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Popular Topics in The Arts
Drag Shows: Drag Queens and Female Impersonators Drag Shows: Drag Queens and Female Impersonators
Female impersonation need say nothing about sexual identity, but it has for a long time been almost an institutionalized aspect of gay male culture.
Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall
Although sparse in images documenting the gay community, pre-Stonewall gay male photography blurs the boundaries between art, erotica, and social history.
Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male
Given the historic stigma around making, circulating, and possessing overtly homoerotic images, the visual arts have been especially important for providing a socially sanctioned arena for depicting the naked male body and suggesting homoerotic desire.
New Queer Cinema
Independent films that aggressively assert homosexual identity and queer culture, the New Queer Cinema can be seen as the culmination of several developments in American cinema.
White, Minor
Renowned photographer, teacher, critic, editor, and curator, Minor White created some of the most interesting photographs of male nudes of the second half of the twentieth century, but did not exhibit them for fear of scandal.
Halston (Roy Halston Frowick)
The first international fashion superstar, Halston dressed and befriended some of America's most glamorous women.
Surrealism Surrealism
An artistic movement that grew out of Dadaism and flourished in Europe shortly after World War I, Surrealism embraced the idea that art was an expression of the subconscious.
Winfield, Paul
Film, stage, and television actor Paul Winfield was openly gay in his private life, but maintained public silence about his homosexuality.
In Memoriam
In Memoriam: Emile Griffith (1938-2013)
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 07/24/13
Last updated on: 07/24/13
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Emile Griffith.

Bisexual boxing champion Emile Griffith died on July 23, 2013 in Hempstead, New York, the result of kidney failure and complications of dementia. During the period from the late 1950s through the mid-1970s, Griffith was a leading boxer. He held the world welterweight championship three times, the middleweight title twice, and the newly created junior middleweight title once. But he was best known for the fatal beating he administered to rival Benny Paret in 1962 to regain his welterweight championship and for the rumors of homosexuality that dogged him throughout his career.

As Richard Goldstein recounts in his New York Times obituary of Griffith, the third fight between Griffith and Paret for the welterwight championship was touted as a grudge match because during the weigh-in Paret had referred to Griffith as gay, using the Spanish epithet "maricón." The insult seemed to goad Griffith to a fury that resulted in his decisive victory in the match, a victory that, unfortunately, led to Paret's death ten days later.

Griffith was born in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, but was reared in New York. He became a national Golden Gloves champion as a teen-ager and turned professional in 1958. He won his first championship in 1961. In 1977, after losing a career-unprecedented three straight bouts, he retired.

In boxing circles Griffith was widely rumored to be gay. After his retirement, he acknowledged his attraction to men, but said that he was bisexual.

In 1992, Griffith was the victim of a gay bashing. He was severely beaten after leaving a gay bar in New York's Times Square, his kidneys damaged so badly that he was near death. The assailants were never caught.

In 2005, he told Sports Illustrated, "I will dance with anybody. I've chased men and women. I like men and women both."

That same year, he told New York Times columnist Bob Herbert that he had struggled his entire life with his sexuality, and agonized over what he could say about it. He said he knew it was impossible in the early 1960s for an athlete in an ultramacho sport like boxing to say, "Oh, yeah, I'm gay."

Herbert concluded that "after all these years, he wanted to tell the truth. . . . He no longer wanted to hide."

Griffith is survived by three brothers, four sisters, and his longtime companion, caretaker, and adopted son Luis Griffith.

The story of Griffith and Paret is detailed in the touching video below.

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