The Role of Gossip Columns in Queer Identity in the Golden Age

marlenedietrichAs I sat composing my thoughts for a talk on queer media, I came across this a post at Bohemian Yankee in DC about how gossip magazines provided a glamorous alternative to the doomed queer characters of the golden age of cinema for those in the know, if not in the life. The politics of outing aside, I wonder what the current alternative is to the new rise in “doomed GLBTQI figures” in modern cinema. Is it simply the thriving queer film industry that even has films coming out of extremely oppressive or completely in denial parts of the world? Is it the presence of out gay actors on television and film, who are still so terribly few and far between? Or is it the gossipy blogs that specialize in both Madonna’s latest attempt to steal a child from Africa as praiseworthy and the dancers who back her as queer fashion icons on their nights off?

I don’t know. But at least this fascinating article distracted me from everything else today and got me focused back on the meaning of Here and Logo to an increasing queer market . . .

Here’s a taste:

Those familiar with our history know that during the twentieth century the vast majority of gays and lesbians depicted in the mass media led desperate, unhappy lives. Whether you saw the documentary The Celluloid Closet or you read old books and newspapers, in the movies and in the novels, gays and lesbians were victims of murder or suicide, or depicted derisively. As scholars ranging from Richard Dyer to George Chauncey have noted all of these images in popular culture strengthened the dominant gender and sexual norms of US culture.

Not everywhere. Gossip columns, novels and movies set in the Hollywood movie colony during the 1920s and 1930s showed complex and generally positive depictions of gays and lesbians as well as adulterers. Similar to other Hollywood publicity and gossip items the stories and publicity items linked these gays and lesbians to specific locations in Hollywood . . .

read the rest at Bohemian Yankee


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