Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

“Queer Horror Film and Television: Sexuality and Masculinity at the Margins” by Darren Elliott-Smith— Coming Out on Film

queer-horror-film-and-television

Elliott-Smith, Darren. “Queer Horror Film and Television: Sexuality and Masculinity at the Margins”, I. B. Tauris, 2016.

Coming Out on Film

Amos Lassen

I suppose that I really have never thought about gender and sexuality in horror film or on television unless it was so blatant it could not be ignored. By that I mean mini-series such as “Dante’s Cove” and “The Lair” who were both stopped in the mid of their runs because of legal problems with Here TV. Of course there was Bruce LaBruce’s, “LA Zombie” which was obvious as was “Gay Bed and Breakfast of Terror” but these were independent films that never went mainstream and what we have here is a look at how the representation of alternative sexuality in the horror film and television has “outed” itself from the darkness that was once such an important part of the horror genre. Darren Elliott-Smith has chosen to focus on queer fears and anxieties within gay male subcultures instead of the more usual looking at the monster as a symbol of heterosexual anxiety and fear. He looks at the works of significant queer horror film and television producers and directors in order to show “gay men’s anxieties about acceptance and assimilation into Western culture, the perpetuation of self-loathing and gay shame, and further anxieties surrounding association’s shameful femininity”.

 He looks at representations of masculinity and gay male spectatorship in queer horror film and television after the year 2000 and designates horror that is crafted by male directors/producers who self-identify as gay, bi, queer or transgender and whose work includes or features homoerotic, or explicitly homosexual, narratives with ‘out’ gay characters. We see a variety of genres here including exploitation films, queer Gothic soap operas, satirical horror comedies, and contemporary representations of gay zombies. Elliott-Smith uses psychoanalytic theory, critical and cultural interpretation, interviews with key directors and close readings of classic, cult and modern horror.

 

“BALLS: It Takes Some to Get Some” by Chris Edwards— Changing Gender

balls

Edwards, Chris. “BALLS: It Takes Some to Get Some”, Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2016.

Changing Gender

Amos Lassen

Chris Edwards has had 28 surgeries to become the man he always knew he was meant to be. He shares his story and he does so with wit and humor.

This is his memoir about gender dysphoria and gender confirmation surgery and he is very proud of who he has become but it took him some thirty years to do so. In 1974 when Edwards was just five in 1974, at five years old, he already knew his true gender. He went through high school and college dealing with breasts, menstruation, estrogen and a sorority but he also was depressed and even considered suicide. Through the help of an amazing counselor, he shared how and what he felt with his family and friends and found compassion and encouragement as well as support. At first, he thought it would be best to move away from his hometown in Boston in order to transition but then decided to stay at his job in an advertising firm and shared what he was going through with the company’s board members, his colleagues and the clients. While everyone did not understand, he taught them just as he teaches his readers with this book. He is very open and determined that we identify with him and he gets us to identify with him in many ways.

His family was totally behind him when he decided to have gender reassignment surgery. This began in 1992 with therapy, getting the diagnosis of gender dysphoria, coming out to family, friends and coworkers, changing her name from Kris to Chris Edwards, beginning testosterone injections, getting a mastectomy and hysterectomy, and finally the “bottom surgery”.

His therapist told him that he had the ability to control the way people reacted to him and that he way he acted would determine that. He was open during the entire process and by encouraging questions from others, things went kind of smoothly. (I say “kind of” because there are always detractors). He clarifies the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation, something all of us should know.

I would say that most of us have no idea of what it feels like to sense that our body is not who we are and that we need to change that. For those, this is a wonderful way to read about it. Even though my niece transitioned into my nephew several years ago, I am sure that I do not understand it all. Edwards’ memoir is written beautifully and it is a definition of courage and bravery.

Edwards holds nothing back and that is so important here—we need more books like this so that we can understand the gender issue. There are those that will be uncomfortable as the bottom surgery and construction of a penis is explained but I, personally, we glad to see that here. This is one of the things that we need to know.

 

“Speak its Name! Quotations by and about Gay Men and Women” edited by Christopher Tinker— Saying Who We Are

speak-its-name

Tinker, Christopher, editor. “Speak its Name! Quotations by and about Gay Men and Women”, with an introduction by Simon Callow, National Portrait Gallery , 2016.

