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So, did anything big happen in the arena of GLBT politics this week? Anyone hear anything?

Oh yeah, there was that little hearing where Admiral Mike Mullen said the military’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy ran contrary to the very foundation of integrity our military is based upon. And then, the GOP predictably tossed away all their legendary regard for military authority, fiscal conservatism and the best interests of national security to go whole-hog against the idea of rescinding the draconian policy.

And this site, on a whole, collectively rallied to the support of the commander-in-chief, and the LGBT community, our military leaders and our brave soliders. Dozens of great diaries and front page stories reiterated the need for change, and the righteousness of the cause. It was greatly appreciated.

So amidst all this sound and fury, what has WGLB got in store for this week?

How’s about something lighter? After the fold, we present a overview of some of the GLBT films we recommend.

Time was, no one knew a gay person. Today, thanks to a 500-channel universe, fortified by NetFlix, that no longer need be true of even the most isolated and remote among us. Pop-culture imagery of the LGBT community has evolved by leaps and bounds since film’s inception. We have progressed from sissy-boys, providing flouncy sight gags, to fully illustrated characters, displaying all the virtues and flaws that make us, like everyone else, human beings.

Vito Russo wrote the definitive book on LGBT imagery in film, The Celluloid Closet. It is required reading for anyone interested in the history how our community has been portrayed by Hollywood. If you’re not up to reading, there’s also a wonderful documentary of the same name, narrated by Lily Tomlin, also highly recommended, as it can provide examples no book can: actual clips.

To aid your viewing  selection, the recommendations have been broken into broad categories to accommodate your mood. Clearly there’s some overlap.

Comedies
Leave your political agenda and faint hearts at the door and have a laugh.
 title= "The Broken Hearts Club," Dean Cain and Timothy Olyphant headline this light and breezy romantic comedy that reminds us pretty white gay guys in West Hollywood have troubles too.
"Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom" The popular Logo show jumped to the big screen in 2009. The characters are the usual comedic assemble of gay men living in Los Angeles. Except this time, they’re African-American.
"The Wedding Banquet" Ang Lee directs this clash of culture comedy centered around an American man who must watch in silence as his Taiwanese lover takes a Chinese wife to please his parents.
"But I'm a Cheerleader" Starring Natasha Lyonne at her best, it sharply lampoons the insanity of conversion therapy. And of course, there’s RuPaul and Eddie Cibrian in tiny hot pants.
"La Cage Aux Folles," There’s nothing wrong with the Robin Williams/Nathan Lane remake ("The Bird Cage"), but as a elite effete, you really should see the 1978 French original, don’t you think? It played for a year at New York City’s Paris theater.
"Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" This Australian film kicked off a mini-trend of drag queen chic, and is a triumph of camp with a heart of gold lame. Look for a young Guy Pierce.
"Jeffrey" Paul Rudnick’s uproarious and popular play about HIV-discordant love, makes an awkward transition to film. Still, until your local playhouse mounts a production, worth a look for the stellar cast, and hilarious one-liners.
"Latter Days" A 2003 American romantic drama about a gay relationship between a closeted Mormon missionary and his openly gay neighbor. Did someone say "Mormon?"
See also: "Puccini for Beginners," "In & Out," "The Opposite of Sex," "Chasing Amy," "Relax, It's Just Sex," "Victor/Victoria," "To Wong Fu with Love, Julie Newmarr."

Dramas
This is serious stuff folks.
 title=  "Maurice" Long-time lovers and collaborators James Ivory and Ismail Merchant deliver a sumptuous period costume drama to call our own. One of Hugh Grant earliest outings, it provided a template for his career: playing cads that still made you swoon. Based on an E. M. Forster novel.
"Gods & Monsters" Ian McKellen plays "Frankenstein" director James Whale in this fictionalized account of his relationship with his Marine-vet gardener, played masterfully by Brendan Fraser. A transcendent film that is ultimately examines mortality with depth few films dare.
"Mulligans" This 2008 film offers a gay twist on the classic "The Graduate."
"Far from Heaven" Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid struggle with their marriage in this artful, if depressing, homage to auteur Douglas Sirk’s 1950s melodramas.
"Breakfast on Pluto," the Neil Jordan flick starring Cillian Murphy as a gentle crossdresser who has a relationship with an IRA member.
"Personal Best" Mariel Hemingway plays a lesbian on a track team struggling to qualify for the Olympic team.
"Prick Up Your Ears" Gary Oldman portrays groundbreaking sex-farce playwright Joe Orton.  Alfred Molina plays his deranged lover. Directed by Steven Frears. 'nuff said.
"The Laramie Project" This film adaptation, directed by the celebrated play’s original director and writer, Moisés Kaufman, explores the angst of the town made infamous by the murder of Matthew Shepard.

See also: "A Home at the end of the world," "Orlando," "Six Degrees of Separation," "The living end," "Sleuth," "Deathtrap," "Bound," "The Color Purple," "The Hours," "Kiss of the Spider Woman,"  "Flesh and Blood," "Love! Valour! Compassion!," "Transamerica."

Historical
Apart from dramas, this is your chance to learn a piece of the LGBT history. At least Hollywood’s version of it. These films examine particular periods of importance from a LGBT perspective.
 title=
"Angels in America," Tony Kushner’s lavish two-part Broadway Tony Award-winning play gets a equally lavish film treatment, with an expansive A-list cast.
"Tales of the City" & "Further Tales of the City" Armistead Maupin’s poorly-concealed blind-items made his 1970’s gossip column a dishy San Francisco sensation. Columns became best-selling novels, novels became fine films. A really fun look at pre-AIDS SF.
"Looking for Langston" This impressionistic film uses an abstracted, symbolic version of writer Langston Hughes around which it reconstructs the Harlem Renaissance from a black gay perspective. Features great archival footage and works of Hughes, James Baldwin and others.
"Longtime Companion" Traces the intertwining lives of circle of friends as they struggle their way through the AIDS crisis in 1980s era NYC. (Title is derived from the term the New York Times designated to a surviving lover in an obituary.)
"...And The Band Played On" A riveting chronology of the AIDS pandemic based on best seller by Randy Shilts carried by all-star cast including Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Robin Williams, Richard Gere, Anjelica Huston, Ian McKellen, Lily Tomlin.
"Stonewall" This fictional account of the historic riot explores the opposing tactics of the early LGBT activists known as the Mattachine Society vs. the "street gays."
"Parting Glances" plays out over a two-day period in 1980s, AIDS-embattled NYC. Lovers Michael and Robert prepare to part over Robert’s work-prompted relocation to Africa. Poignant, simple, and beautiful.
"Bent" A riveting film about gay concentration camp lovers in Nazi Germany with a cameo by Mick Jagger.
"The Naked Civil Servant" John Hurt won the BAFTA for Best Actor in 1976 playing out-spoken early gay rights icon Quentin Crisp in pre-WWII England.
See also: "Milk," "Torch Song Trilogy," "Another Country," "An Early Frost."

Love Stories
Of course, there are hook-ups and crushes in most films. But these films stand out that the celebration of a LGBT love affair is the central premise.
 title=
"Soldier's Girl" The true story of trans-activist Calpernia Addams’ tragic love affair with active-duty military man Barry Winchell. Stand out performances respectively by Lee Pace and Troy Garity (Jane Fonda's hunky son). Stock up on tissues.
"My Beautiful Launderette" Didn’t you always want to chuck your stuffy East Indian/British lifestyle, and rush off with a dashing, maybe dangerous ruffian (Daniel Day Lewis) and open a swank Laundromat? You will after seeing this.
"Beautiful Thing" Life with your barmaid mum in London’s housing project can seem pretty bleak. Toss in a frisky football mate, and a rockin’ Mama Cass soundtrack, and "it’s getting better..."
"The Crying Game" Even if you know the big secret, this tale of IRA terrorist intrigue, and the lengths we’ll go to protect those we love is gripping.
"Like It Is" An Irish boxer struggles with his attraction to another man, in this obscure, but well-received film.
"Trick" You know how go-go dancing Adonises always have sensitive souls and pine for nerdy pianists? No, me neither. But such escapist premises are Hollywood’s stock-in-trade and fans of them (and Tori Spelling!) will find this popcorn flick charming and entertaining.
See also: "Brokeback Mountain," "Go Fish," "Mambo Italiano," "My Own Private Idaho," "Fried Green Tomatoes," "Bobbie's Girl."

Documentaries
Sometimes, the real life stories, trump the most fanciful of fiction.
 title=
"Coming Out Under Fire" Based on Allan Bérubé book of the same name, examine’s military policy regarding homosexuals during World War II and includes interviews with veterans.
"The Times of Harvey Milk" Before we had Sean Penn, we had the real thing on tape. Don’t miss it.
"Trembling Before G-D" A must see documentary exploring faith and  homosexuality in the orthodox Jewish community.
"Small Town Gay Bar" To be LGBT in a small town in the south... (an experience best appreciated vicariously via movie).
"Go Dragons!" This Logo-produced documentary follows a Chicago gay rugby team.
"Before Stonewall" Eye opening look at life for GLBT Americans before the 1969 riot that kicked off a modern revolution.
"After Stonewall" (documentary narrated by melissa etheridge exploring post-stonewall glbt equality)
"Paris Is Burning" Strike a pose! Wonder where Madonna got the idea for Vogue? She swiped it form this classic documentary exploring the underground gay drag scene in New York City.
"Gidyup!" This documentary from LOGO documents lives of those who live on the international gay rodeo scene
See also: "Bi the Way," The Lady In Question Is Charles Busch," "The Celluloid Closet"

Proceed with caution
Many of these broke ground. But you may want to proceed with caution on some. One era’s groundbreaker is another era’s shame. Regardless, these films should be seen by any GLBT cinephile.
 title=
"Boys In The Band" Where did we get the idea that all gay men where miserable, bitchy queens? From this film.
"Making Love" This Harry Hamlin/Kate Jackson/Michael Ontkean love triangle will be remembered as one of the first, if not the best.
"Cruising" Al Pacino goes undercover in NYC’s gay S&M scene to investigate murders.
"Dog Day Afternoon" Al Pacino again. This time he’s robbing banks. Materful film, the motives of the anti-hero notwithstanding.

Please note: In this compilation, egregious mistakes have been made. There is no doubt, worthless films no one should suffer through have been included, while masterpieces ignored! Please use the comments to correct the record.

-This weeks diary was contributed by Clarknt67.

Originally posted to GLBT and Friends at Daily Kos on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:32 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I know some gay people (27+ / 0-)
    and they're my kind of people, strangely enough.

    "We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it." - Obama

    by glower on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:33:55 AM PST

  •  Thanks Clark! (39+ / 0-)

    Thanks so much for this weeks contribution Clarknt67. Gay's in the movies? Whodda thunk? We had an earlier edition of WGLB discussing gay and lesbians in the movies. I'll try to dig up that link to share with folks.

    Mr. President, I realize you've got a lot on your plate, but we've been starving at the back of the line. Please throw us a few crumbs like ending DADT & DO

    by tnichlsn on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:34:16 AM PST

  •  "But I'm a Cheerleader" is cute and fun (32+ / 0-)

    And a little sad in places, but uplifting too.

    The selection of GLBT titles has increased, but I'm also seeing better portrayals of GLBT characters in mainstream movies. There's throwbacks of course, mostly for cheap laughs in dumb comedies, but even those are more respectful than they once were.

    ... and furthermore, Conan O'Brien should burn Jay Leno to the ground.

    by droogie6655321 on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:35:30 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the great Diary clrknt67!!! (37+ / 0-)

    Ah the fabulous world of Film ;-)

    I've been in love with the Movies since I was a kid and my Parents would take me to just about any film that they could get me into, even the ones with ratings forbidding such exposure to Youth. They were very open-minded and saw that there was more to learn from exposure than keeping one's head in the sand.."West Side Story" was one of those films.

    I'm blanking on the first film that I might have seen which would have had a Gay theme, of course there were few in those days dealing with this as a topic. Hollywood has always tended to be a bit homophobic but now we are seeing more Gay related Films and Actors coming out of their closets.

    So three Cheers to the good works that have come to the "Silver screen" and those Actors and Actresses who have come out of the closet along the way.
    "Milk" is one of the more recent films to specifically deal with Gay Issues, Christian and I were lucky to get crowd scene parts in that Film and we are friends with the Oscar winning Head Make-Up  Artist, who is Gay.

    Cheers,Ed

    "Milk" poster in Limoilu,Québec by Predictor

    Patsy says Absolutely Fabulous!!

    (-8.50/-7.44) "Real Democrats don't make promises they can't keep." Dr. Howard Dean

    by Predictor on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:37:08 AM PST

  •  I'm glad you included "Breakfast on Pluto" (25+ / 0-)

    Easily the best LGBT film I've seen in years, it features Cillian Murphy as a gentle young transvestite that becomes involved with IRA. It also has Liam Neeson, Stephen Rea, and adorable Eamonn Owens. See it!

    Cause we find ourselves in the same old mess singin' drunken lullabies--Flogging Molly

    by dalfireplug on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:38:06 AM PST

  •  One of the most moving and powerful made (25+ / 0-)

    for TV movies was Andre's Mother, which starred Richard Thomas and Sada Thompson, and tackled some very controversial issues surrounding the AIDS pandemic.

    You've also seemingly omitted "Philadelphia" from the list.

    Otherwise, some great titles!

    "You can't put a civil rights issue on the ballot and let the people decide. .... . If you left it up to the people, we'd have slavery......" ~ Jesse Ventura

    by rontun on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:39:57 AM PST

  •  lope.lope.Lope.Lope.LOPE.LOPE...Skiiiiid...WHUMP! (22+ / 0-)

    ::: Wolfie arrives at WGLB :::

    Pant, pant, pant, pant ...

    ::: Wolfie ambles about, looking for a TNich to tease :::

    We were married in each others heart, mind, body and soul. We were married in the eyes of our community and our respective Deities. We were married!

    by The Werewolf Prophet on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:41:35 AM PST

  •  I'm thankful for the great deal of both (22+ / 0-)

    mainstream and independent film which have portrayed the diversity of our experiences well. As time moves forward hopefully LGBT characters will be more regularly integrated and multi dimensional characters in mainstream films such as Brokeback Mountain. That film still haunts my emotions to this day. I've only been able to watch it twice in my life because of the profound anguish it causes me to see what those two men go through.

    The more LGBT people are a part of films across genre the more humanized we become. In a world that continues to dehumanize us from DADT in the U.S. to the proposed 'kill the Gays' bill in Uganda it is important that inclusive movies are made. Why? It's because the more we are included the more society learns about the depth of our lives and our identity too. Heterosexual people who are prejudice against Gays are also in the closet too.

    How? They probably have never met an openly LGBT person and gotten to know them well. This is why LGBT oriented films as well as having LGBT characters in mainstream films, television, and the theatre is so important. These mediums are a reflection of our culture, and where it is on a variety of issues. The greater and more fairly humanizing representation of LGBT people in film the more society will learn, evolve, and progress.

    Hearts weren't made to be broken by promises so often not kept.

    by Liberalindependent28 on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:41:57 AM PST

  •  News: (19+ / 0-)

    Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo said the revised law would now probably limit the maximum penalty for offenders to life in prison rather than execution.
    "There have been a lot of discussions in government . . . regarding the proposed law, but we now think a life sentence could be better because it gives room for offenders to be rehabilitated," he said in an interview. "Killing them might not be helpful."

    --Reuters, The Montreal Gazette

  •  Great List Clark (16+ / 0-)

    I've seen quite a few of these, but there are a few I hadn't heard of and will have to try out. In the Love Stories section, I'd add another one courtesy of our friends across the Pond, Get Real. Along with Beautiful Thing and Like It Is, they make a nice triplet of love/comedies.

    "So it was OK to waterboard a guy over 80 times but God forbid the guy who could understand what that prick was saying has a boyfriend."--Jon Stewart

    by craigkg on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:45:46 AM PST

  •  Great diary. (18+ / 0-)

    The cultural changes created by the movies, plays, and books, are so important.  

    I really liked this movie.  

    "The Crying Game" Even if you know the big secret, this tale of IRA terrorist intrigue, and the lengths we’ll go to protect those we love is gripping.

    "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

    by TomP on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:46:00 AM PST

  •  Mambo Italiano (21+ / 0-)

    is a wonderful movie for anyone who grew up in an even remotely Italian family.  LOL.  Rings SO true, and there's even a happy ending.

    Just popping in, since I have to pack and hit the road for Galveston for Mardi Gras today.  Look for pics on the Book of the Face.  :)

    Great diary, Clark!

    "I hope they'll know that fools with megaphones or runny mouths just don't count." - Donal Og Cusack

    by Texas Blue Dot on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:47:37 AM PST

  •  My list of favorites (17+ / 0-)

    Just five out of many ...

    1.  Red River

    This Howard Hawks western has a wonderful gay subtext-- not only Montgomery Clift's character and the scenes shown in "The Celluloid Closet" but also John Wayne's character (I don't know about Walter Brennan).

    1.  Suddenly Last Summer

    Kate, Monty, Liz, Tennessee Williams, Vidal

    1.  Torch Song

    Joan

    1.  The Night of the Iguana

    Deborah Kerr's lines about there being different kinds of love are so moving.

    1.  Johnny Eager

    Lana Turner, Robert Taylor.

    Van Heflin's love for Robert Taylor has a true gay subtext.

    (Breaking: Fred Williamson's "Mean Johnny Barrows" and "Death Journey" to be released by Code Red DVD-- in widescreen with director commentary-- on 3/16/2010)

    by samantha in oregon on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:48:21 AM PST

  •  Prayers for Bobby was a powerful TV movie (20+ / 0-)

    that aired on lifetime. Sigorney Weaver received Emmy, Golden Globe, and other nominations for her work in this film. It is a heartbreaking movie, but important when it comes to the intersection of religion and sexuality.

    Weaver played Bobby's Mom in this movie, and her religious attitudes which made her think homosexuality was an abomination kept her from accepting her son as he was. As a result, he eventually committed suicide because he no longer could deal with the pain in his life that was largely a results of his Mom's bigotry.

    It wasn't until Weaver lost her son that she finally woke up about things. The powerful message this movie sends is that mistreating someone for being Gay is never the answer. It calls for acceptance, healing, and moving on even in the face of such a tragedy. I can't help but think they also made this to hopefully stop this from happening because of ignorance no matter what its root or cause.

    Hearts weren't made to be broken by promises so often not kept.

    by Liberalindependent28 on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:50:45 AM PST

  •  hi y'all (18+ / 0-)

    pimpage accomplished, though I will add as I always do that anyone else who wants to pimp in Mojo Friday is always welcome to, pimpage & silliness are encouraged there

    Great diary. I like both La Cage & Birdcage -- the dance out at the end of BC is so uplifting.

    Love to all. (and I know this isn't a WHEE diary, but could someone please tell me that it is impossible to train for a triathlon without swimming, that June will actually arrive & that swimming won't kill me???)

  •  Hai & hugs y'all. I can't stay for any length of (19+ / 0-)

    time, but wanted to let everyone know that I am thinking about them. I have a job interview in about 2 hours, so I don't have the time to sit here and chat.

