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elisa_rolle

Michael Bronski & Walta Borawski

Michael Bronski (born May 12, 1949) is senior lecturer in the Women's and Gender Studies Program and in the Jewish Studies Program at Dartmouth College. He has written extensively on LGBT issues for four decades, in both mainstream and queer publications.

A Boston native, Bronski made several contributions to the gay liberation movement of the 60s participating in activities and contributing writing to a variety of gay and lesbian publications.

In 1984 he published the pioneering and oft referenced book Culture Clash: The Making of Gay Sensibility which traced gay sensibility from Walt Whitman to the onset of AIDS. His writing reflected the changing face of the gay male subculture in writings he published in the anthology Flashpoint: Gay Male Sexual Writing in 1996.

Bronski's lover was Walta Borawski from the mid 70s until Borawski's death from complications of AIDS in 1995.

His book Pulp Friction: Uncovering the Golden Age of Gay Male Pulps won a Lambda Literary Award in 2003.

He has received a 2012 Stonewall Book Award from the American Library Association for his nonfiction work, A Queer History of the United States (2011). Bronski says he’s been thinking about the topic for 40 years, and it took him two summers of “intensive writing” to produce A Queer History of the United States. “It’s 500 years of American history, from 1492 to 1992, and it is in essence about how people who are now identified as LGBT have shaped America and how America has shaped them,” says Bronski, who is also the author of Culture Clash: The Making of Gay Sensibility (1984) and The Pleasure Principle: Sex, Backlash and the Struggle for Gay Freedom (1998), among others.


Michael Bronski and Walta Borawski, 1987, by Robert Giard
Michael Bronski's lover was Walta Borawski from mid 70s until Borawski's death from complications of AIDS in 1994. Walta Borawski was the author of several poetry books including "Sexually Dangerous Poet" and "Lingering in a Silk Shirt". "Walta loved Pride. Pride was music, balloons, drag queens, cute men, and spectacle. Today, gay people fight to get into the army. And drag queens are a mainstay in movies and television. It is still hard for me to think about going to Pride." --Michael Bronski.


He adds that an unexpected theme emerged as he was writing the book. “If there’s been one event or predication for changing gay and lesbians lives throughout this country’s history, it’s been war,” says Bronski, whose research uncovered documentation of more than 500 women who cross-dressed to fight in the Civil War.

“The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I to a lesser degree, and World War II completely revolutionized identity around gender and within the gay and lesbian community,” he explains.

“And I would argue that the Vietnam War was part of a group of events, including feminism, the Black Power movement, the Civil Rights movement, drugs, sex, and rock and roll, and the sheer revolt against the war, that revolutionized the lives of many people, but gays and lesbians in particular. People felt emboldened enough to move toward a deeply felt longing for personal freedom and this made them political.”

A Queer History of the United States received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, which wrote,“Bronski’s narrative is as intellectually rigorous as it is entertaining.” Links to other reviews, as well as radio interviews, can be found on the Beacon Press website.

Of the award, Bronski says, “As somebody who in my teenage years worked in public libraries, and as a researcher and independent scholar who uses libraries all the time, to be given an award by librarians who take literature and history and archiving history very seriously is a great honor.”

Source: http://now.dartmouth.edu/2012/02/professor-michael-bronski-wins-prestigious-stonewall-book-award/


Michael Bronski
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)


Walta Borawski (1947 - February 9, 1994), a poet, was the author of several books of poetry including "Sexually Dangerous Poet" and "Lingering in a Silk Shirt". He died of complications from AIDS, in his home in Cambridge. He was 46.

Mr. Borawski was born in Patchogue, N.Y. He attended the State University of New York at New Paltz before becoming the first arts editor of the Poughkeepsie Journal, a job he held for several years before moving to Boston in 1975.

"Why had I stopped going to Boston’s Pride?The causes are both personal and political, threads so interwoven in my life that they seem not simply inseparable, but indistinguishable from one another. The most significant factor was this: Walta Borawski, my lover since 1975, became too ill and too weary to attend. Walta began exhibiting symptoms of AIDS-related illnesses in the late 1980s. By 1992, our yearly Pride outings were beyond his physical capabilities. Even if he used a wheelchair, the heat, crowds, and excitement took more out of him in fatigue than they gave him in emotional sustenance and pleasure. This was extremely painful, because Walta loved Pride. It was a time to dress up (well, more like dress less), to see people he had not seen for the past year, and to get lost in a cyclonic whirl of queerness that had been unimaginable to him growing up as a queer-bashed kid on Long Island. Pride was music, balloons, drag queens, cute men, and spectacle. A time to be out and outlandish. It was a carnival time — what medieval society would call “misrule,” or the world turned upside down. As a poet (who also read at Pride every year), Walta was entranced with the sheer otherworldly fantasy — not just the bar floats, marching bands, and fabulous drag, but the deeply subversive, antisocial, anarchistic side of Pride. Where the radical right would claim that Pride presented a portrait of the lunatics taking over the asylum, Walta saw it as the prisoners taking over — and dismantling — the prison.

Unless you grew up in the bleak, gray 1950s, it is difficult to understand the sheer exhilaration of Pride for someone of Walta’s (and my) age. The sheer size and communal breadth of Pride today was inconceivable in even 1969; in the 1950s it would have been truly unimaginable. For Walta and for many other gay people who were born in the decades before Stonewall, these celebrations were both dream and salvation — the redemption for years of abuse and scorn. That is why, when he became too ill to march, Walta’s pain and sense of loss were so acute. In 1991, he attended Pride with his AIDS support group; he did part of the march in a wheelchair, though he didn’t want to. By 1992, he covered the entire route in a wheelchair. He was determined to march — wheel? — the whole day. But I made excuses to stay home that year. I saw every day how much energy it took for him to get dressed, to eat, to do the simplest things around the house so as not to feel useless. It would have been too painful for me to see him gallantly holding on to this day that gave him such joy: on that morning, his valor, his emotional boldness, was as heartbreaking to me as it was inspiring. I knew that, barring a miracle, this would be Walta’s last Pride, and I was right. In 1993 he was too worn out to go even in a wheelchair, and on February 9 of the next year he died.

I HAVE thought of going to Pride in the years since Walta died. But not very seriously. I thought it would be depressing. I thought it would be upsetting. I thought it would be too painful. I did not want to go to Pride and think about death and dying. I could stay home and do that in the emotional safety of my own kitchen. But I have remembered how much Walta loved the march, our shared excitement about the day. And that led me to reach into the past to reflect on the part Pride marches have played in my life for almost a quarter of a century.

[...]

What I tried to get my Dartmouth students to understand is that Stonewall — as both event and historical legacy — was more than something to be celebrated. That Pride was about anger and fighting. And after AIDS came into our lives, it became about death. For me — personally and politically — this is simply the reality of Pride now. It is inseparable in my mind from carrying banners in 1970 that read bring our gay troops home now and wheeling Walta’s wheelchair down Charles Street in 1991 as the Arlington Street Church bells rang out. It is inseparable from reading letters in gay papers in the 1980s bemoaning the fact that drag queens were allowed in the parade, and thinking about the people who would not be there this year because they had died. Life, politics, and time move on. Walta is still dead. Today, gay people fight to get into the army. And drag queens are a mainstay in movies and television. It is still hard for me to think about going to Pride this year, but I am thinking about it. We’ll see what happens." --Michael Bronski, Rain on the parade

Source: http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/supplements/pride/documents/01666835.htm


Walta Borawski, 1987, by Robert Giard
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)


Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher


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Tags: author: walta borawski, days of love, essayist: michael bronski, in the spotlight
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