James Baldwin was romantically linked to the bisexual Swiss painter, Lucien Happersberger. They met in Paris in 1949 when Lucien was 17 and remained lifelong partners, but as you can read from the newspaper clipping shared above, the public would only know them as “close friends”.
In addition to his book Giovanni’s Room, which I highly recommend. Baldwin was highly quotable. Below is a personal favorite quote of mine.
I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for that reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
James Baldwin, American author, poet and activist
I dedicate this weekly post, featuring vintage gay photographs, to the men and women who lived in a more critical time where being true to yourself and loving who you want wasn’t always an option and came at a great price. Do you have a photo you would like to share? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Zakar twins are equal parts cute and funny. They are proud of their Iraqi heritage but grew up in the United States. In 2017, they self-published their book Pray the Gay Away, in which they tell their personal story of first coming out to themselves then later to each other and then ultimately to their Mom who had more than a little difficulty coming to terms with the news.
The Instagram account is filled with pictures of the twins (often shirtless). The twins have a great sense of humor and use their Instagram to show it off which is refreshing to see as you may be able to tell from the photos I’m sharing from their Instagram account.
The Boston Gay Men’s Book Club chose Eric Cervini’s 2020 book, The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. The United States of America for this month’s read. It was my first time joining a book club, and I really enjoyed listening to people share their thoughts. The organizers surprised everyone by having the author (shown below) join the MeetUp to answer questions about the book which was really kind of amazing.
The Boston Gay Men’s Book Club meets virtually due to COVID-19 and as a result is really open to anyone interested in joining a book club that focuses on gay literature. You can learn more or sign up to join here.
This is a book about the beginnings of the gay movement here in the United States, but focuses on Franklin Edward Kameny, a World War II veteran and gifted astronomer turned reluctant, gay activist and litigator after he was entrapped by the S.F.P.D. in 1957 and charged with “lewd conduct”. The charge would result in Kameny losing his certification to work for the Department of Defense just as his promising career was starting. He would be barred from employment with the Federal Government and agencies that served our government just as the Cold War’s space race between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. started.
After World War II, Homosexual arrests…occurred at the rate of one every ten minutes, each hour, each day for fifteen years. In sum one million citizens found themselves persecuted by the American state for sexual deviation.
Simply put, Cervini’s book is a page turner. We learn early on that Kameny is a gifted intellectual. He learned to read by age four. By age six he decided he would be an astronomer and at the age of 16 enrolled in college. He would serve in the military during WWII and went to Harvard after the war in 1948 to begin his PhD in astronomy. However, the career he cherished and had so much to offer would be denied to him, because our government would label him a deviant.
The personal struggles and obstacles Kameny faced were not unique. What was unique, was Kameny’s conclusion that homosexuality is “moral in a real and positive sense, and are good, right, and desireable, socially and personally”. This view was at odd with the U.S. government, the medical community and the public at-large which perceived homosexuality as a dangerous deviance. When Kameny approached the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 1958 to ask for help he received the following response, “It was not within the province of the Union [ACLU] to evaluate the social validity of laws aimed at suppression or elimination of homosexuals.”, meaning if you were a homosexual the ACLU would not work with you or help you because you were considered a deviant.
Facing this reality, Kameny used his intellect and tenacity to fight back in the courts. For years his efforts would be in vain, but homosexuals facing similar treatment sought him out. He would go on to found the Mattachine Society of Washington D.C., organize and participate in the first public demonstrations for gay rights, be among the first to ask politicians to support gay rights, run for Washington D.C.’s first congressional seat, and form an ongoing legal defense for victims through the 1960s and 1970s.
Aside from being a fascinating read, the book helped provide me with some much needed perspective on how much society has changed and helped me understand where and how the modern LGBTQ movement started. It begins more than a decade before the Stonewall Riots, introducing the controversial (and unethical) work done by sociologist Laud Humprhies as well as what Kameny and several others did in the 1950s and 1960s to help pave the way for the LGBTQ community to organize, self-actualize and speak up. This book introduced me to compatriots and contemporaries of Kameny who I had not heard of before. I hope because of the attention given to these activists, more will be revealed about their lives and contributions in future publications. I would love to see this included in U.S. History curriculum and as part of school reading lists.
Though Kameny did not have a term for it yet, by exposing the arbitrary logic of hte purges with his own, contrary logic, he formulated gay pride as a political tool of resistance, a weapon to be wielded for now , only in the courts.”
If you’re interested in purchasing this book and open to supporting local bookstores, try one of the links I’ve shared. They will take you right to the book so you can order it online in just a couple of clicks. Alternatively, you can check your local library for a copy of this book. Here is a link to the BPL for The Deviant’s War.
King Boston, the privately funded non-profit working to create a living memorial and programs honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King shared this rendering of the large sculpture that will be added to the Boston Common next year near the start of Boston’s Freedom Trail.
The memorial is intended to inspire people to reflect on the values of racial and economic justice that the couple espoused in word and action. Through the memorial and related programming, King Boston envisions a more inclusive and equitable Boston. Martin Luther King Jr. met his wife Coretta Scott King in Boston in 1952 when he was studying at Boston University and she was attending New England Conservatory of Music.
