elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Queers in History: Howard Rollins, Jr. (October 17, 1950 – December 8, 1996)

Howard Rollins, Jr. shot to fame when he starred in the play and then the film of A Soldier’s Story. He was brilliant as the eighty-year-old super in Herb Gardner’s I’m Not Rappaport during its West End production opposite Paul Scofield. He became well known to TV audiences for his role opposite Carroll O’Connor in In the Heat of the Night and the hugely successful Ragtime.

Personal demons, including drug abuse, haunted Rollins, who went into rehab following a DUI arrest. Toward the end of his life he was appearing on talk shows, greatly changed in appearance and wearing feminine attire. It was rumored that he worked the streets as a transvestite, and photographic evidence appeared in National Enquirer.

Rollins died from complications from lymphoma, six weeks after being diagnosed with AIDS. His family and his agent at first refused to release information about the cause of his death.

On October 25, 2006, a wax statue of Rollins was unveiled at the Senator Theatre in Baltimore. The statue is now at Baltimore's Great Blacks in Wax Museum.

Stern, Keith (2009-09-01). Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals (Kindle Locations 10352-10359). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.

Further Readings:

Beyond Shame: Reclaiming the Abandoned History of Radical Gay Sexuality by Patrick Moore
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Beacon Press (January 14, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 080707957X
ISBN-13: 978-0807079577
Amazon: Beyond Shame: Reclaiming the Abandoned History of Radical Gay Sexuality

The radical sexuality of gay American men in the 1970s is often seen as a shameful period of excess that led to the AIDS crisis. Beyond Shame claims that when the gay community divorced itself from this allegedly tainted legacy, the tragic result was an intergenerational disconnect because the original participants were unable to pass on a sense of pride and identity to younger generations. Indeed, one reason for the current rise in HIV, Moore argues, is precisely due to this destructive occurrence, which increased the willingness of younger gay men to engage in unsafe sex.

Lifting the'veil of AIDS,' Moore recasts the gay male sexual culture of the 1970s as both groundbreaking and creative-provocatively comparing extreme sex to art. He presents a powerful yet nuanced snapshot of a maligned, forgotten era. Moore rescues gay America's past, present, and future from a disturbing spiral of destruction and AIDS-related shame, illustrating why it's critical for the gay community to reclaim the decade.

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Tags: gay classics, queers in history

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