Sunday 29 April 2018

Around the World in Another 80 Gays : Part 14) Towards a Galaxy of Beauty

Previously : 26) Irena Klefisz (b.1941) is a leader in the study of Yiddish heritage which, in the form of film, was pioneered by 27) Eve Sicular (b.1961) who was inspired by “The Celluloid Closet”, a book which listed the world’s first pro-gay film as “Different From the Others”, which featured 28) Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1925).

Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld not only appeared in the 1919 silent film “Different From the Others” (“Anders als die Andern”) but he co-wrote it and was also heavily involved in its production. The film was part-funded by the organisation which Hirschfeld co-founded, Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee, the WhK or Scientific-Humanitarian Committee.

Last year I wrote about the four founding fathers of the WhK, so I won’t go over its creation again today. Following World War I the new Weimar Republic in Germany led to more liberal attitudes across a range of social issues. This allowed Hirschfeld to expand his work in the education of sexual matters and homosexuality through film which would spread his message outside the scientific world and into the general public sphere.

“Different From the Others” was a success following its release in May 1919. However, because of the social message of gay rights it became subjected to criticism and calls for it to be banned. The year after its release the authorities restricted screenings of the film to the medical profession and researchers. Eventually it was banned totally and all known copies were destroyed. One copy and several clips survived, and these have been shown at film festivals in recent years.

The legacy of Magnus Hirschfeld can never be overestimated. Many gay rights groups have looked to Hirschfeld as their champion. Several organisations have named awards and projects after him. One of them, the Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation, was formed in 2007 by the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany. The Foundation’s aim is to provide support for lgbt activists around the world and foster respect for the rights of the lgbt community.
The Foundation is also named in honour of a more recent lgbt activist, 29) FannyAnn Eddy (1974-2004) of Sierra Leone. FannyAnn was the founder of her nation’s first lgbt organisation, the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association. She became her nation’s leading lgbt activist.

Sierra Leone has never criminalised lesbian activity as it was never specifically included in the Victorian British laws on sexuality which were retained on independence. This doesn’t mean that lesbians in some former colonial states accept lesbian activity as normal. There are many stories that come out of Africa from time to time about lesbians who are raped to “cure” them of their sexuality, what has been called “corrective rape”.

FannyAnn Eddy may have been a victim of corrective rape herself. On 29th September 2004 men broke into the offices of the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association while FannyAnn was at work. Initial crime reports stated that she was gang-raped, stabbed and strangled. Later reports from human rights agencies said that the police didn’t find any evidence of sexual violence and were not treating it as an lgbt hate crime. There is no protection from discrimination in the country, in fact the Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission states clearly that it doesn’t have a mandate to support lgbt rights.

Whatever the facts are behind the tragic murder FannyAnn’s death gave impetus to lgbt groups in Africa to campaign against homophobia. It was for her activism that FannyAnn was honoured alongside 28) Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld in the naming of the Hirschfeld-Eddy Stiftung, or Foundation.

The founding council members of the Foundation in 2007 included representatives from all continents and of diverse sexualities and gender identities. Among the founders was 30) Joey Joleen Mataele, a board member of the International Lesbian and Gay Association. She was also co-founder and is current Executive Director of the Tonga Leitis Association.

Tonga is one of the Pacific nations which have a distinct gender heritage. Different island communities have different names for a related group of identities which the West often interprets as transgender. Joey Joleen Mataele is a leiti, someone who is born physically male but lives as a woman. They don’t consider themselves as gay because they don’t identify as male.

The leiti of Tonga enjoy more a higher degree acceptance than transgender people in places like Sydney, Australia. The Tonga Leitis Association has royal patronage, and Joey was invited to the coronation of King Tupou IV in 2015. She is also a Member of the Order of Queen Salote Tupou III. More recently Joey attended the Commonwealth summit in London earlier this month.

The Tonga Leitis Association was formed in 1992 in response to the AIDS crisis. A leiti was the first recorded HIV patient in Tonga. Funding was scare at first so fund-raising ideas were formed. One of these was the Miss Galaxy pageant, created by Joey Joleen Maetele, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this July.

The Miss Galaxy pageant is very much based on the western beauty pageants. Entrants, however, must be leiti or a member of one of the other Pacific gender identities. From its beginnings as a fund-raiser in 1993 the pageant has become a popular annual event in Tonga.