Saying Who We Are

Amos Lassen

“Speak Its Name” is a collection of quotations by and about gay people and it is a celebration of how far we have come over the 50 years. It includes amusing observations by Noël Coward, Tallulah Bankhead, Quentin Crisp, Boy George and Ian McKellen, interviews with Dusty Springfield, Alan Bennett, Freddie Mercury, Clive Barker, George Michael and William S. Burroughs, diary entries by Kenneth Williams, Joe Orton, W.H. Auden and John Maynard Keynes. John Gielgud. We have Alan Turing’s accounts of being arrested, letters from Violet Trefusis to her lover Vita Sackville-West, King James I to the Marquis of Buckingham, and Benjamin Britten to his partner Peter Pears. There are quotes by Oscar Wilde, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, John Wolfenden, Field Marshal Montgomery, Lord Arran, Margaret Thatcher, Waheed Alli and David Cameron that show the enormous developments in gay rights. Celebrity icons such as Julie Andrews and David Beckham are also featured as are a wealth of reproductions.

 

“Rad Families” edited by Tomas Moniz— The Ways We Create Families

rad-families

Moniz, Tomas (editor). “Rad Families: A Celebration,  Fernwood Books, 2016.

The Ways We Create Families

Amos Lassen

“Rad Families: A Celebration” looks at and honors the myriad ways we create families. “This is not an anthology of experts, or how-to articles on perfect parenting; it often doesn’t even try to provide answers”. Rather, the writers included here try to be honest and vulnerable in sharing their stories and experiences, their failures and their regrets. It included parents and writers from diverse communities and explores such topics as the process of getting pregnant from trans birth to adoption, issues of racism and police brutality, raising feminists and feminist parenting and empty nesting and letting go.

Some of the contributors are recognizable authors and activists but most are everyday parents working and loving and trying to build a better world. We are reminded that we are not alone and that community can help us get through the difficulties and make us better people. Those who have something to say here are Jonas Cannon, Ian MacKaye, Burke Stansbury, Danny Goot, Simon Knaphus, Artnoose Welch, Canavan Daniel, Muro LaMere, Jennifer Lewis, Zach Ellis, Alicia Dornadic, Jesse Palmer, Mindi Jackson, Carla Bergman, Rachel Galindo, Robert Trujillo, Dawn Caprice, Shawn Taylor, D.A. Begay, Philana Dollin, Airial Clark, Allison Wolfe, Roger Porter, cubbie rowland-storm, Annakai & Rob Geshlider, Jeremy Adam Smith, Frances Hardinge, Jonathan Shipley, Bronwyn Davies Glover, Amy Abugo Ongiri, Mike Araujo, Craig Elliott, Eleanor Wohlfeiler, Scott Hoshida, Plinio Hernandez, Madison Young, Nathan Torpe, Mike Avila, Sasha Vodnik, Jesse Susannah, Krista Lee, Hanson, Carvel Wallace, Dani Burlison, Brian Whitman, scott winn, Kermit Playfoot, Chris Crass and Zora Moniz.

 

 

2016’s list of most-banned books is dominated by LGBT authors

LGBT books dominate 2016’s most-banned list

2016’s list of most-banned books is dominated by LGBT authors

Nearly half of this year’s most-banned books list have LGBT themes, signalling a worrying trend.
Banned Books Week aims to challenge censorship in schools and libraries across America by raising the profile of books that have most frequently been objected to and removed from collections.
The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) receives reports from libraries, schools, and the media on attempts to ban books in communities across the country.
2016’s list of most-banned books features, as usual, a number of LGBT-related books that homophobic and transphobic bigots have demanded removed.
Ranking at number three on the most-banned list is I Am Jazz by transgender teen author Jazz Jennings – which recounts her real-life experience of living as a trans kid, and educates and helps others.
Number four on the list is Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin, another book featuring young transgender people discussing their own identities.
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Out feminist Alison Bechdel’s award-winning autobiographic comic Fun Home ranks in at 7 for purported “graphic images”, presumably referring to the depiction of her early sexual experiences with women.
Republicans in South Carolina previously tried to strip funding from a university because its library contained ‘gay themed’ content including a copy of Fun Home.
Rounding out the list at number 10 is young adult novel Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, for obvious reasons.
The ALA said: “This list is a snapshot of the reports we receive every day.
“Our goal is not to focus on the numbers, but to educate the community that censorship is still a very serious problem.
“Even with all of our efforts to follow up and provide support, surveys indicate that up to 85% of book challenges receive no media attention and remain unreported.”
The full list is below:
Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
The Holy Bible
Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
Habibi, by Craig Thompson
Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

