In the News: Edmund White, Must Reads for the Summer, and Hip-Hop and the LGBT Community

Edmund White is perhaps best known as one of the pioneers of gay literature, proving himself a role model when he publicly revealed his status as HIV positive 30 years ago. In this Examiner interview, White reveals the details of his latest book, Jack Holmes and His Friend, his view of himself as a gay cultural icon, current attitudes about AIDS, and more. Read the interview here.

Lyricist in the  “mainstream” hip-hop community have often gotten quite a bit of flack for being homophobic. But is this homophobic tag warranted? From Kanye West’s plea for tolerance back in 2005 to wide speculation over Nicki Minaj’s own sexuality, there’s been a steady change of tide.

Def Jam Recordings mogul Russell Simmons, a longtime advocate for gay rights, believes that hip-hop is actually ahead of the curve. “I’m not suggesting there’s no homo-phobia. I’m suggesting that homophobia exists everywhere, and it’s horrible. I’m saying that hip-hop artists and the hip-hop community, the poetic community, are less homophobic than the rest of society. Whoever you can think of, hip-hop is less.”

Hip-hop magazine XXL discusses the gradual change in tone from the latest rappers and DJs on the scene in this excerpt. Be sure to read the full article when it comes out in the July/August 2011 issue.

Need a break from writing your own smashing beach read? Take a cue from Queerty and check out their list of must-reads for the summer. These page-turners range from coming of age stories to plotlines that deal with sex and addiction, with queer heroes, heroines, and villains on every page.  Check out the list here.

If you’re looking for a literary dessert with a nice cup of coffee and a side of activism, look no further than the Lower East Side of Manhattan. On July 26, Bluestockings Radical Books, a coffee shop and bookstore dedicated to mainstream and radical literature about women, will be holding and poetry jam and open mic for women and trans* people.  Learn more about the event here.