Hiding in Plain Sight by

tina turner robinson

During a trip home to my native Memphis a few years ago, I was introduced to the photography of Jack Robinson. A gay Southerner whose meteoric rise in the 1960s and 70s was followed by a quarter-century of near-total obscurity, Robinson’s story immediately intrigued me, as did his unlikely rediscovery. During the last 25 years of his life, Robinson worked as an artist in a stained-glass studio, living alone in a Midtown Memphis high-rise and battling depression. He never shared with his employer or neighbors his glamorous past as a photographer of some of the most celebrated personalities of the twentieth-century. It wasn’t until many days after his death in 1997 that his employer ventured into his apartment and discovered an actual treasure chest of Robinson’s images—thousands of them. His work is now archived in a downtown gallery that bears his name.

A native of Clarksdale, Mississippi, Robinson honed his camera skills in the early 1950s, documenting bohemian gay life in New Orleans’ French Quarter. A regular of Dixie’s Bar on Bourbon Street, a watering hole known for its literary clientele (Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal among them), Robinson documented the city’s gay cultural scene, and its involvement in Mardi Gras. His depictions of gay men in costume and in various states of drunken frivolity captured at the same time the joy and freedom that the French Quarter afforded as a reprieve from the repressive South.


Happy Birthday Father by

Happy Birthday Father

For my father’s 58th birthday, we went upstate. The weekend prior, we went to Governor’s Island for Father’s Day. This video combines our two weekends, focusing on my dad’s interaction with himself and reaction to others. Even though I have watched my dad my whole life, filming him gives me a different perspective. His minute, fleeting actions become permanent when recorded on video, making it possible for me to examine him more thoroughly. Knowing my father just as long as I have known myself, it is hard to comprehend that he is getting older, just like it is hard for me to understand my own aging. Viewing him through a lens allows me to see age by taking him out of context and giving me a more objective perspective, as a stranger would observe him. Filming humans is a different approach to experiencing them than the traditional lens-less, real-time perspective. It also passes the time.


My Father, My Boyfriend, and Their Admirer by

KTLO 010256;14

An introduction to the males I’ve been spending the most time with this summer: my father in the suburbs and my boyfriend in the city. This video is a condensed portrait of the two characters and places. You will be seeing more of my father and boyfriend as I document them through the summer, hoping to present their simple tasks in a way that reveals more about them.

A Pride PSA from Robot House by

It’s New York Gay Pride this weekend,  and  there are plenty of  film screenings (the hilarious Gayby at BAM CinemaFest and Rooftop Films), articles (an excellent piece by David M. Halperin) and parties (too many for parentheticals) to help celebrate.

For a narci, any communal event forces introspection (or more accurately, navel-gazing), and right now, I can’t stop thinking, and cackling, about Robot House, a place that for me as a college underclassman, felt like an  model for living, and the coolest continual Pride Celebration I had ever been too. It was an Evanston, Illinois flop house that felt worlds away from the Northwestern University campus. The upperclassman that lived there – Rachel, Jackie, Stacy, Anna – were film production majors unlike anyone else – mainly because they were always, always creating things and never asking for permission.

They had copies of BITCH Magazine on the table, and  made shorts like Ultimate Dino Remix 2005. It’s a lesbian love story about a nerdy girl in love with a cheerleader who tries  to woo her by wooing her with dinosaurs and a song called Put Your Ballot Inside My Box.

My favorite memory of their house is making this video , Maggie and Judi Make Flapjacks. I played Judi Dench and my friend, Paul, played Maggie Smith, and we made pancakes. It definitely bears the influence of  Jack Smith, without really understanding Jack Smith. At Robot House, I was free to camp, vamp, and eat purple pancakes. It felt like pride.

Love in a Sweatshirt by


This past October my friend, Laura and I were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge along with seven hundred other Occupy protestors. Laura, who I’ve known since middle school, happens to be a Muslim American. She wears beautiful headscarves that show her beliefs and upbringing.