“The Case of Alan Turing: The Extraordinary and Tragic Story of the Legendary Codebreaker” by Eric Liberge and Arnaud Delalalande— A Secret Life

the-case-for-alan-turing

Liberge, Eric and Arnaud Delalande. “The Case of Alan Turing: The Extraordinary and Tragic Story of the Legendary Codebreaker”, translated by David Homel, Arsenal Pulp, 2016.

A Secret Life

Amos Lassen

Because of the Oscar winning film (2014), “The Imitation Game”, we are all aware that Alan Turing led a secret life as a gay man. We also know that he was a brilliant mathematician who had been solicited by the British government to help decipher messages sent by Germany’s Enigma machines during World War II. Thanks to Turing and those who worked with him at Hut 8, we got the “bombe” which descrambled the German navy’s messages and saved countless lives and millions of pounds sterling in British goods and merchandise.

After a young man with whom he was involved stole money from him went to the police and told them of Turing’s secret life, he confessed his homosexuality; he was charged with gross indecency, and only avoided prison after agreeing to undergo chemical castration. Just two years later, Turing took his own life.

Using once-classified information that became available in 2012 to write their graphic novel, authors Eric Liberge and Arnaud Delalande wrote this biography. Even though it is heavily scientific, the lay reader can read and understand it. It contains a wonderfully meticulous description of World War II as well as an intimate portrayal of a gay man living in a world of intolerance. It is the story of a gay man who literally saved England’s finance at the same time that he did so much to make the rest of the world safe. The book goes deeper into Turing’s life than did the film and it gives us a fascinating portrait of Turing as a brilliant, complicated, and troubled man.

“The Queer Film Festival: Popcorn and Politics” by Stuart Richards— Framing LGBT Film Festivals

the-queer

Richards, Stuart. “The Queer Film Festival: Popcorn and Politics”, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Framing LGBT Film Festivals

Amos Lassen

In “The Queer Film Festival”, Stuart Richards does three things: he gives us the first full-length study on the queer film festival, he presents a new approach to and way of thinking about community arts organizations, and he looks at queer film festivals in Melbourne and Hong Kong. His book, in part, is based upon interviews he held with many people including audience members, interns and film festival directors. This is an examination of the queer film festival that opens the discussion on social enterprises and sustainable lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) organizations.

Today there are over 220 events worldwide and some of the bigger budgets exceed a million dollars. We see that the queer film festival has grown to become a staple event in many cosmopolitan cities and is included in their arts calendars. It was activism that was necessary and instrumental in establishing these festivals but we also see here is the value of the gay dollar in terms of sustaining the festivals. That dollar is, in fact, the deciding factor in the festivals’ financial sustainability. Community arts events, such as these, have become a creative industry. Of course these festivals have a social purpose, they must deal with the bottom line of money. Takes a multidisciplinary approach in examining the queer film festival as a representative snapshot of the current state of queer cinema and community based film festivals, we learn a great deal about finances. The book looks at queer film festivals in San Francisco, Hong Kong and Melbourne to argue for the importance of these institutions remaining as community events. 

 

 

 

“The Gay Preacher’s Wife: How My Gay Husband Deconstructed My Life and Reconstructed My Faith” by Lydia Meredith— The Husband Who Left for Another Man By the Woman That Should Not Have Written About It

the-gay-preachers-wife

Meredith, Lydia. “The Gay Preacher’s Wife: How My Gay Husband Deconstructed My Life and Reconstructed My Faith”, Gallery Books/ Karen Hunter 2016.,

The Husband Who Left for Another Man By the Woman That Should Not Have Written About It

Amos Lassen

This is a deeply personal memoir of Lydia Meredith, a woman who spent almost thirty years married to a preacher who left her for a man and how her life becomes a testimony of tolerance and a theology of love and acceptance. Lydia has been married to

Reverend Dennis A. Meredith for almost thirty years, when she discovered that the love of her life left her for a man. Here she opens up for the first time about how that revelation both shattered her world and strengthened her faith.

