Although gay, lesbian, and queer theory are related practices, the three terms delineate separate emphases marked by different assumptions about the relationship between gender and sexuality.
The Harlem Renaissance, an African-American literary movement of the 1920s and 1930s, included several important gay and lesbian writers.
Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.
Langston Hughes, whose literary legacy is enormous and varied, was closeted, but homosexuality was an important influence on his literary imagination, and many of his poems may be read as gay texts.
Conflicted over his own sexuality, Tennessee Williams wrote directly about homosexuality only in his short stories, his poetry, and his late plays.
Erotic and pornographic works have been written in many cultures since ancient times and recently have flourished with the relaxation of censorship.
Feminist literary theory is a complex, dynamic area of study that draws from a wide range of critical theories.
James Baldwin, a pioneering figure in twentieth-century literature, wrote sustained and articulate challenges to American racism and mandatory heterosexuality.
Detail from a painting by Toller Cranston.
On April 20, 2012, Toller Cranston's 63rd birthday, it is fitting to remember that the acclaimed figure skater is also an excellent painter.
At his Inner Bouquet blog, David-Paul Erhart reminisces about the significance of Toller Cranston for him when he was growing up in Sudbury, Ontario, a hockey town where "boys who figure skated were branded and taunted." Even though figure skating was what he loved most, Erhart quit at age 14, only to return later when he was a student at the University of Toronto.
Soon after graduating, Erhart had an opportunity to meet Cranston, who at the time was "performing at a level of innovation and artistry that was revolutionary to men's figure skating." He notes that Cranston's crowning moment at a skater came in the 1976 winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, where he won the bronze medal.
Erhart observes that the only reason Cranston never won Olympic gold "was the 'school figures' which were such an integral part of competition until they were discarded after 1990. He won the free skating part of three world championships but his marks in the figures wouldn't permit him to climb any higher than third place." But even without winning an Olympic gold medal, Cranston is widely regarded as one of the greatest figure skaters of the twentieth century.
But in addition to being a great skater, Cranston is also an accomplished artist, whose work has been exhibited all over the world. Indeed, when Erhart met Cranston, he was already becoming known as a painter. Then unable to afford an original oil painting, the young Erhart purchased a poster that has been meaningful to him all the years since.
As Linda Rapp explains, "Throughout his life [Cranston] has devoted himself to painting. His artwork shows the same imagination, exuberance, and flair as his skating." Just as his skating is very individualistic, so he "developed a painting style that favors magical subjects, attenuated figures, and vibrant color and energy."
The video below, from ESPN Classic Canada, explains and illustrates Cranston's distinctive qualities as a skater.
The videos below provide a glimpse into Cranston's garden and studio in San Miguel Allende, Mexico, and into the artist's creative process.