and Isherwood at the moment, and reading about that mid-war period when places like Berlin had more open expressions of LGBT identity.


    When I was working as a volunteer with the lgbt youth group here, it was always the history based workshops that they were most interested in - which took us all by surprise. I mean, sure, we made the workshops engaging and interactive, as well as informative, but what we found was this thirst to learn more about gay history because it's was something you had to really look for and search out and wasn't a part of their education at all.

    edit: we ended up having a mini exhibition of local lgbt history here at the city museum, and the museum curators were so impressed by how the small community here has managed to keep so many artifacts from the emergence of a community here over the last 50 years that there were then talks about the museum taking hold of that exhibition and keeping it as a part of their collection. Which would be wonderful.
    Last edited by ebby; 04-25-2013 at 11:49 AM.

  2. #2
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    Stumbled across this video this afternoon, of RuPaul and his two backing dancers back in 1986:

    In the penthouse suite at the Jane West Hotel overlooking the Hudson River, RuPaul lived for a while after moving to New York for the second time. Sharing the suite are RuPaul's backup dancers Trade and Spicey. Afterwards, Nelson takes the gang over to the meat market to see his home at 5 Ninth Avenue and his dog Blackout. Video by Nelson Sullivan.



    and some from 1985 doing a club promo:



    I love that footage like this makes its way to youtube.
    Last edited by ebby; 04-27-2013 at 05:15 PM.

  3. #3
    worth a million in prizes .chris's Avatar
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    Awesome. A random fact I'd like to add is that the Ballroom at the Jane Street Hotel was converted into a theatre where Hedwig and the Angry Inch first played at.

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    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    I just discovered "Camp Records" which Wikipedia tells me "was a record label based out of California in the 1960s that specialized in producing anonymous gay-themed novelty records and singles, mostly sold out of the backs of beefcake magazines."

    Someone on tumblr posted a track from "The Queen Is In The Closet", which was released sometime in 1964 it seems:



    There's a website that delves into Queer Music Heritage: http://www.queermusicheritage.us/ but it's a bit all over the place to navigate, but it's an interesting document with information about stuff like Camp Records: http://www.queermusicheritage.us/camp.html and has some audio files of the recordings too!

    The record label also had stuff like this:




    There was also a non-comedy approach to numbers too, as the album "Mad About The Boy" was covers of major broadway musical songs gender switched without altering lyrics. The album art came with this letter printed on it:




    I do wish someone would redesign the Queer Music Heritage websit so that it's easier to browse through, because there's quite a lot of fascinating content to read about that otherwise I'd not have heard about at all most likely.

    There's also this web-flipbook which is interesting to peruse, covering a queer music history project from the 1920s onwards: http://queermusicheritage.us/indexflip.html

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    this is so great ebby

  6. #6
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    ^ I can't wait to get home and download the tracks. I heard the campest version of "The Drunken Sailor" which is from one of their releases, and it's all kinds of brilliant.

    There's also an interesting history of the song "The Lavender Cowboy" in all the different iterations throughout the years, and how some versions are more homophobic and some are more campy as shown by the little changes in the lyrics. It makes for such fascinating reading. One of the recordings of it is one of the 147 "blue tracks" which were on a banned list in 1940:

    ..."Blue" songs are naturally not allowed on the radio networks. Last week NBC revealed that 147 songs are on its blacklist. Because their titles are suggestive, 137 may not even be played instrumentally[!]. Among them: "Lavender Cowboy"... "Dirty Lady"... "But in the Morning, No"... Many another song has to be laundered before NBC will pass it. Not to be sung in "Thank You Father" are the lines: "Though your father's name was Stanley/Thank God that he was manly." -- --Time, March 25, 1940

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    OUR MALE SOLOIST, IS A DELIGHTFULLY GIFTED YOUNG MAN, WHOSE NAME UNFORTUNATELY MUST BE WITHELD AT THIS TIME. WE WILL MERELY REFER TO HIM AS.......THE BOY.

    "I'd Rather Swish than Fight" is my jam right now. I need to twist to this. And swish.

  8. #8
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    I can see a rock'n'roll Camp Side Story happening with the Butch versus the Swish.

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    Definitely needs to happen. The sexual tension is palpable.

