Broadway Revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart Wins Three 2011 Tony Awards

The AIDS Memorial Candlelight Vigil, Washington DC, 1989

Broadway Revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart Wins Three 2011 Tony Awards

Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, which originally was performed at New York City’s Public Theater in 1985, won the 2011 Tony Award for revival of a play. The play is considered to be a literary landmark, contending with the AIDS crisis when few would speak of the disease afflicting gay men, including gays themselves. It remains the longest-running play ever staged at the Public Theater.

In addition, The Tony award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role went to Ellen Barkin, and the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play went to John Benjamin Hickey, both for their performances in The Normal Heart. Producer Daryl Roth accepted the award, but it was the playwright Larry Kramer, an outspoken gay activist for many years, who received the biggest welcome from the audience. The writer exhorted the gay community to “carry on the fight,” adding that “our day will come.”

The stunning, pulse-pounding ensemble drama tells the groundbreaking story of love, rage and pride as it follows a group of New Yorkers confronting the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s. The story of a city in denial, The Normal Heart unfolds like a real-life political thriller, as a tight-knit group of friends refuses to let doctors, politicians and the press bury the truth of an unspoken epidemic behind a wall of silence. A quarter-century after it was written, this unflinching, and totally unforgettable look at the sexual politics of New York City during the AIDS crisis remains one of the theater’s most powerful evenings ever.

Tony Awards Acceptance Speech: The Normal Heart

Broadway’s Revival of The Normal Heart and The AIDS Crisis

Highlights From Broadway’s The Normal Heart

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Dare: The Seductive Delight of Hidden Secrets

Dare: The Seductive Delight of  Hidden Secrets

Dare is an acclaimed short film directed by Adam Salky, an award-winning short about a closeted gay teenager and social outcast who is infatuated with his straight classmate. This is one of those short films that is about as realistic as they come. Dare really isn’t even about being gay or not being gay, it is about mutual attraction; it is about secrets; it is about two people on opposite ends of the social spectrum connecting, even if only for a while.

Following the success of the acclaimed short film, Dare has now been released as a full-length feature film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The film is available for download at iTunes here.

Dare: The Seductive Delight of  Hidden Secrets

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Lady Gaga at The National Equality March: “This is the Biggest Moment of My Career!”

Lady Gaga at The National Equality March: “This is the Biggest Moment of My Career!”

If you thought it was going to be a long time before you ever witnessed Lady Gaga make a grandly gay appearance on the C-Span television network, well you’ll just have to think again!  Our Lady Gaga of the Immaculate Penis spoke before thousands in attendance at The National Equality March on Washington today.  And there were two very memorable parts: first, when they placed a riser behind the podium for her to stand on and speak, and second, when she wooed the audience with a Judy Garland joke.  Reminders: Obama makes Lady Gaga joke, Gaga makes Judy Garland joke.  Oh yes…America, the Beautiful!!

Lady Gaga at The National Equality March: “This is the Biggest Moment of My Career!”

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Gay Pride: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Gay Pride: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

It’s the Dream Afraid of Waking,
That Never Takes a Chance
.”

On What We Need: First Day of My Life

For all of us, there are genuine needs and wishes, deep longings for human warmth, empathic responsiveness, trust, mutual recognition and creative playfulness. These are many of the ingredients that we think of when we speak of love, or the loving feelings we have for the cherished other person.

Of such feelings about a beloved, one might quietly reflect that, “I’m so glad I didn’t die before I met you.”

Bright Eyes: First Day of My Life

The Times of Harvey Milk: A Documentary Portrait

Before there was this year’s Academy Awards celebrated Milk, there was the widely acclaimed The Times of Harvey Milk, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature Film in 1984, and was awarded The Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, among other awards. The documentary chronicles the political career of Harvey Milk, who was San Francisco’s first openly gay elected Board Supervisor. The film, at times humorous, at times nostalgic, and at other times quite tragic, tells the story of Harvey Milk’s rise to political power and emergence as a symbol of gay political achievement.

The Times of Harvey Milk documents through assembled historic film clips the tumultuous story of Milk’s grass-roots political organizing and election, through the shocking murders and their repercussions. It takes the film’s viewers along with the eloquent candle-light memorial joined by tens of thousands of San Franciscans on the evening of the assassinations, to the scenes of angry crowds who stormed San Francisco’s City Hall in the aftermath of the lenient sentence that Dan White received at his murder trial.

