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14 Gay Books to Read at the Beach ~ Lil Nas X “Industry Baby” Drops ~ Joe Bell Heads Up Summer Movie List ~ Sex, Style, Art, and Fads

Summer is for going to the beach, for tea dances (pandemic permitting), for lazy evenings with good friends and good cocktails, for gardening. And summer is for reading. Whether your thing is contemporary gay fiction, memoirs, LGBTQ history, or poetry, we have you covered:

Fiction & Romance

  • Neotenica, by Joon Oluchi Lee, won a Lammy for best gay fiction for its “kaleidoscopic” tale of a Korean ballet dancer and her “straight, though gay-cruising, Korean-American husband.” (2020)
  • 100 Boyfriends, by Brontez Purnell, is a “hurricane of delirous, lonely, lewd tales…a taxonomy and grand unified theory of the boyfriend” (The New York Times). (2021)
  • The Ghost and Charlie Muir, by Felice Stevens, won a Lammy for best gay romance earlier this year. (2021)
  • Alec, by William di Canzio, retells E.M. Forster’s classic gay novel Maurice from the gamekeeper’s point of view. Read our review of Alec here. (2021)

Biography & Memoir

  • In I Have Something to Tell You, Chasten Buttigieg writes about “growing up gay in his small Midwestern town, his relationship with Pete, and his hope for America’s future.” (2020)
  • Wild Visionary, by Golan Moskowitz, “reconsiders Maurice Sendak’s life and work in the context of his experience as a Jewish gay man.” (2021)
  • A Dutiful Boy, by Mohsin Zaidi, won a Lammy for best gay biography for his story of growing up gay in a Shiite Muslim family in London. (2020)

Literature & Poetry

  • The Myterious Correspondent presents, for the first time ever, nine previously unpublished short stories of coded gay desire by the great Marcel Proust. (2021)
  • Guillotine, by Eduardo C. Corral, won a Lammy for best gay poetry for his England-and-Spanish meditations on gayness in his Mexican-American community. (2020)
  • Resist Everything Except Temptation, by Charles Green, provides an interesting complement to Love’s Next Meeting (below) by situating the English decadent Oscar Wilde “in the tradition of left-wing anarchism.” (2020)

History

  • Last Call, by Elon Green, retells the story of the Last Call Killer, who murdered at least two gay men in New York in the early 1990s. (2021)
  • Love’s Next Meeting, by Aaron Lecklider, is provocatively subtitled “the forgotten history of homosexuality and the left in American culture.” I can’t wait. (2021)
  • The Engagement, by Sasha Issenberg, tells the story of “America’s quarter-century struggle over same-sex marriage” anew, a timely tale as we confront the uncertainty of a Supreme Court with a solid 6:3 conservative majority. (2021)
  • Let the Record Show, by Sarah Schulman, offers a history of ACT UP New York from 1987 to 1993, a critical period in the fight against AIDS. (2021)

Lil Nas X “Industry Baby” Finally Released

Lil Nas X released his latest single, “Industry Baby,” yesterday to great fanfare, most of it of his own making.

On Wednesday, the 22-year-old tweeted a warning, “THE INDUSTRY BABY VIDEO IS NOT FOR YOUR KIDS”; on Thursday, a moving appeal to his 20-year-old self: “I know your sexuality has made you feel like an outcast among your peers… But I need you to keep going… I need you to remember that the only person who has to believe in YOU is YOU.”

Then, yesterday, the song hit, and the video with it. Just for the record, it’s not for your kids, but it’s really only NSFW-ish. Set in the fictional Montero State Prison, it features a strategically pixellated shower scene with Nas and half a dozen naked dancers. Then, as Nas and co-conspirator Jack Harlow make their escape through a tunnel, a guard watches watches “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” featuring Nas lap-dancing the devil, on his phone and licks his lips. Nas has also promised to release the uncensored video “if this tweet gets 200k likes”; as of this morning, it was up to 184k and counting.

Joe Bell Heads Up the Summer’s List of Movies and TV Shows

There is no shortage of new films to watch this summer, either. In Joe Bell, which opened yesterday, Mark Wahlberg tells the true story of a father who walked across the country to raise awareness of bullying, after his fifteen-year-old son Jadin committed suicide because he was bullied for being gay. It is a laudable purpose, but the movie itself has garnered mixed reviews, with Matt Zoller Seitz calling it out for “unnecessary trickery” and “Mark Wahlberg’s monotonous, at times listless performance.”

Indie and foreign directors have joined the fray with a number of films on gay subjects: I Carry You With Me is about a gay Mexican couple who dream of emigrating to the United States; Firebird is a timely, Estonian reminder of homophobia in the Soviet Union; The Legend of the Underground documents queer life in Nigeria; and Moneyboys focuses on a gay hustler in China who movies from a small town to the big city.

On Netflix, Queer Eye is entering its fifth season, and Jonah sets out to “normalize being gay and hearing-impaired” in the second season of Never Have I Ever.

Sex, Style, Art, and Fads

Style has always been about sex, but in case we needed reminding, Louis Staples gives us “From Sport to Sex: How the Jockstrap Became Part of Gay Culture” in AnOther. The pseudonymous British artist Monsby has released a limited-edition table lamp called “Love in Light,” a phallic sculpture which you “turn on” by retracting its fabric foreskin. Only £3,500 and one can be yours! Finally, queer artists are getting in on the NFT action, with the 18-year-old FEWOCiOUS raking in over $17 million in NFT sales in less than a year.

Art Note

Thomas Eakins, The Swimming Hole, 1895 (Amon Carter Museum). Thomas Eakins (1844–1916) was an American artist and longtime head of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He championed drawing from life, both outdoors and in the studio, as well as the use of photographic studies as “sketches” for later paintings. The Swimming Hole is one of his best known paintings and one of the most famous depictions of a group of male nudes of all time. Eakins’ frequent use of nude models put him at odds with more conservative factions in the academy, and he was forced to resign his position in 1886 “for removing the loincloth of a male model in a class where female students were present.”

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