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Special Features Index  

Spotlight The Beats
  The writers of the nonconformist Beat Generation of the 1950s, many of whom were gay or bisexual, endorsed gay rights as a part of their rebellion against inhibition and self-censorship. As a result, several of their works rank as classics of Twentieth-Century Gay Male Literature before Stonewall.  
  Gay and Lesbian Bookstores Though openly Gay and Lesbian Bookstores probably did not exist during the 1950s, at least one independent bookstore, San Francisco's City Lights, and its proprietor, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, sold and promoted the work of such Beats as Allen Ginsberg, including his notorious, sexually explicit classic Howl and other Poems (1956).  
  Paul Bowles (1910-1999) was an American expatriate composer, writer, and translator who liked to examine sexuality from a dispassionate perspective for its psychological suggestiveness.  
  James Broughton Poet, avant-garde film artist, and Dionysian sage, James Broughton (1913-1999) more or less created the West Coast experimental film scene.  
  William Burroughs William Burroughs (1914-1997) was an outlaw and a provocateur in both his life and his novels. He focused on sexual repression as the fundamental element of social control and wrote in a surrealistic and bitterly satirical mode.  
  Censorship of homosexual literature was common during the first half of the twentieth century, but the failure of censors' efforts to suppress Allen Ginsberg's Howl and Other Poems (1956) and William Burroughs' Naked Lunch (1959) contributed to the battle against literary censorship in the United States.  
  Robert Duncan (1919-1988) published an article entitled "The Homosexual in Society" in 1944. While his openness damaged his career, it also allowed him to create a remarkable series of poems that deal directly with the love of men for other men.  
  Allen Ginsberg Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) is probably the best-known U.S. poet to emerge in the post-World War II period. His first book, Howl and Other Poems (1956), is a sharp, sexually explicit denunciation of America's cultural temper during the Cold War.  
  Jack Kerouac Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) is primarily known for his novels depicting Beat life, though his experimental writings inspired several writers because of their inventiveness and unique use of sound. Though he was bisexual, he omitted references to his homosexuality from his otherwise autobiographical works.  
  Harold Norse Harold Norse (1916-2009) was a poet and memoirist often categorized as a Beat writer. His poetry uses everyday language to express homoerotic attractions and encounters not as novelty but as lived experience.  
  Frank O'Hara (1926-1966) was influenced by both modern art and urban gay male culture. One of his most important innovations was an allegiance to popular culture in his poetry.  
  John Rechy John Rechy (b. 1934) was not strictly a member of the Beat Movement, but his gritty novels City of Night (1963) and Numbers (1967), which are set in the homosexual demimonde of the 1960s, were unmistakably influenced by the Beats.  
  Larry Rivers (1923-2002), one of the pioneers of Pop Art, was an acclaimed artist, musician, writer, teacher, and sometime actor and filmmaker who was closely associated with the Beats. Though he described himself as a "normal heterosexual," he had several affairs with men including poet Frank O'Hara.  


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