This Academy Award-winning documentary feature film depicts not only Harvey Milk himself, but also the political and social milieu of the era in which he lived. From this perspective, the film continues to have significant relevance for our nation today, standing as a classic portrait of communities and cultural values in severe conflict. The film was produced subsequent to Harvey Milk’s death using archival footage, so that Milk is credited posthumously as the lead actor. Other politicians, including San Francisco’s then-mayor George Moscone (who was assassinated along with Milk) and Moscone’s successor and now United States Senator Dianne Feinstein, also appear in the archival footage. Also featured in the film is then-schoolteacher Tom Ammiano, who has been a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors since 1994, and was elected to the California State Assembly. The film’s outstanding narration is provided by the acclaimed stage and screen actor Harvey Fierstein, who at that time had just achieved great success with his own Tony Award-winning Broadway play Torch Song Trilogy.

The Times of Harvey Milk: The Full Version of the Documentary

Slideshow:The Life and Times of Harvey Milk

(Please Click on Image Above to View Slideshow)

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Andy Warhol’s Cinema: A Mirror to the Sixties

Andy Warhol’s Cinema: A Mirror to the Sixties

“Warhol’s Cinema” from The Factory: 1963-1968

Warhol’s Cinema is a 1989 BBC-TV Channel 4 documentary about a number of films made Andy Warhol in the 1960s. During the five year span of his obsession with films, Warhol made more than 50 films between 1963-1968. Most of his movies were 16-millimeter films and included Chelsea Girls, Empire, Sleep, Kiss, My Hustler and Lonesome Cowboys. He made many of the films in his mid-town studio, known as The Factory, where the young people in his offbeat cortège, alternately beautiful and bizarre, spent much or most of their time. That group of followers included, among many others, Baby Jane Holzer, Gerard Malanga, Paul America, Holly Woodlawn, Joe Dellasandro, Chuck Weir and Edie Sedgwick.

Warhol’s Shiny Silver Tin-Foil Factory

Andy Warhol’s original Factory was often thought of as the Silver Factory by the people who came to derive a sense of attachment from being involved in or even just hanging around the sense of creative excitement that was evolving there. This was amplified by the national social (and political) landscape at that time, where fragmentation was gaining increasing momentum. The sense of excitement around the Factory derived, to a large degree, from an energized feeling that it was possible to openly embrace a range of experiences that had previously been socially forbidden.

In this way, the shiny, shimmering silver represented the decadence of the scene, as well as the “proto-glam” of the early sixties. Silver, fractured mirrors and tin foil were the basic decorating materials loved by the early amphetamine users of the sixties. By combining the industrial structure of his unfurnished Factory art studio with the glitter of silver and what it represented, Warhol was commenting on American values, as he did so often in his art. The years spent at the Factory were known as the Silver Era, not solely because of its design, but also because of the decadent and carefree lifestyle full of money, parties, drugs and fame.

The Factory became a meeting place for a large number of artists and musicians such as Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Brian Jones, Truman Capote, Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti Smith, William Burroughs, Baby Jane Holzer, Anita Pallenberg, Philip Johnson and Mick Jagger. Other, less frequent visitors included Salvador Dalí, Tennessee Williams and Allen Ginsberg. At the same time, Warhol collaborated with Lou Reed’s influential New York rock band, The Velvet Underground, and in 1965 he designed the famous cover for The Velvet Underground & Nico, the band’s debut album. Paradoxically, however, no matter how rose-colored the glasses, the silvery glitter was after all only tawdry tin foil. In this sense, Warhol had built a sham to reflect the broader social sham that he claimed to be rejecting. Unfortunately, many members of his Factory entourage took the sham for real and paid dearly for it in or with their lives.

