🌈Celebrating LGBTQ+ Arts & Empowerment!🌈
*** 2022: THIS WEBSITE’S 25th ANNIVERSARY! ***
Welcome to LGBTQ+ Literature & Film, both classic and contemporary. This evolving site, begun in 1997, features original reviews, essays, recommendations, and additional resources.
*** March 2022: Honoring Women’s History Month (link) ***
LGBTQ+ literature spans 5,000 years, from the ancient epic of Gilgamesh (a profound same-sex love story), to such canonical authors as Plato, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Whitman, Wilde, Woolf, Baldwin, to today’s diverse Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer-Plus (LGBTQ+) writers in every form: fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry, and astonishing experiments.
Explore film’s history, aesthetics, technology, and more. Includes reviews (my Jim’s Film Website), “Best” lists, a tribute to Robert Wise. Also a major section on LGBTQ+ Cinema, from such foundational directors as Eisenstein, Murnau, and Cocteau, to Hollywood titans like James Whale, George Cukor, and Dorothy Arzner, and contemporaries including Chantal Akerman, Pedro Almodóvar, Isaac Julien, and Wong Kar-wai.
Fassbinder | Pasolini | Jarman
These three multi-talented gay artists – Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Derek Jarman – created provocative works that span film, literature, theater, painting, philosophy, and more. Their influence today, in art and ideas, is stronger than ever. Pasolini galvanized Fassbinder; both inspired Jarman.
About This Site
Hi, I’m Jim. This is my independent website (sitemap here), focused on LGBTQ+ Literature & Cinema, musical and visual arts, including their many intersections with general culture, such as authors Plato, Shakespeare, Woolf, filmmakers Eisenstein, Murnau, Cocteau, artists Michelangelo, Dürer, Kahlo, composers Handel, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, and our contemporaries. This site features original movie best-lists, reviews, a guide to film, essays (including “Why a LGBTQ+ Focus?” – short answer: all part of our diverse common humanity), book recommendations, and more. Opinions are based on close readings – the words on the page, or pictures and sounds from the screen – plus historical context.
What makes a work outstanding? An imaginative bond between content (feelings/ideas) and the form the artist uses. That ranges from the visionary simplicity of Emily Dickinson’s poetry to the psychological complexity of Henry James’s fiction to the fiery revelations of James Baldwin’s essays to the profound cultural insights of Susan Sontag. I advocate discussion (here are tips for starting a group), not censorship, even when disagreeing with a particular viewpoint. I abhor dehumanization (racism, sexism, homophobia, fascism), value diversity, and try to live by the Golden Rule, treating everyone how I want to be treated, with respect, kindness, and a sense of humor.
You can see classic literature, as well as film and all the arts, not as ‘old stuff’ but rather as foundational – core – parts of an evolving global conversation that explores, and continually reexplores, such universal themes as, what makes a good society, power, freedom and responsibility, family, healing, love, and what is true? That tradition in literature extends back 5,000 years to the epic of Gilgamesh, encompasses everything written since, and going forward, will include all the works that the collective we will make. You can think of LGBTQ+ arts as involving both archaeology, rediscovering the past, and pioneering, advancing towards (in the words of the new bi Superman) a better tomorrow – but always with an eye on what’s happening in our world now, including our deeper understanding of genders, race, class, and other social mechanisms. Past, present and future are all connected, all part of our personal and shared humanity, as together we strive to do better.
A few of the creators presented here – including for film, Fassbinder, Pasolini, Jarman, and for literature, Genet, Mishima, Highsmith – examine dark aspects of human nature. I appreciate being able to understand (self-)destructiveness through the safety of thought-provoking art that can also be cathartic. By happy contrast, there’s my original LGBTQ+ Lit category, Fun Stuff!, light but substantial works. Another section highlights LGBTQ+ Genre Literature: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Suspense/Mystery/Adventure.
LGBTQ+ SCIENTISTS & STEM. Added because our common humanity, beyond the arts, includes the natural world, with science as the key. First entries are physicist/mathematician Isaac Newton, naturalist/explorer Alexander von Humboldt, foundational computer genius Alan Turing, plus resources for LGBTQ+ people in STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics). From a certain point of view, the star-swept night sky and Shakespeare both embody a transcendent wonder that we all share. In a post, I recommend a free introductory science course, Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior; not directly LGBTQ-related but for me its ‘big picture’ insights, revealing connections between genetics, geology, climate science and evolutionary biology, were life-changing – that post also includes links to many more free university courses in the arts and sciences, open to all.
+ AN *INCLUSIVE* WARM WELCOME! This site is for everyone interested in literature and film. It launched in 1997 as “GLBT Literature,” before the consensus on which acronym best fit the diverse community. Happily, we now have LGBTQ+, with a wonderfully inclusive + that expands to LGBTQIAPNb2S+ for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Pansexual, Nonbinary, Two Spirit, Plus More, including all the amazing Straight Allies, and those who choose no labels. Orientation is about transformative honesty, to yourself and to others. All part of our shared humanity, that can be enriched through the arts and sciences, by embracing cultural, gender, racial differences and connections, plus each of our unique personal experiences.
