Tag Archives: Tell Your Story

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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…

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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…

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Occupy Rio

“Isn’t Brazil always occupied???” That was the one line first response to these photos that I got from my friend Chris. My response was a line from a poem by Ani DiFranco titled Self Evident where she’s talking about the USA: “Cause take away our Playstations and we are a third world nation.”

I’m in Rio because last week I was production managing for Trajal Harrell’s 20 Looks Or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church(s) at the Panorama Performance Festival. I was supposed to leave tomorrow but I cancelled my return flight to stay here and continue to help any way that I can at Cinelândia Square which is where the OCUPA RIO! Movement has set up shop. I especially feel obligated to stay because there is a complete and total local media black out here. (Thanks for publishing this!) And as soon as I can find the means, I’ll make my way over to São Paulo to see how things work there. More…

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Is This Really Happening? by

I’d just turned 15 over the summer and already the horrid institution they called high school was getting ready for their homecoming pretty soon. With no interest in any of those childish matters, I made plans for my own “event.” Around that time, the weather was cooling down and walking to school was quite an easy task either on foot or by the metro bus line. The daily routine bored me, especially with my class work done weeks ahead of time. I’d spend my time in classes either keeping to myself and reading or giving answers to kids around my desk.

So finally everything was set into motion and the weekend was coming up. My parents had informed me that they were leaving out of town for an Amway convention or some business matter they needed to attend to. They traveled often and most times would leave me at home alone. Though they bought my siblings their first cars when they were around the same age, mother’s baby boy just didn’t seem to need one so soon. Mostly because I was the youngest and I presume she was just being overprotective, which really made no sense because they worked so much, I hardly saw them anyway. More…

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My Best Friend’s Dad by

I knew I was gay from when I was a boy at the tender age of eight with my first crush on my teacher, Mr. Barton. Mr. Barton was lovely, just newly qualified so about 22, and athletic. On gym days, he’d dress in his tight white shorts and t-shirt, pull on his trainers and go out to rally our unenthusiastic class. His toned, muscular legs were covered in a dark matting of hair. My attention was always diverted watching those legs move, up and down, side to side, the hairs reshaped around the calf and thigh muscles. I wasn’t particularly sporty, but this was made worse being in Mr. Barton’s presence. I could never catch balls or run in a straight line, as I couldn’t focus on anything but his legs. In class, my attention was then firmly fixed on his face. He had a marvelous thick beard with a moustache that curled gently to the sides. I was intrigued in how it moved when he spoke and wished I could run my hands through the rough hair on his cheeks and play with the ends of his moustache as I did with the tassels on my grandmother’s sofa in her best room; but I never did. As an eight-year-old, you wouldn’t, but my fantasy of being with a bearded and hairy man started at that precise point. Being in a family of clean-shaven men who were pretty much hairless, my attention was always diverted when I came into contact with a hirsute member of the male variety. More…

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New York is My Man-Oyster by

Six months ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of a year and found myself single in Manhattan for the first time since moving here. Young, romantic and a glutton for excitement, I am constantly flirting with the idea that the next man who walks around the corner could be the next man walking into my life. I find nothing more exhilarating than locking eyes with a stranger on the subway…or sleeping with a man because he’s sexy, I want to and I have no reason not to. I had already discovered the breadth of opportunity here professionally, but I had not realized just how much this city was my man-oyster. Frankly, I’ve gone a little bit crazy. Quite frankly, I don’t (yet) regret one moment of it.