“An estimated one-fifth of queer adults [in the U.S.] are not registered to vote,” writes Jennifer Finney Boylan in today’s New York Times. Yet “the fight for equality isn’t over, and can most definitely still be lost.”
While the Republican Party advocates policies hostile to LGBTQ citizens, it has a long history of courting gay voters at election time; this year’s national convention, however, failed to mention us at all. Meanwhile, Mike Pompeo is today pushing his anti-queer agenda at the United Nations, while Trump’s recently released list of possible Supreme Court nominees was criticized by Lambda Legal as “teeming with individuals who have alarming anti-LGBTQ and anti-civil rights records.” Two ironies: the Trump campaign insists on playing “Macho Man” at its rallies (even after the Village People said to stop; listen here), and more than 20 percent of American gay men plan to vote for Trump anyway (but not the 45 percent suggested by one recent survey).
More happily, Dictionary.com has added a note to its definition of homosexual, explaining the word’s connection with the obsolete theory of homosexuality as a mental illness and pointing out that it is “often disparaging and offensive.” The Mattachine Society knew this as far back as 1962, when they chose to describe themselves instead as homophiles. Over the next month, the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston will be offering virtual tours of its show of Sargent’s male nudes; we previously reviewed the catalog, Boston’s Apollo: Thomas McKeller and John Singer Sargent. And Warner Bros. released a trailer of its Dune remake, starring Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides; Chalamet famously played Elio in 2017’s Call Me By Your Name.
The current pandemic has brought a renewed interest in another viral disease: AIDS. Carter Sickels’ second novel, The Prettiest Star, chronicles the small-town homecoming of a young man who has just lost his boyfriend to AIDS. Ross Slotten’s The Plague Years recounts the doctor’s own experiences treating AIDS patients during the worst of the epidemic. And in “When a Virus Became a Muse” in The New Yorker, Julian Lucas profiles French author Hervé Guibert, who wrote voluminously about AIDS before dying of the disease in 1991.
In Russia, Vladimir Putin has stepped up his campaign against LGBTQ youth, ordering teachers to report queer students identified via social media to the government “for punishment.” Video sharing app TikTok has admitted to “shadow-banning” certain queer hashtags in Russian, Estonian, Bosnian, and Arabic. And, in a move with frightening echos of the treatment of Jewish citizens before and during World War II, several more Polish municipalities have established “LGBT ideology free zones” (see the Atlas of Hate for a current map); such zones are a violation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and Polish courts have previously ruled them unconstitutional.
If you need a smile this week, enjoy this ad from Burger King’s Finnish pride campaign, featuring the king smooching Ronald McDonald. “Pinkwa$hing,” one commentator opined on Facebook; no doubt, but we like it anyway.
Illustration: The Champion of the People battles the hydra of tyranny, assumed prerogative, despotism, oppression, secret influence, “Scotch politick,” and duplicity; print by Thomas Rowlandson, 1784 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)