There are several other pageants in the Pacific and South East Asian regions for members of the traditional eastern gender communities. The West has fewer of these because of the massive influence of the long-established female “bathing beauty” pageants. The lgbt community has developed a whole gamut of pageants for diverse communities, and even though there are hundreds of them which attract thousands of contestants each year there are relatively few lgbt contestants in traditional beauty pageants.

As far as I can determine the contestant of a national beauty pageant who was the first to come out as lgbt is 31) Julia Lemigova (b.1972), a former Miss USSR.

Next time : From the Galaxy of Beauty we visit the Island of Beauty before entering it’s parliament while trying, unsuccessfully, to avoid Donald Trump on the way.

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Queer Achievement : We See More Seymours

[Achievement – the name given in heraldry to the full pictorial representation of a coat of arms.]

Following on from my article which included the sculptor and political campaigner Anne Seymour Damer we look today at something she shares with two other lgbt members of her family, the Seymour coat of arms. Here they are –

These arms have been borne by all three of our queer Seymours:
Mrs. Anne Seymour Damer (1748-1796),
George Seymour, 7th Marquess of Hertford (1871-1940), and
George Seymour of Thrumpton Hall, Nottinghamshire (1924-1994).
This chart shows how they are related –
Let’s take a tour of the coat of arms (below). The shield is divided into four quarters (in heraldry you can actually have more than four; they’re called quarters because four is the minimum). In the top left quarter (the senior quarter) is a design known as an augmentation of honour. We came across another of these last time in the coat of arms of Lady Eleanor Butler. In the case of the Seymours the augmentation was granted to the family to recognise a royal wedding of a certain royal called Harry. Not that one, I refer to King Henry VIII (I can’t wait to find out if Meghan Markle gets a coat of arms for her family next month, as is customary).
In 1536 Henry VIII married Jane Seymour. As with his other non-royal-born wives he granted augmentations of honour to them and their families. The first quarter is the augmentation granted to Jane Seymour and her family. If you have a basic knowledge of national symbolism you might be able to work out what the lions and fleurs-de-lys refer to. The lions refer to the coat of arms of England, and the fleurs-de-lys to the coat of arms of France (Henry VIII claimed the throne of France). The colours were reversed from the familiar gold fleurs-de-lys on a blue background because it is bad heraldry to have blue next to the red of the lions on the same quarter. It makes the design easier to recognise, especially from a distance (soccer teams wear contrasting colours for the same reason). To confuse matters there are exceptions, which are too complicated to go into today!

The duplicated design in the second and third quarters, the wings, are the Seymour’s family coat of arms, relegated to second place by the augmentation. They look like those strap-on wings you see young people wearing at a Pride march, don’t they? But they actually represent a falconry lure. Falconry was a major activity the medieval aristocracy. You can see modern lures at some modern country fairs where they have falconry displays. The bird handler whirls a cord around with a lump of meat on the end of it. This is the lure. The falcon or other bird of prey, will swoop down and grab the meat as if it were some prey. In medieval times the lure was often made up of two bird wings, just like you see in the Seymour arms.

It’s not certain why the Seymours adopted the lure. It is possible that they were using it on family seals as far back as 1299.

The last quarter on the shield is the coat of arms of the Conway family. In 1683 Popham Seymour inherited the estates of the Earl of Conway, on condition that he adopted the Conway name and coat of arms. He died unmarried but the name, arms and estates passed to his younger brother Francis (see family tree above), who was created 1st Baron Conway in 1703. His descendants have often dropped the Conway name, as all three of our queer Seymours did, though the Conway arms have often been retained.

Finally, the crest. The phoenix is another royal addition to honour the marriage of Jane Seymour to Henry VIII. Jane adopted it as her personal badge and symbolised the rebirth of love following the king’s previous two marriages. Jane’s brother, the Duke of Somerset, was granted the phoenix as his crest issuing from a coronet (not a crown, a crown has arches over the top).

No doubt there are other lgbt Seymours descended from Queen Jane Seymour’s brother who are equally entitled to bear these arms. How ironic it is that the crest and augmentation of honour were granted by the king who introduced the first English law against homosexual acts.