  10. #10
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    From an Irish drag perspective, I'm finding this little amateur interview with the queen of Irish drag here: Panti. She's sort of the first proper professional queen from here who has been going for nearly 30 years. She talks about her influences (Leigh Bowery was a friend, and she did a duo with an American queen in Tokyo who had come up from the same scene as RuPaul and Lady Bunny) and about how different Irish drag is to other places, and how Irish audiences have completely different ideas of drag and look for different things from a drag performance. I'd love to see a proper documentary about Panti's life to be honest. It's odd how hugely respected and admired she is as a drag performer and community leader.

    When the equal marriage campaign started here it didn't really take off properly until Panti blogged about it and started to rally the people to come along. And spoke at the first big rally as Rory, out of drag. And is definitely one of the main figures in the LGBT community on a wider level, as well as running one of the bars and performing and having run the Alternative Miss Ireland contest for so long as a major AIDS charity fundraiser event.

    The most interesting parts are about how she started in drag and the early years.


  11. #11
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    While it's not specifically LGBT focused, the Vanishing New York blog has some really interesting posts that focus on the queer side of life too, such as today's post about photographer Efrain Gonzalez: http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.ie/...-new-york.html

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    Tens Across the Board Banjee's Avatar
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    Vice magazine did an awesome bio on Howard Ashman, the genius behind Disney's resurgence in the late 80s and early 90s. Howard penned some of the most memorable love songs from The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the beast while suffering through AIDS. Because if his genius, Disney got him the best treatments for his AIDS, but he succumb to the virus without ever seeing the results of his work. Such a sad story, and it makes me think, would all the Christo-facists still show their children these movies if they knew the true history behind their composition?

  13. #13
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    well, delve deeper into the stories that inspired a lot of disney movies and you'll find some very queer roots indeed! The Little Mermaid, for example, is essentially a love letter written when the object of Hans Christian Anderson's affection decided to get married to a woman. Of course, in the original tale, the mermaid gives up her life instead of killing the prince (which would break the spell and turn her back into a mermaid) when he marries someone else.

    So, yeah, tortured gay unrequited love turned into a fantastic fairy tale.

  14. #14
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    Today i stumbled across some photos and the scan of an article about the 1982 Gay Olympics in San Francisco, which was the first of the Gay Games, as it is now called. The article I wish was a bit clearer, as I'm finding it difficult to read black on grey on a screen...



    There had been a lawsuit about the use of "Olympics" in the event title, which is why the name was changed to the Gay Games. There's some info on the Gay Games wikipedia page about that lawsuit. That article also links through to this piece from 1994 about the Gay Games and the founder of those games, Tom Waddell: http://joeclark.org/glory.html

    "Faster, stronger, higher" is, um, a nice enough motto for the Olympic Games, but in the real world of Olympic competition those comparatives relate to one's competitors, not oneself. Run faster than the jock beside you in the starting blocks; be stronger than the weightlifter who follows you; jump higher than the previous pole-vaulter. An athlete who finishes as high as fourth place is arguably a loser in the Olympic system, even if only a fraction of a second separates a bronze medal from a lifetime of (imposed) disappointment and regret.

    Not so at the Gay Games. "The most important principle behind the Gay Games is this notion of inclusivity," says Rick Peterson, co-president of the Federation of Gay Games (FOGG), the Gay Games governing body. "We have a history of being excluded in athletics. Many gay youth... who are boys don't see being in athletics as a possibility for anyone who fits the stereotype of being gay, and for many women who have a love of sport early on who turn out to be lesbian, they're ridiculed for being tomboys when they play sports."
    It's interesting because back even in 1994, there were just three out athletes: Martina Navratilova, soccer player Justin Fashanu, and Canadian figure-skater Matthew Hall. Compare that to the response to people like Jason Collins and Brittney Griner coming out in the last few weeks.

    It's what makes looking at LGBT history so fascinating for me. You really get to see just how slow progress can be sometimes, and how far things have moved along.

  15. #15
    In the garden of your mind. Tellurium's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banjee View Post
    Vice magazine did an awesome bio on Howard Ashman, the genius behind Disney's resurgence in the late 80s and early 90s. Howard penned some of the most memorable love songs from The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the beast while suffering through AIDS. Because if his genius, Disney got him the best treatments for his AIDS, but he succumb to the virus without ever seeing the results of his work. Such a sad story, and it makes me think, would all the Christo-facists still show their children these movies if they knew the true history behind their composition?
    Thank you for that. That was a really moving read. And I'm ashamed to admit I didn't know anything about him until now.


    I'm learning so much from all of these posts, actually. Great thread, ebby.

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