ANNOUNCEMENTS (March 2022)
- 🌈Celebrating *LGBTQ+ PRIDE” June 2021… & Beyond! EMPOWERMENT, EQUALITY & JUSTICE FOR ALL!🌈
- 🌈BRIEFLY *FREE* (TO OWN) COMPLETE SHAKESPEARE, all the plays (with character names spelled out, so Hamlet not ‘Ham’) and poetry, plus multiple biographies and classic criticism. https://www.amazon.com/Complete…/dp/B01LZV3T6F/
- 🌈**BRIEFLY FREE* (TO OWN) – ALL 7 VOLUMES COMPLETE of Marcel Proust‘s intimate epic, IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME (aka REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST), in the original C.K. Scott Moncrieff translation (my favorite). As Yale’s superstar critic, the late Prof. Harold Bloom, put it: “widely recognized as the major novel of the twentieth century.” https://www.amazon.com/Search-Lost-Remembrance-Things-volumes-ebook/dp/B077716CMX/
- 🌈**BRIEFLY FREE* Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts, by James M. Saslow (published 1999; winner of two Lambda Literary Awards) – Landmark survey of LGBTQ+ art, and social life, from antiquity to the present. Thanks to the generosity of Prof. Saslow, Pictures and Passions is currently available FREE to download complete as a high-quality, 59MB PDF (may require a free membership in academia.edu, that also offers thousands of scholarly articles on a wide range of topics). This monumental study has been on my Top Ten list of LGBTQ+ books since day one. LGBTQ+ Visual Artists page at this site.
- COMING SOON! My review of Gilgamesh: A New Translation of the Ancient Epic, by Sophus Helle (from Yale University Press, 2021). Gilgamesh is one of my lifelong favorite books. It’s a profound same-sex love story that also speaks to love as a universal force. It’s a thrilling adventure, filled with gods and monsters and flawed human beings, that also charts the course of how one man, King Gilgamesh, evolves – through his love for the warrior Enkidu – from the poster boy for extreme toxic masculinity into a deeply caring man and, ultimately, a wise and just ruler.
- Pier Paolo Pasolini Centenary: born March 5, 1922 – Poet, Novelist, Political Theorist, Literary Critic, Playwright, Screenwriter, Actor, Cinematographer, Editor, Composer, Producer, Filmmaker. Pasolini’s work is fascinating, often unexpectedly beautiful, and sometimes deeply disturbing. It’s not for everyone but (as noted above in About This Site) I appreciate being able to understand (self-)destructiveness through the safety of thought-provoking art, that can also be cathartic.
- UPDATED (March 10, 2022): LGBTQ+ Scientists – beginning with Newton, Humboldt, Turing; and a special welcome to LGBTQ+ people in STEM: Sciences, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics!
- 🌈NEW RESOURCE (February 9, 2022): BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) LGBTQ+ Literature – links to several external “best books” lists.
- UPDATED (January 21, 2022): Start a Discussion Group for Books and/or Films.
- UPDATED (March 16, 2022): NEW RESOURCES for: 1) bell hooks‘s study, Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism; 2) Ocean Vuong’s novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – MANY NEW RESOURCES (shifting between the Vietnam war and contemporary Hartford, Connecticut, a young gay man comes to terms with his Vietnamese mother and grandmother, and his first love); 3) E.M. Forster‘s classic 1913 coming out novel, Maurice [pronounced MORR iss]; 4) ) Stephen Sondheim‘s landmark musical play, Sweeney Todd (about vengeance, justice, love… and meat pies); 5) Pauli Murray‘s autobiography, Song in a Weary Throat: Memoir of an American Pilgrimage (Murray was a trailblazing Black nonbinary civil rights and gender equality activist, lawyer, poet, and priest). Page includes “ABCD” (Author, Book, Context, Discussion) resources for additional books, both LGBTQ+ and general.
- UPDATED BOOK & FILM RESOURCES: LGBTQ+ Literature, LGBTQ+ Cinema, and General Film.
- UPDATED (February 9, 2022): Resources at External Sites – “best books” lists and award-winners, from several sources.
- UPDATED: Brief Guide to Film, how visual and sound design enhance story, and shape ideas. NEW section on special effects.
- THROUGHOUT 2022: Completing film reviews for all of Fassbinder, Pasolini, and Jarman, using notes from screenings for the few pictures not available for home viewing. Plus new film and book reviews.
- QUESTION: Why a LGBTQ+ Focus? NEW section on “straightwashing” Washington Allston, the 19th century American artist/author and teacher of Samuel F.B. Morse.
CONTACT (Please note that I’m finishing a large project on a deadline, and can only respond when time permits. Thank you for understanding, and for your interest in LGBTQ+ Literature & Film!)
Website begun 1997 / Updated April 2, 2022 – 5,394 hours