I stood in my jail cell with six older women, all of whom happened to be teachers. Laura walked along the row of cells with her Arresting Officer. My fellow jail mates cheered as she passed, just as they did for every other protestor. I was about to join in, but then my stomach dropped. My hand reached for my mouth and sharp tears burned my eyes. I’m used to seeing Laura in private without her headscarf, so it took me a moment to realize. They had stripped her of her headscarf, and with it, my apathy and sense of defeat. Outrage and humiliation rushed through me as she dragged her feet with her arms outstretched, her face in shock and her mouth and eyes wide. Her thick, glossy, dark Mediterranean hair was matted to her head from the long, laborious day on the bridge. It took my cellmates a few moments to recognize her without the clean, white satin framing her tan face and resting on her shoulders and upper back. More…

Wizards, Spaceships, and the Queers Who Love Them by


I had never heard the term “queer” – in a positive context, at least – until I was a freshman in college. I never saw Paris is Burning until the year after that. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit collected dust in the back of my bookshelf, lest my Catholic mother catch a glimpse of it and keel over in shock. My exposure to queer art and media as a teenager was limited, to say the least. Even with the endless resource that is the Mighty Internet, the sheer volume of information out there overwhelmed me.

However, being a giant nerd, I went to the next best thing: slash fiction.

A fantasy and science fiction fan since I was a kid, I’d been reading fan fiction since the fourth Harry Potter book. Slashfic, which features same-sex characters in romantic pairings, was only a click away.

On a cloudy evening in 2009, over twenty-five women, including myself, crowded into a cramped hotel room in Philadelphia. In their day-to-day lives, they were housewives, college students, archeologists, lawyers, nannies, and sign language interpreters, but that night, they were all the same thing: fan girls. Specifically, they were gathered for MiniMerlin 2009, the first unofficial fan convention for Merlin, a new Arthurian legend-inspired show on the BBC. Out of desperation to gain some semblance of order in the midst of this gaggle of chattering fans, someone popped in a DVD and shouted above the din, “The vid show is starting!”

My Hasidic Landlord by

I knew a guy in Brooklyn who had his rent paid for by his Hasidic landlord as long as he agreed to get paddled once or twice a month. His landlord was dyslexic and had 2 kids. One had cerebral palsy and his hands looked like chicken talons. His other kid wasn’t allowed to go outside. My friend said that right before he pulled him over his lap to give him his punishment, he would pray and beg for forgiveness so that he may be relieved of his surmounting urge to spank young men.

My landlord was Hasidic too. His name was sometimes Gino, but mainly Jay. When he shook my hand a small avalanche of white flakes would tumble down his shoulders from his ears and settle on his beard and the long sideburn tendrils. He came by to get the rent and always looked around the apartment as if he had crossed over to another world, maneuvering around with his hands stretched out like a blind prophet. He would pick up DVD’s from the record shelf and bring them close to his face. We always kept Natural Fucking Sluts on the top, because the color of the background perfectly matched the color of the walls. More…

Time Bending Love by

I work as a massage therapist, and have a Pro Ad on Adam4Adam, which only gets me clients if I happen to go a trolling online. One day a man asks if I have an opening, he lives nearby. He has longish blond hair, which I love, and blue eyes. We have a humorous chat and I send my address.

When Kevin arrives I feel a jolt of energy, he’s quite attractive and there is a sweet connection, but I feel nervous, which is unusual for me. I’ve been doing this for 20 yrs or so, have clients all the time, and feel confident with my work. He strips down, on the table and I begin working on his body. I have an instant bone! More…

The Year We Will Pull Ourselves Up By Our Hair by

This is how I sum up 2011. I am sitting in the People’s Library at Zucotti Park.

My dog, Thurston, is in my arms and my friend Zach, a fellow filmmaker, is talking to me about his film tour. My throat is raw from the listening and repeating, listening and repeating.

I wanted to stay. I wanted to avoid that heavy heart that inevitably came every time I left. I wanted to protect this park. This white noise bath of mic checks.

This hazy fever dream for those who had been sitting on their hands, afraid to say anything, unsure if they were the only ones seeing what they were seeing, feeling what they were feeling.

I was one of those people, stunned by hundreds mic checking the name of a lost child until it found its mother. My friend Sara mimed across the crowd a tear rolling down her cheek as real ones poured down my face.

It was like falling in love. Falling in love with the world again. But with that love also realizing how close we were to losing it forever. More…

Jonah’s Story (and mine) by

This past weekend, three months after bullied teen Jonah Mowry first posted a powerful confessional video detailing his life as a bullied gay teen, the video went viral and was viewed nearly half a million times. I watched it on Sunday after seeing 23 friends had posted it on their Facebook page. If you haven’t seen the video yet it’s worth watching, as it’s a definitely moving, though sadly unsurprising tale of the cruelty of other children and the failure of parents and adults to stop it. More…