Despite the best efforts of Rep. David Cicilline and the eight other House managers, the Senate on Saturday acquitted twice-impeached former president Donald Trump of inciting the January 6th insurrection by his supporters at the Capitol. Seven Republicans joined the entire Democratic caucus in voting to convict, but the tally fell short of the two-thirds majority required by the Constitution. “The verdict does not reflect the truth understood by a majority of Americans, that Donald Trump recklessly and maliciously directed his supporters to attack the Capitol and our democracy,” said GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. On FiveThirtyEight, Perry Bacon Jr. wrote that “with Trump’s acquittal, the fragility of America’s democracy is even more clear.” Let us all redouble our efforts to strengthen it.
Books, Art, and Culture
Russell T. Davies’ acclaimed AIDS drama It’s a Sin premiers Thursday on HBO Max. It’s “1981, and a gang of friends move in together, in the heart of London,” goes the official summary. “But a terrible new virus is on the rise, and they’ll need each other more than ever as the fight begins.” In the meantime, you can watch the trailer. For a firsthand account of AIDS epidemic from a gay doctor who in 1992 “signed more death certificates in Chicago…than anyone else,” read Ross Slotten’s Plague Years.
As Grindr-hobbled and pandemic-stricken clubs close left and right, Jeremy Lucido brings us “90 photos of iconic, imperiled LA gay club Precinct.” Meanwhile, in his new book Gay Bar, Jeremy Atherton Lin reminds us “why we went out”; despite the past tense, the book is a “restless and intelligent cultural history of queer nightlife,” writes Perul Sehgal in The New York Times. Fear not, though, “a new roaring ’20s awaits at pandemic’s end,” writes Brock Thompson in the Washington Blade. Until then, though, party in and keep your masks on when you go out.
Now through March 14th, watch a short talk by Charleston Trust curator Darren Clarke about gay English artist Duncan Grant (1885–1978). A member of the Bloomsbury group that included E.M. Forster, John Maynard Keynes, and Virginia Woolf, Grant is well known for his sensual paintings of male bathers, including Bathing (1911) and Bathers by the Pond (ca. 1920). Clarke’s video focuses on a collection of 400 homoerotic sketches—which, as he says, “leave little to the imagination”—that were given to the trust last October after 60 years in private hands.
In “The Great Gay-Jewish Poetry Brawl of 1829,” Alex Ross writes about a nasty exchange of virtriol between two nineteenth-century German poets, Heinrich Heine and August von Platen: “Two outsiders—a Jew and a homosexual—resorted to crude stereotypes as they attempted to eject each other from an establishment that might rather have dispensed with both of them.” For the full story, read George Prochnik’s new biography, Heinrich Heine: Writing the Revolution.
Simon Doonan, author of the colorful encyclopedia Drag: The Complete Story, spoke recently with The Art Newspaper about his forthcoming biography of Keith Haring. And a new show of black-and-white images from the 1970s proves that “no one photographed New York’s drag scene like Peter Hujar.” For a broader view of Hujar’s work, check out more than 160 works in Peter Hujar: Speed of Life.
A recent study in the British Journal of Social Psychology found that both gay and straight men go out of their way not to sound gay, fearing discrimination if they do. For a hilarious take on the same subject, including an interview with David Sedaris, watch Do I Sound Gay?
The podcast Gayest Episode Ever explores the “one-off, LGBT-themed episodes that classic sitcoms would do back in the day, when it was rare to see queer characters represented on broadcast television.” Don’t miss “Smithers & Beyond,” their 2:19:47 supercut of every gay moment from all 31 seasons of The Simpsons.
Pete Buttigieg was confirmed as Secretary of Transportation in an 86-to-13 vote, becoming the first Senate-confirmed LGBTQ cabinet member. All thirteen voting against confirmation were Republicans. According to the Advocate, “Most of them have low scores, primarily zeroes, on the Human Right’s Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard, which rates members of Congress on their support for LGBTQ+ rights (or lack thereof).”
President Biden signed a memorandum “directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.” The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it will “begin enforcing Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” according to NPR.
Perhaps sparked by the Biden Administration’s actions, Republican state lawmakers around the country have introduced dozens of anti-LGBTQ bills; a number of these seek to bar transgender children from participating in team sports. And while the CDC recently found that LGBTQ people are at greater risk of severe COVID, QAnon supporters on Telegram “have endorsed the baseless conspiracy theory that vaccinating children increases the probability of them identifying as homosexual or transgender,” according to BBC reporter Shayan Sardarizadeh.
In the last two weeks alone, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said there is “no such thing as LGBT”; 185 queer German actors staged a mass coming-out, demanding a “change in attitudes and more LGBTQ characters in scripts”; two gay men who fled from Chechnya to Russia have been forcibly returned and are being investigated for terrorism; and LGBTQ people have joined in protests against the military coup in Myanmar.
“The Senatorial Puppet-Show” by cartoonist Joseph Keppler, from the January 21, 1885, cover of Puck. Source: Library of Congress. Wikimedia Commons explains: “Illustration shows Puck peering behind a curtain to witness Joseph F. Keppler staging a puppet show labeled ‘U.S. Senate’ showing a confrontation between Jefferson Davis, dressed as a woman, and General Sherman.”