Being Mouse

A recent internet meme featured Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling bemoaning the difficulty of killing off so many characters, with Game of Thrones series author George R.R. Martin calling her “adorable” in response. Gay writer Armistead Maupin has more in common with Rowling and Martin than you might expect. Maupin, like Rowling and Martin, is the author of a popular book series. In Maupin’s case, it’s the beloved queer Tales of The City sequence, which began in 1978 and concluded in 2014. As in the case of Rowling and Martin, Maupin populated his books with a wide assortment of […]

Further Reading

Stonewall stories – Arriving just in time for the Stonewall 50 festivities, We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation (Ten Speed Press, 2019) by Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown, tells a multitude of stories of the LGBTQ community in words and pictures, from 1868 to the present day. Updated and featuring a new introduction, Charles Kaiser’s landmark book The Gay Metropolis (Grove Press, 1997 / 2019), featuring the additional subtitle 50 Years After Stonewall, is even more essential reading than ever in light of the observance of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. […]

Maybe Stars in His Eyes

Queer singer/songwriter Bobby Jo Valentine is that rare out artist who isn’t shy about his faith. Raised in the church, Valentine has found a way to make those two sometimes conflicting aspects of his life work in harmony. For instance, the live performance schedule on his website (in July at the time of this interview) includes dates at both Pride festivals and churches. Talk about versatility! One thing’s for sure, chances are good that you will hear Valentine singing songs from his luminous new album Maybe Stars (BobbyJoValentine.com). Gregg Shapiro: Bobby Jo, when did you begin playing guitar and how […]

What’s Cooking?

Award-winning filmmaker Crystal Moselle makes her dramatic feature directing debut with Skate Kitchen (Magnolia). While it’s at least 20 minutes too long, Skate Kitchen (the first of 2018 skateboarding movies – the second being Jonah Hill’s Mid90s) is nevertheless worth seeing for the performances Moselle gets out of her cast of mostly newcomers. Camille (Rachelle Vinberg), a socially-awkward 18 year old, lives with her single mother (Elizabeth Rodriguez from “Orange is the New Black”) on Long Island. She enjoys going to the skateboard park and working on her skating skills. She also posts videos of herself skateboarding on Instagram. When […]

Creative Reading

Pride 2019 is taking on special meaning with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots being incorporated into celebrations across the country. With that in mind, it’s never too early to begin assembling a reading list for the celebration as well as for the summer of 2019. Visit your favorite independent bookseller or the love-it-or-hate-it Amazon.com to reserve and order copies of these forthcoming LGBTQ books for readers of all (rainbow) stripes. Poetic paths – It’s hard to believe that The Tradition (Copper Canyon Press, 2019) is only the third full-length collection by gay African-American poet Jericho Brown, because he’s […]

Girl Talk

Singer / songwriter Garrison Starr, a Grammy-nominee for her songwriting work on Margaret Cho’s American Myth album, is back in a big way. Girl I Used to Be, Starr’s highly-anticipated new album, is scheduled for release later this year. Working once again with producer Neilson Hubbard, Starr recorded the album in Nashville over the course of five days. Before the album is released, Starr is heading out on tour with fellow Tennessean Lolo on the “Tennessee Queens” tour during the summer months. I had the pleasure of catching up with her shortly before the tour began. Gregg Shapiro: In order […]

Queer Group Therapy

It’s interesting that Boy George and Culture Club, as they are now known, would call its new studio album – its first such release in almost 20 years – Life (BMG) as that’s the one thing it could use more of. For a group that was so influential and groundbreaking in its early 1980s heyday, Culture Club sounds surprisingly out of touch. You have to wonder what it is they’ve been listening to all these years. At a time when electronic dance music is having a strong resurgence, Life would have benefited from some of the house music energy that […]

Queer Group Therapy

It’s interesting that Boy George and Culture Club, as they are now known, would call its new studio album – its first such release in almost 20 years – Life (BMG) as that’s the one thing it could use more of. For a group that was so influential and groundbreaking in its early 1980s heyday, Culture Club sounds surprisingly out of touch. You have to wonder what it is they’ve been listening to all these years. At a time when electronic dance music is having a strong resurgence, Life would have benefited from some of the house music energy that […]

Hell, Yes

Since the late 1990s, queer singer / songwriter Erin McKeown has been making a name for herself as a distinguished performer with a rich and pure distinctive vocal style. McKeown expanded her creative horizons with the stage musical Miss You Like Hell, a collaboration with Quiara Alegría Hudes, for which she wrote the music and lyrics. As you can hear on Miss You Like Hell: Original Cast Recording (Ghostlight), the play is about the reunion between troubled mother and undocumented immigrant Beatriz (Daphne Rubin-Vega), who is facing the prospect of deportation, and her teenaged daughter Olivia (Gizel Jiménez) and the […]

Solo Ventures

The suitably titled Warm (dBpm), the first proper solo album of all original material by Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo fame), is the kind of musical project that will please the artist’s fans, regardless of when they became followers. As personal as it is universal, the sincerity of the 11 songs on Warm generate a welcome ardor similar to what we heard Kacey Musgraves do on her lauded Golden Hour album. Even the most removed listener can’t help but be moved by songs such as the exquisite “How Hard It Is For A Desert To Die,” “From Far […]