Saturday 21 April 2018

Around the World in Another 80 Gays : Part 13) From the Ghetto to Hollywood

Previously : 23) The Harper Road Woman (c.60 AD) may have been a witness to the destruction of Roman London by Boudicca, whose name, according to 24) Judy Grahn (b.1940), was the origin of the term “bull-dyke”, a derivation also investigated by 25) SDiane Bogus (b.1946), whose poetry was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in the same category as 26) Irena Klepfisz (b.1941).

26) Irena Klepfisz’s “A Few Words in the Mother Tongue: Poems Selected and New (1971-1990)” was one of five nominations in the Lesbian Poetry category of the 3rd Lambda Literary Awards in 1991. His collection of poems gives just a glimpse of Irena’s development as a poet. In particular it is a semi-autobiographical examination of the role of language in its power to unite and divide. Through her poetry, and “A Few Words in the Mother Tongue”, Irena presents past and present atrocities as a connected sequence of events. The politics and regimes may be different, the mechanics of persecution may be different, but divisions based on culture, race, belief and language remain.

Perhaps there has never been a period where language could mean life or death than during the Nazi Holocaust of the 20th century. Irena Klepfisz knew this herself as a Polish Jew in Warsaw. Irena’s father was an active member of the Jewish Labour Bund, an organisation which campaigned for the rights of Jewish workers and their families and the opposition of anti-semitism. He helped to get many Jews out of the Warsaw ghetto as World War II began to grow in momentum. The bund party went largely underground following the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 and some of its leaders were executed. Jews were forced into ghettos and the Warsaw ghetto was the largest with over 300,000 people. The Nazis then began to transport them to the Treblinka extermination camp in 1942. Almost the entire 300,000 Jews were killed at Treblinka before anyone in the ghetto discovered the truth – they were not being sent to labour camps, but to their death.

The remaining Jews in the ghetto began an armed revolt in January 1943 and Irena Klepfisz’s father was killed on the second day. Before the uprising Irena’s father had smuggled her and her mother out of Warsaw, and afterwards they fled into the countryside. In order to escape capture they posed as Christians. Because of this Irena was not exposed to the Yiddish language that her family spoke.

After the war Irena and her mother migrated to the USA. As a teenager Irena felt that she had “no language in which I was completely rooted”. Her native language was Polish, and she began to learn Swedish after fleeing Poland to Sweden, and a little Yiddish as a child after the war, and now she had to learn a fourth language, English. Together with the turmoil of her cultural heritage having been attacked by the Nazis Irena realised that language could be divisive as well as a unifier. English is the language which helped her to express her Yiddish heritage most personally in her poetry. By the 1970s Irena Klepfisz was a well-known Yiddishist and campaigner.

The immediate post-war years were ones of establishing stability and unity in countries around the world in the aftermath of the war. Being “different” to the rest of society was not encouraged. I would suggest that once nations had begun to re-stabilise and a new generation was growing up minority groups felt overlooked and often victimised. Feminist groups, civil rights groups, and gay rights groups grew during the mid 1950s onwards. So too did other cultural and ethnic groups.

Yiddish was among the many diverse cultures which began to emerge from the shadows. A new generation of Jews who had hardly heard any Yiddish, except from elderly relatives, began to use the language widely. Irena Klepfisz was just one of many who began to teach Yiddish and produce Yiddish literature.

It was in more recent decades that there has been a growth in the lgbt Yiddish community, Queer Yiddishkeit. In the 2000s it seemed that a large proportion of lgbt Jews in America were embracing their Yiddish heritage.

One of the leading figures in Queer Yiddishkeit has been 27) Eve Sicular (b.1961). She is mainly associated with a style of traditional Yiddish music called klezmer, a style mostly associated with celebrations. Like Yiddish itself, klezmer regained popularity in the 1970s and was adopted by many members of the Jewish lgbt community. Eve Sicular has formed several klezmer bands since 1994. Her most successful band, Isle of Klezbos, won a Grammy award in 2007.

