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Posts by Jason Baumann

Jack Baker and James McConnell

Given yesterday's historic Supreme Court decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, it's good to take a moment to look back at the struggles for marriage equality.

In many current debates about the direction of LGBT political struggles, marriage equality has been portrayed as a conservative move after the radicalism of 1970s Gay Liberation and later Queer politics. However, a closer look reveals that LGBT activists have been deeply concerned over the right to marry since the start of modern gay 

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VITO: The Life of Gay Activist Vito Russo

Tonight at 9pm, HBO will premiere Jeffrey Schwarz's new documentary VITO: The Life of Gay Activist Vito Russo. Extensive research for the film was undertaken at the New York Public Library using Vito Russo's papers, as well as many other collections, such as the Gay Activists Alliance Records and ACT UP New York Records.

I was privileged to preview 

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Scenes from a Jamaican Childhood

Tomorrow, November 1st at 6pm, join Thomas Glave (English, General Literature, and Rhetoric, SUNY Binghamton) at the CUNY Graduate Center for this year's Audre Lorde/Essex Hemphill Memorial Lecture. Thomas Glave is the author of Whose Song? and Other Stories, The Torturer's Wife, and the essay collection Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent (winner of a 2005 Lambda Literary Award). He is editor of the anthology Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles (winner of a 2008 Lambda Literary Award). The Audre Lorde/Essex Hemphill Memorial Lecture is 

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Remembering Frank Kameny

 "We all know that Gay is Good. It's up to us to get out there and make it better---much better!"... Read More ›

It Gets Better

  In case you need some inspiration this National Coming Out Day, check out It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating A Life Worth Living edited by Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller. The book shares stories of coming out and thriving from LGBT notables from Gene Robinson to Suze Orman,  as well as everyday people. My favorite is Urvashi Vaid's essay "The only reason big changes happen is when people like you and me decide to fight for things to change, when we take action to make ... Read More ›

Navy Discharge Letter, 1914

 Given today's historic repeal of DADT, it important to remember just how long exclusion from military service has been affecting LGBT people in the U.S. It is often thought that exclusion of gays and lesbians from military service focussed in WWII. However, there is evidence that there were soldiers discharged for homosexuality as early as the American revolutionary war. Last year, the Library received a unique letter documenting a member of the U.S. navy who was discharged for homosexuality in 1914. The donor, David Jarrett kindly transcribed the letter with the donation. The letter is Read More ›

Celluloid activist : the life and times of Vito Russo

  If you haven’t already, make sure to check out Michael Schiavi’s new biography of Vito Russo: Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo.  As Schiavi eloquently glosses—“Twenty years after Vito’s death, we remember him as the author of The Celluloid Closet, as one of Gay Liberation’s angriest agitators, and as one of the earliest, most eloquent voices raised on behalf of people with AIDS.”  The biography was researched using the Read More ›

AIDS in Oral History: Doctors and Activists Look Back on 30 Years of the Epidemic


To mark the 30th anniversary of the first documented case of HIV/AIDS, the Mid-Manhattan Library, the Columbia Center for Oral History and the HIV Story Projectare co-sponsoring a special program. Tonight at 6:30pm at the Mid-Manhattan Library, three oral historians play 

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“Gay Power to Gay Lovers”

Remember, marriage equality passed in New York last night because of 40 years of political activism. Pictured above is GAA's Jim Owles with "Gay Power to Gay Lovers" wedding cake at the Gay Activist Alliance's zap of the New York City Clerk for marriage equality in 1971. CONGRATULATIONS!!!... Read More ›

Anti-Prom Designs

In case you missed the runway fashion show at this year's Anti-Prom, the fabulous designs of the students from the High School of Fashion Industries are on view in the Fifth Avenue window of the Mid-Manhattan Library. And to see the story behind the designs check out our online videos of Design NYPL 2011. The teen-selected theme for the 2011 Anti-Prom was "Super Prom." Teen designers explored the meaning of super, from caped crusaders to spandex-wearing super villains and everything in between during their visits to the Library for the Read More ›

Queering Fiction: LGBTQ in YA Literature



Boy meets Boy while wandering in the Vast Fields of Ordinary? Kicked Out Tales from the Closet? From Glee to DADT to It Gets Better, what’s happening in the world of LGBT youth? Here from authors and illustrators as they talk diversity, identity and visibility in the YA book world. For ages 12 and up.