    Economic: -7.62 Social: -5.74
    Do not meddle in the affairs of Dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup!

    by triciawyse on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:52:36 AM PST

  •  Last night (18+ / 0-)

    my partner and I saw a British movie (via Netflix) called "Kinky Boots."  It was about how a men's shoe factory in danger of going out of business decides to pursue a a niche market:  sexy shoes for drag queens.  It was pretty good.  Here's the trailer:

    -5.13,-5.64; EVERYTHING is an approximation! -Hans A. Bethe

    by gizmo59 on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:52:49 AM PST

  •  "Friends Forever" (14+ / 0-)

    I think that was the name - a Danish flick that I want to say played at gay film festivals in the last 1980s.  Cute, bubble-gum type movie.  I wonder if its even available.  Or if anyone else ever saw it!

  •  Recently watched 'Little Ashes.' (15+ / 0-)

    This biopic of Salvador Dali (played by Twilight's Robert Pattinson) focuses on his tortured relationship with poet García Lorca (Javier Beltran) beginning with their college days in Jazz age Spain.  At times agonizing (I actually had to take a couple of stabs at watching it all the way through), it does not pull any punches in dealing with the intense internal and external conflicts in the artist's young life.  The "if only's" are palpable, the only relief (such as it is) coming from Dali's incomparable sense of the outrageously absurd.  I would highly recommend it with the caveat that it should not be watched during a funk.

    For those of you with Netflix, it's available on DVD and for instant online viewing: http://www.netflix.com/...

  •  excellent! (16+ / 0-)

    many of which I have never heard about.

    as my list of "movies I need to see" grows... :-)

    the integration of gay people on mainstream teevv has also been incredibly important, and it's impact cannot be understated. MTV has been a leader in this, and almost all of their shows include representation from our community.

    as I've posted before (because I can't help myself), the more that people are exposed to lgbt people, as "normal", loving people, the more the myth that lgbt people are "perverts" is dispelled.

    thanks, Clarknt67 for the great diary.

    with all the snow on the way, I better head to the video store...

    "I thought of that while riding my bicycle." ~ Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

    by ridemybike on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:58:09 AM PST

  •  Another great TV movie: (13+ / 0-)

    Hearts weren't made to be broken by promises so often not kept.

    by Liberalindependent28 on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:59:37 AM PST

  •  A Single Man (21+ / 0-)

    This stream-of-consciousness, 1960s-era drama centers on a day in the life of George Falconer (Golden Globe nominee Colin Firth), an English-born, Los Angeles college professor reeling from the recent death of his lover of 16 years. Fashion designer Tom Ford makes his directoral debut with this luminous film, which is based on Christopher Isherwood's novel. Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, Ginnifer Goodwin, Lee Pace and Nicholas Hoult co-star.

    The other day Terry Gross interviewed Colin Firth about his role. This Fresh Air will repeat this weekend (or you can find it here). I;m going to watch the movie and then listen to the interview again.

    Thanks for this wonderful diary, Clark.

    Politics hates a vacuum. If it isn't filled with hope, someone will fill it with fear. Naomi Klein

    by lamzdotes on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 08:59:52 AM PST

  •  I'd also add "Some Like It Hot" (15+ / 0-)

    If nothing else, for the last line.

    Great list, by the way.  Many of these were a huge part of coming out for so many of us, and from the days when a gay character on Dynasty was about it in terms of even a vaguely non-tragic figure, it's nice to see.

  •  Dunno exactly which category it fits best in (16+ / 0-)

    but I'd highly recommend It's My Party. Directed by Randal Kleiser (of Grease fame) and based at least partially on his life, it's got an all-star cast (Eric Roberts, Gregory Harrison, Margaret Cho, Bronson Pinchot, Roddy McDowall, Olivia Newton-John, Bruce Davidson, Paul Regina, George Segal--and a cameo from Greg Louganis). Could be argued "Historical" or equally "Drama." But definitely grab the tissues--you'll be laughing and crying more or less the whole time.

  •  Great resource! thanks (12+ / 0-)

    i use some of these already for a Social Movements course I teach -- now i have more... :)

    "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

    by soothsayer99 on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 09:06:35 AM PST

  •  My first exposure to Teh Gay in film ... (16+ / 0-)

    ... was "Making Love". Yah, I know, a wretched movie, but for a relatively newly out gay boy in the South, it was earth shattering. A positive portrayal of what I'd been taught was a God hated abomination? It stayed with me for weeks.

    Next was "An Early Frost". Devastating.

    "Cruising" absolutely rocked my world - the concept of uber masculine gay men was utterly foreign to me - and started the thread that ultimately led me to the Bear community.

    My favorite is "Big Eden" - such a  sweet love story, spun with a single suspension of disbelief.

    Currently, I'm raiding the local artsy video store for indie gay flicks, most of which are dreadful. However, "Hellbent" was creepy fun - think "Friday the Thirteenth" meets QAF.

    We were married in each others heart, mind, body and soul. We were married in the eyes of our community and our respective Deities. We were married!

    by The Werewolf Prophet on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 09:09:43 AM PST

  •  Greg Arraki movies (16+ / 0-)

    I saw "The Living End" on that list, but it also includes "Nowhere," "The Doom Generation" (which was deemed "a heterosexual film" in the opening credits, but which contains plenty of queer sensibility), "Totally Fucked Up" (which I still haven't seen), and more recently "Mysterious Skin," which a friend of mine gave to me a few weeks ago.  

    Policy, Peace and Progress Before Party

    by Alec82 on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 09:13:17 AM PST

  •  Two more (16+ / 0-)

    Under documentaries, a great companion piece to Trembling Before G-d is For the Bible Tells Me So, about Christian parents who come around to supporting their gay kids (or not). Also includes several clergy interviews in which the stock anti-gay so-called Christian rhetoric is debunked.

    Under Proceed with caution, The Children's Hour, one of those stories where any hint of gayness must inevitably lead to tragedy, but a well-made film, I think.

  •  The personal intersecting with the popular (15+ / 0-)

    Nice work Clark, as always. On your list there are two films which, in one way or another intersect more or less (incidentally) with my own life.

    First, in the documentary "The Lady in Question is Charles Busch, one of the interview subjects is my cousin, the late Shirley Bernheim, who in "The Tale of the Allergist's wife plays...well...essentially she plays herself. She could do a foul-mouthed elderly Jewish mother to a tee (despite never having been a mom). She debuted on Broadway at the tender age of 80. She was the second member of my family, after my sister, to whom I disclosed my sexual orientation; she actually encouraged me to come out to my other relatives.

    Second, a bit more tangentially, is "The Wedding Banquet" which was based on a true story involving a co-worker of mine. Very nice guy; only actually met him once as he works in DC and I work in San Francisco, but we had several mutual friends.

    One sometimes gets the impression that the gay community is really a small town, which in some ways it is.

    Oh, and one quibble: I'm surprised that you did not include, in "Drama" section, the current "A Single Man" which is based on Christopher Isherwood's novel of the same name and is set in the mid-60's. It's garnered at least one Oscar nomination. I have yet to see it, to my everlasting shame.

  •  Ma vie en rose (15+ / 0-)

    My favorite of all time has to be Ma vie en rose

    Also excellent and ignored was Sunday Bloody Sunday

    Although not explicitly gay, but certainly transgressive was Harold and Maude

    An all time favorite is Hedwig and the Angry Inch

    And I think even Mysterious Skin deserves honorable mention

    I will start when I take office. America is ready to get rid of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. All that is required is leadership." - Obama

    by tiponeill on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 09:17:58 AM PST

  •  Another reasonably good one (12+ / 0-)

    that may be hard to find (it was a made-for-TV, though I believe it's now out on DVD) is Doing Time on Maple Drive. William McNamara plays a golden boy finishing college and engaged to a lovely young woman (Lori Loughlin) and on the verge of marrying her: except he's got a boyfriend back at school. Jim Carrey provides extra drama as a budding alkie brother.

    A bit dated in spots, and more than a little contrived, but a big risk for director Ken Olin in 1992 when it was made.

  •  One more quibble (13+ / 0-)

    Whyever did you not include the ORIGINAL "Noah's Arc" which debuted the same year as "Broken Hearts Club"? They actually toured the gay film festival circuit simultaneously. The two were similar overall and, to my way of thinking, "Noah's Arc" was a far, far better movie.

  •  Latter Days is one of my favorites (11+ / 0-)

    I can't say I've seen many of the others.

    BlackKos Tu/Fri. It could be worse for progressives. We could be in Port-au-Prince.

    by terrypinder on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 09:22:04 AM PST

  •  "Privates on Parade" (1982) (13+ / 0-)

    Adapted by Peter Nichols from his play, Privates on Parade (1982) is one of my all-time favorite films and easily the best "ensemble" film I've ever seen.  It takes place shortly after WWII and concerns the Song And Dance Unit South East Asia (SADUSEA), a group within the British Army who provide entertainment to the troops.

    Since SADUSEA only has one woman in the group (the delightful Nicola Pagett), some of the men need to dress up "in frocks".  Actually, some of the men prefer to dress in drag, especially Acting Captain Dennis (a hilarious Dennis Quilley) who cannot deliver a single line without a double entendre and continuous "trouble with pronouns".

    The officer in charge of SADUSEA is Major Giles Flack, who is uttery oblivious about all things camp.  He's convinced that SADUSEA is the only thing protecting Britain from Godless Communism, and has clearly been assigned to the post because he's barking mad and might be dangerous in another assignment.  He takes himself utterly and hilariously seriously: he's played by John Cleese at his finest.

    While the movie is primarily farce, there is also an undercurrent of real war: a unique combination in my movie-going experience.

    Absolutely terrific ensemble cast, including Simon Jones (Arthur Dent in the TV version of Hitchhiker's) and Joe Melia (bit part in Hitchhiker's) who cannot say a single effing sentence without effing at least once.  The song-and-dance numbers are terrific especially the title number.

    Four stars.  Caelian-Bob says check it out.

    Big Joe Helton: "I pay Plenty."
    Chico Marx: "Well, then we're Plenty Tough."

    by Caelian on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 09:26:31 AM PST

  •  The Hours is a brilliant movie too. (12+ / 0-)

    It's also very much a critique on societal expectations of women over the years. Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman were all superb in that film.

    Hearts weren't made to be broken by promises so often not kept.

    by Liberalindependent28 on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 09:29:11 AM PST

  •  I used to see Calpurnia (11+ / 0-)

    perform at Connections in Nashville and was there the night of the big fundraiser for her to leave town.  Such a sad story!

    We all have the same ideals ... the same goals. It's our road maps that differ.

    by KentuckyKat on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 09:29:16 AM PST

  •  Adding a film - Storme: The Lady of the Jewel Box (13+ / 0-)

    by Michelle Parkerson.

    http://www.wmm.com/...

    A documentary by black lesbian indie filmmaker:

    "It ain’t easy...being green" is the favorite expression of Storme DeLarverie, a woman whose life flouted prescriptions of gender and race. During the 1950’s and 60’s she toured the black theater circuit as a mistress of ceremonies and the sole male impersonator of the legendary Jewel Box Revue, America’s first integrated female impersonation show and forerunner of La Cage aux Folles. The multiracial revue was a favorite act of the Black theater circuit and attracted mixed mainstream audiences from the 1940s through the 1960s, a time marked by the violence of segregation. Parkerson finds Storme in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, now working as a bodyguard at a women’s bar and still singing in her deep silky voice with an "all girl" band. Through archival clips from the past, STORME looks back on the grandeur of the Jewel Box Revue and its celebration of pure entertainment in the face of homophobia and segregation. Storme herself emerges as a remarkable woman, who came up during hard times but always "kept a touch of class."

    Storme was also a Stonewall Vet.

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 09:32:53 AM PST

  •  Under "Watch with Extreme Caution" (10+ / 0-)
    And I'm not sure that it really qualifies except maybe tangentially, but: Capturing the Friedmans.

    I found it more than a little disturbing and more "other" than LGBT, but it's also compelling and thought provoking.

  •  Another Country (12+ / 0-)

    Another oversight (sorry, just couldn't resist). It's actually one of my favorites. Here's the plot synopsis from IMDB:

    Based on the award winning play by Julian Mitchell, the film explores the effect of Public School life in the 1930's on Guy Bennett [I think he meant Guy Burgess] as his homosexuality and unwillingness to "play the game" turns him eastwards towards communist Russia.

    Early (1984) appearances by Rupert Everett, Colin Firth and Cary Elwes.

  •  One more (11+ / 0-)
    My mind is more "it'll come to me" these days, so sorry for the successive posts.  But: "Short Bus."  Again, it's "out there" - and graphic sexually (not that there is anything wrong with that) - but a good and interesting watch.
  •  Is it a sad commentary to say.... (13+ / 0-)

    that I've only seen a handful of those films?  I really loved "The Opposite of Sex" and I loved "Jeffrey", but I also loved "Lie Down With Dogs" (which wasn't on the list).

    "Lie Down With Dogs" is a great comedy about hooking up in Provincetown, MA.  I thought it was great.  I have it on VHS even!  Plus a friend of my Partner & I is in it (for a really brief moment).

    Anywho, keeping it clean today.  Sorry boys!

    Everything I need to know about Anger Management I learned from Lizzie Borden.

    by TrapperSF on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 09:56:46 AM PST

  •  Two More Documentary/Biofilms for you (13+ / 0-)

    Both of which I loved:

    "Chris and Don: A Love Story" chronicles the 35-year relationship of author Christopher Isherwood and artist Don Bachardy from their meeting in 1951 to Isherwood's death in 1986 and into the present. Bachardy is still alive and incredibly robust in his mid-70's. When they met, Bachardy was just barely legal; they lived as an out gay couple in 1950's and 1960's Hollywood, when doing so was basically unheard of. Isherwood's angst over possibly losing Bachardy was the basis for his novel "A Single Man."

    "The Polymath, or, The Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman" which covers the life of science fiction author Samuel R."Chip" Delany. Not only was he one of the first African-Americans to be successful within the genre, he was also one of the first openly gay sci-fi writers.

  •  Great diary, Clarknt67! (12+ / 0-)

    Some movies I have seen. Good way to guage your taste--of which I approve [giggle], some I have not. [She scribbles notes furiously] Thank you for a fun romp through GLBT cinema!

  •  Todd Haynes Movies (8+ / 0-)

    Todd Haynes is a great film maker with a very queer sensibility.  My favorite was "Poison"

    Transplant kidneys, don't bury them.

    by usguyz on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 10:07:41 AM PST

  •  Great post, Clarknt! (10+ / 0-)

    I'm glad to say I've seen a lot of the movies on the list, but obviously I've got a ways to go.

    I think you might have forgotten a movie or two...

  •  Apparently, a film version of The Front Runner... (14+ / 0-)

    is finally nearing production.  Of course, that announcement has been made repeatedly in the past, with no motion picture ever resulting.

    It's been decades, literally, since I've read the book, but I would still like to see it finally make it to the silver screen.

  •  Spider Stumbled had a great comment last night (11+ / 0-)

    about DADT, Joint Chief of Staff Mullin and integrity.  I'm going to send it in to Top Comments, but it won't be in the recommendation period when it publishes.  I think it deserves more eyeballs and recs.

    "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." John Lennon

    by trashablanca on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 10:32:07 AM PST

  •  at my library I was asked (8+ / 0-)

    At my library I was asked if I could recommend a kid-friendly movie that featured a family headed by a same sex couple. The parent asking the question wanted to help her child with a media representation as one of his classmates had two moms.

    I was momentarily gobsmacked by the question and couldn't think of any movie to offer.

    A movie I haven't seen - Mean Creek - supposedly includes a gay male couple as fathers of one of the main characters, but from what I understand Mean Creek ain't something to recommend to kids. On the other hand, it gets an incredible 91% score at Rotten Tomatoes so maybe it's really worth seeing for us taller children.

  •  Forgot: "The sum of us" (11+ / 0-)

    An early Russel Crowe Australian film, when he was young and at his hunky best. He plays a gay man living with his Yenta-like father who is intend on seeing his son settle down... with a nice boy. Interesting film for it's unusal starting point of a close and accepting father/son relationship. Good performances, good script, likeable characters, Russel looking great shirtless!

  •  The Business of Fancydancing (10+ / 0-)

    A recommendation.

    I saw The Business of Fancydancing in the theater. It's about a gay American Indian poet! C'mon, you gotta see it just knowing that, doncha?

    The writer/director Sherman Alexie is a bisexual American Indian author (he also adapted some of his early stories into the screenplay for Smoke Signals, which doesn't have gay content but which is very good) and Fancydancing is obviously personal.

    As you might note if you follow the link above, the reviews are mixed, but it's a good character study. It's an adult film - not in the blue movie sense but in the takes adult concerns seriously sense. If you're tired of the perpetual pubescence of the movies ...

  •  Okay. I've been resisting, but I guess... (11+ / 0-)

    it's time to make an almost obligatory comment about a film not on the list, 1994's Priest starring Linus Roache in the title role.  I really hated this movie, but I cannot pretend to be able to discuss it objectively.  I felt it indulged in stereotypes of the clergy every bit as odious as those with which my LGBT brothers and sisters have to contend, it jumbled up far too wide an array of issues to deal with any of them more than superficially, and unfortunately, did so with more than a little disregard for accuracy.  It's primary message seems to be "hypocrisy is bad."  Well, duh!

    All of that said, the actors' performances are stellar, and the film has some profound moments, so despite its myriad and major flaws, I would not dissuade anyone from giving it a viewing.

  •  ACT_UP protest at Jesuit University (9+ / 0-)

    Mr. President, I realize you've got a lot on your plate, but we've been starving at the back of the line. Please throw us a few crumbs like ending DADT & DO

    by tnichlsn on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 12:43:02 PM PST

  •  I just nominated one of our own (6+ / 0-)

    If you agree, or, well, if you don't (Boo Hiss) come show your support here for craig

  •  documentary (4+ / 0-)

    What is the most loving thing I can do, right now? Rev Dr Mary Harrington

    by sberel on Fri Feb 05, 2010 at 03:44:42 PM PST

  •  I'm going to see "A single Man" tomorrow (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Predictor

    Any comments about that film?

  •  test (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Predictor

      I joined the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus shortly after Proposition 8 passed in California.  I knew that I would find myself among the chorines at some point in my life.  But I was especially inspired to make the jump after watching them perform at the George Moscone and Harvey Milk Memorial.  Singing in front of San Francisco’s City Hall on the 30th Anniversary of their tragic assassinations, the chorus sounded remarkable and relevant.

      Since I auditioned with them last January, I have experienced so many enriching moments, whether it is singing at the prestigious Davies Symphony Hall for our 60’s concert “Tune In, Turn Up, Sing Out” with Joan Baez, at the illustrious Castro Theatre for our Home For The Holidays concerts, or in front of tens of thousands of fans at AT&T Park before the baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics.

      As amazing as those moments were, they wouldn’t compare to what I’ve experienced this past January.

