Culture: What's Hot for Spring/Summer

Find Your State

Know the laws in your state that protect LGBT people and people living with HIV.
David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (Green Head), 1982.
The top 9 LGBTQ arts and entertainment events you won’t want to miss!
David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (Green Head), 1982.
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1: THE CHER SHOW

Theater

Do you believe that this is happening? If anyone has a life story and musical output ripe for a big, splashy Broadway jukebox bio-musical, it’s Cher, who has turned out both hits and looks—or what the kids now call lewks—for a remarkable half-century. From her teenage flower-child “I Got You, Babe” days with Sonny to her Bob Mackiefabulous 1970s, from her 1980s seriousactress phase to her big 1998 “Believe” comeback to her current incarnation as Trump’s worst nightmare on Twitter, it’s all there. Broadway darling Stephanie Block (Wicked, The Boy From Oz) will play the adult Cher, with two other actors playing younger versions of the Goddess of Pop. The Cher Show has a book by Rick Elice (Jersey Boys), direction by Jason Moore (Avenue Q) and orchestration and arrangements by Daryl Waters (Memphis). The show will run June 12 to July 15 in Chicago before transferring to Broadway in the fall. Don’t miss it—you can’t turn back time! thechershowbroadway.com

 

A scene from Pose
Photo by: PHOTO: JOJO WHILDEN/FX
A scene from Pose

2: POSE

Television

TV titan Ryan Murphy has produced some pretty gay stuff in recent years—everything from the unabashed queerness of his American Horror Story franchise to the meta-camp of the Bette Davis-Joan Crawford Feud to this year’s American Crime Story, tackling the homophobia and self-loathing surrounding Andrew Cunanan’s 1997 assassination of Gianni Versace. Now, working with a large team of queer and transgender writers, directors and actors including Janet Mock and Our Lady J, he takes on the 1980s New York City gay and trans voguing scene immortalized in the documentary Paris is Burning. Stars of this TV dance musical include Kate Mara, James Van Der Beek, the transgender actor Angelica Ross and the gay Kinky Boots star Billy Porter. OK, Miss Murphy, you better werk! (And we’ll admit the eight-second trailer at fxnetworks.com/shows/pose looks pretty fabulous.) June 3.

 

Sarah Schulman

3: MAGGIE TERRY

Fiction

The eleventh novel and seventeenth book from lesbian author, playwright and social critic Sarah Schulman (After Delores, Conflict is Not Abuse) is a thriller about a lesbian former NYPD detective fresh out of rehab and fighting to put her career back together and reconnect with her young daughter. She’s back to work and stumbling her way through an ultra-wealthy new downtown full of Trumphating Manhattanites when she’s thrown on the case of a young actress who seems to have been murdered by her boyfriend, a successful older male novelist who lives in a grand Greenwich Village townhouse. “Everyone was in a state of confusion because the president was insane,” is the opening line, setting the tone for a classic Schulman tale that’s as much murder mystery as it is a grimly funny comment on our semi-dystopian moment. Feminist Press, September, $17.95

 

Photo by: PHOTO: ERIK CARTER
Darnell Moore

04: NO ASHES IN THE FIRE: COMING OF AGE BLACK AND FREE IN AMERICA

Non-Fiction

Queer author, educator and activist Darnell Moore was one of the original Movement for Black Lives organizers, mobilizing buses from New York City to Ferguson, Missouri, after the police murder of Michael Brown. In this politically charged memoir, he recounts how he suffered growing up black and gay in Camden, New Jersey—when he was 14, three boys from his neighborhood tried to set him on fire—and how, with mentors and peers, he grew into his power as a gay black man in an era when LGBTQ lives of color are under attack. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary who’s now a writer-in-residence at Columbia University, he tells his complex and affecting story in this book. No less a black liberationist voice than bell hooks says that No Ashes in the Fire is written “with an intensity and passion that offers readers a deep understanding of a gay black male coming of age who openheartedly claims his identity, and who embraces redemptive suffering.” May, Hachette Book Group, $26.

 

Photo by: PHOTO: KAY LAHAUSEN
Barbara Gittings, after an interview with Eric Marcus, for the first edition of Making Gay History in 1989.

