7:30pm, Tuesday, June 21:
- Will Fellows discusses Gay Bar: The Fabulous, True Story of a Daring Woman and Her Boys in the 1950s
- Bronson Lemer discusses The Last Deployment: How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq
- Ryan Van Meter reads from his memoir If You Knew Then What I Know Now
- CM Harris reads from her novel Enter Oblivion
These events are co-sponsored by Quatrefoil Library. Quatrefoil Library is celebrating our 25th Anniversary in 2011. The volunteer-run, non-profit library collects, maintains, documents, and circulates gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer materials and information in a safe and accessible space. Quatrefoil’s collection includes books, videos, DVDs, and sound recordings, which members may check out, as well as a large collection of non-circulating periodicals. Learn more at www.qlibrary.org.
7:30pm, Tuesday, June 21
Will Fellows discusses Gay Bar: The Fabulous, True Story of a Daring Woman and Her Boys in the 1950s. Vivacious, unconventional, candid, and straight, Helen Branson operated a gay bar in Los Angeles in the 1950s--America’s most anti-gay decade. After years of fending off drunken passes as an entertainer in cocktail bars, this divorced grandmother preferred the wit, variety, and fun she found among homosexual men. Enjoying their companionship and deploring their plight, she gave her gay friends a place to socialize. Though at the time California statutes prohibited homosexuals from gathering in bars, Helen’s place was relaxed, suave, and remarkably safe from police raids and other anti-homosexual hazards. In 1957 she published her extraordinary memoir Gay Bar, the first book by a heterosexual to depict the lives of homosexuals with admiration, respect, and love.
Will Fellows interweaves Branson’s chapters with historical perspective provided through his own insightful commentary and excerpts gleaned from letters and essays appearing in gay publications of the period. Also included is the original introduction to the book by maverick 1950s psychiatrist Blanche Baker. The eclectic selection of voices gives the flavor of American life in that extraordinary age of anxiety, revealing how gay men saw themselves and their circumstances, and how others perceived them.
Bronson Lemer discusses The Last Deployment: How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq. In 2003, after serving five and a half years as a carpenter in a North Dakota National Guard engineer unit, Bronson Lemer was ready to leave the military behind. But six months short of completing his commitment to the army, Lemer was deployed on a yearlong tour of duty to Iraq. Leaving college life behind in the Midwest, he yearns for a lost love and quietly dreams of a future as an openly gay man outside the military. He discovers that his father’s lifelong example of silent strength has taught him much about being a man, and these lessons help him survive in a war zone and to conceal his sexuality, as he is required to do by the U.S. military.
The Last Deployment is a moving, provocative chronicle of one soldier’s struggle to reconcile military brotherhood with self-acceptance. Lemer captures the absurd nuances of a soldier’s daily life: growing a mustache to disguise his fear, wearing pantyhose to battle sand fleas, and exchanging barbs with Iraqis while driving through Baghdad. But most strikingly, he describes the poignant reality faced by gay servicemen and servicewomen, who must mask their identities while serving a country that disowns them. Often funny, sometimes anguished, The Last Deployment paints a deeply personal portrait of war in the twenty-first century.