    Mr. President, I realize you've got a lot on your plate, but we've been starving at the back of the line. Please throw us a few crumbs like ending DADT & DO

    by tnichlsn on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 08:19:35 AM PST

  •  test (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Predictor


    The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus performs at the George Moscone and Harvey Milk Memorial.


    The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus sings the National Anthem at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

      With the 2010 Gay Games coming up this year, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus had initially planned a European tour primarily centered around these games, which being hosted in the city of Cologne, Germany.  However, given the recent poignant events that have happened, the chorus decided to change course and instead embark on what has already become a landmark venture: the California Freedom Tour.  This tour is groundbreaking because we are traveling up and down the central valley of California where people predominantly voted in favor of Proposition 8.  Our intent is to have the people in these areas get to know us, and what better way than to have them hear us sing.


    Television commercial for the California Freedom Tour that aired in Redding.

      Our first leg of the tour is now complete, as we traveled north to Redding and Chico in the last weekend of January.  We promoted this leg extensively, with great help from chorus member and Redding native Bud Dillon, airing television commercials on cable channels and gaining visibility in the press.  It worked - we sold out the 1,000 seat Cascade Theatre in Redding and the 400 seat Harlan Adams Theatre in Chico.  The mayor of Redding stood before the audience and gave a certificate of appreciation to the chorus.  The Executive Director of the chorus, Teddy Witherington, introduced us to massive cheers, and the magic began.


    Draft version of “We Are Coming Out” recorded in the Summer of 2009.

      The concert kicked off with an original song that I wrote called "We Are Coming Out.”  Our Artistic Director Kathleen McGuire approached me last summer to see if the chorus could sing this song, and I was very humbled by the inquiry, as I am very new to writing chorus material.  The song is a rallying cry in the form of a call and response, with a dynamic message to everyone present that we are sharing peace, giving love, living life, all the same, and most importantly, coming out.  Surely, we came out to Redding and Chico on that historic weekend, and as our soloist James Machado led the way, we came out onto the stage, one of us waving a big rainbow flag back and forth, because we are who we are and are proud to live our lives without shame.  After the chorus belted out one last emphatic “we are coming out”, the crowd responded with excited applause and whistles, and I was deeply touched.  But it was only the beginning of a magnificent array of songs that not only elevated the spirits of the audience members but did so much more.


    The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus performs “William’s Song” in Santa Cruz, CA.

      The Steve Schalchlin penned "William's Song", a true story about a mother who stood up for her gay son at his school in Arkansas, got the crowd responding in a triumphant roar.  As the song goes, “William was a boy in Arkansas [who was] a little bit different,” and this resulted in him being harassed by school bullies.  His mother, Carolyn Wagner, wasn’t going to let this happen without a fight, so she promptly confronted the school.  When the man in charge accused William of “walking so funny, she said ‘that’s gonna cost you money’”, the chorus sang to the delight of the crowd.  She sued the board and won, putting the school to shame.  Indeed, “tell me why does it take five great big guys to beat up one little queer,” and Schalchlin was on the money with an answer: “I think it’s fear.”  This song was especially relevant to Redding, where a gay couple together for 14 years was murdered in 1999 because they were a little bit different.

      "If You Were Gay" from the Avenue Q Broadway musical was sung with choreography and pink cowboy hats as a nod to the hinterlands of Redding and Chico, and the audience ate it up with laughs and camaraderie.  The song is about two characters from the musical who somewhat mirror Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, only that Nicky thinks that Rod is gay, and goes on to sing to him that it’s ok, “you were just born that way, and as they say, it’s in your DNA.”  Of course, Nicky feels the need to prove that he’s himself not gay, as if his own sense of masculinity was being compromised by his acceptance of Rod, and we can only laugh in response.  And laugh the crowd did, as we bounced up and down, strutted and even assumed the grandest of chorus lines as we sang away in humor and harmony.  At the end, the laughs instantly morphed into the loudest applause we’ve heard yet.

      Closing the first act of the concert was "Michael's Letter To Mama", which was exactly that: a pivotal moment from the "Tales Of The City" series written by Armistead Maupin when the gay character came out to her mom by written letter. The song features the musical brilliance of David Maddux, and it rendered many chorus members to tears during our performance.  The tears could be seen as far away as San Francisco, literally, with the image of chorus member Marc Savitt prominently displayed on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle the following Monday.  I teared up when singing the lines “Yes, you are a person. Yes, I like you. Yes, it’s all right for you to like me too.”  Because, to me, this revelation is akin to witnessing the most beautiful rainbow imaginable after weathering the most frightening thunderstorm of despair, isolation and fear – in other words, coming out as a gay person and realizing that “you’re all right, kid.”  When I came out right after high school, I wandered around the Castro neighborhood for the first time and felt a pure joy and hope that could not feel more magnificent.

    1
    The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle.

      We were not the only singing group that embraced the stage; opening up the second act was the local group Doin’ It Justice based in Chico.  They perform songs aimed at promoting social justice, and their set was astounding.  Among their songs was a gorgeous acoustic guitar rendition of “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught.”  This song resonates with me, as I firmly believe that we all come from good hearts.  It’s just that some of our hearts are blanketed with carefully-taught ignorance and fear.  Without doubt, the songs that graced these concerts were not just raising the spirit of the audience; they were also giving a valiant challenge to uncover those blanketed hearts as well.

      One way to uncover these blankets is to show that ignorance and fear can affect all minorities, as exemplified from our next song.  "Not In Our Town" is about a recent time in Billings, Montana, where menorahs by the thousands were displayed all over the town in response to acts of anti-Semitism.  In the early 1990’s, skinheads and members of racist groups began to infiltrate the town, and a rash of hate crimes ensued, as property was vandalized with spray-paint and windows were smashed everywhere, including a cinder block that was hurled through a window into the bedroom of a Jewish home.  The town reacted with courage and solidarity, as thousands of paper menorahs appeared one by one in windows all over town.  As the audience members saw for themselves, this communal gesture was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

    2
    Chorus members holding up paper menorahs while singing “Not In Our Town”.

      Following this song was an outstanding rendition of "Abraham, Martin & John" featuring a very-talented group of soloists.  The song recounts the influence and bravery of past civil rights leaders who were tragically taken away from us far too soon.  People like Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy.  Yet, what happened at the end of the song can not be spoken, for it brought the entire audience to a collective gasp followed by a stream of tears that cascaded down the faces, rows and aisles.

      And then came "Oh Happy Day" to wash away those tears. Our soloist Sanford Smith came out draped in a gospel robe, and we started on our glorious journey. There was a blazing joy that was starting to peak out through the cracks of the walls as we launched into the first chorus. Sanford continued on, revving up for the greatest moment I've ever experienced on stage: we broke out into the second chorus, immediately the house lights dawned over the entire audience, our soloist descended into the crowd, one woman jumped up with her arms dancing in the air, seconds later the entire audience was on their feet, clapping, dancing, moving, shaking, smiling.  In an epiphany that reads hyperbolic but definitely wasn't, the energy started to rotate between the stage and the house, the chorus and the audience, faster and faster until we meshed into a collective and formidable spirit, a revelatory moment of freedom and happiness that triumphantly disintegrated the darkness of Prop 8 that permeated the Northern lands of California. Boy, did it really feel this way.  We brought the song to a thunderous climax, and the cheers that emanated from the Cascade Theatre and Harlan Adams Theatre were deafening and prophetic.

    3
    The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus performing at the Cascade Theatre in Redding.

      Our last song was “Make Your Own Kind of Music”, and I honestly don’t remember the performance very well, because by then my voice was starting to wobble in tears from the weight of this transcendent concert.  If there was a message for the audience to take home, it is that we should always make our own kind of music, for that is what makes a rainbow look so beautiful.  I genuinely feel that the wonderful people of Redding and Chico wholeheartedly embraced this message, and I can’t wait for us to give this message again as the California Freedom Tour continues with a trip to Fresno and Bakersfield in late May and to Tracy in early July.


    The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus pledges to make its own kind of music.

      The abbreviated mission of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus is to create harmony.  It is also said that the chorus changes lives in the process of fulfilling its mission.  In just one year, it has transformed my life, for which I am eternally grateful.

    For more information on the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, visit their official website.

    contributed by SeanChapin.

    Mr. President, I realize you've got a lot on your plate, but we've been starving at the back of the line. Please throw us a few crumbs like ending DADT & DO

    by tnichlsn on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 08:20:17 AM PST

  •  - (0+ / 0-)

      The partially clothed body of Eudy Simelane, former star of South Africa's acclaimed Banyana Banyana national female football squad, was found in a creek in a park in Kwa Thema, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Simelane had been gang-raped and brutally beaten before being stabbed 25 times.
      Eudy Simelane loved football. In other countries the 29-year-old who rose through the ranks to become captain of the women’s national football team would have been hailed as a star. In South Africa it cost her her life. Her sexuality and supposedly butch looks were a death sentence in a country in which the sport is still considered a man’s game by many. As well as being one of South Africa's best-known female footballers, Simelane was a voracious equal rights campaigner and one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in Kwa Thema. Her brutal murder took place in April of 2008 and since then a tide of violence against lesbians in South Africa has continued to rise. Human rights campaigners say it is characterized by what they call "corrective rape" committed by men behind the guise of trying to "cure" lesbians of their sexual orientation. Simelane had lived for soccer, as a midfielder for the gallant but struggling national women's football team, Banyana Banyana (”The Girls”). S.A. women’s soccer struggles because it’s still far from getting the respect and funding that men’s soccer gets — according to one player, the team often played with worn-out shoes. After Simelane stopped playing, she stayed in the sport as a referee, and became an activist after she came out. Her memorial service took place at the local Methodist Church; she was buried next day. Simelane leaves behind a grieving lesbian partner, Sibongile Vilakazi.

                                                     2
      A report by the South African Human Rights Commission condemns the culture of impunity around these crimes, which it says are going unrecognized by the state and unpunished by the legal system. The report calls for South Africa's criminal justice system to recognize hate crimes, including corrective rape, as a separate crime category. It argues this will force police to take action over the rising violence and ensure the resources and support are provided to those trying to bring perpetrators to justice.
      The ferocity and brutality of Simelane's murder sent shock waves through Kwa Thema, where she was known for bringing sports fame to the sprawling township. Her mother, Mally Simelane, said she always feared for her daughter's safety but never imagined her life would be taken in such a brutal way. "I'm scared that these people are going to come and kill me too because I don't know what happened," she said. "Why did they do this horrible thing? Because of who she was? She was a sweet lady, she never fought with anyone, but why would they kill her like this? She was stabbed, 25 holes in her. The whole body, even under the feet."
      Lesbians in townships in Johannesburg and Cape Town say they are being deliberately targeted for rape and that the threat of violence has become an everyday ordeal. "Every day I am told that they are going to kill me, that they are going to rape me and after they rape me I'll become a girl," said Zakhe Sowello from Soweto, Johannesburg. "When you are raped you have a lot of evidence on your body. But when we try and report these crimes nothing happens, and then you see the boys who raped you walking free on the street."
      Research released last year by Triangle, a leading South African gay rights organization says it is dealing with up to 10 new cases of "corrective rape" every week. "What we're seeing is a spike in the numbers of women coming to us having been raped and who have been told throughout the attack that being a lesbian was to blame for what was happening to them," said Vanessa Ludwig, the chief executive at Triangle.
      A statement released by South Africa's national prosecuting authority said: "While hate crimes – especially of a sexual nature – are rife, it is not something that the South African government has prioritized as a specific project." The failure of police to follow up eyewitness statements and continue their investigation into another brutal double rape and murder of lesbian couple Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Massooa in July 2007 has led to the formation of the 07-07-07 Campaign, a coalition of human rights and equality groups calling for justice for women targeted in these attacks. Sigasa and Massooa were tortured, gang raped and shot near their homes in Meadowland, Soweto in July 2007, shortly after being verbally abused outside a bar.
      Human rights and equality campaigners are hoping that the public outrage and disgust at Simelane's death and the July trial of the three men accused of her rape and murder will help put an end to the spiraling violence increasingly faced by lesbians across South Africa. Despite more than 30 reported murders of lesbians in the last decade, Simelane's trial has produced the first conviction, when one man who pleaded guilty to her rape and murder was jailed last month. On sentencing, the judge said that Simelane's sexual orientation had "no significance" in her killing.
      In Soweto and Kwa Thema, women seem unconvinced that Simelane's case will change anything for the better. Phumla talks of her experience of being taught a "classic lesson" by a group of men who abducted and raped her when she was returning from football training in 2003. She says that "practically every" lesbian in her community has suffered some form of violence in the past year and that it will take more than one trial to stop this happening. "Every day you feel like its a time bomb waiting to go off," she said. "You don't have freedom of movement, you don't have space to do as you please. You are always scared and your life always feels restricted. As women and as lesbians we need to be very aware that it is a fact of life that we are always in danger."

    please sign this petition.
                                                 1
    from the UK Guardian-

      On September 21, 2009, Themba Mvubu, 24, was found guilty of murdering, robbing and being an accessory to the rape of Simelane. Activists at the magistrates court in Delmas, Mpumalanga province, hailed the judgment as "extremely important" in drawing attention to cases of murder and corrective rape against lesbians in South Africa. Simelane was one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in Kwa Thema township, near Johannesburg. A keen footballer since childhood, she played for the South African women's team and worked as a coach and referee. She hoped to serve as a line official in the 2010 men's World Cup in South Africa.
      "Eudy Simelane suffered a brutal, undignified death," Judge Ratha Mokgoathleng told the court, where the victim's parents sat with heads bowed. "She was stripped naked, stabbed, assaulted, raped. What more indignity can a person endure?" He continued: "The accused has shown no remorse whatsoever. He steadfastly maintains he was not to blame for the death of the deceased. That is his right. It's painful to send a young person to jail, but if the young person behaves like an adult with criminal conduct, he cannot expect to hide behind his youthfulness."
      Mvubu, wearing a hooped brown and cream sweater, sat looking at the floor with hands behind his back for much of the hearing. Questioned by reporters, he muttered "I'm not sorry" as he was led from the dock to jeers from the public gallery.

      He was the second man convicted of the crime. Earlier this year Thato Mphithi pleaded guilty to murder, robbery and being an accomplice to the attempt to commit rape. He was imprisoned for a total of 32 years.
    Two more men, Khumbulani Magagula, 22, and 18-year-old Johannes Mahlangu were acquitted today of their alleged part in the attack. "God will be their judge," said Judge Mokgoathleng.

    from the NY Times-

      South Africans are obsessed with the violent crime in their midst, and earlier this month the new police minister, Nathi Mthethwa, tried to reassure them. “We are tired of waving nice documents like the Constitution” at criminals, he said, vowing instead to “meet the thugs head-on, and if it means we kill when we shoot them, so be it.”
      The problem with such tough talk, gay and lesbian groups say, is that it often excludes crimes directed at them. They claim they are special targets of violence, and snickering, abusive police officers do little to protect them or pursue their complaints.
      The Simelane case has been central to a campaign to bring attention to attacks against lesbians and gay men. But sexual orientation was never established as a motive at the trial. Judge Mokgoathleng was uncomfortable with the term lesbian itself. “Is there another word that you can use instead of that one?” he asked the prosecutor.

      Phumi Mtetwa, executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, said today: "This judgment is extremely important. It doesn't state that she was killed as a lesbian but because she was known.
    "How did people know her in the township? She was a soccer player who was 'butch' and was known. People are killed because of who they are." Simelane's mother, Mally, 65, said: "I'm happy. I'm released. My life will come right again."
      “Most survivors of these attacks do not report them. We believe there are hundreds of people who have been targeted,” Phumi Mtetna, 36, the director of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, told The Times.
    “Men are unemployed and feel traditional male preserves — such as football or drinking in a bar — are under attack. That was Eudy’s crime. An aggravating factor was that she did not look like a typical female. People are just getting killed here because they are different, like HIV-positive people have been killed in the past. What is important is to get a verdict which includes murder,” she said.
      Lesbians and gay advocacy organizations say that the problem has not been helped by a lack of support from the authorities in a society that is still highly traditional. South Africa has one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, but the reality often proves far less tolerant. “If a lesbian tries to report a rape, police will say something like, ‘Who would rape someone looking like you’?”, Ms Mtetna said.
      In a report this year, the British charity ActionAid said that “corrective rape” attacks were on the increase as gay women suffered a backlash from men feeling that traditional male dominance was at risk. Support groups emphasized that the issue had to be looked at from the wider perspective of growing violence against women in general and increasing rape incidents. South Africa has one of the highest incidences of rape in the world. Nearly 150 women are reported to have been raped every day, although activists say that the figure is much higher.

                       

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      Imagine him. Spry brown-skinned little gay boy. Voice and spirit of equal and magnanimous proportions. Standing, with the assistance of an apple box, tall and proud before the congregation and wailing Aretha Franklin's "Never Grow Old" just like the Queen herself. Tearing up the church and causing the Holy Ghost to break out all over the Tabernacle. It was only a foretelling sign of things to come. He was a force of nature even then, barely six and singing like he held some secret that the world knew nothing of, just yet. Somehow, he was born perfectly comfortable in his skin. He knew who he was and operated as though it was the world's mission to catch up and catch on to his fabulousness.
      He was Sylvester.
      Sylvester James was born in to a slightly bourgeoisie family in Los Angeles and was raised by his mother and stepfather, Letha and Robert Hurd. Many of the facts of his early life are uncertain. One thing is certain though, Sylvester was a child gospel star. Encouraged to sing by his grandmother, the 1920s and 1930s jazz singer Julia Morgan, James' talent first surfaced at the Palm Lane Church of God in Christ in South Los Angeles, and soon he was making the rounds and stirring up audiences at churches around Southern California and beyond, sometimes billed as the "child wonder of gospel." Sylvester's home life disintegrated when he was a teenager. He clashed with his mother and stepfather, finally running away from home at age 16. For several years he lived on and around the streets of Los Angeles, but managed to finish high school and enroll at Lamert Beauty College. James moved to San Francisco in 1967 and by his own account, his life began at that time.
      James was his last name, but Diva was a title he wore as readily and easily as the opulent attire (never drag) that he adorned. But Sylvester James-performance artist, recording star, Disco icon, advocate, activist, soul singer-was more than just a Tall Man In Drag. Sylvester was a revolution! Born September 6, 1947, he was a strong-willed Virgo, who had an opinion about everything and wasn't afraid or ashamed to share it. Sylvester knew at an early age that there was a creative force within that had to come out. After the church couldn't contain his fiery behavior and his parents could not tolerate his wild ways, he ran away from the "quiet streets" of his Los Angeles suburbs and found himself, literally and figuratively, in San Francisco.
      He started as many would have expected, performing drag, as "Ruby Blue," in clubs where he was an innovator, singing live and evoking Billie Holiday and the blues icons his grandmother had poured into his musical ear. He would still sing in church and felt completely comfortable doing both, unlike Marvin Gaye, Prince and other artists who struggled with the polarity of their Spirituality and their Musicality. Sylvester was alright with God and truly believed that God was alright with him. He felt like he could express himself any way he pleased and he was pleased when The Cockettes, a performance arts group that dabbled in drag and drugs, made him a part of their act and later got him to teach them to sing, instead of just pantomiming to other people's songs. He made them believe that they could do more.

