This month, Vintage Entity Press is releasing the long-awaited collection Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call, an anthology examining the legacy of author and editor Joseph Beam. To celebrate the collection’s launch, Lambda Literary is reposting a conversation between Black Gay Genius‘ editors Charles Stephens & Steven G. Fullwood, which ran on the Lambda site early last year.
Our anthology Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call (Vintage Entity Press) was born out of a series of conversations, panel discussions, debates, and dinners with friends, colleagues and comrades over the years, assessing the impact and legacy of Joseph Beam and the writers of the In the Life generation. We wanted to bring that dazzling history of the black gay arts movement of the 1980s front and center to contemporary black gay life. Black Gay Genius consists of a series of writers, scholars, and activists responding to In the Life and the influence of Joseph Beam.
We wanted to create a text to celebrate with those that remember and know, and introduce to the ones that don’t, this important literary legacy. This dialogue was an opportunity for us, the editors of the anthology Black Gay Genius, to describe the process and development of Black Gay Genius.
Rage / Making / Love. Trans, working-class, femme Columbian-Puerto Rican poet Morgan Robyn Collado splits her debut collection, Make Love to Rage, into these three sections that, when read alongside the book’s title, prompt essential questions: How does one “make love to rage,” how does one embrace their righteous furor at the injustices of the world and turn it something new, rather than simply explode or burn out? And how can we imagine “rage making love”–anger begetting healing? (more…)
Michael Denneny: On Working in Publishing During the 1970s, Starting ‘Christopher Street Magazine,’ and the Future of Gay Literature
“[...] 1978 was a banner year for gay writing; it really marked the dawn of the new gay literary movement that would swell into a torrent over the next fifteen or twenty years.”
When I started in publishing more than twenty years ago, answering phone calls at a customer service desk, the only gay man in the industry whose name I knew was the renowned editor Michael Denneny. This says as much about Michael as it does about me. I’d been hired for the position literally off the street when I walked in and asked if the company had any job openings for someone with no experience. Michael, on the other hand, had been operating his famed Stonewall Inn Editions imprint out of St. Martin’s for years and produced some of the best-known gay titles of the 1980s and the early ’90s, including books by Randy Shilts, Larry Kramer, Ethan Mordden, Larry Duplechan, Malcolm Boyd, Michael Nava, Paul Monette, and Quentin Crisp, among others. I can’t remember where I’d first heard about Michael or how I’d even come to know about an editor in New York when I was a publishing newcomer in California, but he was what you’d call today a brand: someone known almost more for who he was than the books he published. Put another way, he stood out. In case you’re wondering, this is not standard stuff in publishing circles. Most editors spend their career, however distinguished, unknown to the average person—sometimes even unknown to their fellow publishing colleagues. Michael was different and so were his books.
It’s a story as old as Tennessee’s Chickasaw Bluffs: two young lovers who plan to elope are torn apart by their disapproving families, and bloodshed ensues. What makes the title pair of Alexis Coe’s Alice + Freda Forever worth writing about is the confluence of their era and their sex. In 1892, 19-year-old Alice Mitchell slashed the throat of 17-year-old Freda Ward, whom she had planned to marry and support by posing as a man before Ward’s sister intercepted their plans and forced her to cut off contact. The murder trial drew swarms of national reporters to Memphis, where Mitchell’s lawyers built a successful insanity defense on the premise that her belief that two women could live together as spouses was itself delusional. (more…)
This month, Crown Archetype is releasing actor Neil Patrick Harris’ unconventional “memoir” Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography. (more…)
Brontez Purnell: On His New Book ‘The Cruising Diaries,’ Silencing the Critics, and the Joys of Writing About Sex
We have reached a strange moment in gay politics. There’s a strange commemoration and valorizing of the AIDS movement, vis-à-vis recent films like The Normal Heart and the documentary How to Survive a Plague. Whatever you think of these films individually, or the history they tell, part of the reason they managed to get so much attention and accolades is the spike in marriage equality. The excesses of gay male sexual culture is safely tucked away in history, for audiences who already think the riotous sex, and the deaths, have ended. In popular culture, all of the gay fucking happens not in glory holes and back rooms, but under the canopy of the nuptial bed. (more…)
On September 5th, United for Libraries, an organization dedicated to supporting citizens who govern and advocate for all types of libraries, in partnership with the Suffolk County Library Association, Suffolk School Library Media Association, Lambda Literary Foundation and Empire State Center for the Book, designated the Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site & Interpretive Center in Huntington Station, N.Y., a Literary Landmark.
S. Chris Shirley, board president of Lambda Literary, described Whitman as “America’s Shakespeare. Walt Whitman gave us our voice.“ (more…)
“We see murder represented a lot in movies and pop culture and it can be quite glib. So I didn’t want to be glib; I wanted to be faithful to the moral mess, the emotional mess of it.”
Award-winning, bestselling author Sarah Waters has written six novels. Her newest, The Paying Guests (Riverhead Books), tells the story of Frances Wray, an upper middle class young woman living alone with her mother in post-WWI London. Her brothers have died in the War and her father has died as well, leaving them with a legacy of unsound investments and debt. In order to make ends meet, Frances and her mother take in lodgers—the eponymous guests: a young married couple, Lilian and Leonard. The entrance of this young couple has profound and unexpected consequences for all involved—and as Charlotte Mendelson says in her review of the novel for The Financial Times, “There is too much here to convey in brief, or without revealing the switchback twists that make all Waters’ novels dazzling. She can, it seems, do everything: the madness of love; the squalor of desire; the coexistence of devotion and annoyance; ‘the tangle of it all.’” (more…)
New in October: Alan Cumming, Tove Jansson, Colm Toíbín, Alexis Coe, Christopher Rice, and Amy Scholder
New month, new books! Fall is upon us, and so are a slew of new and noteworthy LGBT books. (more…)
This week in the LGBT-themed arts:
Brain Pickings profiles Pfaff’s, a 19th-century New York City saloon which is also the earliest known example of a gay bar in the U.S. The bar was a refuge for Walt Whitman in the aftermath of the publication of Leaves of Grass and is discussed in a new book by Justin Martin called Rebel Souls. (more…)