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Barr, James (James Fugaté) (1922-1995)  
 
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For Der Kreis that year Fugaté wrote a vigorous defense of effeminate gay men, beginning: "A growing malady among American homosexuals today, as we are forced into a more closely united group, seems to be a particularly irrational snobbery directed against our more effeminate members." It is a very sensitive article, and all the more remarkable in that his fiction often presented effeminacy as the worst thing that could happen to a man.

Also in 1955, Fugaté began a regular book column for One Magazine in which he gave personal opinions on writers of the day. The rather esoteric selection of authors--Curzio Malaparte, Kurt Singer, Arthur Koestler--may explain why only three columns appeared.

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Fugaté's play Game of Fools was published in June 1955. The month before, in anticipation, he took the major step of revealing his real name in a very informative article in Mattachine Review, in which he told the story of his "Release from the Navy under Honorable Conditions." His name was given as James (Barr) Fugaté, and an editorial note disclosed that he pronounced his last name "Few-gay-tee." That name then appeared on Game of Fools. (The acute accent in his last name, and the corresponding pronunciation, may have been added as an affectation, a means of distancing himself from his Middle American background or from the unflattering similarity between his name and a vulgarity.)

The play describes the arrest--and its aftermath--of four gay college students who are spending a weekend together in a cabin in the woods. In depicting the reactions of their families and the court, he exposes the pervasive religious bigotry that threatens all homosexuals.

Fugaté said of religious bigotry: "I have observed, perhaps too keenly, in some of my less fortunate friends the almost incurable horrors to be suffered from the accident of believing in a faith that is totally incompatible with their natural inclinations. It seemed well to try to expose this situation, and at the same time the reverse of the medal. The result was not to be an all out attack for the annihilation of the churches as such, but rather a pattern of revolutionary thinking to point up to the individual his strength and his precious right to choose or discard as he wishes."

A special number of Der Kreis in 1955 was devoted to " in American countries." It included a review (in French) of Les Amours de l'enseigne Froelich (1952), a French translation of Quatrefoil. The editor of the English section of Der Kreis made a German translation of Quatrefoil but was still unable to find a publisher a decade later. In October 1955 the first performance of Game of Fools was given in German in Zurich by the group associated with Der Kreis as part of their twenty-fifth anniversary celebration. (Actually, only the second act of the two-act play was presented.)

In April 1956 Fugaté, now described as "one of the most controversial writers on the subject of homosexuality in this country today," reflected on the psychological state of homosexuals in an article in Mattachine Review, prompted by the murder of three boys in Chicago. In this article he pointed out the illogic in the hysteria that called for stronger laws against all sexual deviates. But, like other members of the homophile movement of the day, Barr believed that homosexuality was not a desirable state, that many homosexuals could (and should) go straight, that with the right psychiatric treatment "thousands of homosexuals might hope to lead the lives of normal men if psychiatric treatment is administered early enough and at prices they can afford to pay."

Looking back, we are tempted to condemn this view as naive or even self-hating, but as Larry Kramer (born 1935) has pointed out: "My generation has had special, if not unique, problems. We were the generation psychoanalysts tried to change."

In the early 1960s, Fugaté returned to New York and acquired an agent who helped him bring out a reprint of Quatrefoil in 1965 and his second novel The Occasional Man in 1966. Also rather autobiographical, The Occasional Man is far better written than Fugaté's first novel. The author later noted, "Though badly flawed, I still think it's the best piece of writing I've turned out."

Lacking some of the "message" of Quatrefoil, The Occasional Man is quite entertaining. It also differs from Quatrefoil in presenting several gay sex scenes--in surprising detail. Barr knew New York gay life intimately, and he used his knowledge to advantage in this story of a forty-year-old trying to recover from the sudden dissolution of a fifteen-year love affair. The protagonist does so through his contacts with four contrasting men: Hermie, a black man his age, who owns a gay bar and is wise about gay life; Gus, a young moving-man, who is handsome but dumb (and heterosexual, but willing to engage in a limited amount of sexual contact with men); a beautiful drifter called Pretty John; and Count de Groa, an older and enormously wealthy European (apparently an ex-Nazi living in Argentina), who is also a sexual connoisseur. This last character finally wins the protagonist.

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