The What, Where, & When of Gay Buffalo
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Publisher: Tim Moran

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In Memory

Mike Maffei
3/20/53 - 12/28/06

Mike was a beloved figure
in Buffalo's local folk music/coffeehouse scene. Mike lived for almost 17 years with AIDS. His activism was widely admired and to know Mike was to feel inspired.


No list of 20th century agitprop theatre would be complete without Larry Kramer’s 1985 play, The Normal Heart. More of a polemic than a play, it was a scream of anger necessitated by terrible times.  The Normal Heart took almost 30 years to make it to the screen, and HBO has come through again with yet another classy adaptation of an important queer work. Kramer wrote the adaptation himself and, with director Ryan Murphy, opened up the play to great effect.


While watching 2013’s Stranger by the Lake, there were times when I was reminded of The Garden Of Earthly Delights, painted by Hieronymus Bosch. The entire film takes place at a lake in south France that is a popular gay cruising spot. The beach is dotted with nude men sunbathing and there’s action aplenty in the surrounding woods. Promiscuity is on parade yet much of this is oddly charming. The forest is a carnal Disneyland, yet innocent as a Garden of Eden. However, like the right hand panel of Bosch’s famous triptych, there is also a dark side to paradise.

bad boy street

The loves and lusts of the Beat writers are ripe subjects for a juicy motion picture. Kill My Darlings (2013) dramatizes a crucial episode during the birth of the Beat. The setting is Columbia University and the year is 1943. New freshman Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliff) is about to meet the young men with whom he will launch a new literary movement - while also coming to terms with being gay. Predictably, Ginsberg and his new buddies will get into a lot of trouble. Their passions run wild, they piss off their professors and one of them commits murder.
Brokeback Mountain is the Citizen Kane of queer cinema. Some films make an impact on their first release only to be forgotten later. This one has lost none of its raw power. Brokeback Mountain was the breakthrough film that we awaited for decades. It was an exquisitely crafted movie, a critical and commercial success, and a surprise crossover hit. Conservative pundits and the family councils all went into apoplexy, jokes were made by comedians, and the mythology of the American cowboy underwent a major revision. But, above all, Brokeback Mountain was a love story that resonated with audiences both gay and straight.

According to popular legend, playwright Tennessee Williams underwent psychoanalysis in 1957 to "cure" his homosexuality and the play Suddenly Last Summer was the result. This is inaccurate; the truth is much more complicated than that. Many view Suddenly Last Summer, especially the film version, as being one of the ultimate artistic expressions of a self loathing queer. The inclusion of a negatively portrayed homosexual is hardly proof of this; Williams' fiction is populated with far more grotesque examples of heterosexuals.

Edwardian England was not a good time to be gay. The climate was so bad that noted novelist E.M. Forster began writing a book with a homosexual hero in 1913 that he never published in his lifetime. That book, of course, is Maurice and, in 1987, Merchant Ivory Productions adapted the book to the screen. The film features superb performances and a meticulous attention to period detail. It is a rich filmgoing experience and one of the most beautiful films in all of queer cinema.