 That unwavering belief and talent would take Sylvester and the troop from sold-out shows to New York and back. But he couldn't stay there long. He wanted and needed much more.
    9468
      Sylvester didn't really find his voice, his authentic voice, until he started to record. After a few failed attempts at recording, he found his niche, when in 1975, he went against the grain again and instead of trying to find thin, cute singers for the audience's eye, he enlisted Two Tons o' Fun and gave the people something for their ears! Martha Wash and Izora Armstead were two women, who though not traditional beauties, were the kind of performers that the Gay-infused Disco era adored. They could wail and didn't mind doing it. The Trio was signed to Fantasy Records, and after a slow start, released two of Disco's biggest hits in 1977 with "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" and "Dance (Disco Heat)." The singer would use that success to not just ride to the top of the charts, but to prove that he was a real stylist. On March 11, 1979, Sylvester recorded "Living Proof," a rare live album that did not adhere to the disco genre that he was becoming known for. He used the album to perform such classics as Billie Holiday's "Lover Man (Where Can You Be?)", The Beatles' "Blackbird," and Patti LaBelle's classic "You Are My Friend,". The latter song can be found on many Quiet Storm playlists, and it often plays in its entirety, including the solo riffs by Martha and Izora. Sylvester commented that "your ear has got to be in your foot to not know these girls can sang y'all." Sylvester was on fire that night, and the Mayor had declared it Sylvester Day, but back in his new home of San Francisco, everyday was already Sylvester Day. Patti LaBelle even commented "Sometimes I think we are the same person. We perform alike. We look alike. We even sound alike. I really like me... but I feel exactly the same way about him."
                       
      The year 1986 proved to be monumental for Sylvester for two reasons. Super-producer Narada Michael Walden invited him and new background singer Jeannie Tracey, to sing background on The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin's new album. Those are their voices wailing on "Freeway of Love" and "Another Night" on Aretha's blockbuster Who's Zoomin' Who album. Tragically, that same year, his producer and good friend, Patrick Cowley, died from AIDS complications. Sylvester's lover Rick, whose wedding ring he showed off on national TV, when he appeared on "The Tonight Show," with guest host Joan Rivers, died soon after that late-night triumph. Imagine Sylvester, in full colorful garb, flowing hair and great spirit, sitting with sharp-tongued Joan, talking about his husband and showing diamonds, while Middle America watched the show that had long been a late-night staple in their households. There was no fanfare or press backlash. Sylvester's quiet revolution was that he was comfortable with his truth. He laughed and sang and entertained America that night and then simply dropped the "oh by the way" of his life and his love and was congratulated by the sassy comedienne for being so talented, so loved and so brave. Joan knew that there were hundreds of gay entertainers in the industry-actors, singers, and behind the scenes success stories-but none of them would have done what Sylvester did that night in 1986. He simply told the truth.

                 

      Realizing that he could access the press proved powerful for Sylvester, when the AIDS pandemic hit the Gay community and no one would listen. People all around him were dying at an alarming rate and Sylvester knew he had to speak out. When he was diagnosed with AIDS, he was public about it. He did it with a quiet dignity, which allowed him to go to Pride events in a wheelchair and a smile, when his health deteriorated. But while still in good health and good spirits, he would speak to JET magazine again, this time about AIDS. "It bothers me that AIDS is still thought of as a white male disease" he said in 1987, "The black community is at the bottom of the line when it comes to getting information, even when we've been so hard hit by the disease. I would like to think that by going public with this, I can give other people the courage to face it." As for the Black community's then (and still) "belief" that AIDS is a spiritual retribution, Sylvester said simply "I don't believe that AIDS is the wrath of God. People have a tendency to want to blame everything on God."
      Sylvester James did so much while he was here. He changed our lives in ways that cannot be measured. He was an out black gay man who spoke directly to the Black community, challenging it to confront its own homophobia and prejudices, and stayed true to himself while he did it. Two decades after his death, his contributions are still groundbreaking and confirm his status as a pop and political icon that can never be devalued or under-appreciated.
      Sylvester had a platform, much bigger than the little apple box he first sang from. But he sang, spoke and lived with the same fervor as that little gay boy, whose fabulousness and fire will never grow old.

    From- The Fabulous Sylvester by Joshua Gamson.

      Later. when everyone was sick or dying,on the day 1986 turned into 1987, Sylvester---who had not been Doonie for almost twenty years---made an appearance on The Late Show, where Joan Rivers was hosting a festive New Years Eve. High on his head was a poofy, shoulder-length red wig he’d bought on Seventh Ave in New York;friends called it his Lucy Ricardo wig, and it indeed resembled the hair of a slutty Lucille Ball emerging from a wind tunnel. One of Sylvester’s lapels sparkled with a silver design, and braclets twinkled and jangled on his wrist. Backed by a mostly white band and two big black women singers, he sang “Someone Like You,” a pop song that was getting good radio play, though nothing like what his big disco hits had gotten ten years before. He jumped and danced as he sang, but his voice was off: scratchy and strained, as if his chops weren’t quite right.
      Sylvester plopped down on the couch next to preceding guest, the Tony Award-winning actor and seventies game-show fixture Charles Nelson Reilly. It was hard to imagine a queenier trio: Reilly, whose childhood nickname was Mary; gossipy Rivers, the drag queen without a penis; and Sylvester. After a bit of chitchat about jewelry and furs and Sylvester’s boyfriend, Rick, Sylvester reminded Rivers and Reilly that they had all three done one of the earliest AIDS benefits together several years earlier, before AIDS benefits were the thing to do: “the two of you,” he said, and “me, that black drag queen you always talk about.” Apparently, Ms. Rivers did not hear the warning in his words or the hurt he had felt at being reduced to a label. “What do you wear in real life, when you just want to be Mrs. Rick?” she asked, plainly assuming that Rick played mister to Sylvester’s missus. Sylvester laughed, despite the hint of strained patience on his face, and spoke vaguely about having “something for everyone.” Joan Rivers persisted. “So what did your family say when they found out you were going to be a drag queen?” she asked. Sylvester gave her a look. “I’m not a drag queen!” he exclaimed sharply but with a big,full-toothed smile, sitting in his wig, make-up, and jewelry. He threw his head back and held his arms to his chest in a small slef-hug, laughing. “I’m Sylvester!”
      Joan Rivers stumbled and stammered a bit (“But---well you sometimes---I know---sometimes...” as Sylvester stepped back in to smooth out the conversation. He looked up towards the ceiling for a second. “What did my parents say,” he repeated, and then he looked at Joan Rivers and explained the situation as nicely and succinctly as he could manage. “When I was little I used to dress up, right? And my mother said, ‘You can’t dress up. You can’t dress up. You’ve gotta wear these pants and these shoes, and you have to, like, drink beer and play football.’ And I said, “No, I don’t,’ and she said, ‘You’re very strange,’ and I said, ‘That’s okay.’”

    from Wikipedia-

      Pressure from the label to "butch up" his image would result in him attending meetings in full-on drag. A drag photo shoot, which he staged and presented to label heads as a gag (calling it his "new album cover") would later grace the cover of Immortal after Sylvester died; it was the label's way of paying tribute to his spirit. In 1985, one of his dreams came true as he was summoned to sing back-up for Aretha Franklin on her Who's Zoomin' Who? comeback album. His sole Warner Bros. Records album was Mutual Attraction in 1986; a single from the album, "Someone Like You", became Sylvester's second #1 hit on the U.S. dance chart and featured original cover art by Keith Haring.

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      At the outset of the 20th century, a GLBT subculture, uniquely Afro-American, began taking shape in New York's Harlem. Throughout the so- called Harlem Renaissance period, roughly 1920 to 1935, black lesbians and gay men were socializing in public at cabarets, at rent parties, and even worshiping in church on Sundays; creating a language, a social structure, and a complex network of institutions. Some were discreet about their sexual identities; while others openly expressed their personal feelings. The community they built attracted all races, creating friendships between people of disparate ethnic and economic backgrounds and building alliances for progressive social change. But the prosperity of the 1920s was short-lived, and the Harlem gay subculture quickly declined following the Stock Market crash of 1929 and the repeal of Prohibition, soon becoming only a shadow of its earlier self. Nevertheless, the traditions and institutions created by Harlem lesbians and gay men during the Jazz Age continue to this day.
      The key factor in this development of the GLBT subculture in Harlem was the massive migration of Afro-Americans to northern urban areas after the turn of the century. Since the beginning of American slavery, the vast majority of blacks had lived in rural southern states. American participation in World War I led to an increase in northern industrial production and brought an end to immigration, which resulted in thousands of job openings in northern factories which became available to blacks. Within two decades, large communities of black Americans had developed in most northern urban areas. So significant was this shift in population that it is now referred to as the "Great Migration." Black communities developed in Chicago, Detroit, and Buffalo, but the largest and most influential was Harlem, which became the mecca for Afro-Americans from all over the world. Nowhere else could you find a geographic area so large, so concentrated, really a city within a city, populated entirely by blacks. There were black schoolteachers, black entrepreneurs, black police officers, and even black millionaires. A spirit was in the air-of hope, progress, and possibilities- which proved particularly alluring to the young and unmarried. Harlem's streets soon filled with their music, their voices, and their laughter.
    They called themselves "New Negroes," Harlem was their capital, and they manifested a new militancy and pride. Black servicemen had been treated with a degree of respect and given a taste of near-equality while in Europe during the World War; their experiences influenced their expectations when they returned home. Participation in the war effort had given the entire black community a sense of involvement in the American process and led them to demand their place in the mainstream of American life. Marcus Garvey, the charismatic West Indian orator, had thousands of followers in his enormous black nationalist "Back to Africa" movement. W. E. B. DuBois and his National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), with its radical integrationist position, generally appealed to a more educated, middle- class following, as did Charles W. Johnson's National Urban League, but were just as militant in their call for racial justice. A variety of individuals and organizations generated Afro-American pride and solidarity.
      The New Negro movement created a new kind of art. Harlem, as the New Negro Capital, became a worldwide center for Afro-American jazz, literature, and the fine arts. Many black musicians, artists, writers, and entertainers were drawn to the vibrant black uptown neighborhood. Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, Bessie Smith, and Ethel Waters played in Harlem nightclubs. Langston Hughes, Zora Hurston, and Countee Cullen published in the local newspapers. Art galleries displayed the work of Aaron Douglas and Richmond Barthé. These creative talents incorporated the emerging black urban social consciousness into their art. The resulting explosion of self-consciously Afro-American creativity, now known as the "Harlem Renaissance," had a profound impact on the subsequent development of American arts.
      The social and sexual attitudes of Harlem's new immigrants were best reflected in the blues, a distinctly Afro-American folk music that had developed in rural southern black communities following the Civil War. Structurally simple, yet open to countless subtleties, the blues were immensely popular within American black communities throughout the 1920s. They told of loneliness, homesickness, and poverty, of love and good luck, and they provided a window into the difficult, often brutal. world of the New Negro immigrant.
      Homosexuality was clearly part of this world. "There's two things got me puzzled, there's two things I don't understand," moaned blues great Bessie Smith, "that's a mannish-acting woman and a lisping, swishing, womanish-acting man." In "Sissy Blues," Ma Rainey complained of her husband's infidelity with a homosexual named "Miss Kate." Lucille Bogan, in her "B.D. Women Blues," warned that "B.D. [bulldagger] women sure is rough; they drink up many a whiskey and they sure can strut their stuff." The "sissies" and "bull daggers" mentioned in the blues were ridiculed for their cross-gender behavior, but neither shunned nor hated. "Boy in the Boat" for example, recorded in 1930 by George Hanna, counseled "When you see two women walking hand in hand, just shake your head and try to understand." In fact, the casualness toward sexuality, so common in the blues, sometimes extended to homosexual behavior. In "Sissy Man Blues," a traditional tune recorded by numerous male blues singers over the years, the singer demanded "if you can't bring me a woman, bring me a sissy man." George Hanna's "Freakish Blues," recorded in 1931, is even more explicit about potential sexual fluidity. The blues reflected a culture that accepted sexuality, including homosexual behavior and identities, as a natural part of life.

                 

      Despite the relatively tolerant attitude shown toward homosexuality by Afro-American culture, black lesbians and gay men still had a difficult time. Like other black migrants, they soon learned that racism crossed the Mason-Dixon line. Economic problems, unemployment, and segregation plagued black communities across the North. High rents and housing shortages made privacy a luxury for Harlem's newcomers. Moreover black homosexuals, like their white counterparts, were continually under attack from the police and judicial systems. In 1920, young lesbian Mabel Hampton, recently arrived in Harlem from Winston- Salem, North Carolina, was arrested on trumped-up prostitution charges and spent two years in Bedford Hills Reformatory. Augustus Granville Dill, distinguished business editor of the NAACP's Crisis and personal protégé of DuBois, had his political career destroyed when he was arrested for soliciting sex in a public restroom. Black gay people were also under attack from the developing psychiatric institutions; Jonathan Katz cites a tragic case in which a young black gay man was incarcerated for most of the 1920s at the Worcester (Massachusetts) State Hospital. But in spite of racial oppression, economic hardship, and homophobic persecution, black lesbians and gay men were able to build a thriving community of their own within existing Afro- American institutions and traditions.
      Private parties were the best place for Harlem lesbians and gay men to socialize, providing safety and privacy. "We used to go to parties every other night.... The girls all had the parties," remembered Mabel Hampton. Harlem parties were extremely varied; the most common kind was the "rent party." Like the blues, rent parties had been brought north in the Great Migration. Few of Harlem's new residents had much money, and sometimes rent was hard to come by. To raise funds, they sometimes threw enormous parties, inviting the public and charging admission. There would be dancing and jazz, and bootleg liquor for sale in the kitchen. It is about just such a party that Bessie Smith sang her famous "Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer."