Andy Warhol’s Cinema: A Mirror to the Sixties

“Andy Warhol’s Cinema” from The Factory: 1963-1968

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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But From Nothing Came Something: Jonathan, Just Because

But From Nothing Came Something: Jonathan, Just Because

When Kirsten Major and three friends decided to make a short film she had written, she asked if they could find some time to shoot in the next few days, even though that would mean taking time off from work. The four of them just looked at each other in the coffee shop and realized that, as a matter of fact, they were all free the very next day, and the next and every day after that for the foreseeable future. The only problem they expected to have was being able to work around the schedule of Joshua Helmin, a 26-year-old assistant managing editor at a magazine, whom Ms. Major hoped would star opposite Mr. Lehman in the 15-minute romantic film, Jonathan, Just Because. The plot for the film, Ms. Major said, is simple: two men who take a chance on each other. The inspiration is pretty straightforward. “Both characters are heartbroken,” she said. “They have no money, they don’t have a lot to give. Everyone’s a little desperate.”

But then Mr. Helmin also lost his job to cutbacks. The four friends took comfort in numbers, all the while watching certain critical markers go down: how many weeks were left of severance pay; how much was in their savings accounts. But they took even greater comfort in getting one another out of their apartments, where each had been napping, despairing or hip-hop dancing in increasingly lengthy expanses of time. They named themselves the W.P.A. Players and worked on the film with a budget of exactly zero dollars and zero cents. But from nothing came something: They lit one scene with a floor lamp from Ikea, persuaded a cafe manager in the East Village to let them shoot there free and took advantage of the city’s familiar glory for sets. Shooting the skyline from the Brooklyn promenade, Mr. Helmin said, “made me realize how lucky we are to be in New York City. I mean, ‘Gossip Girl’ used that shot several weeks in a row, and now it is ours.”

Susan Dominus wrote in The New York Times that:

To be an out-of-work artist in New York is to be part of a grand tradition, and that history no doubt helps fuel aspirants like Ms. Major and her friends, who might otherwise succumb to fear of failure. Some of the artwork that will come out of all this free time for creative types is probably painfully bad, and some may be masterpieces that the world would otherwise never have seen, but all of it will do something for the people who make it. “Even if it doesn’t go anywhere, the major prize of this film is that we did it and now we know we can,” said Mr. Koll. “Unemployment gave that to me.”

You can read more about the creation of this short film here.

But From Nothing Came Something: Jonathan, Just Because

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The Times of Harvey Milk: A Documentary Portrait of Communities in Conflict

The Times of Harvey Milk: A Documentary Portrait of Communities in Conflict

Prologue: A Historic Struggle of Communities in Conflict

The acclaimed bio-documentary Milk, for which Sean Penn and Dustin Lance Black won, respectively, 2009 Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Screenplay, was Director Gus Van Sant’s adaptation of the emotionally-powerful powerful The Times of Harvey Milk, the 1984 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Feature Film. I remember seeing The Times of Harvey Milk at a small East Village theater one wintry night in 1985, during a year that I was spending in New York City doing a pre-doctoral internship in clinical psychology. I also recall feeling emotionally stunned after leaving that theater, walking through the East and West Village just to remind myself how much more freedom gay and lesbian people seemed to enjoy since the previous years that I had lived in the village, during the mid-1960′s.

For generations of gay people, myself included, Harvey Milk has been a hero, martyr, inspiration and role model. As our country’s first openly gay elected official, Milk made a national impact after being elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, from his battles against a statewide proposition that would have made it illegal for gay people to be schoolteachers in California, to his call for gays and lesbians to come out of the closet. He once famously stated that, “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.” Harvey waged an amazing, successful battle against Anita Bryant’s national anti-gay crusade in California, not knowing that it would be one of his last great acts before his tragic assassination. And if his assassination didn’t quite accomplish the lofty goal of opening every closet door, it certainly made a difference in the lives of millions of people.

Hollywood’s new re-telling of Harvey Milk’s story has made it possible for the impact of Milk’s life and his untiring community organizing efforts to have an effect not only upon straight audiences, but also on the new generations of young gay persons who might never have heard of him. And in particular, it brings into sharp relief Harvey Milk’s war against California’s Proposition 6, especially crucial for our present-day confrontations with California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage. California’s Proposition 6, more commonly known as The Briggs Initiative, was an initiative on the California State ballot on November 7th, 1978. The initiative would have banned gays and lesbians, and even possibly any person who supported gay rights, from working in California’s public schools. Hurting from recent civil rights losses in other parts of the nation, the gay and lesbian community quickly organized a statewide campaign against Proposition 6.