05: MAKING GAY HISTORY

Podcast

There are some amazing, funny, sassy, smart LGBTQ podcasts out there right now—among them “Keep It” with Louis Virtel, “Las Culturistas,” “Food4Thot,” “LGBTQ&A” and “Nancy.” But the most substantively historical is “Making Gay History,” which is also the name of a 2002 book by esteemed LGBTQ historian Eric Marcus. The podcast series, all three seasons (and counting) of which are available at makinggayhistory.com and via the Podcasts app on your phone, is drawn from Marcus’ extraordinary archive of audio interviews with LGBTQ historymakers dating back decades, bracketed by his own invaluable context. There are episodes with well-known figures like Ellen DeGeneres, Larry Kramer and trans pioneers Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, as well as with more obscure but also pivotal folks like Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen, leaders of the pre-Stonewall “homophile” movement, and Deborah Johnson and Zandra Rólon Amato, two lesbians of color who in 1983 successfully sued a Los Angeles restaurant for refusing them service. In October, Marcus will release Season 4, focusing on the period from Word War II through the eve of Stonewall.

 

David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (Green Head), 1982.
David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (Green Head), 1982.

06: DAVID WOJNAROWICZ

Visual Art

Before he died of AIDS in 1992, gay New Yorker David Wojnarowicz became one of the most important artists and writers of the 1980s, working in mixed media—paint, silkscreen, photography, text, collage and more—to make a stunning body of explicitly political work. His themes were homosexuality, beauty and the oppressive role of the state, which he wove through his work. He became one of a generation of extraordinary gay artists—including Keith Haring, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Peter Hujar, Wojnarowicz’s lover and mentor—to die young from the AIDS epidemic. Now, New York’s Whitney Museum presents the first major exhibition of his work in more than a decade—at a moment when the output of this “lost generation” of gay artists is being considered by a rising new wave of queer thinkers and creators. July 13—September 30.

 

07: BOY ERASED

Memoir

Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir of being outed at 19 to his Arkansas family and forced into “conversion therapy” to undo his gayness is now a movie. Directed by and featuring Joel Edgerton—writer, director and lead actor in 2015’s supremely creepy thriller The Gift—the movie has a powerhouse cast: Lucas Hedges (Manchester-by-the-Sea, Lady Bird) plays Conley and Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman his conservative Baptist parents, who insist on the treatment if he wants to stay in their family and church. They’re joined by Troye Sivan, Xavier Dolan (I Killed My Mother, Mommy), Michael Balzary (Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers) and the inimitable Cherry Jones (24, Transparent). The Los Angeles Times said that the book’s power “resides not only in the vividly depicted grotesqueries of the therapy system, but in his lyrical writing about sexuality and love.” Will the film measure up? September 28.

 

RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Mimi Imfurst in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Photo by: Photo: Garrett Matthews
RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Mimi Imfurst in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

08: HEDWIG HITS PHILLY

Theater

Take the wig down off the shelf and head to the City of Brotherly Love. Hedwig and the Angry Inch, John Cameron Mitchell’s glamtastic rock musical about a Cold War-era East German gay boy who grows up to be the stage-strutting, big-haired and broken-hearted Hedwig, comes to Philadelphia for the month of June, starring local boy and RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Mimi Imfurst. That’s the stage persona of Braden Chapman, who credits his CD of the musical with saving his life when his parents kicked him out at 15 for being gay. The musical is both raunchily hilarious and dreamily moving, full of classics like “Wig in a Box,” “Origin of Love” and “Wicked Little Town.” Make it a queer Philly weekend and stay at the Alexander Inn, dine at Knock Restaurant and Bar and party at Woody’s—a trio of beloved LGBT-leaning spots. June 1—25, tickets $25-$35, retheater.org.

 

HOW TO WRITE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL

09: HOW TO WRITE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL

Guidebook

Queer novelist Alexander Chee had a hit in 2016 with The Queen of the Night, the sumptuous story of a 19th century Paris opera diva and her secret past. Now he returns with this erudite and witty collection of essays in which he, to quote the preview copy, “reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend.” “The only things you must have to become a writer are the stamina to continue and a wily, cagey heart in the face of extremity, failure, and success,” he writes in an essay on his career. Another piece recounts his earlier years working as a cater-waiter for homophobic conservative author William F. Buckley. Kirkus praises Chee’s “consistent care with words and open-hearted tone; having been through emotional and artistic wars, he’s produced a guidebook to help others survive them too.” April 24, Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $15.99.