In the News: James Baldwin, Wayne Koestenbaum, and Comic-Con 2011

Facing homophobia from the black community during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, did James Baldwin ever hesitate in being true to himself in his work? That question is explored in the new play Waiting 4 Giovanni, whose name is taken from Baldwin’s novel Giovanni’s Room. The life of activist and author James Baldwin will be making waves on the stage of the New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco from Aug. 19 – Sept. 18. Read more about the play here.  The playwright, Jewelle Gomez, is a Lambda Literary Award winner and was recently interviewed about her novel, The Gilda Stories, in recognition of the book’s 20th anniversary. Read the interview here.

Do you know what humiliation feels like? I do. I experienced it every time my mother loudly announced to our congregation that she had “just peed a little” every time our preacher made her laugh too hard. It’s okay – I’m sure your mother did it too. Unfortunately for the average human being, however, humiliation does not end with parental transgressions in grade school. Embarrassment can occur in spurts – like passing gas in the middle of yoga or pretending to begin to jog when you’ve actually just tripped. But not to fear – we have all experienced some form of horror at even the smallest of social faux pas. Writer, critic, and academic Wayne Koestenbaum knows what it’s like. In fact, he’s written an entire book on it! His latest endeavor, Humiliation, is an introspective critique and consideration of what David Shields (author of Reality Hunger) calls “the human condition.” Learn more about the book here and watch Koestenbaum’s advice vlog on how to deal with all kinds of humiliating events here.

Stand in front of an audience and recite a poem. It sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? That is, until you find your trash can full of what should have been a masterpiece – and don’t even get started on trying to repeat it in front of a mirror. Then again, slam poetry isn’t really just public recitation. It’s literary performance and it’s hard! Thankfully, nationally ranked slam poet Kit Yan, whose works focus on gender-inclusive, anti-racist material, is here to help! On July 28th, in NYC, Yan will be holding a slam poetry-writing workshop for anyone who’s interested in knowing how to compose “powerful, personal, political, beautiful pieces.” Space is limited so sign up fast! Learn more about the workshop here.

For years, the queerest characters in comic books have had to stay deep in the closet, due to the Comic Code Authority’s ban on homosexual depictions since the early 1950s
. Comic book creators could only give their readers vague hints and clues as to the romantic preferences of their characters. In recent days, however, the CCA has been largely ignored or abandoned and gay characters now have the freedom to be out and open in the world of superheroes, magic, and myth. The shift in comic culture is celebrated by Prism Comics, a non-profit dedicated to the support of LGBT readers, writers, and characters. This year, they will be presenting panels, parties, and comic book signings as well as portfolio reviews at Comic Con International 2011 in San Diego, California on July 24th . This highly anticipated event is highlighted by two panels, which will focus on comic legends and cultural phenomena Buffy the Vampire Slayer and X-Men, and headed off by the annual Super Hero Party at Rich’s San Diego. For more information, visit the Prism Comics Comic-con 2011 schedule. To prepare for the event, make sure you brush up on your super hero knowledge with this list of 10 of the greatest gay characters in comics.