    Nina Simone's version-
                 

      On any given Saturday night there were scores of these parties throughout Harlem, often with those in attendance not knowing their hosts. The dancing and merriment would continue until dawn, and by morning the landlord could be paid. Lesbians and gay men were active participants in rent parties. The New York Age, one of Harlem's newspapers, complained in 1926:
      One of these rent parties a few weeks ago was the scene of a tragic crime in which one jealous woman cut the throat of another, because the two were rivals for the affections of a third woman. The whole situation was on a par with the recent Broadway play [about lesbianism, The Captive], imported from Paris, although the underworld tragedy took place in this locality. In the meantime, the combination of bad gin, jealous women, a carving knife, and a rent party is dangerous to the health of all concerned.
      At another Harlem rent party, satirically depicted in Wallace Thurman's 1932 Harlem Renaissance novel Infants of the Spring, a flamboyantly bisexual Harlem artist proudly displayed his new protégé, a handsome, bootblack, to the "fanciful aggregation of Greenwich Village uranians" he had invited.
      Gay men could always be found at the literary gatherings of Alexander Gumby. Gumby, who had arrived in Harlem near the turn of the century, immediately became entranced with the theatrical set and decided to open a salon to attract them. He worked as a postal clerk and acquired a patron, eventually renting a large studio on Fifth Avenue between 131st and 132nd streets. Known as Gumby's Bookstore because of the hundreds of books that lined the walls, the salon drew many theatrica and artistic luminaries. White author Samuel Steward remembers being taken to Gumby's one evening by a lesbian friend and enjoying a delightful evening of "reefer," bathtub gin, a game of truth, and homosexual exploits.
      Certainly the most opulent parties in Harlem were thrown by the heiress A'Lelia Walker. Walker was a striking, tall, dark-skinned woman who was rarely seen without her riding crop and her imposing, jeweled turban. She was the only daughter of Madame C. J. Walker, a former washerwoman who had made millions marketing her own hair-straightening process. When she died, Madame Walker left virtually her entire fortune to A'Lelia. Whereas Madame Walker had been civic-minded, donating thousands of dollars to charity, A'Lelia used most of her inheritance to throw lavish parties in her palatial Hudson River estate, Villa Lewaro. and at her Manhattan dwelling on 136th Street. Because A'Lelia adored the company of lesbians and gay men, her parties had a distinctly gay ambience. Elegant homosexuals such as Edward Perry, Edna Thomas. Harold Jackman, and Caska Bonds were her closest friends. So were scores of white celebrities. Novelist Marjorie Worthington would later remember:
      We went several times that winter to Madame Allelia [sic] Walker's Thursday "at-homes" on a beautiful street in Harlem known as,Sugar Hill...." [Madame Walker's] lavishly furnished house was a gathering place not only for artists and authors and theatrical stars of her own race, but for celebrities from all over the world. Drinks and food were served, and there was always music, generously performed enthusiastically received.
    Everyone from chorus girls to artists to socialites to visiting royalty would come at least once to enjoy her hospitality.
      Another Afro-American institution that tolerated, and frequently encouraged, homosexual patronage was the "buffet flat." "Buffet flats were after-hours spots that were usually in someone's apartment," explained celebrated entertainer Bricktop, "the type of place where gin was poured out of milk pitchers." Essentially private apartments where rooms could be rented by the night, buffet flats had sprung up during the late 1800s to provide overnight accommodations to black travelers refused service in white-owned hotels. By the 1920s, buffet flats developed a wilder reputation. Some were raucous establishments where illegal activities such as drinking, gambling, and prostitution were available. Others offered a variety of sexual pleasures cafeteria style. A Detroit buffet flat of the latter sort, which Ruby Smith remembered visiting with her aunt, Bessie Smith, catered to all variety of sexual tastes. It was "an open house, everything goes on in that house":
      They had a faggot there that was so great that people used to come there just to watch him make love to another man. He was that great. He'd give a tongue bath and everything. By the time he got to the front of that guy he was shaking like a leaf. People used to pay good just to go in there and see him do his act.... That same house had a woman that used to . . . take a cigarette, light it, and puff it with her pussy. A real educated pussy.
    In Harlem, Hazel Valentine ran a similar sex circus on 140th Street. Called "The Daisy Chain" or the "101 Ranch," it catered to all varieties of sexual tastes, and featured entertainers such as "Sewing Machine Bertha" and an enormous transvestite named "Clarenz." The Daisy Chain became so notorious that both Fats Waller and Count Basie composed tunes commemorating it.
    There were also buffet flats that particularly welcomed gay men. On Saturday nights pianist David Fontaine would regularly throw stylish flat parties for his many gay friends. Other noted hosts of gay male revelry were A'Lelia Walker's friend Caska Bonds, Eddie Manchester and the older Harlem couple, Jap and Saul. The most notorious such flat was run by Clinton Moore. Moore was an elegant, light-skinned homosexual, described as an "American version of the original ... Proust's Jupien." Moore had a fondness for celebrities, and his parties allegedly atracted luminaries like Cole Porter, Cary Grant, and society page columnist Maury Paul. Moore's entertainments were often low-down and dirty. According to Helen Lawrenson, Clinton Moore's . . . boasted a young black entertainer named Joey, vho played the piano and sang but whose specialty was to remove his clothes and extinguish a lighted candle by sitting on it until it disappeared. I never saw this feat but everyone else seemed to have and I was told that he was often hired to perform at soirees of the elite. 'He sat on lighted candles at one of the Vanderbilts',' my informant said.
    Somewhat more public-and therefore less abandoned-were Harlem's speakeasies, where gays were usually forced to hide their preferences and to blend in with the heterosexual patrons. Several Harlem speakeasies though, some little more than dives, catered specifically to the "pansy" trade. One such place, an "open" speakeasy since there was no doorman to keep the uninvited away, was located on the northwest corner of 126th Street and Seventh Avenue. It was a large, dimly lit place where gay men could go to pick up "rough trade." Artist Bruce Nugent, who occasionally visited the place, remembered it catering to "rough queers . . . the kind that fought better than truck drivers and swished better than Mae West." Ethel Waters remembered loaning her gowns to the transvestites who frequented Edmond's Cellar, a low-life saloon at 132nd Street and Fifth Avenue. Lulu Belle's on Lenox Avenue was another hangout for female impersonators, named after the famous Broadway melodrama of 1926 starring Leonore Ulric. A more sophisticated crowd of black gay men gathered nightly at the Hot Cha, at 132nd Street and Seventh Avenue, to listen to Jimmy Daniels sing and Garland Wilson play piano.
      Perhaps the most famous gay-oriented club of the era was Harry Hansberry's Clam House, a narrow, smoky speakeasy on 133rd Street. The Clam House featured Gladys Bentley, a 250- pound, masculine, dark-skinned lesbian, who performed all night long in a white tuxedo and top hat. Bentley, a talented pianist with a magnificent, growling voice, was celebrated for inventing obscene lyrics to popular contemporary melodies. Langston Hughes called her "an amazing exhibition of musical energy." Eslanda Robeson, wife of actor Paul Robeson, gushed to a friend, "Gladys Bentley is grand. I've heard her three nights, and will never be the same!" Schoolteacher Harold Jackman wrote to his friend Countee Cullen, "When Gladys sings 'St. James Infirmary,' it makes you weep your heart out."
    A glimpse into a speakeasy, based in part on the Clam House. is provided in Blair Niles' 1931 gay novel Strange Brother. The Lobster Pot is a smoky room in Harlem, simply furnished with a couple of tables, a piano, and a kitchen, where white heterosexual journalist June Westwood, Strange Brother's female protagonist, is first introduced to Manhattan's gay subculture. The Lobster Pot features a predominantly gay male clientele and an openly lesbian entertainer named Sybil. "What rhythm!" June comments to her companions. "And the way she's dressed!" Westbrook finds the atmosphere intoxicating, but abruptly ends her visit when she steps outside and witnesses the entrapment of an effeminate black gay man by the police.
    Decidedly safer were the frequent Harlem costume balls, where both men and women could dress as they pleased and dance with whom they wished. Called "spectacles in color" by poet La Igston Hughes, they were attended by thousands. Several cities hosted similar functions, but the Harlem balls were anticipated with particular excitement. "This dance has been going on a long time," observed Hughes, "and . . . is very famous among the male masqueraders of the eastern seaboard, who come from Boston and Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Atlantic City to attend.'' Taylor Gordon, a noted concert singer, wrote in 1929:
      The last big ball I attended where these men got the most of the prizes for acting and looking more like ladies than the ladies did themselves, was at the Savoy in Harlem.... The show that was put on that night for a dollar admission, including the privilege to dance, would have made a twenty-five dollar George White's "Scandals" opening look like a side show in a circus.
    The largest balls were the annual events held by the Hamilton Lodge at the regal Rockland Palace, which could accommodate up to six thousand people. Only slightly smaller were the balls given irregularly at the dazzling Savoy Ballroom, with its crystal chandeliers and elegant marble staircase. The organizers would obtain a police permit making the ball, and its participants, legal for the evening. The highlight of the event was the beauty contest, in which the fashionably dressed drags would vie for the title of Queen of the Ball.
      Charles Henri Ford and Parker Tyler's classic 1933 gay novel The Young and Evil suggests that these balls were just as popular with white gays as with black. Julian, the white protagonist, dons a little makeup (just enough to be "considered in costume and so get in for a dollar less"), leaves his Greenwich Village apartment, and sets off to a Harlem ball. Once there he greets his friends, dances to the jazz music, gets exceedingly drunk, flirts with the band leader, and eventually exchanges phone numbers with a handsome stranger.
      But drag balls lacked the primary allure of the buffet flat: privacy. These cross-dressing celebrations were enormous events and many of those who attended were spectators, there to observe rather than participate. It was not unusual to see the cream of Harlem society, as well as much of the white avant garde, in the ballroom's balconies, straining their necks to view the contestants.
      The costume balls, parties, speakeasies and buffet flats of Harlem provided an arena for homosexual interaction, but not for the development of homosocial networks. One area where black lesbians and gay men found particular bonds of friendship was within Harlem's predominantly heterosexual entertainment world. While some entertainers, like popular composer Porter Grainger and choir leader Hall Johnson, kept their homosexual activities private, others were open with their audiences. Female impersonator Phil Black, entertainer Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon, and singer George Hanna used elements of homosexuality in their professional acts and were still highly respected within the entertainment community. Both Black and Jaxon wore women's clothing while on stage and Hanna even recorded his "Freakish Blues" without fear of censure.
      For black lesbians, whose social options were more limited than those of their male counterparts, the support offered by the black entertainment world for nontraditional lifestyles was especially important. After leaving her family home in North Carolina, Mabel Hampton worked with her lover as a dancer in a Coney Island show before landing a position at Harlem's famed Lafayette Theater. By entering the show business life, Hampton was able to earn a good income, limit her social contact with men and move within a predominantly female social world. Many bisexual and lesbian black women, including Bessie Smith, Gladys Bently, Jackie "Moms" Mabley, Alberta Hunter, Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Josephine Baker and Ethel Waters found similar advantages in the show business life.
      Nearly all these women adopted a heterosexual public persona, most favoring a "red hot mama" style, and kept their love affairs with women a secret, but a few acknowledged their sexuality openly. Gladys Bentley, of course, was one exception. Another was Ma Rainey. Rainey was a short, squat, dark-skinned woman with a deep, earthy voice and a warm, friendly smile. She was the first vaudeville entertainer to incorporate the blues into her performance and has justifiably become known as the "Mother of the Blues." Though married, the flamboyant entertainer was known to take women as lovers. Her extraordinary song, "Prove It on Me Blues," speaks directly to the issue of lesbianism. In it she admits to her preference for male attire and female companionship, yet dares her audience to "prove it" on her. Rainey's defense of her lesbian life was quite remarkable in its day, and has lost little of its immediacy through the years.

    When "Ma" Rainey belted out Prove it on Me, she meant just that. It was a direct challenge for the audience to prove her lesbianism on her. This kind of lesbian visibility was not peculiar to Gertrude Rainey's performance.
    Songs like Sissy Blues, Lucille Bogan's B.D. Woman Blues and even Bessie Smith's Down-Hearted Blues where often she substituted female pronouns for male pronouns, made visible homosexuality in Harlem. It was during this decade that a peculiarly Afro-American gay subculture is permitted to surface. Gay men, lesbians and bisexuals were considered natural and were consistent with the sexual fluidity of the blues community.
    The evidence for the accepted visibility of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and even transgenders are the extremely popular Drag Balls that were held at the Savoy and the Rockland Palace. These balls attracted many high-society voyeurs and housed interracial crowd. Many of the Negrotarians, a term Zora Neale Hurston coined for white patrons of black artists, were themselves queer. An example is Carl Van Vechten. Many of the queer white population flocked to Harlem at night for "rent parties," "buffet flats," and subterranean speakeasies.
    Although these private parties gave gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders places to be, it was blues artists like Bessie Smith who provided them with a homosocial network. It is well known that not only was Bessie Smith herself a bisexual, but her own chorus line tended to be sexually fluid as well. As she traveled the blues circuits, she would provide her entourage with places to be in many cities. In the middle of the decade she would provide this regardless of the violent threat of Jack Gee.

    Mr. President, I realize you've got a lot on your plate, but we've been starving at the back of the line. Please throw us a few crumbs like ending DADT & DO

    by tnichlsn on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 04:58:38 AM PST

  •  - (0+ / 0-)

      The partially clothed body of Eudy Simelane, former star of South Africa's acclaimed Banyana Banyana national female football squad, was found in a creek in a park in Kwa Thema, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Simelane had been gang-raped and brutally beaten before being stabbed 25 times.
      Eudy Simelane loved football. In other countries the 29-year-old who rose through the ranks to become captain of the women’s national football team would have been hailed as a star. In South Africa it cost her her life. Her sexuality and supposedly butch looks were a death sentence in a country in which the sport is still considered a man’s game by many. As well as being one of South Africa's best-known female footballers, Simelane was a voracious equal rights campaigner and one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in Kwa Thema. Her brutal murder took place in April of 2008 and since then a tide of violence against lesbians in South Africa has continued to rise. Human rights campaigners say it is characterized by what they call "corrective rape" committed by men behind the guise of trying to "cure" lesbians of their sexual orientation. Simelane had lived for soccer, as a midfielder for the gallant but struggling national women's football team, Banyana Banyana (”The Girls”). S.A. women’s soccer struggles because it’s still far from getting the respect and funding that men’s soccer gets — according to one player, the team often played with worn-out shoes. After Simelane stopped playing, she stayed in the sport as a referee, and became an activist after she came out. Her memorial service took place at the local Methodist Church; she was buried next day. Simelane leaves behind a grieving lesbian partner, Sibongile Vilakazi.

                                                     2
      A report by the South African Human Rights Commission condemns the culture of impunity around these crimes, which it says are going unrecognized by the state and unpunished by the legal system. The report calls for South Africa's criminal justice system to recognize hate crimes, including corrective rape, as a separate crime category. It argues this will force police to take action over the rising violence and ensure the resources and support are provided to those trying to bring perpetrators to justice.
      The ferocity and brutality of Simelane's murder sent shock waves through Kwa Thema, where she was known for bringing sports fame to the sprawling township. Her mother, Mally Simelane, said she always feared for her daughter's safety but never imagined her life would be taken in such a brutal way. "I'm scared that these people are going to come and kill me too because I don't know what happened," she said. "Why did they do this horrible thing? Because of who she was? She was a sweet lady, she never fought with anyone, but why would they kill her like this? She was stabbed, 25 holes in her. The whole body, even under the feet."
      Lesbians in townships in Johannesburg and Cape Town say they are being deliberately targeted for rape and that the threat of violence has become an everyday ordeal. "Every day I am told that they are going to kill me, that they are going to rape me and after they rape me I'll become a girl," said Zakhe Sowello from Soweto, Johannesburg. "When you are raped you have a lot of evidence on your body. But when we try and report these crimes nothing happens, and then you see the boys who raped you walking free on the street."
      Research released last year by Triangle, a leading South African gay rights organization says it is dealing with up to 10 new cases of "corrective rape" every week. "What we're seeing is a spike in the numbers of women coming to us having been raped and who have been told throughout the attack that being a lesbian was to blame for what was happening to them," said Vanessa Ludwig, the chief executive at Triangle.
      A statement released by South Africa's national prosecuting authority said: "While hate crimes – especially of a sexual nature – are rife, it is not something that the South African government has prioritized as a specific project." The failure of police to follow up eyewitness statements and continue their investigation into another brutal double rape and murder of lesbian couple Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Massooa in July 2007 has led to the formation of the 07-07-07 Campaign, a coalition of human rights and equality groups calling for justice for women targeted in these attacks. Sigasa and Massooa were tortured, gang raped and shot near their homes in Meadowland, Soweto in July 2007, shortly after being verbally abused outside a bar.
      Human rights and equality campaigners are hoping that the public outrage and disgust at Simelane's death and the July trial of the three men accused of her rape and murder will help put an end to the spiraling violence increasingly faced by lesbians across South Africa. Despite more than 30 reported murders of lesbians in the last decade, Simelane's trial has produced the first conviction, when one man who pleaded guilty to her rape and murder was jailed last month. On sentencing, the judge said that Simelane's sexual orientation had "no significance" in her killing.
      In Soweto and Kwa Thema, women seem unconvinced that Simelane's case will change anything for the better. Phumla talks of her experience of being taught a "classic lesson" by a group of men who abducted and raped her when she was returning from football training in 2003. She says that "practically every" lesbian in her community has suffered some form of violence in the past year and that it will take more than one trial to stop this happening. "Every day you feel like its a time bomb waiting to go off," she said. "You don't have freedom of movement, you don't have space to do as you please. You are always scared and your life always feels restricted. As women and as lesbians we need to be very aware that it is a fact of life that we are always in danger."

    please sign this petition.
                                                 1
    from the UK Guardian-

      On September 21, 2009, Themba Mvubu, 24, was found guilty of murdering, robbing and being an accessory to the rape of Simelane. Activists at the magistrates court in Delmas, Mpumalanga province, hailed the judgment as "extremely important" in drawing attention to cases of murder and corrective rape against lesbians in South Africa. Simelane was one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in Kwa Thema township, near Johannesburg. A keen footballer since childhood, she played for the South African women's team and worked as a coach and referee. She hoped to serve as a line official in the 2010 men's World Cup in South Africa.
      "Eudy Simelane suffered a brutal, undignified death," Judge Ratha Mokgoathleng told the court, where the victim's parents sat with heads bowed. "She was stripped naked, stabbed, assaulted, raped. What more indignity can a person endure?" He continued: "The accused has shown no remorse whatsoever. He steadfastly maintains he was not to blame for the death of the deceased. That is his right. It's painful to send a young person to jail, but if the young person behaves like an adult with criminal conduct, he cannot expect to hide behind his youthfulness."
      Mvubu, wearing a hooped brown and cream sweater, sat looking at the floor with hands behind his back for much of the hearing. Questioned by reporters, he muttered "I'm not sorry" as he was led from the dock to jeers from the public gallery.

      He was the second man convicted of the crime. Earlier this year Thato Mphithi pleaded guilty to murder, robbery and being an accomplice to the attempt to commit rape. He was imprisoned for a total of 32 years.
    Two more men, Khumbulani Magagula, 22, and 18-year-old Johannes Mahlangu were acquitted today of their alleged part in the attack. "God will be their judge," said Judge Mokgoathleng.

    from the NY Times-

      South Africans are obsessed with the violent crime in their midst, and earlier this month the new police minister, Nathi Mthethwa, tried to reassure them. “We are tired of waving nice documents like the Constitution” at criminals, he said, vowing instead to “meet the thugs head-on, and if it means we kill when we shoot them, so be it.”
      The problem with such tough talk, gay and lesbian groups say, is that it often excludes crimes directed at them. They claim they are special targets of violence, and snickering, abusive police officers do little to protect them or pursue their complaints.
      The Simelane case has been central to a campaign to bring attention to attacks against lesbians and gay men. But sexual orientation was never established as a motive at the trial. Judge Mokgoathleng was uncomfortable with the term lesbian itself. “Is there another word that you can use instead of that one?” he asked the prosecutor.

      Phumi Mtetwa, executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, said today: "This judgment is extremely important. It doesn't state that she was killed as a lesbian but because she was known.
    "How did people know her in the township? She was a soccer player who was 'butch' and was known. People are killed because of who they are." Simelane's mother, Mally, 65, said: "I'm happy. I'm released. My life will come right again."
      “Most survivors of these attacks do not report them. We believe there are hundreds of people who have been targeted,” Phumi Mtetna, 36, the director of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, told The Times.
    “Men are unemployed and feel traditional male preserves — such as football or drinking in a bar — are under attack. That was Eudy’s crime. An aggravating factor was that she did not look like a typical female. People are just getting killed here because they are different, like HIV-positive people have been killed in the past. What is important is to get a verdict which includes murder,” she said.
      Lesbians and gay advocacy organizations say that the problem has not been helped by a lack of support from the authorities in a society that is still highly traditional. South Africa has one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, but the reality often proves far less tolerant. “If a lesbian tries to report a rape, police will say something like, ‘Who would rape someone looking like you’?”, Ms Mtetna said.
      In a report this year, the British charity ActionAid said that “corrective rape” attacks were on the increase as gay women suffered a backlash from men feeling that traditional male dominance was at risk. Support groups emphasized that the issue had to be looked at from the wider perspective of growing violence against women in general and increasing rape incidents. South Africa has one of the highest incidences of rape in the world. Nearly 150 women are reported to have been raped every day, although activists say that the figure is much higher.

                       

    **************************************************************************************
      Imagine him. Spry brown-skinned little gay boy. Voice and spirit of equal and magnanimous proportions. Standing, with the assistance of an apple box, tall and proud before the congregation and wailing Aretha Franklin's "Never Grow Old" just like the Queen herself. Tearing up the church and causing the Holy Ghost to break out all over the Tabernacle. It was only a foretelling sign of things to come. He was a force of nature even then, barely six and singing like he held some secret that the world knew nothing of, just yet. Somehow, he was born perfectly comfortable in his skin. He knew who he was and operated as though it was the world's mission to catch up and catch on to his fabulousness.
      He was Sylvester.
      Sylvester James was born in to a slightly bourgeoisie family in Los Angeles and was raised by his mother and stepfather, Letha and Robert Hurd. Many of the facts of his early life are uncertain. One thing is certain though, Sylvester was a child gospel star. Encouraged to sing by his grandmother, the 1920s and 1930s jazz singer Julia Morgan, James' talent first surfaced at the Palm Lane Church of God in Christ in South Los Angeles, and soon he was making the rounds and stirring up audiences at churches around Southern California and beyond, sometimes billed as the "child wonder of gospel." Sylvester's home life disintegrated when he was a teenager. He clashed with his mother and stepfather, finally running away from home at age 16. For several years he lived on and around the streets of Los Angeles, but managed to finish high school and enroll at Lamert Beauty College. James moved to San Francisco in 1967 and by his own account, his life began at that time.
      James was his last name, but Diva was a title he wore as readily and easily as the opulent attire (never drag) that he adorned. But Sylvester James-performance artist, recording star, Disco icon, advocate, activist, soul singer-was more than just a Tall Man In Drag. Sylvester was a revolution! Born September 6, 1947, he was a strong-willed Virgo, who had an opinion about everything and wasn't afraid or ashamed to share it. Sylvester knew at an early age that there was a creative force within that had to come out. After the church couldn't contain his fiery behavior and his parents could not tolerate his wild ways, he ran away from the "quiet streets" of his Los Angeles suburbs and found himself, literally and figuratively, in San Francisco.
      He started as many would have expected, performing drag, as "Ruby Blue," in clubs where he was an innovator, singing live and evoking Billie Holiday and the blues icons his grandmother had poured into his musical ear. He would still sing in church and felt completely comfortable doing both, unlike Marvin Gaye, Prince and other artists who struggled with the polarity of their Spirituality and their Musicality. Sylvester was alright with God and truly believed that God was alright with him. He felt like he could express himself any way he pleased and he was pleased when The Cockettes, a performance arts group that dabbled in drag and drugs, made him a part of their act and later got him to teach them to sing, instead of just pantomiming to other people's songs. He made them believe that they could do more.

