Dreaming California: The Life of Jim Foshee

Jim Foshee Headstone

Not long ago I was asked to vet a request for use of photos that appeared in my writings at The Tangent Group. The reprint request was from Robert C. Steele for his book Banned from California. Curious about the book, I did a halfhearted web search and didn’t find it. Days later my friend Jerry Gerash told me he was sending me a book about Jim Foshee. “You know who he was, don’t you?” he asked. “Of course,” I said. I know who Jim Fouratt is. Continue reading “Dreaming California: The Life of Jim Foshee”

Portrait of Rudy Perez 2: Remain in Light

Circadian Circle photos

This is a second conversation with dancer-choreographer Rudy Perez, taking place last month on May 30. During our review of Part 1 Rudy raised a few topics that I wanted to pursue. And, of course, there had been the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day, and the reactions from coast to coast.

What follows has been lightly edited for clarity. Many thanks to Susan Perry Miick for her help with photographs. Continue reading “Portrait of Rudy Perez 2: Remain in Light”

Symonds, Whitman, Rossetti and Rake

Outrage cover image

Before Christmas I checked out a book from my little public library branch: Naomi Wolf’s Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love. I had a lot of other things to read and left it for last, not knowing what it contained, vaguely recognizing the author’s name. Turning to it, I recognized Wolf’s photo. If nothing else, readers might remember her defense of Julian Assange when he was accused of sex crimes in Sweden. I thought the book would be a history of censorship, but it’s more comprehensive. By introducing and then returning often to her cast of characters, Wolf creates an intimate narrative against the mise en scène of her historical sweep and sociopolitical stance. Continue reading “Symonds, Whitman, Rossetti and Rake”

The Summer of Our Discontent

Paul Goodman Article image

The same edition of Gay & Lesbian Review that I touched on last time—its Stonewall Special—contains an essay by author and publisher John Lauritsen: “The Rise and Fall of the GLF.”1 I reread the piece last month.

Shortly after Stonewall in the summer of ’69 Lauritsen attended a meeting of gay people who were debating whether to align with the antiwar movement, with which John had been involved since 1965. He and the other radicals at the meeting carried the day and so the group eventually was dubbed Gay Liberation Front, a nod to the National Liberation Front—aka Viet Cong—of Vietnam. This is an example of the overlap I always saw as perfectly natural. As a kid I organized against the war in high school and and also wrote a book report on James Baldwin’s Another Country.2 Others might have preferred cubbyholes over connections. Continue reading “The Summer of Our Discontent”

Stonewall, the Great Gay Migration and the Monumental Divide

West Virginia Hero Shirt design image

Last Wednesday I watched a somewhat slimmed-down version of the new documentary Lavender Scare, based on the 2004 (!) book of the same name by David K. Johnson.1 In the film Meryl Streep’s narration explains how the influx of homosexuals from rural to urban regions began in the 1930s, the start of the Great Gay Migration.2

Washington was a boom town. The government was creating thousands of new jobs to combat the Great Depression. Many of the young men and women who came for those jobs were homosexuals. They grabbed the chance to experience a new level of acceptance and friendship in a big city far from home.

I was reminded of a recent essay, “Forget Stonewall,” in the May/June edition of The Gay & Lesbian Review, by Yasmin Nair who reminds readers that the source of that influx still exists. Continue reading “Stonewall, the Great Gay Migration and the Monumental Divide”

I coulda been a bartendah!

Andrea Carney photo image

—with apologies to Marlon Brando

On the eve of PrideFest here in Denver I thought I’d reminisce by telling about a particular visit to a lesbian bar in the Los Angeles area.

I started hanging out with Judith1 in 1959 or 1960 when we both worked at a North Hollywood manufacturing plant, Borg-Warner, making electronics for aeronautics.2 One night she convinced me to go on a double date and I agreed. But I could tell that my guy wasn’t really into me; he seemed to be interested in her. And Judith’s guy wasn’t really into her, so we swapped partners. (The three of them had gone through school together and at some point the district allowed girls to wear pants. These same two boys—our dates—had been so angry at this change that on the day it went into effect they attended class in dresses.)

After a bad experience with a guy, Judith told me she was swearing off men and she’d occasionally invite me to go with her to lesbian bars. At the time, North Hollywood and Studio City were known for having several that catered to women and to men. Later she (and her son) and I got a two-bedroom apartment together in North Hollywood. Continue reading “I coulda been a bartendah!”

Careless Whisper: Pansy Patois

Men photo image

In December while trying to verify the colloquialism in The Smiths’ song title “Reel Around the Fountain”1 I noticed that the band’s singer Morrissey had employed a now-abandoned slang in his solo single “Piccadilly Palare,” sung in the character of a former street hustler. It was the lead track on his album Bona Drag, but I hadn’t really collected Morrissey records and skipped that one because it was a compendium of singles. I had, however, collected much Smiths, but I was confused by the band’s many, many compilations and 12-inch vinyl product. In fact “Paint a Vulgar Picture,” from the final album, can be seen as a commentary on this excess, as it laments a pop star’s exploitation in death but also questions the star’s complicity in life.

Satiate the need
slip them into different sleeves!
Buy both, and be deceived

Continue reading “Careless Whisper: Pansy Patois”