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Book Review: Songs For The New Depression

In: Saturday Submissions, Totally GAY!

Gabe Travers is dying. He knows it. He is surrounded by the people he loves, his mother and her new wife Pastor Sally, his best friend Clare, his lover Jon. These are the people who have clung to him through the years, who have stood by him through bad decisions and bitchy remarks. Dying, he takes Jon to Paris; what better gift to give the man you love than the world?

It was a gift he’d been given 9 years earlier, by a man he loved, and as the book goes back in time, we the readers are taken on that journey with him. And then that journey continues back 10 years, to first kisses, to coming out, to a time when Gabe begins to make those relationships that will set the course of his life. To when he first hears Bette Midler.

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Book Review: The Letter Q

In: Saturday Submissions, The Arts, Totally GAY!

This isn’t a novel. This is a collection of letters, written by some of the greatest queer authors of the day, to their younger selves. As such, I don’t recommend sitting down and reading it from cover to cover. Keep it tucked away in your backpack or purse or briefcase, and pull it out when you need a warm fuzzy or a pep talk or simply a few moments of enjoyment.

Each letter is unique. Some even take the form of comics. They tackle all the issues you’d expect: bullying, coming out, sex, and all the emotions that go with them: shame, fear, anger, and eventually pride and contentment.

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If you’re a romantic, if you believe in love at first sight, if you believe, like Snow White, that one day your prince will come, then this book is a must-read.

Peter Cashorali takes stories we grew up on and twists them for gay men. Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, Rumplestiltskin, the Ugly Duckling and more, all become queerified, and young gay kids and mature gay men will enjoy seeing the fairy tales they knew, now resonating more with tales of Princes’ happily ever afters.

All the magic is still there, all the talking animals, unexpected transformations, ogres, ghouls, and Death. Now, they’re parables on aging, mortality, AIDS, coming out, the shallow and fickle nature of attraction, and, as always, the quest for true love.

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Book Review: Gulliver Takes Manhattan

In: Saturday Submissions, The Arts, Totally GAY!

Ok, first off, you should know I’m a little bit in love with the city of New York, always have been, always will be. So, small wonder that when I received my copy of Gulliver Takes Manhattan in the mail, saw the skyline glowing on the cover, small wonder I was already a little in love with it.

By page 50, I was hooked like a gay guy on Starbucks.

It’s the story of Gulliver Leverenz (don’t make any jokes about the name, because you only get one), who moves from the LaLa Land of the West Coast to Empire City after discovering that his boyfriend Graham has been cheating on him, dirty lying bastards that some men just tend to be. Gulliver is saved from the pain and drama of his Graham-centric LA life when his former college roomie and best friend Todd extends an invitation to move to New York City and start over.

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Book Review: Don’t Let Me Go

In: Saturday Submissions, The Arts, Totally GAY!

I’ve been going through the gay fiction section of my local bookstore pretty fast lately, and some reads have been better than others, and then along came one that punched me in the stomach even as it proceeded to rip my heart out of my chest.

Don’t Let Me Go by JH Trumble is the love story of Adam and Nate, who meet in high school and who are inseparable from that point forward. When Adam gets a chance to go to New York to pursue a career on Broadway, it’s Nate that pushes him to go. That’s where the book begins.

But it’s not just the story of a long-distance relationship, because you see, the book jumps around a bit in time, flashing back to first touches, first times, coming out, and the horrific assault Adam and Nate suffer at the hands of their bigoted classmates. So all through this love story, you’ve got a darker thread of intolerance, homophobia, and hatred, and it’s different than when you see it on the news. More real, because you really start to care about these guys. Well, I did anyway. All of Nate’s feelings, I’ve felt, jealousy and paranoia and the need for some sort of revenge, at the same time as you’re feeling angry at the world for its bigotry and want to make some grand political statement and be a martyr for the gay cause.

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Book Review: Dancer From The Dark

In: Saturday Submissions, The Arts

Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran is the story of gay life in New York in the late 70s, from the tenements of the Lower East Side to the beaches of Fire Island, from the bars and the baths to the avenues and the parks, all the places where gay men cruised for cock and love. It is a story about too often having to sacrifice substance for style, and how, once in a while, you do the opposite. It is a story of decadence and despair, of lust, love, and the lies we all tell, of coming out and the end of innocence. It is the story of Malone, beautiful, romantic, idealistic, and Sutherland, queeny, campy, and jaded. It is the story of how they met, became friends, and how their friendship intersected and impacted the lives of the people around them.

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US Supreme Court Hears Challenge to DOMA

In: Politics & Issues, Saturday Submissions

In the second day of back-to-back marriage hearings at the US Supreme Court, the justices heard arguments yesterday in United States v Windsor. Edie Windsor married her long-time partner in Ontario, after which the two of them moved to New York. At the time, New York did not permit same-sex marriages, but they did give full recognition to same-sex marriages lawfully performed elsewhere. When Windsor’s wife died, the federal government sent her a tax bill for over $360,000 because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Had Ms. Windsor’s marriage been recognized, her tax bill would have been zero.

Yesterday’s hearing was divided into two parts. The first, much like the Prop 8 hearing, was devoted to a somewhat dull but important procedural question: the issue of standing. Because the Obama Administration was supporting Ms. Windsor’s case, there was a question of whether there was anybody who was actually able to bring the case to the Supreme Court. In simple terms, courts resolve legal disputes. If both sides agree on the law, then there’s no dispute. No dispute, nothing for the courts to do. Republicans from the US House of Representatives have also tried to step in to defend DOMA, but there were also some tough questions about whether or not they had a right to be in court. With that said, a majority of the justices seemed willing (or at least more willing than they did with the Prop 8 case), to rule that the case was properly before them.

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I have to admit that I spent a lot of time staring at a blank screen trying to figure out how to write this piece. I do my best, in writing about legal matters, to find a way to cut through the jargon and make convoluted proceedings a little easier to understand. In listening to the approximately one hour of oral arguments released by the Supreme Court today it became quite clear that this wasn’t going to be a particularly easy task, but here goes.

Just over a year ago, the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that California’s Proposition 8, passed in November of 2008, was unconstitutional. Proposition 8 took away the right of same-sex couples to marry that had previously been granted by the California Supreme Court.

Unlike most cases, which tend to be straightforward, the Prop 8 case isn’t as simple as your usual win/loss situation. That’s what makes it so complicated. The Supreme Court has a number of options before it, and for any one of those options to be successful, at least five of the nine justices will have to support it. On the side of those who support Prop 8, there is one option for them to win, and that is for the Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8 as a valid and constitutional enactment.

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