In a win for LGBTQ people, President-Elect Joe Biden has nominated Pete Buttigieg to be secretary of transportation. As NPR noted, Buttigieg would be the “first openly gay cabinet member to be confirmed by the Senate” (yes, this is correct). In accepting the nomination, Buttigieg gave a moving speech about transportation, climate change, economic justice, and proposing to his husband, Chasten, at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.
Gay Books, Arts, and Culture
In The Boston Review, David Hobbs opines on Diarmuid Hester’s intriguing new book Wrong: A Critical Biography of Dennis Cooper [ Buy @ Bookshop ]. According to Hobbs, Cooper “rose to counterculture fame with his brilliant, dark novels about gay teens, gay psychopaths, gay drug addicts, and gay sex workers” in the 1980s and 1990s. Julia Moskin offers another review of John Birdsall’s biography of James Beard, The Man Who Ate Too Much [ Buy @ Bookshop ], including the gay bits: his expulsion from Reed College after being caught in a sexual encounter with a professor, his New York parties with the “whole fabulous gay food mafia,” and his bad behavior toward young male chefs.
Arquives.ca—“Canada’s LGBTQ2+ archives”—has published a new book entitled Out North: An Archive of Queer Activism and Kinship in Canada [ Buy @ Bookshop ]. And last year’s Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation [ Buy @ Bookshop ] chronicles what was from 1973 until the Pulse massacre of 2016 “the deadliest crime against the gay community in the United States,” according to Evan Millward.
Gay Chorus Deep South premiered last night on PopTV and other streaming channels; the movie, which won best documentary at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, documents the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus tour of the South after the 2016 presidential election. On YouTube, singer princepeterwolf presents his “gay, male covers of Disney princess songs.” And in The New York Times, Erik Pipenberg gives his take on “why gay holiday films matter”: “Leading men just don’t kiss each other in the conservative fraternity of holiday TV movies. They do now.” And it’s about time, because in his letter to Santa, Will wants to know if Santa “support[s] the LGBTQ community” and if God “loves me for being gay.”
In throwbacks, this 1975 article chronicles a seven-day “all-gay cruise” from Fort Lauderdale to Mexico and Central America. And Atlanta’s Gay Eagle will be named a historic landmark by the city, reportedly making it the first recognized and protected LGBTQ landmark in the Deep South.”
The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition by the Indiana attorney general to overturn a federal appeals court ruling ordering the state to list both mothers on the birth certificate of a child born to a lesbian couple. The case, Box v. Henderson, could have had implications for the marriage rights of same-sex couples nationwide. The city of Topeka, Kansas, has enacted an ordinance banning discrimination against all LGBTQ people in employment, housing, and public accommodations. The LGBTQ owner of kilt maker Verillas, “disgusted” to see the Proud Boys wearing their signature yellow kilts, has made a donation to the NAACP “to redirect hate to love.”
In the same week in which Virginia Republicans censured Congressman Denver Riggleman (R-VA) for “betraying and disregarding the concerns” of his “conservative and Christian” constituents, news broke of a petition signed by more than 400 religious leaders worldwide in favor of LGBTQ equality. The document, organized by the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives, affirms that “all human beings of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions are a precious part of creation and are part of the natural order” and calls on nations to end criminalization “on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity” and to ban conversion therapy. Among the signatories are Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Christian, Jewish, and other religious leaders.
Elsewhere, the Hungarian parliament has voted to effectively ban gay adoption, but the Swiss parliament has given final approval to marriage equality there. And a report by the Beijing LGBTQ Centre found that China “isn’t the worst in Asia” when it comes to gay rights, but “it still has room for improvement.”
And a note re Buttigieg’s nomination: Richard Grenell, who is also openly gay, was confirmed by the Senate as U.S. ambassador to Germany (not a cabinet post) in 2018 and served as (unconfirmed) acting director of national intelligence for three months and six days earlier this year. Roberta Achtenberg, who served as an assistant secretary (also not a cabinet post) in the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1993 to 1995, was the first openly gay federal official to be confirmed by the Senate—over the objections of Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), who called her a “damn lesbian.”
An eighteenth-century Italian brooch depicts the Roman emperor Hadrian (right) and his favorite Antinous (ca. AD 111–130). After his premature death, Hadrian deified Antinous, founded the city of Antinoöpolis in his name, and established games there and in Athens in his honor. Oscar Wilde wrote about Antinous in “The Young King” and “The Sphinx” [ Buy @ Bookshop ], and he features prominently in Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian [ Buy @ Bookshop ]. Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art.