Pride Month: Queer Cinema by Queer Directors

“There have never been lesbians or gay men in Hollywood. Only homosexuals.” With this final despairing statement, gay film historian and activist Vito Russo ends The Celluloid Closet, his landmark study of representations of LGBTQ people in film.

When Russo first published The Celluloid Closet in 1981, he could not imagine that over a decade later LGBTQ directors would make movies that depicted the complex and varied experiences of LGBTQ people with respect and pride, and that Hollywood would begin to finance and distribute these films. Nor could he foresee that 35 years later, Barry Jenkins, a black gay director, would win the Best Picture Academy Award for Moonlight, a sensitive, nuanced, and beautifully filmed story of a young gay black man’s coming of age.

Sadly, Russo died of AIDS-related complications in 1990 and did not live long enough to see the blossoming queer cinema that began to emerge shortly thereafter. In 2013, GLAAD created the Vito Russo Test in his honor. Mainstream Hollywood filmmakers still have a way to go in terms of positive portrayals of LGBTQIA characters, but queer filmmakers around the world have been producing excellent films that pass the Vito Russo Test and then some for decades. Here are a few of my favorites: Continue reading “Pride Month: Queer Cinema by Queer Directors”

Romantic Wednesdays: LGBTQ Pride

Posted by Eric G.

It’s been 45 years since Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) New Yorkers fought back against police harassment at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, helping to usher in the modern LGBTQ rights movement. This weekend is also the 40th Anniversary of the Seattle Pride Parade, which was lucky enough to snag the ever-popular George Takei as its grand marshal! Naturally, I corralled some queer reads to complement this colorful time of year. Be proud of who you are, who you love and what you read! Continue reading “Romantic Wednesdays: LGBTQ Pride”

Movie Mondays: One for the Guys, One for the Gals

There are precious few movies about LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people in which a character doesn’t die, kill somebody, commit a crime or remain closeted and self-loathing. Why is it so difficult for Hollywood to make a grand gay romance—or even a simple one? Be that as it may, in recent years the number and quality of LGBT films have increased, to the point where our lives are now a little more fully represented on screen. Along with this, an interesting phenomenon has emerged: pairs of movies with the same (or similar) story and setting, with one about lesbians and the other about gay men. Some of these films still involve people dying, committing crimes, etc., and very few reflect the daily lives and loves of ordinary gay people. But at least they have primary LGBT characters who often defy stereotypes, and the stories aren’t told through the eyes of straight people. In honor of LGBT Pride this month, here’s a sampling of such movie pairs: Continue reading “Movie Mondays: One for the Guys, One for the Gals”

Americans in Paris

Oscar Wilde said that good Americans go to Paris when they die, but for many the ville lumière was a regular destination in life, and for some, the one place where they felt free to live realized, adult lives.  Herewith, a few titles by and about notable American lovers of Paris:

Paris was Yesterday by Janet Flanner

This is a lovely collection of the Paris Letters which were published in Harold Ross’s New Yorker during the 1920’s and the 1930’s.  Ross told her to report not what she thought about Paris and France, but what the French thought-and so she did.  Wonderful vignettes of people like Carlo Ponzi the con man, Marlene Dietrich, Colette, and Coco Chanel, make that distant era come alive. 

 Paris in the Fifties by Stanley Karnow

A treasure from a Time Magazine writer who spent many years in France after the second world war.  Karnow met and married a Frenchwoman, learned fluent French, interviewed or met or quarreled with everybody who was anybody in the 1950’s.  Unexpected dividend: a detailed portrait of Ho Chi Minh. Another, the discussion of the rise of the House of Dior. Still another, a close account of the Sartre-de Beauvoir-Camus matrix, followed by eager French-like sports figures. 

Being Geniuses together, 1920-1930 by Robert McAlmon 

A classic self-serving memoir of Paris, with preface and afterword as correctives by Kay Boyle. McAlmon although unproductive as a writer, edited a literary journal published with his wife’s money and a series of short novels, the Contact editions, but he knew Continue reading “Americans in Paris”