In 2012 the Killers looked as tatty as a blouse with the sequins pulled out. Then Brandon Flowers released The Desired Effect three years later: his loudest, most complete statement about growing up a straight kid wishing he were as cool as gay icons David Bowie and Neil Tennant. Buoyed, Flowers returned to the Killers for 2017’s Wonderful Wonderful, the band’s first domestic chart topper. The video for “The Man” showed Flowers preening beautifully; when he flexes a bicep, three decades of homosexual camp in pop music strengthened him. We await the new album.
1. Mr. Brightside
2. Read My Mind” (Pet Shop Boys Stars Are Blazing Mix)
4. Run for Cover
5. I Can Change
6. All These Things That I’ve Done
7. Can’t Deny My Love
8. Some Kind of Love
9. For Reasons Unknown
10. Lonely Town
11. Smile Like You Mean It
As Florida (the state with the prettiest name!) faces a record number of newly reported coronavirus cases, our leaders continue to signal compliance with the guidelines they compelled us citizens to observe.
On the fourth anniversary of the hardest blow to queer minorities in American history, the Trump administration announced how it would ensure LGBT citizens vote for him. Eliminating nondiscrimination protections from health care is surely the way to do it. Guess who’s the most vulnerable? The black trans population:
“I can’t help but think about how this impacts black trans people,” said Gaynor, the political science professor, who noted that African American transgender people are “arguably the most marginalized group in our country.”
African Americans who get COVID-19 are much more likely to die from that disease than are white Americans, statistics show. A recent report from the Williams Institute at UCLA estimates that hundreds of thousands of transgender adults may be especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they have an underlying condition, are over 65, lack health insurance or live in poverty.
For black transgender people, Gaynor said, “it’s layers of oppression — it’s transphobia on top of racism on top of economic oppression.” All of that could affect their ability to get health care during the pandemic, she said, which in turn could have public health implications for all.
This morning I learn how a Republican Virginia congressman may lose his seat because he committed the moral sin of marrying two gay campaign volunteers. The self-professed libertarian learns constituents don’t agree with his conception of liberty:
“The Republican Party, when you look at the creed to protect civil liberties and religious liberties, could be the most inclusive party in the country,” Riggleman said in an interview. “And you know, why aren’t we a big-tent party? Why aren’t we looking at liberties first? Why aren’t we allowing people to live the way they want to live and stopping the government from reaching into every aspect of our lives?”
When I considered queer life under quarantine last week, I wondered if this moment eased the reluctance with which many homosexual men and women engage with the expectations placed on us during normal times. For thousands of gay college students, though, “normal times” required distance from families that despised what they had become or were becoming. Deejays, already worried about income loss, wonder what the club scene will look like when the worst of the epidemic has passed. Continue reading
Chary of joining a movement that required a public self-definition that I, under the spell of New Criticism and New Criticism’s agonist Harold Bloom, I’d spent years adjuring, I identify as queer louder than I do as a Democrat, and 2002-era Lord Soto would have smeared rotten eggs on both those selves. If quarantine has refreshed a belief in first principles, it’s a sense in which my queerness depended on media: the online revolution of the late nineties, culminating in the social media era’s intrinsic performativity. Scared of too much discovery, I lived my queerness through reading and writing, themselves queer activities because explaining them requires humility for the sake of an audience conditioned to regard both as species of idleness (the late Toni Morrison has confessed how many years it took for her to confidently declare, “I’m a writer” instead of “I work in textbooks”). Continue reading
To be an endangered pedestrian in the bullshit planned community called “Westchester” requires little more than playing chicken with the wife pushing a baby carriage, the jogger with headphones, the husband and wife huffing and puffing. For the sake of my health — for the sake of courtesy — I’ll step out of the way, often into the street. This courtesy, in twelve weeks of this nonsense, they’ve not extended to me.
This is minor shit. Petty shit. I have not been stopped for walking next to the house razed for the sake of re-construction on Sixteenth Street and Eighty-Ninth Avenue, although three days a week it is unoccupied. I have not been stopped for miming to Moses Sumney, for drumming to Echo & the Bunnymen. But I have been whisked out of a karaoke bar in the same area for daring to sing Boy George’s version of “The Crying Game” (“We gotta get outta here,” a friend said in 2000, car pulled up to the front door, like Michael J. Pollard in Bonnie and Clyde). Even in the Miami of the late Clinton era it could be dangerous to hook up with a trick in a car.
What I mean to say is that the COVID menace has reminded millions of Americans of what many other millions already knew: a plague will destroy us if we don’t follow the simplest of precautions; the right to work quashes the right to ensure the health of our clients; our most vulnerable don’t feel the fury of our self-righteousness about wearing the mask that quashes our liberties; George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery remind us of the consequences of treating the Fourteenth Amendment as a meaningless buzzword during a time when the most privileged will hashtag #liberty from the freshly painted homes they’ve lived in since they were twelve.
