Friday, May 12, 2017

Pride Reading List 2017

Among the things that separates LGBTQ folks from our straight brothers and sisters is our love of literature. Many of us have been avid readers since we were young, when we sought and found comfort from the problems of the outside world in the pages of books. The following are new books by LGBTQ writers out just in time for Pride month and summer reading.

Friday, May 12, 2017

True Blue

An interview with singer/songwriter and Broadway actress Morgan James

If you haven’t heard Morgan James sing, then you don’t know what you’re missing. A white girl from Idaho with the voice of a black gospel choir soloist, James has careers on Broadway (Motown: The Musical, The Addams Family, and more) and as a singer/songwriter (her debut studio album came out in 2014). More recently, she released an EP and completed a new studio disc of original songs. She can also be seen performing Joni Mitchell’s Blue in its entirety on her YouTube channel ( In fact, if they’re still looking to cast the movie version of Sheila Weller’s Girls Like Us, about Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Carly Simon, James would make a far better Joni than Taylor Swift. I spoke with Morgan in advance of her 2017 concert tour.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Too Much of a Good Thing?

The case of Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Let me start here by saying I absolutely loved the first Guardians of the Galaxy. After a lengthy spell of traditional superhero movies from Marvel, more dramatic than comedic, the film was a refreshing breath of air, an epic sci-fi action film that replaced a lot of the seriousness of the previous Marvel movies with some off-the-wall comedy, courtesy of director James Gunn and the blessing of Marvel. Considering how Marvel was building their Cinematic Universe, connecting all of their superhero films, it’s a miracle Guardians got made in the first place.

In 1990, documentary filmmaker Jennie Livingston premiered her film uncovering the wild and unique “Ball Scene” that predominated N.Y.C. Harlem queer culture in the 1980s. Long before Ru Paul became the drag queen zeitgeist, drag royalty – Pepper LaBeija, Angie Xtravaganza, Willi Ninja, and Dorian Corey were tearing up Harlem in a celebration of gender fluidity and protest. The documentary film Paris is Burning is the story of these important pioneers of drag in the years before the AIDS crisis ravaged the gay community. Weekly, contestants would gather in dilapidated gymnasiums and auditoriums in Harlem to compete in runway shows. The politics were complex in this world where queens are divided into “houses” similar to the great fashion houses in Paris (e.g., the House of Chanel). While the competition was intense, the support was endless for these young people wrestling with sexual orientation and gender conformity. It is in Livingston’s film that we learn terms like “werking,” “walking,” and “reading,” as well as the roots of “voguing” long before Madonna hit the dance floor.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Bittersweet Wartime Romance

Their Finest– Gazing nostalgically through celluloid at the U.K. at war

Back in 1987 director John Boorman gave us the charming wartime, slice-of-life Hope and Glory which was a semi-autobiographical take on his own childhood growing up in England during World War II. That film had a specific look that made one feel they were watching a film from the 1940s. The new World War II romance Their Finest has that same look and feel, and the results are just as charming.


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