Got Milk!

Harvey Milk: His Lives And Death by Lillian Faderman. (2018) Yale University Press is a concise, well-written biography. A more satisfying work than either the Randy Shilts book or the Gus Van Sant feature film.

gotmilk!

Faderman’s book chronologically follows each phase of Milk’s life beginning with his childhood in an upper middle-class Jewish family on Long Island.

Intergenerational differences and conflict are there at the very start and remain as unresolved elements throughout his life.

Milk’s realization that he wasn’t quite like other boys and young men was a factor he dealt with in numerous ways. Homosexuality was almost universally condemned when he first realized he was gay. It was one of several important aspects that defined who he was and how he related to the world around him.

He tried various approaches in pursuit of a career he hoped would bring an overall sense of purpose in his life before settling on the one that was most challenging, satisfying numerous parts of himself, and leading eventually to his tragic death.

Harvey Milk is Lillian Faderman at her best and a valuable resource of LGBT history alongside her previous hefty publication, The Gay Revolution (2015) Simon And Schuster.

copyright © 2018 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

http://www.nikosdiaman.com

 

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What’s Left

Has The Gay Movement Failed? by Martin Duberman, University of California Press, 2018 evaluates the status of Gay Liberation Front radical politics today.

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Duberman is an academic with a prodigious body of work but this book begins with three dubious assertions. He says that Gay Liberation Front spread to a half dozen cities and college campuses, that the Gay Revolution Party began in London, and Gay Activists Alliance broke from GLF in November 1970.

Out Of The Closets edited by Karla Jay and Allen Young, Douglas Books, 1972 lists over 75 Gay Liberation Front groups. I was one of the founding members of Gay Revolution Party in New York. And Wikipedia marks 21 December 1969 as the founding date of Gay Activists Alliance.

Fortunately none of these errors are necessary for the main thesis of Has The Gay Movement Failed? Duberman correctly cites Gay Liberation Front that began in New York following the Stonewall Riots of June 1969 as a touchstone of gay left politics.

Marriage equality is certainly the antithesis of the ideals espoused by GLF because it involves acceptance of and inclusion into a flawed institution rather than demanding its dismantling and replacement by a more just and equitable social arrangement.

The book concludes with examples of current straight left attitudes relating to LGBTQ issues that seem not to have changed much over nearly half a century. Ignored, trivialized, denigrated. And at the end the question in the title remains unanswered.

Has The Gay Movement Failed? Is an interesting read but not the definitive work about an important subject that merits more comprehensive study.

I’d like to see a closer look at Gay Liberation Front politics and strategies, including both its successes and failures. Also a more detailed analysis of other radical and progressive LGBTQ groups and individuals outsides the mainstream.

It’s obvious to me that within weeks of its founding, there were individuals in GLF eager to abandon the ideals of transformative personal and societal liberation for the comforts of mere rights and acceptance of the status quo.

Our current challenge remains how to achieve the benefits of a better world for everyone instead of continuing to privilege just a few.

copyright © 2018 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

www.nikosdiaman.com

Tale Teller

The author of the popular series, Tales Of The City, tells his own story in Logical Family by Armistead Maupin, HarperCollins, 2017.

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Maupin has talked about his conservative family upbringing at book signings, radio and TV interviews, and also in films about him. Much of the material in his memoir is already public knowledge.

But for his many fans that have either never seen him in person nor been exposed to recorded interviews, the book offers an additional opportunity to be entertained by his writing.

What began as a conventional life rooted in Southern tradition and politics took an unexpected turn after the author’s move to the West Coast and eventual acceptance of his sexual orientation.

Maupin, a vocal promoter of his adopted city of San Francisco, has made a successful career for himself not only through his writing and speaking engagements but also with ancillary sales. These include television shows, films, theatrical productions, musical presentations, etc.

copyright © 2018 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

http://www.nikosdiaman.com

Summer Romance

Call Me By Your Name directed by Luca Guadagnino (USA) 2017 begins with the arrival of a summer intern in Northern Italy in 1983.

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Each year a Greco-Roman culture professor invites a grad student to help him with his research. This year it’s a tall, striking grad student named Oliver, who immediately captures the attention of the professor’s teenage son, Timothée.

Much of the film, and the novel by André Aciman it’s based on, is about the prolonged longing and unfulfilled physical contact of the two young men.

I put aside the book after reading perhaps the first third but the film held my interest from beginning to end.

Call Me By Your Name is now playing at The Landmark, Los Angeles and Paris Theatre, New York.

It opens 15 December 2017 at Century Centre Cinema, Chicago; Embarcadero Center Cinema and Kabuki 8, San Francisco; and E Street Cinema, Washington.

Also 22 December 2017 at Violet Crown Cinema, Austin; Shattuck 10, Berkeley; Houston 8, Houston; Hillcrest Cinema Five, San Diego; Monica Film Cener, Santa Monica; and Camelview At Fashion Square, Scottsdale;

copyright © 2017 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

http://www.nikosdiaman.com

Black Lives

This Bitter Earth by playwright Harrison David Rivers is having its world premier at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, San Francisco 22 September – 22 October 2017.

