Hiatus Announcement

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Queer A Day is going on hiatus until further notice. Hobbies are meant to be fun and I don’t look forward to writing like I used to. If the spark comes back then I’ll be back, too. In the meantime, there’s over 200 entries for you to read through, plus over a thousand linked embedded resources to check out.

I hope you all enjoyed reading and maybe learned something nifty in the process. I sure did!

Love to all of you,
Toby

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Dusty Springfield

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English soul singer Dusty Springfield (born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien) was one of the top female artists of her generation. She took her stage name from her first group, the folksy-sounding Springfields, but left soon after to pursue a solo career that would last nearly four decades; although her popularity dwindled beginning in the 1970s, the inclusion of “Son of a Preacher Man” on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack triggered a revival. Her album Dusty in Memphis was ranked as the 89th greatest of all time by Rolling Stone, and she has been honored in both the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame. Springfield’s lesbianism was the focus of an off-Broadway musical based on her life.

Paula Poundstone

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Asexual American comedian Paula Poundstone has been active on the standup circuit since 1979. Following a spot on Saturday Night Live she began hosting television programs and appearing in minor roles as an actor; her notable appearances include late-night political correspondence during the 1992 presidential campaign and an HBO special for which she was honored with a CableACE Award (she also appears on Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Standups of All Time” list). She is also a regular panelist on the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, which she describes in an interview here. In addition to her standup and other vocal appearances Poundstone has also penned a comedic memoir, There’s Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say.

Richard O’Brien

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British/New Zealander stage and screen writer and cult film actor Richard O’Brien (the stage name of Richard Timothy Smith) was the mastermind behind The Rocky Horror Show, a queer gothic musical comedy that has generated a robust, ritualized midnight screening tradition. (He also originated the role of Riff Raff and played him in the film adaptation.) O’Brien’s career has also extended into eccentric television program hosting, including the popular UK game show The Crystal Maze, for which he was selected because he fit the show’s “Dungeons and Dragons” vibe.

Although O’Brien was assigned male at birth and continues to use male pronouns, he identifies as “70% male, 30% female,” and uses the term transgender to refer to himself.

Stu Rasmussen

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Stu Rasmussen, the first transgender mayor in the United States, had been elected in the small town of Silverton, Oregon, twice before transitioning, and then again after. A movie theater owner, former cable installer, and computer expert, Rasmussen ran on a fiscally conservative, locally-focused platform. When protestors appeared from out of state the town’s residents arranged a counter-protest in which they crossdressed out of solidarity. To raise money for the city Rasmussen has sold selections from his prodigious shoe collection. A musical based on his life (and election) was produced in Seattle and included in the New York Festival of New Musicals.

Rasmussen’s personal website is available here and his Facebook page is here.

 

Azis

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Vasil Trayanov Boyanov, who goes by the stage name Azis, is a gay Bulgarian Roma pop-folk singer who performs in a drag-ish hodgepodge of outfits. Azis boasts an impressive discography including dozens of singles, and his concerts sell out quickly. His atypically-gendered modeling and open homosexuality have been sources of controversy, as when billboards featuring him kissing his then-husband while shirtless were censored for being too graphic. Outside of music and scandal Azis was narrowly defeated in a run for parliament as a member of the Eurorama party. For his accomplishments Azis was declared the 21st most important Bulgarian of all time in 2006 by the television program Velikite Balgari.

 

Historiography Saturday: Báthory Erzsébet

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Known in English as Elizabeth Bathory, Báthory Erzsébet was a 16th century Hungarian countess who has accrued enough of a legend to merit a separate Wikipedia page for her appearances in popular culture. The allegations agains the “Blood Countess” are difficult to fact-check due to the time lapse and written accounts appearing only a century following her death, but what is certain is that over three hundred witnesses testified at the trial of her alleged accomplices that she had tortured and killed dozens of young women. While the evidence suggests that she did not bathe in virgin blood in an attempt to retain her youth, her practices were clearly sadistic.

One of the many rumors surrounding Báthory was that she engaged in same-sex relationships. (She had male lovers and a husband as well with whom she may have shared letters comparing torture tips.) Along with questions regarding the reliability of fragmented historical evidence, cases such as Báthory’s require thought in how they should be presented. Serial killers capture the popular imagination, and while it is duplicitous to pretend that none have ever been queer (or to suppress mention of queer serial killers), the supposed association between queer people and violence has been a long-employed stereotype with its own awful consequences.