GAYLETTERGAYLETTER

Wednesday 08.21.19

BE CUTE celebrating Juku’s Birthday!

Featuring performances by Juku, West Dakota, Magenta and Tinkerbell

Friday 08.16.19

The Rest of it: Hustlers, Cocaine, Depression, and Then Some, 1976-1988 by Martin Duberman

Hustlers, cocaine, depression and then some — quite a weekend, but also the subtitle to The Rest of It, an autobiography from acclaimed biographer, historian and activist Martin Duberman. In particular, Duberman focuses on 1976 – 88, the darkest, most difficult period of his life. His book offers an intimate view of the intense personal struggles that ran parallel to the professional successes for one of the LGBTQ movement’s most important figures.

 

It opens with depression, the void Duberman fell into after the death of his mother. From there, in search of inclusion, acceptance and some kind of solace, Duberman careened among various therapies, eventually returned to the theater, and overindulged in the titular hustlers and cocaine. Drugs, sex and an extraordinary book deal temporarily lifted him out of despair, before a massive heart attack and growing depression pushed him into rehab and a reevaluation of his life.

 

Duberman paints a raw, honest portrait of his struggle to find balance between his desire for excess and his burgeoning career as a history professor and prominent gay activist. He doesn’t shy away from the undignified aspects of his life, nor in the gossipy passages do his gay, activist and literary co-conspirators go unnamed (Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, Vivian Gornick and Kate Millett each make an appearance).

 

When this chapter of Duberman’s life comes to a close, he is working to found the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) at the City University of New York, the country’s first university research center dedicated to LGBTQ issues. …

Monday 08.12.19

Met Gayla: Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty

The third installment of Met Gayla, presented by Harajuku

Friday 08.09.19

Walk on Clouds with CBD Gummies

I’ve tried CBD before. A guy in my neighborhood used to sell CBD lollipops for five bucks. He’d drive around in a green van with marijuana leaves painted on the sides. I’d buy the lollipops for shits and giggles, of course, but I never really felt anything. It’s not like I was expecting to get stoned, but I wanted to at least feel a little different. I was always left disappointed, and for a long time I didn’t get the CBD hype. This week I discovered Highline Wellness Premium CBD Chews and these gummies have blown my mind. Clearly, buying those five dollar lollipops was amateur hour. This isn’t the candy your grandma gives you after digging around in her purse. These gummy bears pack a punch.

 

30 gummies come in a plastic bottle, and each little bear has 10mg of CBD. I was skeptical at first, but I started eating a few gummies before and after work. I live and breathe anxiety, and working all day can make me a little tense. The gummy bears are the sweetest treat. They’re tasty and make me feel like I’m walking on a cloud. I’m not even exaggerating. Walking into work and munching on a CBD chew gives me that same feeling as walking into my room and getting in bed after a long day. I don’t feel high, but I become so relaxed that everything seems a bit more manageable. My breathing slows, a gentle sense of calmness washes over me. …

Thursday 08.08.19

Alvin Baltrop’s days on the piers

Born in the Bronx, the Black photographer Alvin Baltrop spent the bulk of his life in New York, but from 1969 to 1972, he and a lot of young men were at war in Vietnam. It was there he first picked up a camera, photographing his Navy comrades. His time overseas inspired him to enroll at the School of Visual Arts upon his return home to New York. After finishing his studies, Baltrop turned his lens to the West Side of Manhattan and the decaying piers jutting into the putrid Hudson River, where, camera in hand, he captured men among the heaps of wood and metal. They came for sex, drugs and suicide, many of them knowingly or unknowingly crossing paths with Baltrop. His invasive yet understanding portraits make up Alvin Baltrop: The Piers, a fascinating document of the era between the Stonewall riots and the AIDS crisis.

 

Though they may have seemed like outsiders to the bigger world, the men who frequented these rundown piers were part of a larger community, one to which Baltrop also subscribed. After all, sodomy laws were still in effect in 1970s New York, which led to the piers turning into a gathering place as well as an escape.

 

“The waterfront had turned into another kind of cruising area, with men looking for other men, likely strangers, to satisfy their forbidden and illegal desires,” Glenn O’Brien writes in the book’s foreword. “The men you see in these pictures were outlaws.”

 

Baltrop — who claimed to be attracted to men and women but was regarded as gay by his peers — was friendly with many of his subjects, so it’s no surprise the photographs are deeply personal. …

Tuesday 08.06.19

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

This book is not for you; it’s for Ocean Vuong’s mom. She was the daughter of an illiterate farmgirl and an American soldier. War made and unmade them. As Vuong wrote in his poem “Notebook Fragments,” “An American soldier fucked a Vietnamese farmgirl. Thus my mother exists. / Thus I exist. Thus no bombs = no family = no me. / Yikes.”