 That unwavering belief and talent would take Sylvester and the troop from sold-out shows to New York and back. But he couldn't stay there long. He wanted and needed much more.
    9468
      Sylvester didn't really find his voice, his authentic voice, until he started to record. After a few failed attempts at recording, he found his niche, when in 1975, he went against the grain again and instead of trying to find thin, cute singers for the audience's eye, he enlisted Two Tons o' Fun and gave the people something for their ears! Martha Wash and Izora Armstead were two women, who though not traditional beauties, were the kind of performers that the Gay-infused Disco era adored. They could wail and didn't mind doing it. The Trio was signed to Fantasy Records, and after a slow start, released two of Disco's biggest hits in 1977 with "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" and "Dance (Disco Heat)." The singer would use that success to not just ride to the top of the charts, but to prove that he was a real stylist. On March 11, 1979, Sylvester recorded "Living Proof," a rare live album that did not adhere to the disco genre that he was becoming known for. He used the album to perform such classics as Billie Holiday's "Lover Man (Where Can You Be?)", The Beatles' "Blackbird," and Patti LaBelle's classic "You Are My Friend,". The latter song can be found on many Quiet Storm playlists, and it often plays in its entirety, including the solo riffs by Martha and Izora. Sylvester commented that "your ear has got to be in your foot to not know these girls can sang y'all." Sylvester was on fire that night, and the Mayor had declared it Sylvester Day, but back in his new home of San Francisco, everyday was already Sylvester Day. Patti LaBelle even commented "Sometimes I think we are the same person. We perform alike. We look alike. We even sound alike. I really like me... but I feel exactly the same way about him."
                       
      The year 1986 proved to be monumental for Sylvester for two reasons. Super-producer Narada Michael Walden invited him and new background singer Jeannie Tracey, to sing background on The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin's new album. Those are their voices wailing on "Freeway of Love" and "Another Night" on Aretha's blockbuster Who's Zoomin' Who album. Tragically, that same year, his producer and good friend, Patrick Cowley, died from AIDS complications. Sylvester's lover Rick, whose wedding ring he showed off on national TV, when he appeared on "The Tonight Show," with guest host Joan Rivers, died soon after that late-night triumph. Imagine Sylvester, in full colorful garb, flowing hair and great spirit, sitting with sharp-tongued Joan, talking about his husband and showing diamonds, while Middle America watched the show that had long been a late-night staple in their households. There was no fanfare or press backlash. Sylvester's quiet revolution was that he was comfortable with his truth. He laughed and sang and entertained America that night and then simply dropped the "oh by the way" of his life and his love and was congratulated by the sassy comedienne for being so talented, so loved and so brave. Joan knew that there were hundreds of gay entertainers in the industry-actors, singers, and behind the scenes success stories-but none of them would have done what Sylvester did that night in 1986. He simply told the truth.

                 

      Realizing that he could access the press proved powerful for Sylvester, when the AIDS pandemic hit the Gay community and no one would listen. People all around him were dying at an alarming rate and Sylvester knew he had to speak out. When he was diagnosed with AIDS, he was public about it. He did it with a quiet dignity, which allowed him to go to Pride events in a wheelchair and a smile, when his health deteriorated. But while still in good health and good spirits, he would speak to JET magazine again, this time about AIDS. "It bothers me that AIDS is still thought of as a white male disease" he said in 1987, "The black community is at the bottom of the line when it comes to getting information, even when we've been so hard hit by the disease. I would like to think that by going public with this, I can give other people the courage to face it." As for the Black community's then (and still) "belief" that AIDS is a spiritual retribution, Sylvester said simply "I don't believe that AIDS is the wrath of God. People have a tendency to want to blame everything on God."
      Sylvester James did so much while he was here. He changed our lives in ways that cannot be measured. He was an out black gay man who spoke directly to the Black community, challenging it to confront its own homophobia and prejudices, and stayed true to himself while he did it. Two decades after his death, his contributions are still groundbreaking and confirm his status as a pop and political icon that can never be devalued or under-appreciated.
      Sylvester had a platform, much bigger than the little apple box he first sang from. But he sang, spoke and lived with the same fervor as that little gay boy, whose fabulousness and fire will never grow old.

    From- The Fabulous Sylvester by Joshua Gamson.

      Later. when everyone was sick or dying,on the day 1986 turned into 1987, Sylvester---who had not been Doonie for almost twenty years---made an appearance on The Late Show, where Joan Rivers was hosting a festive New Years Eve. High on his head was a poofy, shoulder-length red wig he’d bought on Seventh Ave in New York;friends called it his Lucy Ricardo wig, and it indeed resembled the hair of a slutty Lucille Ball emerging from a wind tunnel. One of Sylvester’s lapels sparkled with a silver design, and braclets twinkled and jangled on his wrist. Backed by a mostly white band and two big black women singers, he sang “Someone Like You,” a pop song that was getting good radio play, though nothing like what his big disco hits had gotten ten years before. He jumped and danced as he sang, but his voice was off: scratchy and strained, as if his chops weren’t quite right.
      Sylvester plopped down on the couch next to preceding guest, the Tony Award-winning actor and seventies game-show fixture Charles Nelson Reilly. It was hard to imagine a queenier trio: Reilly, whose childhood nickname was Mary; gossipy Rivers, the drag queen without a penis; and Sylvester. After a bit of chitchat about jewelry and furs and Sylvester’s boyfriend, Rick, Sylvester reminded Rivers and Reilly that they had all three done one of the earliest AIDS benefits together several years earlier, before AIDS benefits were the thing to do: “the two of you,” he said, and “me, that black drag queen you always talk about.” Apparently, Ms. Rivers did not hear the warning in his words or the hurt he had felt at being reduced to a label. “What do you wear in real life, when you just want to be Mrs. Rick?” she asked, plainly assuming that Rick played mister to Sylvester’s missus. Sylvester laughed, despite the hint of strained patience on his face, and spoke vaguely about having “something for everyone.” Joan Rivers persisted. “So what did your family say when they found out you were going to be a drag queen?” she asked. Sylvester gave her a look. “I’m not a drag queen!” he exclaimed sharply but with a big,full-toothed smile, sitting in his wig, make-up, and jewelry. He threw his head back and held his arms to his chest in a small slef-hug, laughing. “I’m Sylvester!”
      Joan Rivers stumbled and stammered a bit (“But---well you sometimes---I know---sometimes...” as Sylvester stepped back in to smooth out the conversation. He looked up towards the ceiling for a second. “What did my parents say,” he repeated, and then he looked at Joan Rivers and explained the situation as nicely and succinctly as he could manage. “When I was little I used to dress up, right? And my mother said, ‘You can’t dress up. You can’t dress up. You’ve gotta wear these pants and these shoes, and you have to, like, drink beer and play football.’ And I said, “No, I don’t,’ and she said, ‘You’re very strange,’ and I said, ‘That’s okay.’”

    from Wikipedia-

      Pressure from the label to "butch up" his image would result in him attending meetings in full-on drag. A drag photo shoot, which he staged and presented to label heads as a gag (calling it his "new album cover") would later grace the cover of Immortal after Sylvester died; it was the label's way of paying tribute to his spirit. In 1985, one of his dreams came true as he was summoned to sing back-up for Aretha Franklin on her Who's Zoomin' Who? comeback album. His sole Warner Bros. Records album was Mutual Attraction in 1986; a single from the album, "Someone Like You", became Sylvester's second #1 hit on the U.S. dance chart and featured original cover art by Keith Haring.

    **************************************************************************************

      At the outset of the 20th century, a GLBT subculture, uniquely Afro-American, began taking shape in New York's Harlem. Throughout the so- called Harlem Renaissance period, roughly 1920 to 1935, black lesbians and gay men were socializing in public at cabarets, at rent parties, and even worshiping in church on Sundays; creating a language, a social structure, and a complex network of institutions. Some were discreet about their sexual identities; while others openly expressed their personal feelings. The community they built attracted all races, creating friendships between people of disparate ethnic and economic backgrounds and building alliances for progressive social change. But the prosperity of the 1920s was short-lived, and the Harlem gay subculture quickly declined following the Stock Market crash of 1929 and the repeal of Prohibition, soon becoming only a shadow of its earlier self. Nevertheless, the traditions and institutions created by Harlem lesbians and gay men during the Jazz Age continue to this day.
      The key factor in this development of the GLBT subculture in Harlem was the massive migration of Afro-Americans to northern urban areas after the turn of the century. Since the beginning of American slavery, the vast majority of blacks had lived in rural southern states. American participation in World War I led to an increase in northern industrial production and brought an end to immigration, which resulted in thousands of job openings in northern factories which became available to blacks. Within two decades, large communities of black Americans had developed in most northern urban areas. So significant was this shift in population that it is now referred to as the "Great Migration." Black communities developed in Chicago, Detroit, and Buffalo, but the largest and most influential was Harlem, which became the mecca for Afro-Americans from all over the world. Nowhere else could you find a geographic area so large, so concentrated, really a city within a city, populated entirely by blacks. There were black schoolteachers, black entrepreneurs, black police officers, and even black millionaires. A spirit was in the air-of hope, progress, and possibilities- which proved particularly alluring to the young and unmarried. Harlem's streets soon filled with their music, their voices, and their laughter.
    They called themselves "New Negroes," Harlem was their capital, and they manifested a new militancy and pride. Black servicemen had been treated with a degree of respect and given a taste of near-equality while in Europe during the World War; their experiences influenced their expectations when they returned home. Participation in the war effort had given the entire black community a sense of involvement in the American process and led them to demand their place in the mainstream of American life. Marcus Garvey, the charismatic West Indian orator, had thousands of followers in his enormous black nationalist "Back to Africa" movement. W. E. B. DuBois and his National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), with its radical integrationist position, generally appealed to a more educated, middle- class following, as did Charles W. Johnson's National Urban League, but were just as militant in their call for racial justice. A variety of individuals and organizations generated Afro-American pride and solidarity.
      The New Negro movement created a new kind of art. Harlem, as the New Negro Capital, became a worldwide center for Afro-American jazz, literature, and the fine arts. Many black musicians, artists, writers, and entertainers were drawn to the vibrant black uptown neighborhood. Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, Bessie Smith, and Ethel Waters played in Harlem nightclubs. Langston Hughes, Zora Hurston, and Countee Cullen published in the local newspapers. Art galleries displayed the work of Aaron Douglas and Richmond Barthé. These creative talents incorporated the emerging black urban social consciousness into their art. The resulting explosion of self-consciously Afro-American creativity, now known as the "Harlem Renaissance," had a profound impact on the subsequent development of American arts.
      The social and sexual attitudes of Harlem's new immigrants were best reflected in the blues, a distinctly Afro-American folk music that had developed in rural southern black communities following the Civil War. Structurally simple, yet open to countless subtleties. They told of loneliness, homesickness, and poverty, of love and good luck, and they provided a window into the difficult, often brutal world of the New Negro immigrant.
    from Eric Garber-

      Homosexuality was clearly part of this world. "There's two things got me puzzled, there's two things I don't understand," moaned blues great Bessie Smith, "that's a mannish-acting woman and a lisping, swishing, womanish-acting man." In "Sissy Blues," Ma Rainey complained of her husband's infidelity with a homosexual named "Miss Kate." Lucille Bogan, in her "B.D. Women Blues," warned that "B.D. [bulldagger] women sure is rough; they drink up many a whiskey and they sure can strut their stuff." The "sissies" and "bull daggers" mentioned in the blues were ridiculed for their cross-gender behavior, but neither shunned nor hated. "Boy in the Boat" for example, recorded in 1930 by George Hanna, counseled "When you see two women walking hand in hand, just shake your head and try to understand." In fact, the casualness toward sexuality, so common in the blues, sometimes extended to homosexual behavior. In "Sissy Man Blues," a traditional tune recorded by numerous male blues singers over the years, the singer demanded "if you can't bring me a woman, bring me a sissy man." George Hanna's "Freakish Blues," recorded in 1931, is even more explicit about potential sexual fluidity. The blues reflected a culture that accepted sexuality, including homosexual behavior and identities, as a natural part of life.

                 

      Despite the relatively tolerant attitude shown toward homosexuality by Afro-American culture, black lesbians and gay men still had a difficult time. Like other black migrants, they soon learned that racism crossed the Mason-Dixon line. Economic problems, unemployment, and segregation plagued black communities across the North. High rents and housing shortages made privacy a luxury for Harlem's newcomers. Moreover black homosexuals, like their white counterparts, were continually under attack from the police and judicial systems. In 1920, young lesbian Mabel Hampton, recently arrived in Harlem from Winston- Salem, North Carolina, was arrested on trumped-up prostitution charges and spent two years in Bedford Hills Reformatory. Augustus Granville Dill, distinguished business editor of the NAACP's Crisis and personal protégé of DuBois, had his political career destroyed when he was arrested for soliciting sex in a public restroom. But in spite of racial oppression, economic hardship, and homophobic persecution, black lesbians and gay men were able to build a thriving community of their own within existing Afro-American institutions and traditions.
      Private parties were the best place for Harlem lesbians and gay men to socialize, providing safety and privacy. "We used to go to parties every other night... The girls all had the parties," remembered Mabel Hampton. Harlem parties were extremely varied; the most common kind was the "rent party." Like the blues, rent parties had been brought north in the Great Migration. Few of Harlem's new residents had much money, and sometimes rent was hard to come by. To raise funds, they sometimes threw enormous parties, inviting the public and charging admission. There would be dancing and jazz, and bootleg liquor for sale in the kitchen. It is about just such a party that Bessie Smith sang her famous "Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer."

    Nina Simone's version-
                 

      On any given Saturday night there were scores of these parties throughout Harlem, often with those in attendance not knowing their hosts. The dancing and merriment would continue until dawn, and by morning the landlord could be paid. Lesbians and gay men were active participants in rent parties. The New York Age, one of Harlem's newspapers, complained in 1926:

      One of these rent parties a few weeks ago was the scene of a tragic crime in which one jealous woman cut the throat of another, because the two were rivals for the affections of a third woman. The whole situation was on a par with the recent Broadway play [about lesbianism, The Captive], imported from Paris, although the underworld tragedy took place in this locality. In the meantime, the combination of bad gin, jealous women, a carving knife, and a rent party is dangerous to the health of all concerned.

      Gay men could always be found at the literary gatherings of Alexander Gumby. Gumby, who had arrived in Harlem near the turn of the century, immediately became entranced with the theatrical set and decided to open a salon to attract them. He worked as a postal clerk and acquired a patron, eventually renting a large studio on Fifth Avenue between 131st and 132nd streets. Known as Gumby's Bookstore because of the hundreds of books that lined the walls, the salon drew many theatrical and artistic luminaries. White author Samuel Steward remembers being taken to Gumby's one evening by a lesbian friend and enjoying a delightful evening of "reefer," bathtub gin, a game of truth, and homosexual exploits.
      Certainly the most opulent parties in Harlem were thrown by the heiress A'Lelia Walker. Walker was a striking, tall, dark-skinned woman who was rarely seen without her riding crop and her imposing, jeweled turban. She was the only daughter of Madame C. J. Walker, a former washerwoman who had made millions marketing her own hair-straightening process. When she died, Madame Walker left virtually her entire fortune to A'Lelia. Whereas Madame Walker had been civic-minded, donating thousands of dollars to charity, A'Lelia used most of her inheritance to throw lavish parties in her palatial Hudson River estate, Villa Lewaro. and at her Manhattan dwelling on 136th Street. Because A'Lelia adored the company of lesbians and gay men, her parties had a distinctly gay ambience. Elegant homosexuals such as Edward Perry, Edna Thomas. Harold Jackman, and Caska Bonds were her closest friends. So were scores of white celebrities. Novelist Marjorie Worthington would later remember:

      We went several times that winter to Madame Allelia [sic] Walker's Thursday "at-homes" on a beautiful street in Harlem known as,Sugar Hill...." [Madame Walker's] lavishly furnished house was a gathering place not only for artists and authors and theatrical stars of her own race, but for celebrities from all over the world. Drinks and food were served, and there was always music, generously performed enthusiastically received.
    Everyone from chorus girls to artists to socialites to visiting royalty would come at least once to enjoy her hospitality.

      Another Afro-American institution that tolerated, and frequently encouraged, homosexual patronage was the "buffet flat." "Buffet flats were after-hours spots that were usually in someone's apartment," explained celebrated entertainer Bricktop, "the type of place where gin was poured out of milk pitchers." Essentially private apartments where rooms could be rented by the night, buffet flats had sprung up during the late 1800s to provide overnight accommodations to black travelers refused service in white-owned hotels. By the 1920s, buffet flats developed a wilder reputation. Some were raucous establishments where illegal activities such as drinking, gambling, and prostitution were available. Others offered a variety of sexual pleasures cafeteria style. A Detroit buffet flat of the latter sort, which Ruby Smith remembered visiting with her aunt, Bessie Smith, catered to all variety of sexual tastes. It was "an open house, everything goes on in that house":

      They had a faggot there that was so great that people used to come there just to watch him make love to another man. He was that great. He'd give a tongue bath and everything. By the time he got to the front of that guy he was shaking like a leaf. People used to pay good just to go in there and see him do his act... That same house had a woman that used to... take a cigarette, light it, and puff it with her pussy. A real educated pussy.
      In Harlem, Hazel Valentine ran a similar sex circus on 140th Street. Called "The Daisy Chain" or the "101 Ranch," it catered to all varieties of sexual tastes, and featured entertainers such as "Sewing Machine Bertha" and an enormous transvestite named "Clarenz." The Daisy Chain became so notorious that both Fats Waller and Count Basie composed tunes commemorating it.
      There were also buffet flats that particularly welcomed gay men. On Saturday nights pianist David Fontaine would regularly throw stylish flat parties for his many gay friends. Other noted hosts of gay male revelry were A'Lelia Walker's friend Caska Bonds, Eddie Manchester and the older Harlem couple, Jap and Saul. The most notorious such flat was run by Clinton Moore. Moore was an elegant, light-skinned homosexual, described as an "American version of the original... Proust's Jupien." Moore had a fondness for celebrities, and his parties allegedly attracted luminaries like Cole Porter, Cary Grant, and society page columnist Maury Paul. Moore's entertainments were often low-down and dirty. According to Helen Lawrenson, Clinton Moore's... boasted a young black entertainer named Joey, vho played the piano and sang but whose specialty was to remove his clothes and extinguish a lighted candle by sitting on it until it disappeared. I never saw this feat but everyone else seemed to have and I was told that he was often hired to perform at soirees of the elite. 'He sat on lighted candles at one of the Vanderbilts',' my informant said.

