The month of June is not only Gay Pride Month, but also summer, which, for many New Yorkers, means it’s time to get some sun at one of several islands located nearby. During the 1970s and 1980s, artist, writer and photographer Tom Bianchi divided his time between Manhattan and Fire Island, located about 60 miles east of the city. For decades, Fire Island has been a vacation spot for the gays, even more so during Tom Bianchi’s days, when homosexuality was still completely illegal throughout the America. Bianchi began photographing the romance and friendship he witnessed and experienced during his era on Fire Island, cut short by the outbreak of AIDS. His photographs sparked the creation of a new book, Fire Island Pines: Polaroids 1975-1983. In an interview with The Fader, Bianchi talks about the inherent contrast between beauty and sadness looming over the book.

After spending 20 years as a Navy SEAL, Chris Beck, who retired in early 2011, decided to undergo hormone therapy, come out to fellow service members as transgender, and change her name to Kristin. After receiving a surprising amount of support from her colleagues, Kristin released her memoir last week. Called Warrior Princess, the memoir tracks Kristin’s experiences while in the military, and the moments she became increasingly aware that she no longer wanted to spend her life as a man. This memoir is not only a compelling tale, but may also impact the military’s stance towards transgender men and women—the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” may have been a victory for gay and lesbian military members, but it does not apply to transgender individuals, who continue to serve in secret.

One particular book-turned-film seems to be making quite an impact: Blue Is the Warmest Color, a lesbian love story directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. Last month, it was awarded the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. An adaptation of Julie Maroh’s graphic novel, “Le Bleu Est une Couleur Chaude,” the film was initially lauded for its explicit yet “nonsimulated” sex scenes. Recently, however, these sex scenes are raising questions about how lesbian sex and the female body should be represented on screen, and moreover, who should be producing and creating these scenes. Maroh publicly denounced the film, claiming the sex scenes were unconvincing and pornographic because the directors and actresses were “all straight, unless proven otherwise.” Other critics have also called into question how idealized the women’s bodies are on screen, though Kechiche claims this was his intent to begin with. Read more about the debate in The New York Times.

On the web, NoHomoPhobes.com has been tracking the use of anti-gay slurs on twitter—per day, per week, and over the past year. They have specifically been looking at four words: “faggot,” “dyke,” “no homo,” and “so gay.” According to vocativ.com, the use of word “faggot,” arguably the most inflammatory of the four, has seen an increase of 164 percent from July 2012 to June 2013, from about 22,000 mentions a day to 58,000, suggesting that in spite of an increasing acceptance of gay rights, the use of certain slurs remains commonplace.

Lastly, on a lighter note, in honor of Gay Pride Month, the editors at Billboard have gathered a list of 25 “Great Gay Moments” in music history—moments they feel have been essential to “advancing LGBT understanding, acceptance and rights.” From Madonna’s hit single “Vogue” to gay teens singing on “Glee,” Billboard has certainly captured a few memorable pieces of gay music history. But is there a number one greatest gay moment in music history? Check out the list yourself to decide (and see if you think Billboard missed anything)!

 

(Photo credit: Tom Bianchi via Fader.com)



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  • Ron Fritsch

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