Tag Archives: The 1970′s

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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!”

Art & Autobiography

Jesus Days 1978 – 1983 by


During my twenties, I was fervent Believer in Christ and an in-the-closet gay young man.  I worked for a national evangelical organization called InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I traveled to college and university campuses where I met Christian students, lead prayer meetings and taught Born Again students how to witness for Jesus to their non-believing peers. I was involved in evangelistic outreach on the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida during spring break, summer camps and weekend conferences, witnessing on campuses, and missionary trips to Central America. By 1983, after many years struggling with my sexual identity, I left the ministry, came out as a gay man, moved to New York City and entered the graduate film program at Columbia University. I was thirty years old.

Jesus Days, 1978-1983 are photographs (originally Kodachrome/Ektachrome slides) that I took of my own circle of friends. At that time, I was an untutored photographer with no ambition to make pictures other than my own pleasure and as a record of my friends and the world in which I lived. More…

Gay New York

The Precious Moments Are Really Precious: How Victor Hugo Changed My Life by

Ben & Victor by Maripol

Fun-loving veteran fashion show and events producer Benjamin Liu came to New York City in 1979 at the invitation of Victor Hugo, a Venezuelan artist with a larger-than-life personality  well known throughout the ’70s and ’80s in gay, arts and fashion circles as fashion designer Halston’s lover, muse and window display designer. Hugo was Liu’s tour guide on a rollercoaster ride through the heart of New York City’s most legendary creative period. The trip changed the course of Liu’s life and eventually led to him working for artist Andy Warhol from 1983 to 1986. Warhol passed away a year later and Hugo died in 1993, but Liu still remembers his mentors fondly and remains eternally grateful for the experiences that have shaped him. I met up with him to reminisce about his formative years. 

Michael: How did you come to New York?
Benjamin: I came to New York through one friend, Victor Hugo, and I always continually thank him. He signified a whole era. He was a Venezuelan hustler and makeup artist who became a muse to Halston, Andy Warhol and Elsa Peretti. He was Halston’s lover–boyfriend and also a great display person, an artist in his own right and a coke addict. He was famously photographed at Studio 54 in a jock strap, in a celluloid stripped top carrying a women’s purse. At the same time, so manly. He was really like a porn star.

He was sexy to you?
He was sexy to everyone. This was a person who lived at St. Mark’s Baths. More…

Art & Autobiography

The Diaries of Kevin Bentley by

Kevin Bentley circa 1978

In mid-July, 1977, after a violent confrontation with his father, young Kevin Bentley lit out for San Francisco, that famous territory that beckoned thousands of gay men seeking a place where they could be accepted and meet each other. Unlike many of his fellow travelers, he kept a detailed diary of his day-to-day experiences, which usually consisted of plenty of good, hot, dirty sex. In 2002, Green Candy Press released Wild Animals I Have Known, which contains Bentley’s journals from 1977 to 1996. The book is a sharp, incisive, fascinating, and very sexy chronicle of real life in San Francisco. Though his sexual experiences are at the forefront of the narrative, the book takes a dramatic turn in the early 1980′s when Bentley contracts HIV, along with many of his friends. Since he was an asymptomatic case, Bentley survived the decade, but eventually witnessed the deaths of many friends and two of his longtime partners. Today, Bentley lives in San Francisco with Paul, his partner of 15 years. He still enjoys his sex life, and is still writing about it. I called Bentley at home to talk about the construction of his diaries, his influences, and the unique pleasure of reading real stories of our gay lives.

Adam Baran: You started writing the diaries that became Wild Animals I Have Known in 1977, right?
Kevin Bentley: The book starts in ’77. I was keeping diaries full-time beginning in college. They’re good for going back and reminding myself of what I’d forgotten. There was a lot of sex in those. But I wasn’t a good enough writer then. More…