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Popular Topics in Literature
García Lorca, Federico García Lorca, Federico
The works of García Lorca, internationally recognized as Spain's most prominent lyric poet and dramatist of the twentieth century, are filled with thinly veiled homosexual motifs and themes.
Musical Theater
There has always been homosexual involvement in American musical theatre and a homosexual sensibility even in straight musicals, and recently the Broadway musical has welcomed openly homosexual themes and situations.
Michelangelo Buonarroti Michelangelo Buonarroti
Best known for his genius in art and architecture, Michelangelo was also an accomplished author of homoerotic poetry.
African-American Literature: Gay Male African-American Literature: Gay Male
The African-American gay male literary tradition consists of a substantial body of texts and includes some of the most gifted writers of the twentieth century.
Camp Camp
Combining elements of incongruity, theatricality, and exaggeration, camp is a form of humor that helps homosexuals cope with a hostile environment.
Hughes, Langston Hughes, Langston
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.
Baldwin, James Arthur Baldwin, James Arthur
James Baldwin, a pioneering figure in twentieth-century literature, wrote sustained and articulate challenges to American racism and mandatory heterosexuality.
Wilde, Oscar Wilde, Oscar
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.
In Memoriam
In Memoriam: Chavela Vargas (1919-2012)
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 08/06/12
Last updated on: 08/06/12
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Acclaimed Costa Rican-Mexican singer Chavela Vargas died on August 5, 2012 in a hospital in Cuernavaca, where she had been admitted for heart and respiratory problems.

In his glbtq.com entry on her, Miguel A. Segovia observes that "Vargas became notorious for the eroticism of her performances and for her open expression of lesbian desire."

As Isaac Garrido reports in the Huffington Post, Vargas defied gender stereotypes to become one of the most legendary singers in Mexico. She "rose to fame flouting the Roman Catholic country's preconceptions of what it meant to be a female singer: singing lusty 'ranchera' songs while wearing men's clothes, carrying a pistol, drinking heavily and smoking cigars."

Segovia notes that a crucial element of Vargas's radical performance art was her seduction of women in the audience and her singing songs written to be sung by a man to a woman.

A major figure in Mexico City's mid-twentieth century artistic explosion, she was a friend and frequent house guest of the Mexican painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. She had an affair with Kahlo and was close to the gay Spanish poet Federico García Lorca.

Fittingly, she appeared in Julie Taymor's film Frida (2002), where she hauntingly sings "La Llorona," or "The Crier."

After gaining fame in the 1960s, Vargas fell into alcoholism in the 1970s. She retreated from the public sphere for about twelve years. She attempted comebacks with only modest success, though she did sing in local cabarets, especially those frequented by gay men, who throughout her career constituted a large fraction of her admirers.

In 1981, she made a major comeback with stellar performances in the Olympia Theatre of Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico, and the Palau de la Música in Barcelona.

She experienced another revival in the early 1990s. Gay filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar helped bring her a new audience by incorporating her bold, expressive, and seductive music into his films.

In 2000, the President of Spain presented Vargas with "la Cruz de la Orden Isabel Católica," one of the most prestigious awards for artistic production.

Vargas pursued an active working life into her nineties. In 2011, she released a new album of García Lorca's poems and appeared in concerts, singing from her wheelchair.

The video below captures Vargas in concert late in her life.

In the clip below, from Frida, Vargas sings "La Llorona."

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