In other words, cops are more dangerous than COVID-19. At least we — many of us — can take precautions against the latter.
I think of the Lou Reed quote, paraphrased, about poor doomed Delmore Schwartz: what a pity to be this attractive and gay, which is to say, what a pity to meet the standards of a sodden, doomed, repulsive society yet not meet its standards anyway.
As elastic as a rubberband to the fingers of many eras, Cyrano de Bergerac has long needed a queer reading as amusing and poignant as The Half of It. Alice Wu has written and directed an adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s nineteenth century warhorse that encompasses high schoolers’ dependence on technology without satirizing them, limns a friendship between a budding lesbian and the straight boy who employs her without cruelty, and interrogates the frisson between two women without prurience. I don’t want to make bold claims on its behalf, but The Half of It is so charming that it shames most American high school movies, even LGBT ones like Love, Simon, whose good intentions didn’t hide the cloddish way in which it narrowcasted itself. Continue reading
I wonder what readers will conclude when they see The Mysteries of Pittsburgh on a list of my favorite queer fiction and not, say, E.M. Forster’s Maurice. Reading a certain book at the right time can excuse an array of aesthetic shortcomings. I rejected David Leavitt’s The Lost Language of Crane (too diffuse; prefer his short stories), James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room (too portentous; prefer his essays), and Maurice (too sentimental; prefer when he wrote about aunts, India, and manor houses). Recent entries include Garth Greenwell’s superb What Belongs to You, Chinelo Okparanta’s Under the Udala Tree, and Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (what a title!).
In no order:
1. Virginia Woolf – Orlando
2. Christopher Isherwood – A Single Man
3. Alan Hollinghurst – The Line of Beauty
4. Gertrude Stein – Melanctha
5. Michael Chabon – The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
6. William Maxwell – The Folded Leaf
7. Henry James – The Bostonians
8. John Cheever – Stories
9. Edmund White – The Married Man
10. Robert Musil – The Confusions of Young Törless
11. Jean Genet – Our Lady of the Flowers
12. Mary Renault – The Persian Boy
13. Willa Cather – The Professor’s House
14. Armistead Maupin – Tales of the City
15. T.E. Lawrence – Seven Pillars of Wisdom
16. Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray
17. Thomas Mann – Tonio Kroger
18. Garth Greenwell – What Belongs to You
19. Sarah Waters – Fingersmith
20. Colm Toibin- The Master
21. Ursula K. Le Guin – The Left Hand of Darkness
22. Ocean Vuong – On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
23. Patricia Highsmith – The Price of Salt
24. Chinelo Okparanta – Under the Udala Tree
25. Rita Mae Brown – Rubyfruit Jungle
In the copy of Faggots I bought in 1999 I bracketed the following passage:
And every faggot couple I know is deep into friendship and deep into fucking with everyone else but each other and any minute any bump appears in their commitment to infinitesimally obstruct their view, out they zip like petulant kids to suck someone else’s lollipop instead of trying to work things out, instead of trying not to hide, and, uh, why do faggots have to fuck so fucking much?
The last question drove the late Larry Kramer to a coherent rage during the decade when HIV destroyed a generation of gay men. Bear in mind: he published Faggots in 1978, at the peak of a endless, glorious bacchanal in which gay men quashed childhood guilt and by dancing and fucking as hard as possible. What a party pooper. Continue reading
Regular readers of The Singles Jukebox know our contributors are ambivalent about Sam Hunt. Digging the relaxed-not-complacent drawl he deploys on “Take Your Time,” I pegged him as a stud in training who practices kissing on his hand. Subsequent singles I ran hot and cold on. Montevallo was such a phenomenon it afforded him a leisurely single-a-year lifestyle; in the last five years he’s released half of the tracks composing his second album. Continue reading
A specialist in filmed period tableaux, Albert Serra presents his kinkiest, dullest film yet. “Dull” audiences can understand. “Kinky” for sure. Pairing them is some kind of achievement. In Liberté, a crew of aristocrats in pre-revolutionary France assemble in the forest of the Duc De Walchen (Helmut Berger) for an evening’s worth of oral sex, buggery, urination, and necrophilia. It might be cinema’s most faithful unofficial attempt to adapt Marquis de Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom, shot with a clinician’s skill. Continue reading
The only person who could upstage Buster Poindexter in 1988 was the late Richard Penniman. Recruited to present the Best New Artist Grammy, an increasingly mortified and impatient Buster watches as Little Richard shames the worldwide audience for treating him as a has-been.