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Celluloid Activist

The Life and Times of Vito Russo

Michael Schiavi

Celluloid Activist is the biography of gay-rights giant Vito Russo, the man who wrote The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies, commonly regarded as the foundational text of gay and lesbian film studies and one of the first to be widely read.

            But Russo was much more than a pioneering journalist and author. A founding member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and cofounder of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), Russo lived at the center of the most important gay cultural turning points in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. His life as a cultural Zelig intersects a crucial period of social change, and in some ways his story becomes the story of a developing gay revolution in America. A frequent participant at “zaps” and an organizer of Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) cabarets and dances—which gave the New York gay and lesbian community its first social alternative to Mafia-owned bars—Russo made his most enduring contribution to the GAA with his marshaling of “Movie Nights,” the forerunners to his worldwide Celluloid Closet lecture tours that gave gay audiences their first community forum for the dissection of gay imagery in mainstream film.

            Biographer Michael Schiavi unravels Vito Russo’s fascinating life story, from his childhood in East Harlem to his own heartbreaking experiences with HIV/AIDS. Drawing on archival materials, unpublished letters and journals, and more than two hundred interviews, including conversations with a range of Russo’s friends and family from brother Charlie Russo to comedian Lily Tomlin to pioneering activist and playwright Larry Kramer, Celluloid Activistprovides an unprecedented portrait of a man who defined gay-rights and AIDS activism.
 
 
 “Schiavi is thorough and compelling both in bringing this complex character to life and in delineating the people and events that shaped him. Highly Recommended.”—CHOICE
 
Finalist, Gay Memoir/Biography, Lambda Literary Awards

Finalist, Over the Rainbow Selection, American Library Association

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Celluloid Comrades

by Song Hwee Lim

Celluloid Comrades offers a cogent analytical introduction to the representation of male homosexuality in Chinese cinemas within the last decade. It posits that representations of male homosexuality in Chinese film have been polyphonic and multifarious, posing a challenge to monolithic and essentialized constructions of both ‘Chineseness’ and ‘homosexuality.’ Given the artistic achievement and popularity of the films discussed here, the position of ‘celluloid comrades’ can no longer be ignored within both transnational Chinese and global queer cinemas. The book also challenges readers to reconceptualize these works in relation to global issues such as homosexuality and gay and lesbian politics, and their interaction with local conditions, agents, and audiences. Tracing the engendering conditions within the film industries of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, Song Hwee Lim argues that the emergence of Chinese cinemas in the international scene since the 1980s created a public sphere in which representations of marginal sexualities could flourish in its interstices. Examining the politics of representation in the age of multiculturalism through debates about the films, Lim calls for a rethinking of the limits and hegemony of gay liberationist discourse prevalent in current scholarship and film criticism. He provides in-depth analyses of key films and auteurs, reading them within contexts as varied as premodern, transgender practice in Chinese theater to postmodern, diasporic forms of sexualities. Informed by cultural and postcolonial studies and critical theory, this acutely observed and theoretically sophisticated work will be of interest to a wide range of scholars and students as well as general readers looking for a deeper understanding of contemporary Chinese cultural politics, cinematic representations, and queer culture.

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Changing Corporate America from Inside Out

Lesbian and Gay Workplace Rights

Nicole C. Raeburn

Despite the backlash against lesbian and gay rights occurring in cities and states across the country, a growing number of corporations are actually expanding protections and benefits for their gay and lesbian employees. Why this should be, and why some corporations are increasingly open to inclusive policies while others are determinedly not, is what Nicole C. Raeburn seeks to explain in Changing Corporate America from Inside Out.

A long-overdue study of the workplace movement, Raeburn’s analysis focuses on the mobilization of lesbian, gay, and bisexual employee networks over the past fifteen years to win domestic partner benefits in Fortune 1000 companies. Drawing on surveys of nearly one hundred corporations with and without gay networks, intensive interviews with human resources executives and gay employee activists, as well as a number of case studies, Raeburn reveals the impact of the larger social and political environment on corporations’s openness to gay-inclusive policies, the effects of industry and corporate characteristics on companies’s willingness to adopt such policies, and what strategies have been most effective in transforming corporate policies and practices to support equitable benefits for all workers.


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Chaucer's (Anti-)Eroticisms and the Queer Middle Ages

Using queer theory to untangle all types of nonnormative sexual identities, Tison Pugh uses Chaucer’s work to expose the ongoing tension in the Middle Ages between an erotic culture that glorified love as an ennobling passion and an anti-erotic religious and philosophical tradition that denigrated love and (perhaps especially) its enactments. Chaucer’s (Anti‑)Eroticisms and the Queer Middle Ages considers the many ways in which anti-eroticisms complicate the conventional image of Chaucer. With chapters addressing such topics as mutual masochism, homosocial brotherhood, necrotic erotics, queer families, and the eroticisms of Chaucer’s God, Chaucer’s (Anti‑)Eroticisms will forever change the way readers see the Canterbury Tales and Chaucer’s other masterpieces. For Chaucer, erotic pursuits establish the thrust and tenor of many of his narratives, as they also expose the frustrations inherent in pursuing desires frowned upon by the religious foundations of Western medieval culture. One cannot love freely within an ideological framework that polices sexuality and privileges the anti-erotic Christian ideals of virginity and chastity, yet loving queerly creates escapes from social structures inimical to amour and its expressions in the medieval period. Thus Chaucer is not just England’s foundational love poet, he is also England’s foundational queer poet.