 

When war ended, the Oceans lost contact with their grandfather for almost two decades. They were forced to leave Vietnam for Connecticut when police realized Vuong’s mother was mixed race. Vuong was 2 years old.

 

Vuong’s mother won’t read her son’s debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, because she can’t read. Dyslexia runs in the family, Vuong suspects, and he links his approach to language with the ways he’s had to cope with the learning disability — “Because I write very slowly and see words as objects,” he says. After publishing his first book of poems, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, in 2016, he told the Guardian, “I’m always trying to look for words inside words. It’s so beautiful to me that the word laughter is inside slaughter.”

 

Beauty is a primary concern. “All this time I told myself we were born from war — but I was wrong, Ma. We were born from beauty,” he writes. Seeing beauty everywhere, he preserves it in careful, lyrical prose: “I never wanted to build a ‘body of work’ but to preserve these, our bodies, breathing and unaccounted for, inside the work.”

 

As Elaine Scarry writes in her essay “On Beauty and Being Just”: “Beauty brings copies of itself into being.” (Scarry, along with Frank Ocean and Whitney Houston, is thanked in the acknowledgments of Vuong’s book). …

Monday 08.05.19

BOFFO Fire Island Performance Festival 2019

Dancing in the Face of Adversity with Young Boy Dancing Group, Richard Kennedy, SPIT! (Sodomites, Perverts, Inverts Together!), Ryan McNamara, Papi Juice, Bichon, ELSZ, West Dakota, Kia Damon, Sebastian Hernández and many more

Friday 08.02.19

PAG Tel Aviv Pride 2019

Scenes from the 36 hour party and Tel Aviv parade

Thursday 08.01.19

Love Bailey at Milkshake 2019

Love performed her song SHENIS at the annual festival in Amsterdam

Monday 07.29.19

“THEM”— gallery exhibition

There is no need for hiding in the new era of queer painting.

At Perrotin on the Lower East Side, a new survey of contemporary, figurative painting exhibits the many ways queer people address each other and the spaces we inhabit. From the looks of these paintings, queer people are safe to have sex, safe to display their bodies and safe to love openly. We have lives, not just lovers. Aptly titled “Them,” the 13 artists represented are from around the globe and speak to different walks of today’s queer walks of life. And the scenes in apartments, in bars, getting a haircut, at the beach, or in close embrace, are rather pedestrian. These subjects — equal parts fantastical and romantic — appear to be at peace occupying public space.

 

While the history of painting has long recognized queer behaviours in codified canvases, “Them” looks to infuse art history with a group of painters and paintings that are uninhibited by their queerness. What was previously a contextual restraint is now an opportunity to aggrandize the subject of queer life.

 

Before the late 1970s, and then the onslaught of AIDS, gay and lesbian painters were not explicit narrators. Queer culture could be alluded to on a canvas, but not shown. 1934’s “Greenwich Village Cafeteria” by Paul Cadmus offers a crowded parlor with all sorts of patrons, including gay men. In the right corner of the canvas, a man with red nails is on his way to the toilets. This styling, only feminine at the time, served as context to the cafeteria, providing familiarity for those that subscribed to such a “delinquent” lifestyle. …

Friday 07.26.19

Sexy Party starring Gia Gunn

Prensented by Chrystal Mesh at The Rosemont

Tuesday 07.23.19

PHotoESPAÑA 2019: Hervé Guibert presented by LOEWE

The photographs of the writer-photographer are now on view at the Spanish festival

In an essay, the late french writer, photographer, and filmmaker Hervé Guibert described photographs as invitations. A photograph, Guibert believed, compels the viewer to create a unique, intimate version of an image in their mind’s eye. This personal replica draws them in- engaging them with the artist’s experience and voice. This philosophy is evident in Guibert’s work; black and white images of lovers, friends, and family in repose draw the viewer into Guibert’s universe, enticing them to experience the moments that he curated.

 

Though Guibert is largely unknown at the moment, his work was widely celebrated during the time of its production. After a brief career as a filmmaker and actor, Guibert spent most of his career as a writer and photographer, initially gaining recognition through authoring a column for the French newspaper Le Monde from 1978-1985 and going on to publish more than 20 books and numerous essays. Towards the end of his life, however, he returned to filmmaking with the documentary La Pudeur ou l’Impudeur, through which he directed his considerable following to engage with his daily experiences as a man dying of AIDS.

 

LOEWE is proud to contribute Guibert’s works to PHotoESPAÑA 2019, a Madrid-based photography festival that is currently in its ninth year. The festival will span several museums and galleries in an effort to highlight contemporary accomplishments in photography and celebrate significant past works. Through this contribution and in other initiatives, LOEWE aims to raise awareness around instances of suppression and marginalisation. Particularly in the current moment —  in which advanced societies are regressing towards bigotry — their work is sharply relevant. …