As well as traditional Yiddish music Eve Sicular has made her name as an expert on Yiddish film history. Inspired by “The Celluloid Closet”, the popular ground-breaking book by Vito Russo which chronicled the many lgbt references, influences and allusions in film, Eve produced a study called “The Celluloid Closet of Yiddish Film”. This was first published in “The Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Review” in 1994 and quickly developed into a video lecture. In 1986 Eve actually went to one of Vito Russo’s lectures, long before the documentary film of the same name was produced (1995), and later in 1989 she invited him to give the lecture in Seattle.
Eve used her knowledge and experience as a curator of the Film and Television Archives at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in the 1990s to create a project which is as ground-breaking as Russo’s original. It has grown and developed and remains popular. Eve is still presenting her video lecture 25 years later.

The original “The Celluloid Closet” by Vito Russo was published in 1981 and been reprinted and revised several times. Gay characters have appeared in film since the silent black and white days and were portrayed often as the “sissy” and “nancy boy” that Hollywood later preferred.

Next year is the centenary of an early silent film featuring a gay lead character. “Different From the Others” (“Anders als die Andern” in its original German) is a black and white silent film released in June 1919. It has been described as the world’s first pro-gay film. The plot is similar to that of the much later British 1961 film “Victim” in that the lead character is blackmailed because of his sexuality.
The film has a deliberate social message. At several points in the film one of the supporting characters, a doctor, gives speeches which are aimed more at the viewer (and the authorities) than the characters in the film. He describes homosexuality as normal and not to be suppressed. The film ends with the words “Paragraph 175” being crossed out in a book. Paragraph 175 was the anti-gay laws introduced into Germany in 1871 and which was the catalyst for the Nazi persecution that followed.

The doctor in the film was not an actor but a real doctor. No ordinary doctor, but one who was uniquely qualified to speak on homosexuality. He was the pioneering German sexologist and gay right campaigner 28) Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935).

Next time : We learn why most people weren’t able to see the film in full, and how the legacy of Magnus Hirschfeld takes us to Africa, Tonga and the Galaxy.

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Diamonds Are A Gay's Best Friend

When I was putting together my “Around the World in Another 80 Gays” project I did a bit of research into diamonds. Some of that found its way into the articles on CecilRhodes and Alexander the Great. There were several other directions I could have taken to continue the connection of “80 Gays”. One was the James Bond connection I mentioned in that Cecil Rhodes article.

Apart from Bond’s “Diamonds Are Forever” title there’s another famous phrase in common use, and another song title – “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”. Over the centuries many men have had diamonds close to their heart (and wallet). Here are three owned by some gay/bisexual men.

One of the rarest of all diamonds is a pear-shaped pink diamond called the Le Grand Condé. Its discovery and original owners are unknown, but by 1643 it was in the possession of King Louis XIII of France. It is said that the king gave the diamond to his cousin Prince Louis II de Bourbon, Duke of Condé (1621-1686) in recognition of the duke’s great victory against the Spanish at the Battle of Rocroi. The problem with that story is that King Louis died the week before the battle took place. It’s more likely that it was the king’s son, King Louis XIV, who gave him the diamond much later.

However the duke acquired the diamond it quickly acquired his name. He was known as Le Grand Condé, and the diamond is still known by that name today. The duke was a magnificent military leader. While his achievements on the battlefield were lauded his string of close male companions, some of them lovers, led to him being satirised and criticised. He was a typical prince of the Enlightenment, a patron of arts and science.

I’ll write more about Prince Louis, Duke of Conde later in the year in “Around the World in Another 80 Gays” when I write about his abortive attempts to become King of Poland. For now, let’s return to Le Grand Condé diamond. It remained in the Condé family until 1886 when it was bequeathed to the French government. There was a proviso attached, that Le Grand Condé should never leave the family home, the famous Chantilly château. And there it was kept until 11th October 1926 when it was stolen.

The police began an international manhunt for the thieves. Several days later a maid in a Paris hotel was searching the room of a couple of guests who had been acting suspiciously. As she searched she found an apple and, because she was hungry, she took a bite. She bit into something hard, and found that hidden inside the apple was the famous pink diamond which all of France was looking for. Today Le Grand Condé diamond is back at Chantilly safely locked way while a replica takes its place on display.

But it’s not only wannabe kings like the Duke of Condé who didn’t get to wear a crown (the crown of Poland as I’ll write about later in the year). Some real kings didn’t get to wear theirs either.