While Van Sant’s Milk reconstructs Harvey Milk’s successful organizing battle against Prop 6, it is no match for watching the actual Harvey Milk and his colleagues in their grassroots political action in The Times of Harvey Milk. A huge coalition of predominantly progressive community-based activists was formed into a campaign led by Gwen Craig and Bill Krause, who were appointed to their positions by San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, teacher (and later Supervisor of the SF Board of Supervisors) Tom Ammiano, activist Hank Wilson and many others. Rallying under the slogan “Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!”, the campaign mobilized and quickly gained immense statewide momentum to defeat the initiative. Former Governor Ronald Reagan, later President, eventually moved to publicly oppose the measure. Gerald Ford, and (at the end of the campaign) then-President Jimmy Carter also came out with public opposition to the bill.

In what became the “No on 6″ campaign, gay men, lesbians and their supporters went door-to-door in cities and towns across the state to talk about the harm the initiative would cause. Gay men and lesbians came out to their families, their neighbors and their co-workers, spoke in their churches and community centers, sent letters to their local editors, and otherwise revealed to the general population that gay people really were “everywhere” and included people they already knew and cared about. At the beginning of September, the ballot measure was ahead in public-opinion polls, with about 61% of voters supporting it, while only 31% opposed it. But just a month later, the Briggs Initiative ended up being defeated by more than one million votes, with 58.4% voting against Proposition 6, compared to just 41.6% in favor. It represented the largest shift of public opinion that had ever been recorded within such a short time frame.

Please do yourself the huge favor of taking the time to watch this full version of the extremely valuable documentary The Times of Harvey Milk. You’ll find that this classic portrait of communities in conflict is a stunning reminder of what many of us are still facing today. Our most urgent present-day struggles are reflected in this film’s original, dramatic account of Harvey Milk’s grass-roots political organizing and election, through the shocking murders and their repercussion, from the eloquent candle-light memorial joined by tens of thousands of San Franciscans on the evening of the assassinations, to the rage of angry crowds in the aftermath of the lenient sentence Dan White received at his murder trial.

The Times of Harvey Milk: A Documentary Portrait

Before there was this year’s Academy Awards celebrated Milk, there was the widely acclaimed The Times of Harvey Milk, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature Film in 1984, and was awarded The Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, among other awards. The documentary chronicles the political career of Harvey Milk, who was San Francisco’s first openly gay elected Board Supervisor. The film, at times humorous, at times nostalgic, and at other times quite tragic, tells the story of Harvey Milk’s rise to political power and emergence as a symbol of gay political achievement.

The Times of Harvey Milk documents through assembled historic film clips the tumultuous story of Milk’s grass-roots political organizing and election, through the shocking murders and their repercussions. It takes the film’s viewers along with the eloquent candle-light memorial joined by tens of thousands of San Franciscans on the evening of the assassinations, to the scenes of angry crowds who stormed San Francisco’s City Hall in the aftermath of the lenient sentence that Dan White received at his murder trial.

This Academy Award-winning documentary feature film depicts not only Harvey Milk himself, but also the political and social milieu of the era in which he lived. From this perspective, the film continues to have significant relevance for our nation today, standing as a classic portrait of communities and cultural values in severe conflict. The film was produced subsequent to Harvey Milk’s death using archival footage, so that Milk is credited posthumously as the lead actor. Other politicians, including San Francisco’s then-mayor George Moscone (who was assassinated along with Milk) and Moscone’s successor and now United States Senator Dianne Feinstein, also appear in the archival footage. Also featured in the film is then-schoolteacher Tom Ammiano, who has been a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors since 1994, and was recently elected to the California State Assembly. The film’s outstanding narration is provided by the acclaimed stage and screen actor Harvey Fierstein, who at that time had just achieved great success with his own Tony Award-winning Broadway play Torch Song Trilogy.

What follows here is the Official 1984 Trailer for The Times of Harvey Milk, videos of the network murder reports and the candlelight memorial march. In addition, it presents the full-length version of this celebrated documentary feature film, as well as a rare photo-gallery of vintage photographs of Harvey Milk and San Francisco during the social era of the mid-1960′s and 70s.

News Report: The Murders of Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk

The Times of Harvey Milk: The Candlelight Funeral Rites

The Times of Harvey Milk: The Full Version of the Documentary

Slide Show: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk

(Please Click on Image to View Slide Show)

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