Today at the Library's Mulberry Street Branch at 4:30pm. 

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Tonight: Drag Show Video Verite 2011

Anti-Prom 2011

Check out great coverage of this year's Anti-Prom on Fox 5 News and in the New York Times: Read More ›

Celebrating 100 Years: The Centennial Exhibition

One of the notable themes in the Library's current Centennial exhibition is Gay and Lesbian history.  Items on view include GMHC's safe sex packets, early issues of the lesbian journal The Ladder,  a pamphlet from the Mattachine Society, and a signed copy of Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol. Check out the exhibition curator, Thomas Mellins, discussing Ballad of Reading Gaol, as well as an important print documenting early feminist movements in England. ... Read More ›

Scott Matthew in Concert!

Please join us the evening of April 20,2011, when singer and lyricist Scott Matthew plays a special concert at the Tompkins Square Branch Library.

Describing the lush informal beauty of his music, Glitterhouse Records says: “Scott Matthew’s music has truth and exigency. And he forms this into songs that are purely magnetic, that expose an honest beauty and sorrow, allowing listeners to take and feel part of the experience.”  Matthew’s most recent album is THERE IS Read More ›

An Artist Dialogue - Lyle Ashton Harris and Chuck Close


Tonight: Wednesday, March 23, 2011, 6 p.m.

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Margaret Liebman Berger Forum

First come, first served

FREE - Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

 Widely known for his self-portraiture and explorations of identity in his photographs, videos, and performances, artist Lyle Ashton Harris has spent the last decade creating a monumental series of sepia-toned portraits with the large-format 

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Celebrating James Baldwin at the Schomburg Center Tonight!


 Head up to the Schomburg Center tonight for the opening sessions and amazing concert of multi-site conference sponsored by New York University, the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Brecht Forum, and the Studio Museum of Harlem.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2011, 5:30PMThe Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture,Langston Hughes Auditorium, NYPL515 Malcolm X Boulevard (@135th Street), NY, NYOpening Reception: 5:30pm-6:15pm...Opening Plenary Roundtable: Read More ›

Elizabeth Bishop Centenary

 Reading through all the events and comments today on the 100th anniversary of Elizabeth Bishop's birth, I'm struck by the quietness around Bishop's sexuality. This is doubtlessly due to Bishop's own discretion in her work.  Despite the passion and loss communicated through her art, outright eroticism was rare in her work. One gorgeous exception is "Vague Poem" in the posthumous collection of her unpublished poems Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box: ... Read More ›

Love Speaks its Name

  The trouble with Valentine's Day ( or one of the troubles...) is the paucity of compelling images of LGBT lives and loves in all the hustle of red roses, pink love notes, and chocolate bonbons. If you are looking for inspiring words and thoughts on love, check out the poetry collection Love Speaks Its Name: Gay and Lesbian Love Poems edited by J. D. McClatchy. It has a beautiful arc of language ranging from Sappho to John Weiners. My favorite is a quiet gem called "Fable" by Robin Becker: 

…The story got 

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Happy Birthday Gertrude Stein

 "To be regularly gay was to do every day the gay thing that they did every day. To be regularly gay was to end every day at the same time after they had been regularly gay. They were regularly gay. They were gay every day. They ended every day in the same way, at the same time, and they had been every day regularly gay." Gertrude Stein. "Miss Furr and Miss Skeene." The Penguin Book of Lesbian Short Stories edited by Margaret Reynolds. To celebrate Gertrude Stein's birthday today, born February 3rd 1874, check out these Read More ›
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