The famous King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886) never wore his. One of the unusual facts about the kings of Bavaria is that they got to wear their royal crown, not even at their coronations. When Bavaria was raised from a princely electorate into a kingdom in 1806 a new set of crown jewels were made. Included in the crow itself was a fabulous blue diamond. It was named the Wittelsbach Blue after the family name of the Bavarian royal family. It came into the family’s possession from the Hapsburg emperor through a royal marriage in 1722.
The coronation portraits of the Bavarian kings including Ludwig II (pictured above) show the crown, with the Wittelsbach Blue diamond on the top, resting beside them on a table. After the collapse of the Bavarian monarchy the royal family removed and sold the Wittelsbach Blue. Today the Wittelsbach Blue is owned by an Arabian prince and has been recut and renamed the Wittelsbach-Graff diamond.

Another diamond owned by a king and worn conspicuously on several occasions is the Saucy Diamond. This pale yellow diamond takes its name from the Seigneurs de Saucy who owned it. They sold it to King James I Stuart of Great Britain (1566-1625) in 1605. Unlike other diamonds that have reputations for bringing bad luck King James considered the Saucy Diamond as a lucky charm and wore it often.

Just like the Union Jack and the name Great Britain the Saucy Diamond became a symbol of the union of the crowns of England and Scotland. It was set in a large brooch with three other diamonds and a ruby to form what became known as The Mirror of Great Britain. It was listed as part of the British crown jewels. Several portraits of King James (one shown below) depict him wearing the Mirror of Great Britain in his hat.
You probably know of the fate of the later Stuart kings of Great Britain. It’s as if the Saucy Diamond had skipped a generation and provided bad luck to King James’s descendants. James’s son King Charles I was beheaded, his grandson James II was deposed, and two of his grandchildren, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Cardinal York, failed in their attempts to regain the throne.

The Saucy Diamond followed the failed Stuarts around Europe until they were forced to sell it to Cardinal Mazarin in 1657 to pay debts. After passing through the ownership of several families to Saucy diamond, now separated from the Mirror of Great Britain, was sold to the Louvre in 1978.

There are several other diamonds that have been owned by other queer royals, and they have often crossed paths in time and location with those described above. It would be interesting to see a “diamond lattice” showing the paths of all those diamonds through lgbt hands. Perhaps I’ll design it myself one day.

Friday 13 April 2018

Around the World in Another 80 Gays : Part 12) Roman Dykes and Daggers

Previously : 20) Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias (1911-1956) defied male expectations of femininity in sport by winning an Olympic gold medal in 1932, as did 21) Stella Walsh (1911-1980) who hid her intersexuality for her entire life, unlike 22) Favorinus of Avelate (c.85 AD-c.160 AD), a Roman intersexual who escaped the customary fate of being killed at birth, as did the anonymous 23) the Harper Road Woman (living c.50 AD-70 AD).

Whether the 23) Harper Road Woman hid her intersexuality during her lifetime is one of the mysteries that surround her. Her remains were discovered in 1979 by an archaeological team excavating a plot of land in Southwark, south London, just a stone’s throw from the Elephant and Castle tube station.

The woman’s skeleton was found in a wooden coffin with various burial items which indicated that she was of high status. There was a necklace at her feet and a bronze mirror, an object not possessed by lower ranks of Roman society. From the bones of the pelvis archaeologists determined that the skeleton was that of a woman, as would be consistent with the burial objects. It was also suggested that she died between the ages of about 26 and 35. Nearly forty years later DNA analysis revealed another fact about her that was a surprise.

The Harper Road Woman was one of four Roman Britons whose DNA was analysed in 2015 by scientists led by the Museum of London. Samples were taken from the teeth of all four skeletons, which were discovered from various parts of London over the years. We are probably all familiar with the idea that a lot of physical traits are contained with the DNA sequences, so more personal information was obtained for all four.

What surprised the scientists was that the DNA of the Harper Road Woman contained male Y chromosomes. Females typically have XX chromosomes and men have XY chromosomes. The new evidence seemed to indicate that Harper Road Woman may have been either intersex or had a condition similar to androgen insensitivity syndrome, a condition that still causes much controversy in modern sports gender verification processes.