      Somewhat more public-and therefore less abandoned-were Harlem's speakeasies, where gays were usually forced to hide their preferences and to blend in with the heterosexual patrons. Several Harlem speakeasies though, some little more than dives, catered specifically to the "pansy" trade. One such place, an "open" speakeasy since there was no doorman to keep the uninvited away, was located on the northwest corner of 126th Street and Seventh Avenue. It was a large, dimly lit place where gay men could go to pick up "rough trade." Artist Bruce Nugent, who occasionally visited the place, remembered it catering to "rough queers... the kind that fought better than truck drivers and swished better than Mae West." Ethel Waters remembered loaning her gowns to the transvestites who frequented Edmond's Cellar, a low-life saloon at 132nd Street and Fifth Avenue. Lulu Belle's on Lenox Avenue was another hangout for female impersonators, named after the famous Broadway melodrama of 1926 starring Leonore Ulric. A more sophisticated crowd of black gay men gathered nightly at the Hot Cha, at 132nd Street and Seventh Avenue, to listen to Garland Wilson play piano.
      Decidedly safer were the frequent Harlem costume balls, where both men and women could dress as they pleased and dance with whom they wished. Called "spectacles in color" by poet Langston Hughes, they were attended by thousands. Several cities hosted similar functions, but the Harlem balls were anticipated with particular excitement. "This dance has been going on a long time," observed Hughes, "and... is very famous among the male masqueraders of the eastern seaboard, who come from Boston and Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Atlantic City to attend." Taylor Gordon, a noted concert singer, wrote in 1929:

      The last big ball I attended where these men got the most of the prizes for acting and looking more like ladies than the ladies did themselves, was at the Savoy in Harlem.... The show that was put on that night for a dollar admission, including the privilege to dance, would have made a twenty-five dollar George White's "Scandals" opening look like a side show in a circus.

      The largest balls were the annual events held by the Hamilton Lodge at the regal Rockland Palace, which could accommodate up to six thousand people. Only slightly smaller were the balls given irregularly at the dazzling Savoy Ballroom, with its crystal chandeliers and elegant marble staircase. The organizers would obtain a police permit making the ball, and its participants, legal for the evening. The highlight of the event was the beauty contest, in which the fashionably dressed drag queens would vie for the title of Queen of the Ball.
      But drag balls lacked the primary allure of the buffet flat: privacy. These cross-dressing celebrations were enormous events and many of those who attended were spectators, there to observe rather than participate. It was not unusual to see the cream of Harlem society, as well as much of the white avante garde, in the ballroom's balconies, straining their necks to view the contestants.

      It was during this era that a peculiarly Afro-American gay subculture was permitted to develop. Gay men, lesbians and bisexuals were considered natural and were consistent with the sexual fluidity of the blues community. Many of the queer white population flocked to Harlem at night for "rent parties," "buffet flats," and underground speakeasies.

    Mr. President, I realize you've got a lot on your plate, but we've been starving at the back of the line. Please throw us a few crumbs like ending DADT & DO

    by tnichlsn on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 05:58:39 AM PST

  •  - (0+ / 0-)

    Current Affairs-
      The partially clothed body of Eudy Simelane, former star of South Africa's acclaimed Banyana Banyana national female football squad, was found in a creek in a park in Kwa Thema, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Simelane had been gang-raped and brutally beaten before being stabbed 25 times.
      Eudy Simelane loved football. In other countries the 29-year-old who rose through the ranks to become captain of the women’s national football team would have been hailed as a star. In South Africa it cost her her life. Her sexuality and supposedly butch looks were a death sentence in a country in which the sport is still considered a man’s game by many. As well as being one of South Africa's best-known female footballers, Simelane was a voracious equal rights campaigner and one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in Kwa Thema. Her brutal murder took place in April of 2008 and since then a tide of violence against lesbians in South Africa has continued to rise. Human rights campaigners say it is characterized by what they call "corrective rape" committed by men behind the guise of trying to "cure" lesbians of their sexual orientation. Simelane had lived for soccer, as a midfielder for the gallant but struggling national women's football team, Banyana Banyana (”The Girls”). S.A. women’s soccer struggles because it’s still far from getting the respect and funding that men’s soccer gets — according to one player, the team often played with worn-out shoes. After Simelane stopped playing, she stayed in the sport as a referee, and became an activist after she came out. Her memorial service took place at the local Methodist Church; she was buried next day. Simelane leaves behind a grieving lesbian partner, Sibongile Vilakazi.

                                                     2
      A report by the South African Human Rights Commission condemns the culture of impunity around these crimes, which it says are going unrecognized by the state and unpunished by the legal system. The report calls for South Africa's criminal justice system to recognize hate crimes, including corrective rape, as a separate crime category. It argues this will force police to take action over the rising violence and ensure the resources and support are provided to those trying to bring perpetrators to justice.
      The ferocity and brutality of Simelane's murder sent shock waves through Kwa Thema, where she was known for bringing sports fame to the sprawling township. Her mother, Mally Simelane, said she always feared for her daughter's safety but never imagined her life would be taken in such a brutal way. "I'm scared that these people are going to come and kill me too because I don't know what happened," she said. "Why did they do this horrible thing? Because of who she was? She was a sweet lady, she never fought with anyone, but why would they kill her like this? She was stabbed, 25 holes in her. The whole body, even under the feet."
      Lesbians in townships in Johannesburg and Cape Town say they are being deliberately targeted for rape and that the threat of violence has become an everyday ordeal. "Every day I am told that they are going to kill me, that they are going to rape me and after they rape me I'll become a girl," said Zakhe Sowello from Soweto, Johannesburg. "When you are raped you have a lot of evidence on your body. But when we try and report these crimes nothing happens, and then you see the boys who raped you walking free on the street."
      Research released last year by Triangle, a leading South African gay rights organization says it is dealing with up to 10 new cases of "corrective rape" every week. "What we're seeing is a spike in the numbers of women coming to us having been raped and who have been told throughout the attack that being a lesbian was to blame for what was happening to them," said Vanessa Ludwig, the chief executive at Triangle.
      A statement released by South Africa's national prosecuting authority said: "While hate crimes – especially of a sexual nature – are rife, it is not something that the South African government has prioritized as a specific project." The failure of police to follow up eyewitness statements and continue their investigation into another brutal double rape and murder of lesbian couple Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Massooa in July 2007 has led to the formation of the 07-07-07 Campaign, a coalition of human rights and equality groups calling for justice for women targeted in these attacks. Sigasa and Massooa were tortured, gang raped and shot near their homes in Meadowland, Soweto in July 2007, shortly after being verbally abused outside a bar.
      Human rights and equality campaigners are hoping that the public outrage and disgust at Simelane's death and the July trial of the three men accused of her rape and murder will help put an end to the spiraling violence increasingly faced by lesbians across South Africa. Despite more than 30 reported murders of lesbians in the last decade, Simelane's trial has produced the first conviction, when one man who pleaded guilty to her rape and murder was jailed last month. On sentencing, the judge said that Simelane's sexual orientation had "no significance" in her killing.
      In Soweto and Kwa Thema, women seem unconvinced that Simelane's case will change anything for the better. Phumla talks of her experience of being taught a "classic lesson" by a group of men who abducted and raped her when she was returning from football training in 2003. She says that "practically every" lesbian in her community has suffered some form of violence in the past year and that it will take more than one trial to stop this happening. "Every day you feel like its a time bomb waiting to go off," she said. "You don't have freedom of movement, you don't have space to do as you please. You are always scared and your life always feels restricted. As women and as lesbians we need to be very aware that it is a fact of life that we are always in danger."

    please sign this petition.
                                                 1
    from the UK Guardian-

      On September 21, 2009, Themba Mvubu, 24, was found guilty of murdering, robbing and being an accessory to the rape of Simelane. Activists at the magistrates court in Delmas, Mpumalanga province, hailed the judgment as "extremely important" in drawing attention to cases of murder and corrective rape against lesbians in South Africa. Simelane was one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in Kwa Thema township, near Johannesburg. A keen footballer since childhood, she played for the South African women's team and worked as a coach and referee. She hoped to serve as a line official in the 2010 men's World Cup in South Africa.
      "Eudy Simelane suffered a brutal, undignified death," Judge Ratha Mokgoathleng told the court, where the victim's parents sat with heads bowed. "She was stripped naked, stabbed, assaulted, raped. What more indignity can a person endure?" He continued: "The accused has shown no remorse whatsoever. He steadfastly maintains he was not to blame for the death of the deceased. That is his right. It's painful to send a young person to jail, but if the young person behaves like an adult with criminal conduct, he cannot expect to hide behind his youthfulness."
      Mvubu, wearing a hooped brown and cream sweater, sat looking at the floor with hands behind his back for much of the hearing. Questioned by reporters, he muttered "I'm not sorry" as he was led from the dock to jeers from the public gallery.

      He was the second man convicted of the crime. Earlier this year Thato Mphithi pleaded guilty to murder, robbery and being an accomplice to the attempt to commit rape. He was imprisoned for a total of 32 years.
    Two more men, Khumbulani Magagula, 22, and 18-year-old Johannes Mahlangu were acquitted today of their alleged part in the attack. "God will be their judge," said Judge Mokgoathleng.

    from the NY Times-

      South Africans are obsessed with the violent crime in their midst, and earlier this month the new police minister, Nathi Mthethwa, tried to reassure them. “We are tired of waving nice documents like the Constitution” at criminals, he said, vowing instead to “meet the thugs head-on, and if it means we kill when we shoot them, so be it.”
      The problem with such tough talk, gay and lesbian groups say, is that it often excludes crimes directed at them. They claim they are special targets of violence, and snickering, abusive police officers do little to protect them or pursue their complaints.
      The Simelane case has been central to a campaign to bring attention to attacks against lesbians and gay men. But sexual orientation was never established as a motive at the trial. Judge Mokgoathleng was uncomfortable with the term lesbian itself. “Is there another word that you can use instead of that one?” he asked the prosecutor.

      Phumi Mtetwa, executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, said today: "This judgment is extremely important. It doesn't state that she was killed as a lesbian but because she was known.
    "How did people know her in the township? She was a soccer player who was 'butch' and was known. People are killed because of who they are." Simelane's mother, Mally, 65, said: "I'm happy. I'm released. My life will come right again."
      “Most survivors of these attacks do not report them. We believe there are hundreds of people who have been targeted,” Phumi Mtetna, 36, the director of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, told The Times.
    “Men are unemployed and feel traditional male preserves — such as football or drinking in a bar — are under attack. That was Eudy’s crime. An aggravating factor was that she did not look like a typical female. People are just getting killed here because they are different, like HIV-positive people have been killed in the past. What is important is to get a verdict which includes murder,” she said.
      Lesbians and gay advocacy organizations say that the problem has not been helped by a lack of support from the authorities in a society that is still highly traditional. South Africa has one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, but the reality often proves far less tolerant. “If a lesbian tries to report a rape, police will say something like, ‘Who would rape someone looking like you’?”, Ms Mtetna said.
      In a report this year, the British charity ActionAid said that “corrective rape” attacks were on the increase as gay women suffered a backlash from men feeling that traditional male dominance was at risk. Support groups emphasized that the issue had to be looked at from the wider perspective of growing violence against women in general and increasing rape incidents. South Africa has one of the highest incidences of rape in the world. Nearly 150 women are reported to have been raped every day, although activists say that the figure is much higher.

                       

    **************************************************************************************
    Music-
      Imagine him. Spry brown-skinned little gay boy. Voice and spirit of equal and magnanimous proportions. Standing, with the assistance of an apple box, tall and proud before the congregation and wailing Aretha Franklin's "Never Grow Old" just like the Queen herself. Tearing up the church and causing the Holy Ghost to break out all over the Tabernacle. It was only a foretelling sign of things to come. He was a force of nature even then, barely six and singing like he held some secret that the world knew nothing of, just yet. Somehow, he was born perfectly comfortable in his skin. He knew who he was and operated as though it was the world's mission to catch up and catch on to his fabulousness.
      He was Sylvester.
      Sylvester James was born in to a slightly bourgeoisie family in Los Angeles and was raised by his mother and stepfather, Letha and Robert Hurd. Many of the facts of his early life are uncertain. One thing is certain though, Sylvester was a child gospel star. Encouraged to sing by his grandmother, the 1920s and 1930s jazz singer Julia Morgan, James' talent first surfaced at the Palm Lane Church of God in Christ in South Los Angeles, and soon he was making the rounds and stirring up audiences at churches around Southern California and beyond, sometimes billed as the "child wonder of gospel." Sylvester's home life disintegrated when he was a teenager. He clashed with his mother and stepfather, finally running away from home at age 16. For several years he lived on and around the streets of Los Angeles, but managed to finish high school and enroll at Lamert Beauty College. James moved to San Francisco in 1967 and by his own account, his life began at that time.
      James was his last name, but Diva was a title he wore as readily and easily as the opulent attire (never drag) that he adorned. But Sylvester James-performance artist, recording star, Disco icon, advocate, activist, soul singer-was more than just a Tall Man In Drag. Sylvester was a revolution! Born September 6, 1947, he was a strong-willed Virgo, who had an opinion about everything and wasn't afraid or ashamed to share it. Sylvester knew at an early age that there was a creative force within that had to come out. After the church couldn't contain his fiery behavior and his parents could not tolerate his wild ways, he ran away from the "quiet streets" of his Los Angeles suburbs and found himself, literally and figuratively, in San Francisco.
      He started as many would have expected, performing drag, as "Ruby Blue," in clubs where he was an innovator, singing live and evoking Billie Holiday and the blues icons his grandmother had poured into his musical ear. He would still sing in church and felt completely comfortable doing both, unlike Marvin Gaye, Prince and other artists who struggled with the polarity of their Spirituality and their Musicality. Sylvester was alright with God and truly believed that God was alright with him. He felt like he could express himself any way he pleased and he was pleased when The Cockettes, a performance arts group that dabbled in drag and drugs, made him a part of their act and later got him to teach them to sing, instead of just pantomiming to other people's songs. He made them believe that they could do more.

 That unwavering belief and talent would take Sylvester and the troop from sold-out shows to New York and back. But he couldn't stay there long. He wanted and needed much more.
    9468
      Sylvester didn't really find his voice, his authentic voice, until he started to record. After a few failed attempts at recording, he found his niche, when in 1975, he went against the grain again and instead of trying to find thin, cute singers for the audience's eye, he enlisted Two Tons o' Fun and gave the people something for their ears! Martha Wash and Izora Armstead were two women, who though not traditional beauties, were the kind of performers that the Gay-infused Disco era adored. They could wail and didn't mind doing it. The Trio was signed to Fantasy Records, and after a slow start, released two of Disco's biggest hits in 1977 with "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" and "Dance (Disco Heat)." The singer would use that success to not just ride to the top of the charts, but to prove that he was a real stylist. On March 11, 1979, Sylvester recorded "Living Proof," a rare live album that did not adhere to the disco genre that he was becoming known for. He used the album to perform such classics as Billie Holiday's "Lover Man (Where Can You Be?)", The Beatles' "Blackbird," and Patti LaBelle's classic "You Are My Friend,". The latter song can be found on many Quiet Storm playlists, and it often plays in its entirety, including the solo riffs by Martha and Izora. Sylvester commented that "your ear has got to be in your foot to not know these girls can sang y'all." Sylvester was on fire that night, and the Mayor had declared it Sylvester Day, but back in his new home of San Francisco, everyday was already Sylvester Day. Patti LaBelle even commented "Sometimes I think we are the same person. We perform alike. We look alike. We even sound alike. I really like me... but I feel exactly the same way about him."
                       
      The year 1986 proved to be monumental for Sylvester for two reasons. Super-producer Narada Michael Walden invited him and new background singer Jeannie Tracey, to sing background on The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin's new album. Those are their voices wailing on "Freeway of Love" and "Another Night" on Aretha's blockbuster Who's Zoomin' Who album. Tragically, that same year, his producer and good friend, Patrick Cowley, died from AIDS complications. Sylvester's lover Rick, whose wedding ring he showed off on national TV, when he appeared on "The Tonight Show," with guest host Joan Rivers, died soon after that late-night triumph. Imagine Sylvester, in full colorful garb, flowing hair and great spirit, sitting with sharp-tongued Joan, talking about his husband and showing diamonds, while Middle America watched the show that had long been a late-night staple in their households. There was no fanfare or press backlash. Sylvester's quiet revolution was that he was comfortable with his truth. He laughed and sang and entertained America that night and then simply dropped the "oh by the way" of his life and his love and was congratulated by the sassy comedienne for being so talented, so loved and so brave. Joan knew that there were hundreds of gay entertainers in the industry-actors, singers, and behind the scenes success stories-but none of them would have done what Sylvester did that night in 1986. He simply told the truth.

                 

      Realizing that he could access the press proved powerful for Sylvester, when the AIDS pandemic hit the Gay community and no one would listen. People all around him were dying at an alarming rate and Sylvester knew he had to speak out. When he was diagnosed with AIDS, he was public about it. He did it with a quiet dignity, which allowed him to go to Pride events in a wheelchair and a smile, when his health deteriorated. But while still in good health and good spirits, he would speak to JET magazine again, this time about AIDS. "It bothers me that AIDS is still thought of as a white male disease" he said in 1987, "The black community is at the bottom of the line when it comes to getting information, even when we've been so hard hit by the disease. I would like to think that by going public with this, I can give other people the courage to face it." As for the Black community's then (and still) "belief" that AIDS is a spiritual retribution, Sylvester said simply "I don't believe that AIDS is the wrath of God. People have a tendency to want to blame everything on God."
      Sylvester James did so much while he was here. He changed our lives in ways that cannot be measured. He was an out black gay man who spoke directly to the Black community, challenging it to confront its own homophobia and prejudices, and stayed true to himself while he did it. Two decades after his death, his contributions are still groundbreaking and confirm his status as a pop and political icon that can never be devalued or under-appreciated.
      Sylvester had a platform, much bigger than the little apple box he first sang from. But he sang, spoke and lived with the same fervor as that little gay boy, whose fabulousness and fire will never grow old.

    From- The Fabulous Sylvester by Joshua Gamson.