Keeping with the theme of good Italian-American comfort food recipes that are great to make in the winter, this week I’m sharing a modified recipe I found on the web and made my own. I prefer to make this without meat because it is a little lighter, and I use a shortcut that would make adding meat more tedious.
There are three phases to this recipe. The first phase requires the food prep (chopping your veggies). The second phase requires making the filling and boiling the pasta (ever so briefly). And finally, the third phase involves assembly and baking. The ingredients you will need for this recipe include:
1 box of lasagna pasta 1 1/2 jar of good marinara sauce 8 oz of mushrooms (I use baby bella) 1 sweet onion 3-4 garlic cloves 2 bags of prewashed baby spinach 16 oz of Ricotta cheese 4 oz of shredded mozzarella cheese 4 oz of grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg Salt Pepper Italian parsley Italian seasoning Oregano
Phase 1: The Prep
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, lightly oil your baking pan and start to boil your water in a large pot for the lasagna. Roughly chop the mushrooms and parsley and mince the garlic and onion then set aside.
Phase 2: Making The Filling
Add olive oil to a pan on medium high heat and sauté the onions. As they start to soften turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic and mushrooms. After they cook, remove and place in the refrigerator to cool. In the same pan, add a drop or two of olive oil, your spinach and a pinch or two of salt. Stir to prevent from sticking to the pan – this should wilt in 1-2 minutes – and take out to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, add the Ricotta cheese, half your grated Parmesean cheese, egg, sautéed veggies and spinach. The vegetables don’t need to be cold but you don’t want them to melt the cheese. Blend or mix these ingredients so they evenly combine. Then add a cup of roughly chopped parsley and a healthy amount of black pepper and dried seasonings (don’t be shy with this) and stir until combined then set aside for assembly.
Once the water is boiling and you’ve finished your mixture (see above) add your lasagna. My mother doesn’t bother with this step, but I boil the lasagna for about 5 minutes so it is easier to manage. If you don’t briefly cook the pasta it is more difficult to manipulate and trim to fit into your baking dish.
Phase 3: The Assembly & Bake
Drizzle a little oliver oil on the bottom of your baking pan and use a paper towel to spread evenly along the bottom and sides. Then place one layer of lasagna so it completely covers the bottom of the baking pan. This is where having a pliable pasta you can trim makes assembly so much easier.
Then take approximately 1/3 of the cheese fillling and spread it on top of the lasagna noodles. I use a good jarred marinara sauce and pour it over the cheese mixture, using my spatula to spread so it completely covers the cheese filling. Then add a thin layer of shredded mozzarella. Repeat this process two more times so you have three layers of pasta, cheese sauce, red sauce and mozzarella. Finally, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top of the lasagna.
Cover the baking pan with foil to your preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. If you want extra red sauce with your lasagna, now is the time to make a quick sauce to serve on the side. I use the same jarred sauce and heat it up with some diced onions and parsley.
Brian Morr is a menswear and lifestyle blogger who calls Manhattan home. You can check out his blog, Sink the Sun. I liked this photo which he posted this past fall and thought it made for a great Scruffy Sunday post.
ADAM & ANDY is set in the fictional New England town of Woodfield, CT. You can learn more about Adam and Andy and purchase a copy of “the definitive collection of Adam and Andy” by visiting, adamandandy.com.
Nu Burger has opened within the Anoush’Ella restaurant space on West Newton Street in the South End as a “virtual pop-up”. Nina and Raffi Festekjian, who own Anoush’Ella and Nu Burger, are serving burgers for lunch and dinner seven days a week, while also continuing to serve Anoush’Ella’s menu.
Sergio and I wanted to show our support by trying out the new burger pop-up so we ordered from them this past Tuesday night. The Nu Burger menu has six different burgers (one a vegetarian option) each $12.50.
Shown above are the Fenway NuBurger served with pickles, cheddar, tomato, onion, lettuce and sauce with a side of French fries and the Umami Truffle NuBurger served with pickles, pecorino, truffles, fried egg, tomato, shallot, arugula and aoli with a side of French fries. Customers can order via this link for curbside pick up, or via popular food sharing apps for home delivery.
The burgers are large and very filling. The baked French fries are good but I still prefer more traditional “fried” fries. I’m observing dry January so I had a glass of water with my dinner, but I can’t help but feel like these would go great with a cold beer, which Anoush’Ella serves. I didn’t see this option for take out orders but assume you can add beer to your order. Overall, we really enjoyed the bugers and will order from them again. I can’t think of a legitimate burger joint in the South End which makes this a very welcome addition to the neighborhood so let me know what you think when you order from NuBurger.
Nu Burger’s permanent home is located in Fenway at the TimeOut food market, but that is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. For the time being, there is a new burger option in the South End.
Each Friday morning I post a riddle to get you to think outside the box and exercise your brain. If you are stumped, share it with a friend or colleague and see if you can figure out the answer together.
I’ll confirm answers in the afternoon so don’t worry if you don’t see your comment posted right away. I want to give everyone a chance to guess.
This week’s brain teaser is tough and was initially shared late last year on NPR’s program, Sunday Puzzle, by Wesley Davis of Black Mountain, N.C. .
This week’s brain teaser: Name an animal and spell it backward. Now name a variety of meat and insert it inside the animal’s name that you’ve spelled backward. A common word will be revealed. What is it?