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Chicago Whispers

A History of LGBT Chicago before Stonewall

St. Sukie de la Croix; Foreword by John D’Emilio

Chicago Whispers illuminates a colorful and vibrant record of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people who lived and loved in Chicago from the city’s beginnings in the 1670s as a fur-trading post to the end of the 1960s. Journalist St. Sukie de la Croix, drawing on years of archival research and personal interviews, reclaims Chicago’s LGBT past that had been forgotten, suppressed, or overlooked.
    Included here are Jane Addams, the pioneer of American social work; blues legend Ma Rainey, who recorded “Sissy Blues” in Chicago in 1926; commercial artist J. C. Leyendecker, who used his lover as the model for “The Arrow Collar Man” advertisements; and celebrated playwright Lorraine Hansberry, author of A Raisin in the Sun. Here, too, are accounts of vice dens during the Civil War and classy gentlemen’s clubs; the wild and gaudy First Ward Ball that was held annually from 1896 to 1908; gender-crossing performers in cabarets and at carnival sideshows; rights activists like Henry Gerber in the 1920s; authors of lesbian pulp novels and publishers of “physique magazines”; and evidence of thousands of nameless queer Chicagoans who worked as artists and musicians, in the factories, offices, and shops, at theaters and in hotels. Chicago Whispers offers a diverse collection of alternately hip and heart-wrenching accounts that crackle with vitality.

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Citizen, Invert, Queer

Lesbianism and War in Early Twentieth-Century Britain

Deborah Cohler

In late nineteenth-century England, “mannish” women were considered socially deviant but not homosexual. A half-century later, such masculinity equaled lesbianism in the public imagination. How did this shift occur? Citizen, Invert, Queer illustrates that the equation of female masculinity with female homosexuality is a relatively recent phenomenon, a result of changes in national and racial as well as sexual discourses in early twentieth-century public culture.
 
Incorporating cultural histories of prewar women’s suffrage debates, British sexology, women’s work on the home front during World War I, and discussions of interwar literary representations of female homosexuality, Deborah Cohler maps the emergence of lesbian representations in relation to the decline of empire and the rise of eugenics in England. Cohler integrates discussions of the histories of male and female same-sex erotics in her readings of New Woman, representations of male and female suffragists, wartime trials of pacifist novelists and seditious artists, and the interwar infamy of novels such as Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando.
 
By examining the shifting intersections of nationalism and sexuality before, during, and after the Great War, this book illuminates profound transformations in our ideas about female homosexuality.

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City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves

Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia, 1945-1972

A path-breaking history of the vibrant Philadelphia lesbian and gay community

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Coming Out Under Fire

The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II

Allan Bérubé

During World War II, as the United States called on its citizens to serve in unprecedented numbers, the presence of gay Americans in the armed forces increasingly conflicted with the expanding antihomosexual policies and procedures of the military. In Coming Out Under Fire, Allan Berube examines in depth and detail these social and political confrontation--not as a story of how the military victimized homosexuals, but as a story of how a dynamic power relationship developed between gay citizens and their government, transforming them both. Drawing on GIs' wartime letters, extensive interviews with gay veterans, and declassified military documents, Berube thoughtfully constructs a startling history of the two wars gay military men and women fough--one for America and another as homosexuals within the military.

Berube's book, the inspiration for the 1995 Peabody Award-winning documentary film of the same name, has become a classic since it was published in 1990, just three years prior to the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which has continued to serve as an uneasy compromise between gays and the military. With a new foreword by historians John D'Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman, this book remains a valuable contribution to the history of World War II, as well as to the ongoing debate regarding the role of gays in the U.S. military.

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Companeros

Latino Activists in the Face of AIDS

Jesus Ramirez-Valles

Telling the affecting stories of eighty gay, bisexual, and transgender (GBT) Latino activists and volunteers living in Chicago and San Francisco, Compañeros: Latino Activists in the Face of AIDS closely details how these individuals have been touched or transformed by the AIDS epidemic. _x000B__x000B_Weaving together activists' responses to oppression and stigma, their encounters with AIDS, and their experiences as GBTs and Latinos in North America and Latin America, Jesus Ramirez-Valles explores the intersection of civic involvement with ethnic and sexual identity. Even as activists battle multiple sources of oppression, they are able to restore their sense of family connection and self-esteem through the creation of an alternative space in which community members find value in their relationships with one another. In demonstrating the transformative effects of a nurturing community environment for GBT Latinos affected by the AIDS epidemic, Ramirez-Valles illustrates that members find support in one another, as compañeros, in their struggles with homophobia, gender discrimination, racism, poverty, and forced migration.

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Confessions of the Letter Closet

Epistolary Fiction and Queer Desire in Modern Spain

Patrick Paul Garlinger

By the beginning of the twentieth century, epistolary novels in Spain increasingly grappled with homoerotic and homosexual desire, treating it as a secret communicated through private letters from one reader to another. Patrick Paul Garlinger reveals how this confidential model persists in these fictions of letter writing from the early twentieth century to the present, framing expressions of queer desire in confessional terms: secrecy, guilt, morality, and shame.Confessions of the Letter Closet draws on queer theory and psychoanalysis, archival research on letter writing as a social practice and on the advent of the postal system in Spain, and historical insights into the impact of Spanish laws regarding the inviolability of correspondence on epistolary fiction. Garlinger examines how the epistolary novel represents - and is implicated in - the homophobia and psychic ambivalence around sexuality and identity with which Spanish gays and lesbians struggle, despite significant legal advances and increased social tolerance.Addressing both male and female desire and drawing links to epistolary traditions outside of Spain, Confessions of the Letter Closet goes beyond the specifics of Spanish literature to contribute more broadly to queer theory, the study of epistolary fiction, and an understanding of autobiography and confessional discourse.

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