It is known that Roman London was a melting pot of cultures but the revelation that it could also have included gender and sexual diversity adds a new angle to historical research of the period.
The remains of the Harper Road Woman in display at the
Museum of London 2015.
Other information revealed in the Harper Road Woman’s DNA was that she had northern European ancestry. She had dark brown hair and brown eyes, indicating an ancestry that excludes Scandinavia. It is believed that it was her parents who came to London and that Harper Road Woman was a first-generation Londoner, being born in the city and living around 50 AD to 70 AD. This means that she could easily have been a witness to one of the most important events in Roman Britain, the revolt of the Celtic leader Boudicca in 60 AD.

Boudicca is seen as a pioneering example of the power of woman in the ancient world. She was the wife of the chief of the Iceni tribe in modern East Anglia who had accepted Roman supremacy in exchange for peace. However, on his death the Romans took over in full force and had Boudicca flogged and raped her daughters. This spurred her into armed revolt. While the majority of the Roman army was over in Wales Boudicca led successful attacks on the major Roman settlements on Colchester, London and St. Albans. London was burnt to the ground.

The Harper Road Woman was buried south of the Thames outside Roman London so it if difficult for archaeologists to determine if she was laid to rest above or below the recognised destruction layer that marks Boudicca’s burning of the city north of the Thames. Dating evidence only suggests she was buried sometime in the ten years either side of 60 AD.

Boudicca’s reputation as a strong female leader reached its height in the Victorian period. She became a role model for strong female leadership, echoing that of Queen Victoria herself. Ironically, Boudicca would have been a more appropriate role model for the opposition to colonial occupation than for a colonial power.

In the 20th century Boudicca re-emerged as a role model in feminist movements, and her name became associated, wrongly, with the origin of a slang name for a lesbian – dyke.

In 1984 the writer 24) Judy Grahn (b.1940) published “Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds” in which she suggested that the word “dyke”, through it’s earlier form “bull-dyke”, comes directly from colloquial American accent renditions of Boudicca (e.g pronounced as Boa-dyka). Grahn had heard the word “bull-dyke” pronounced as “boa-dyke” and claimed an origin in Boudicca’s name. Linguists don’t support this theory, though it is more than possible that Boudicca could have been used to refer to a strong masculine lesbian.

Grahn also makes the assumption that a strong Celtic woman like Boudicca must have been a lesbian. There’s no evidence of this and Grahn came up with a theory about the worship of bulls and Celtic queen-priestesses for which there is no archaeological, documentary or social evidence.

So, if “bull-dyke” didn’t originate with “Boudicca” where did it come from? It is generally accepted that “bull-dyke” comes from the same origin as “bull-dagger”. They both seemed to have emerged as slang terms for a lesbian in 1920’s America. They were particularly prevalent in the black American culture around Harlem and the Harlem Rennaissance. Their ultimate origins are uncertain. Another writer, 25) SDiane Bogus (b.1946) suggested an origin in the American cattle farms where bulldagger was used to describe a bull who attempts to mate with another bull. It is probable that the contraction “dyke” became more popular than “bull-dyke” very early on. Another derivation that emerged was the term “Queen B”, short for “Queen Bulldagger”. This term was used more specifically to designate a black lesbian.

SDiane Bogus wrote an essay in “lesbian Texts and Contexts: Radical Revisions” in which she traced the presence of Queen Bs in black literature in the 20th century. Through this essay and other writings SDiane became a leading figure in the study of black lesbianism in American culture. She earned her PhD from Miami University by writing a dissertation on Ann Allen Shockley, the novelist SDiane credits with being the first black lesbian writer to include a modern black lesbian character in American fiction.

As an educator SDiane has written books, essays and papers covering black lesbian history and culture, and was the founder of a New Age feminist publishing company called Woman in the Moon. She published various genres under the Woman in the Moon title, including some of her own poetry.

In 1990 SDiane Bogus published “The Chant of the Women of Magdalena and the Magdalena Chants” which was nominated in the Lesbian Poetry category of the 3rd Lambda Literary Awards. She didn’t win (the winner was Marilyn Hacker’s “Going Back to the River”), but neither did another poet whose ethnicity is major influence of her poetry, 26) Irena Klefisz (b.1941).

Next time : From the Ghetto to Hollywood.