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I invited someone I didn’t know well to accompany me. I waited in the theater lobby for him while he stood outside the building waiting for me. I thought he knew the theater is located in the sub basement of an office building while he assumed I had a mobile. Our agreement to meet there meant different things to each of us.

This Bitter Earth is a two-man drama that deals with the complexities of a black-white gay relationship rooted in the painfully tragic realities of the present. One of them is a Black Lives Matter activist while the other remains politically unengaged.

The play is especially relevant to inter-racial couples. It touches on situations and feelings familiar to anyone who’s been in an intimate relationship: joy, doubt, pleasure, disappointment, irritation, satisfaction, understanding, and confusion.

There is much to praise in the play, its production, the acting, and the set design. However, the audience is key to its success. I had trouble imagining the two actors cast as a believable couple. Aside from that, I think it’s well worth seeing.

Contact New Conservatory Theatre Center for more information and tickets.

copyright © 2017 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

www.nikosdiaman.com

Lucky Alive

The Untold Tales Of Armistead Maupin directed by Jennifer Kroot and Bill Weber (USA) 2017 is the opening night film of Frameline 41.

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Armistead Maupin and his Tales Of The City books are local pop icons in San Francisco. Nearly as familiar as the Golden Gate to residents of Castro Street and beyond. This ninety-minute documentary will likely be a crowd-pleaser during its screening at the Castro Theatre 15 June 2017.

While the movie fleshes out some details of Maupin’s life and provides numerous images of him at various stages of his life, there are few revelations.

The theme of this year’s San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival (15 – 25 June 2017) is Genre Queer. Venues include the Castro Theatre, Roxie Theater, and Victoria Theatre in San Francisco, Rialto Cinemas, Elmwood in Berkeley, and Landmark Theatres Piedmont in Oakland.

More information and tickets available at www.frameline.org

copyright © 2017 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

www.nikosdiaman.com

Gay Phoenix

When We Rise: My Life In The Movement by Cleve Jones is due late November from Hachette Books.

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The title suggests the mythical bird reborn from the ashes and the forthcoming memoir definitely reflects that.

Its author, Cleve Jones, first came to San Francisco from Arizona in 1972, the year I returned to the city from the East Coast. We met in the early 70s and I remember attending a party he and his roommate, Eric Garbor, hosted when we lived half a block from one another on Castro Street.

He’s long been a highly visible member of the community and a prominent activist for over four decades.

The book traces the trajectory of his life beginning with a low point. His experiences at school were so hellish that he was considering suicide during his early teens. He overcame despair after he began working for social change and discovered he was not alone in the world.

Cleve was especially active during the bleakest period of the AIDS-HIV pandemic. He was the founder of the Names Project that created a public memorial for thousands of individuals who died of the disease. The ever-growing quilt was displayed widely both in the US and beyond, helping to mobilize government agencies to fund studies and speed up treatment options.

The movement for social justice not only gave meaning to his life but also provided him with employment over the years. He worked in politics and is presently engaged in labor advocacy.

He was mentored by Harvey Milk and encouraged the development and eventual production of Milk, the narrative film about Harvey directed by Gus Van Sant in 2008.

Earlier this year Dustin Lance Black, the screenwriter of Milk, teamed up again with Van Sant to produce an ABC miniseries partly inspired by the manuscript of When We Rise.

The memoir allowed me to fill in some of the details of Cleve’s life story and will undoubtedly inspire present and future generations of women and men to positive action.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

http://www.nikosdiaman.com

Urban Playground

Thousands of gay men came to San Francisco during the Seventies in search of sexual freedom.

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It was a place where they could live out unfulfilled adolescent fantasies with many opportunities for overindulgence. There were over a hundred gay bars in the city as well as other venues where we met one another. It was a wonderful time to be here but there were also unpleasant aspects to this apparent paradise.

Sex, Drugs & Disco by Mark Abramson, (2015) Wilde City Press and More Sex, Drugs & Disco by Mark Abramson (2016) Wilde City Press are the author’s San Francisco diaries from the pre-AIDS era.

His plans for graduate school in Boston to study with poet Anne Sexton were derailed by her suicide the previous fall. So the author headed west after college in Minneapolis to join his friend John Preston who was then the editor of The Advocate.

Abramson was young, attractive, self-confident and horny, finding it relatively easy to indulge in the physical pleasure he constantly craved. Even though the period covered in these two books occurred forty years ago, what went on then is probably not that different from what goes on in the present with the help of numerous apps.

The first of the two books covers the last half of the Seventies while the sequel goes from 1980 to the spring of 1981 just before his move to the Russian River. The diaries include his social life, friendships, work experience, and writing. He periodically longs for more intimacy while continuing to pursue easy sex without commitment. A relatively good life for a Minnesota farm boy in the city.

His style is clear, direct, and honest. These two books provide a picture of what it was like for at least some of the men who lived through that special time and I look forward to reading his AIDS memoir as well.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

www.nikosdiaman.com