She struggled to put the pieces of her broken heart and her life back together and that led her to search for understanding through an accredited theological education. She wanted to find a way to put her family back together and she found Jesus’ ministry and teachings were “actually” about teaching tolerance and love for people who are labeled different. (I always find it interesting that people learn this after the fact).

Lydia Meredith shows that faith and perseverance can get one through any challenge of life. She went on to become the founder of Beacon of Hope, Inc.—Renaissance Learning Center, whose mission it is to strengthen families and communities and raise the out of poverty. Today, Lydia is no longer married to Dennis who is now an openly gay pastor and leading a congregation of over one thousand members that are predominantly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. She and the pastor divorced in 2008; but remain close friends.

What we really see here is that the church needs a new kind of minister; one that is free of bias, discrimination, hate, or prejudice; and marked by loving God and loving others. This is the key to social transformation. Lydia says that is the reason she is sharing her story and that she hopes that it will

inspire people (who are oppressed and made ill by faith hate and hypocrisy) to walk in truth. Unfortunately I find her that same kind of Christian teaching that brings about hate and I personally hate the idea that this book is making money for a woman who was too blind to see what was going on in her own house. She would like to be seen as a martyr but that will never happen because what is missing here is sincerity. I always find it interesting that everyone wants to write a book regardless how mundane their life has been and this is a perfect example. Whatever happened to the sounds of silence.

“Queer Sexualities in Early Film: Cinema and Male-Male Intimacy” by Shane Brown— The Silent and Early Sound Period of Film

queer-sexualities-in-early-film

Brown, Shane. “Queer Sexualities in Early Film: Cinema and Male-Male Intimacy”, I.B.Tauris, 2016.

The Silent and Early Sound Period of Film

Amos Lassen

Beginning in 1981 with the publication of Vito Russo’s “The Celluloid Closet”, we have had a great deal written about how LGBT characters have been portrayed in the movies. However, not much attention has been focused on the silent and early sound period. Shane Brown looks, in detail, at recently found films and has another look at others as to images of male-male intimacy, buddy relationships and romantic friendships in European and American films that were made prior to 1934. These include “Different from the Others” (now being restored) and “All Quiet on the Western Front”. He shows how these films when looked at in terms of their socio-political and scientific context, explains how they were intended to be viewed and how they were actually understood. From this, we get a new and unique look at a time in both LGBT and movie history.

This book fills a gap in our history and shows us a good deal about our history. We gain a new understanding about the perception of gay men in European and American cinemas of the early twentieth century. This is a book we have needed for a long time and adds much to the canon of writings that look at the covert history of queer cinema. Here are the roots of non-traditional masculinity in film.

“No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies” by Patrick E. Johnson— Nineteen Essays

no-tea-no-shade

Johnson, E. Patrick. “No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies”, Duke University Press, 2016.

Nineteen Essays

Amos Lassen

“No Tea, No Shade” is a sequel to“Black Queer Studies” (also published by Duke), and is an edited collection that brings together nineteen essays from the next generation of scholars, activists, and community leaders doing work on black gender and sexuality. It builds on the foundations that were presented in the earlier volume and here the contributors deal with the new truths about the black queer experience while at the same time exemplify the codification of black queer studies as a rigorous and important field of study. The topics covered here include include “sex, pornography, the carceral state, gentrification, gender nonconformity, social media, the relationship between black feminist studies and black trans studies, the black queer experience throughout the black diaspora, and queer music, film, dance, and theater as well as raw sex”. The contributors invalidate naysayers who believed black queer studies to be a passing trend and respond to critiques of the field’s early U.S. bias. They look to the past as they point toward the future and move black gay studies forward in new and exciting directions.


The contributors here are Jafari S. Allen, Marlon M. Bailey, Zachary Shane Kalish Blair, La Marr Jurelle Bruce, Cathy J. Cohen, Jennifer DeClue, Treva Ellison, Lyndon K. Gill, Kai M. Green, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Kwame Holmes, E. Patrick Johnson, Shaka McGlotten, Amber Jamilla Musser, Alison Reed, Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, Tanya Saunders, C. Riley Snorton, Kaila Story, Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, Julia Roxanne Wallace and Kortney Ziegler.