      Later. when everyone was sick or dying,on the day 1986 turned into 1987, Sylvester---who had not been Doonie for almost twenty years---made an appearance on The Late Show, where Joan Rivers was hosting a festive New Years Eve. High on his head was a poofy, shoulder-length red wig he’d bought on Seventh Ave in New York;friends called it his Lucy Ricardo wig, and it indeed resembled the hair of a slutty Lucille Ball emerging from a wind tunnel. One of Sylvester’s lapels sparkled with a silver design, and braclets twinkled and jangled on his wrist. Backed by a mostly white band and two big black women singers, he sang “Someone Like You,” a pop song that was getting good radio play, though nothing like what his big disco hits had gotten ten years before. He jumped and danced as he sang, but his voice was off: scratchy and strained, as if his chops weren’t quite right.
      Sylvester plopped down on the couch next to preceding guest, the Tony Award-winning actor and seventies game-show fixture Charles Nelson Reilly. It was hard to imagine a queenier trio: Reilly, whose childhood nickname was Mary; gossipy Rivers, the drag queen without a penis; and Sylvester. After a bit of chitchat about jewelry and furs and Sylvester’s boyfriend, Rick, Sylvester reminded Rivers and Reilly that they had all three done one of the earliest AIDS benefits together several years earlier, before AIDS benefits were the thing to do: “the two of you,” he said, and “me, that black drag queen you always talk about.” Apparently, Ms. Rivers did not hear the warning in his words or the hurt he had felt at being reduced to a label. “What do you wear in real life, when you just want to be Mrs. Rick?” she asked, plainly assuming that Rick played mister to Sylvester’s missus. Sylvester laughed, despite the hint of strained patience on his face, and spoke vaguely about having “something for everyone.” Joan Rivers persisted. “So what did your family say when they found out you were going to be a drag queen?” she asked. Sylvester gave her a look. “I’m not a drag queen!” he exclaimed sharply but with a big,full-toothed smile, sitting in his wig, make-up, and jewelry. He threw his head back and held his arms to his chest in a small slef-hug, laughing. “I’m Sylvester!”
      Joan Rivers stumbled and stammered a bit (“But---well you sometimes---I know---sometimes...” as Sylvester stepped back in to smooth out the conversation. He looked up towards the ceiling for a second. “What did my parents say,” he repeated, and then he looked at Joan Rivers and explained the situation as nicely and succinctly as he could manage. “When I was little I used to dress up, right? And my mother said, ‘You can’t dress up. You can’t dress up. You’ve gotta wear these pants and these shoes, and you have to, like, drink beer and play football.’ And I said, “No, I don’t,’ and she said, ‘You’re very strange,’ and I said, ‘That’s okay.’”

    from Wikipedia-

      Pressure from the label to "butch up" his image would result in him attending meetings in full-on drag. A drag photo shoot, which he staged and presented to label heads as a gag (calling it his "new album cover") would later grace the cover of Immortal after Sylvester died; it was the label's way of paying tribute to his spirit. In 1985, one of his dreams came true as he was summoned to sing back-up for Aretha Franklin on her Who's Zoomin' Who? comeback album. His sole Warner Bros. Records album was Mutual Attraction in 1986; a single from the album, "Someone Like You", became Sylvester's second #1 hit on the U.S. dance chart and featured original cover art by Keith Haring.

    **************************************************************************************
    History-
      At the outset of the 20th century, a GLBT subculture, uniquely Afro-American, began taking shape in New York's Harlem. Throughout the so- called Harlem Renaissance period, roughly 1920 to 1935, black lesbians and gay men were socializing in public at cabarets, at rent parties, and even worshiping in church on Sundays; creating a language, a social structure, and a complex network of institutions. Some were discreet about their sexual identities; while others openly expressed their personal feelings. The community they built attracted all races, creating friendships between people of disparate ethnic and economic backgrounds and building alliances for progressive social change. But the prosperity of the 1920s was short-lived, and the Harlem gay subculture quickly declined following the Stock Market crash of 1929 and the repeal of Prohibition, soon becoming only a shadow of its earlier self. Nevertheless, the traditions and institutions created by Harlem lesbians and gay men during the Jazz Age continue to this day.
      The key factor in this development of the GLBT subculture in Harlem was the massive migration of Afro-Americans to northern urban areas after the turn of the century. Since the beginning of American slavery, the vast majority of blacks had lived in rural southern states. American participation in World War I led to an increase in northern industrial production and brought an end to immigration, which resulted in thousands of job openings in northern factories which became available to blacks. Within two decades, large communities of black Americans had developed in most northern urban areas. So significant was this shift in population that it is now referred to as the "Great Migration." Black communities developed in Chicago, Detroit, and Buffalo, but the largest and most influential was Harlem, which became the mecca for Afro-Americans from all over the world. Nowhere else could you find a geographic area so large, so concentrated, really a city within a city, populated entirely by blacks. There were black schoolteachers, black entrepreneurs, black police officers, and even black millionaires. A spirit was in the air-of hope, progress, and possibilities- which proved particularly alluring to the young and unmarried. Harlem's streets soon filled with their music, their voices, and their laughter.
    They called themselves "New Negroes," Harlem was their capital, and they manifested a new militancy and pride. Black servicemen had been treated with a degree of respect and given a taste of near-equality while in Europe during the World War; their experiences influenced their expectations when they returned home. Participation in the war effort had given the entire black community a sense of involvement in the American process and led them to demand their place in the mainstream of American life. Marcus Garvey, the charismatic West Indian orator, had thousands of followers in his enormous black nationalist "Back to Africa" movement. W. E. B. DuBois and his National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), with its radical integrationist position, generally appealed to a more educated, middle- class following, as did Charles W. Johnson's National Urban League, but were just as militant in their call for racial justice. A variety of individuals and organizations generated Afro-American pride and solidarity.
      The New Negro movement created a new kind of art. Harlem, as the New Negro Capital, became a worldwide center for Afro-American jazz, literature, and the fine arts. Many black musicians, artists, writers, and entertainers were drawn to the vibrant black uptown neighborhood. Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, Bessie Smith, and Ethel Waters played in Harlem nightclubs. Langston Hughes, Zora Hurston, and Countee Cullen published in the local newspapers. Art galleries displayed the work of Aaron Douglas and Richmond Barthé. These creative talents incorporated the emerging black urban social consciousness into their art. The resulting explosion of self-consciously Afro-American creativity, now known as the "Harlem Renaissance," had a profound impact on the subsequent development of American arts.
      The social and sexual attitudes of Harlem's new immigrants were best reflected in the blues, a distinctly Afro-American folk music that had developed in rural southern black communities following the Civil War. Structurally simple, yet open to countless subtleties. They told of loneliness, homesickness, and poverty, of love and good luck, and they provided a window into the difficult, often brutal world of the New Negro immigrant.
    from Eric Garber-

      Homosexuality was clearly part of this world. "There's two things got me puzzled, there's two things I don't understand," moaned blues great Bessie Smith, "that's a mannish-acting woman and a lisping, swishing, womanish-acting man." In "Sissy Blues," Ma Rainey complained of her husband's infidelity with a homosexual named "Miss Kate." Lucille Bogan, in her "B.D. Women Blues," warned that "B.D. [bulldagger] women sure is rough; they drink up many a whiskey and they sure can strut their stuff." The "sissies" and "bull daggers" mentioned in the blues were ridiculed for their cross-gender behavior, but neither shunned nor hated. "Boy in the Boat" for example, recorded in 1930 by George Hanna, counseled "When you see two women walking hand in hand, just shake your head and try to understand." In fact, the casualness toward sexuality, so common in the blues, sometimes extended to homosexual behavior. In "Sissy Man Blues," a traditional tune recorded by numerous male blues singers over the years, the singer demanded "if you can't bring me a woman, bring me a sissy man." George Hanna's "Freakish Blues," recorded in 1931, is even more explicit about potential sexual fluidity. The blues reflected a culture that accepted sexuality, including homosexual behavior and identities, as a natural part of life.

                 

      Despite the relatively tolerant attitude shown toward homosexuality by Afro-American culture, black lesbians and gay men still had a difficult time. Like other black migrants, they soon learned that racism crossed the Mason-Dixon line. Economic problems, unemployment, and segregation plagued black communities across the North. High rents and housing shortages made privacy a luxury for Harlem's newcomers. Moreover black homosexuals, like their white counterparts, were continually under attack from the police and judicial systems. In 1920, young lesbian Mabel Hampton, recently arrived in Harlem from Winston- Salem, North Carolina, was arrested on trumped-up prostitution charges and spent two years in Bedford Hills Reformatory. Augustus Granville Dill, distinguished business editor of the NAACP's Crisis and personal protégé of DuBois, had his political career destroyed when he was arrested for soliciting sex in a public restroom. But in spite of racial oppression, economic hardship, and homophobic persecution, black lesbians and gay men were able to build a thriving community of their own within existing Afro-American institutions and traditions.
      Private parties were the best place for Harlem lesbians and gay men to socialize, providing safety and privacy. "We used to go to parties every other night... The girls all had the parties," remembered Mabel Hampton. Harlem parties were extremely varied; the most common kind was the "rent party." Like the blues, rent parties had been brought north in the Great Migration. Few of Harlem's new residents had much money, and sometimes rent was hard to come by. To raise funds, they sometimes threw enormous parties, inviting the public and charging admission. There would be dancing and jazz, and bootleg liquor for sale in the kitchen. It is about just such a party that Bessie Smith sang her famous "Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer."

    Nina Simone's version-
                 

      On any given Saturday night there were scores of these parties throughout Harlem, often with those in attendance not knowing their hosts. The dancing and merriment would continue until dawn, and by morning the landlord could be paid. Lesbians and gay men were active participants in rent parties. The New York Age, one of Harlem's newspapers, complained in 1926:

      One of these rent parties a few weeks ago was the scene of a tragic crime in which one jealous woman cut the throat of another, because the two were rivals for the affections of a third woman. The whole situation was on a par with the recent Broadway play [about lesbianism, The Captive], imported from Paris, although the underworld tragedy took place in this locality. In the meantime, the combination of bad gin, jealous women, a carving knife, and a rent party is dangerous to the health of all concerned.

      Gay men could always be found at the literary gatherings of Alexander Gumby. Gumby, who had arrived in Harlem near the turn of the century, immediately became entranced with the theatrical set and decided to open a salon to attract them. He worked as a postal clerk and acquired a patron, eventually renting a large studio on Fifth Avenue between 131st and 132nd streets. Known as Gumby's Bookstore because of the hundreds of books that lined the walls, the salon drew many theatrical and artistic luminaries. White author Samuel Steward remembers being taken to Gumby's one evening by a lesbian friend and enjoying a delightful evening of "reefer," bathtub gin, a game of truth, and homosexual exploits.
      Certainly the most opulent parties in Harlem were thrown by the heiress A'Lelia Walker. Walker was a striking, tall, dark-skinned woman who was rarely seen without her riding crop and her imposing, jeweled turban. She was the only daughter of Madame C. J. Walker, a former washerwoman who had made millions marketing her own hair-straightening process. When she died, Madame Walker left virtually her entire fortune to A'Lelia. Whereas Madame Walker had been civic-minded, donating thousands of dollars to charity, A'Lelia used most of her inheritance to throw lavish parties in her palatial Hudson River estate, Villa Lewaro. and at her Manhattan dwelling on 136th Street. Because A'Lelia adored the company of lesbians and gay men, her parties had a distinctly gay ambience. Elegant homosexuals such as Edward Perry, Edna Thomas. Harold Jackman, and Caska Bonds were her closest friends. So were scores of white celebrities. Novelist Marjorie Worthington would later remember:

      We went several times that winter to Madame Allelia [sic] Walker's Thursday "at-homes" on a beautiful street in Harlem known as,Sugar Hill...." [Madame Walker's] lavishly furnished house was a gathering place not only for artists and authors and theatrical stars of her own race, but for celebrities from all over the world. Drinks and food were served, and there was always music, generously performed enthusiastically received.
    Everyone from chorus girls to artists to socialites to visiting royalty would come at least once to enjoy her hospitality.

      Another Afro-American institution that tolerated, and frequently encouraged, homosexual patronage was the "buffet flat." "Buffet flats were after-hours spots that were usually in someone's apartment," explained celebrated entertainer Bricktop, "the type of place where gin was poured out of milk pitchers." Essentially private apartments where rooms could be rented by the night, buffet flats had sprung up during the late 1800s to provide overnight accommodations to black travelers refused service in white-owned hotels. By the 1920s, buffet flats developed a wilder reputation. Some were raucous establishments where illegal activities such as drinking, gambling, and prostitution were available. Others offered a variety of sexual pleasures cafeteria style. A Detroit buffet flat of the latter sort, which Ruby Smith remembered visiting with her aunt, Bessie Smith, catered to all variety of sexual tastes. It was "an open house, everything goes on in that house":

      They had a faggot there that was so great that people used to come there just to watch him make love to another man. He was that great. He'd give a tongue bath and everything. By the time he got to the front of that guy he was shaking like a leaf. People used to pay good just to go in there and see him do his act... That same house had a woman that used to... take a cigarette, light it, and puff it with her pussy. A real educated pussy.
      In Harlem, Hazel Valentine ran a similar sex circus on 140th Street. Called "The Daisy Chain" or the "101 Ranch," it catered to all varieties of sexual tastes, and featured entertainers such as "Sewing Machine Bertha" and an enormous transvestite named "Clarenz." The Daisy Chain became so notorious that both Fats Waller and Count Basie composed tunes commemorating it.
      There were also buffet flats that particularly welcomed gay men. On Saturday nights pianist David Fontaine would regularly throw stylish flat parties for his many gay friends. Other noted hosts of gay male revelry were A'Lelia Walker's friend Caska Bonds, Eddie Manchester and the older Harlem couple, Jap and Saul. The most notorious such flat was run by Clinton Moore. Moore was an elegant, light-skinned homosexual, described as an "American version of the original... Proust's Jupien." Moore had a fondness for celebrities, and his parties allegedly attracted luminaries like Cole Porter, Cary Grant, and society page columnist Maury Paul. Moore's entertainments were often low-down and dirty. According to Helen Lawrenson, Clinton Moore's... boasted a young black entertainer named Joey, vho played the piano and sang but whose specialty was to remove his clothes and extinguish a lighted candle by sitting on it until it disappeared. I never saw this feat but everyone else seemed to have and I was told that he was often hired to perform at soirees of the elite. 'He sat on lighted candles at one of the Vanderbilts',' my informant said.

      Somewhat more public-and therefore less abandoned-were Harlem's speakeasies, where gays were usually forced to hide their preferences and to blend in with the heterosexual patrons. Several Harlem speakeasies though, some little more than dives, catered specifically to the "pansy" trade. One such place, an "open" speakeasy since there was no doorman to keep the uninvited away, was located on the northwest corner of 126th Street and Seventh Avenue. It was a large, dimly lit place where gay men could go to pick up "rough trade." Artist Bruce Nugent, who occasionally visited the place, remembered it catering to "rough queers... the kind that fought better than truck drivers and swished better than Mae West." Ethel Waters remembered loaning her gowns to the transvestites who frequented Edmond's Cellar, a low-life saloon at 132nd Street and Fifth Avenue. Lulu Belle's on Lenox Avenue was another hangout for female impersonators, named after the famous Broadway melodrama of 1926 starring Leonore Ulric. A more sophisticated crowd of black gay men gathered nightly at the Hot Cha, at 132nd Street and Seventh Avenue, to listen to Garland Wilson play piano.
      Decidedly safer were the frequent Harlem costume balls, where both men and women could dress as they pleased and dance with whom they wished. Called "spectacles in color" by poet Langston Hughes, they were attended by thousands. Several cities hosted similar functions, but the Harlem balls were anticipated with particular excitement. "This dance has been going on a long time," observed Hughes, "and... is very famous among the male masqueraders of the eastern seaboard, who come from Boston and Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Atlantic City to attend." Taylor Gordon, a noted concert singer, wrote in 1929:

      The last big ball I attended where these men got the most of the prizes for acting and looking more like ladies than the ladies did themselves, was at the Savoy in Harlem.... The show that was put on that night for a dollar admission, including the privilege to dance, would have made a twenty-five dollar George White's "Scandals" opening look like a side show in a circus.

      The largest balls were the annual events held by the Hamilton Lodge at the regal Rockland Palace, which could accommodate up to six thousand people. Only slightly smaller were the balls given irregularly at the dazzling Savoy Ballroom, with its crystal chandeliers and elegant marble staircase. The organizers would obtain a police permit making the ball, and its participants, legal for the evening. The highlight of the event was the beauty contest, in which the fashionably dressed drag queens would vie for the title of Queen of the Ball.
      But drag balls lacked the primary allure of the buffet flat: privacy. These cross-dressing celebrations were enormous events and many of those who attended were spectators, there to observe rather than participate. It was not unusual to see the cream of Harlem society, as well as much of the white avante garde, in the ballroom's balconies, straining their necks to view the contestants.

      It was during this era that a peculiarly Afro-American gay subculture was permitted to develop. Gay men, lesbians and bisexuals were considered natural and were consistent with the sexual fluidity of the blues community. Many of the queer white population flocked to Harlem at night for "rent parties," "buffet flats," and underground speakeasies.

    **************************************************************************************
    Home and Garden-

    Callaloo-

    What is Callaloo?

      Callaloo is THE Jamaican green that reportedly brings Jamaicans their vitality and long, healthy lives. The plant produces large delicious green leaves and the stems are also edible. There seem to be be many different varities of Callaloo. Callaloo is a variety of Amaranth. It is technically called Amaranth Tricolor or Amaranth Gangeticus. You may find Amaranths grown for their leaves, under many different names; Shen Choy, Chinese Spinach, Indian Spinach, Hin Choy, Bush Greens and many other names.

                  callaloo

    Why Callaloo?

      For those who like nutritious greens , Callaloo is an excellent choice. The leaves of the Callaloo are very delicious when cooked. They are similar in flavor to a cross between spinach, collards and Swiss chard. These leaves also contain protein. The plant grows quickly, reaching maturity in 30-40 days. It can grow up to 6-7 feet tall. The Callaloo plant grows well even in poor soil. It is a good substitute for spinach because it likes hot weather and flourishes in the summer heat.

    Growing Information:

      Callaloo is a sun loving plant. I tried to start the plants early inside. They grew to 1 to 2 inches, formed their first set of leave but even after 30 days they did not grow or form their second set of leaves. The following year I put that flat outside in the spring sun and the plants germinated and formed their first set of leaves and then continued to develop normally. From that experience I learned that these plants need full sun before they can develop. The plants grew well in the flat but eventually had little room to develop. I separated the plants carefully but the roots were entangled, I am sure I tore some roots off accidentally but even with that, they survived and flourished. I think it would be good to transplant the plants after they have developed 8 to 10 leaves. Put them in the ground with lime and time released fertilizer. Use only a moderate amount as these plants use the fertilizer efficiently and too much will make the leaves tough. The plant seems to have a size recognition system. The plant forms a primary root ball then, at a certain time, it sends down one or two roots to determine the depth of its environment and a second root ball is formed. This is what I observed in my garden The plants rate of growth and size could be determined by this process, so let your plants develop in the flat until they are strong enough to be transplanted and get the plants into the ground.

                  callaloo3

    West Indies Pepper Pot Soup
    Recipe courtesy Walter Staib
    Show: Cooking LiveEpisode: White House Eats

    Serves: 10

    Ingredients:

    3/4 pound salt-cured pork shoulder, diced
    3/4 pound salt-cured beef shoulder, diced
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 medium white onion, chopped
    4 garlic cloves, chopped
    1/4 Scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and chopped
    1 bunch scallions, chopped
    1 pound taro root, peeled and diced
    4 quarts (1 gallon) chicken stock
    2 bay leaves
    1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
    2 teaspoons ground allspice
    1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 pound callaloo or collard greens, rinsed and chopped
    Salt

    Directions:

      In a large stockpot, saute the pork and beef in the oil over high heat for 10 minutes, until brown. Add the onion, garlic, and Scotch bonnet pepper; saute for 3 to 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the scallions and saute for 3 minutes. Add the taro root and saute for 3 to 5 minutes more, until translucent. Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme, allspice, and ground pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook about 30 minutes, until the meat and taro root are tender. Stir in the callaloo. Reduce the heat and simmer about 5 minutes, until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in a tureen or divide among individual soup bowls.

    Mr. President, I realize you've got a lot on your plate, but we've been starving at the back of the line. Please throw us a few crumbs like ending DADT & DO

    by tnichlsn on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 08:27:01 AM PST

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