At age 15, Ari is a loner who has never had a friend before — until he meets Dante at the swimming pool. When Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim, the boys discover they make each other laugh, which seems more important than the fact that they have little in common.
Dante’s love of books and art, as well as his open appreciation of his parents, makes Ari look at his own family differently and inspires him to try to uncover the mystery of his dad, who rarely speaks. Over two summers and the intervening school year, the boys share laughs, secrets, and philosophies. As Aristotle tries to figure out his role in the universe, the importance of Dante’s friendship both bothers him and keeps him going — and, ultimately, changes the course of his life.
The story is narrated by Ari and it’s his point of view that colours the narrative. Ari is a loner who likes to wallow in its loneliness and who is in a state of constant anger: at the secrets his family keeps from him, at his father for not being open and talkative.
Dante is in a way, his opposite: quick to laugh and play, an artist and philosopher as well as a crier. Except as it turns out, they are not so different after all – and soon Ari learns to love poetry and philosophy and words whilst still being the same questioning, angry Ari (it takes him some time to learn that boys can cry too). The letting go of this anger (for a myriad of reasons) is one of the driving points of the novel and one that comes with a series of moments of self-discovery and life-discovery.
It’s interesting how Ari’s narrative is somewhat unreliable although not on purpose because it is very clear that Ari represses his feelings and don’t tell us how he truly feels about certain things because he doesn’t know them either – but his actions speak more than a thousand words.
Aristotle and Dante is a smart, intelligent, engaging coming-of-age story and a deep, thoughtful exploration of identity and sexuality. It turns out that both Ari and Dante are gay although it takes Ari the whole book to come to terms with it, whereas Dante is much more conformable in his own skin when it comes to his sexual identity. But there are other sides of who they are that are also thoughtfully examined here.
The BBC named Alan Turing the most ‘iconic’ figure of the 20th Century on Tuesday. Turing was instrumental in cracking Nazi codes during World War II. But he was later chemically castrated for being gay and committed suicide. He’s commonly known as the founding father of computer science. Broadcaster Chris Packham gave an inspiring and heartwarming speech commemorating his life:
To win the accolade, Turing beat figures such as Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Ernest Shackleton, Pablo Picasso, David Bowie and Muhammad Ali.
In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II pardoned Turing for his 1952 conviction for having sex with another man. Some 49,000 gay men were convicted for homosexuality. They include poet, wit and playwright Oscar Wilde.
When the Nazi Party seized power in Germany in July 1933, the newly installed dictatorship lost no time to persecute and murder minority groups, including Jews, queer people, the Romani, Socialists, Social Democrats and other political opponents. The Nazis built a network of concentration camps throughout Germany, where these “undesirable” groups were detained.
This persecution continued following the outbreak of World War II in 1939 and, between 1941 and 1945, the Nazi Party systematically murdered six million European Jews—as part of a plan known as “The Final Solution to the Jewish Problem”—in extermination camps and mass shootings. This genocide is referred to as the Holocaust, or the Shoah in Hebrew.
In total, up to 17 million people, including thousands of gay and bisexual men, were systematically killed at the hands of the Nazis.
Holocaust Memorial Day is held on January 27 annually—marking the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp—and remembers the millions of people killed by the Nazis and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
Nazi persecution of queer people
Under Nazi rule, the persecution of queer men intensified, although gay sex between men had already been illegal since 1871. It’s estimated that the Nazis imprisoned more than 50,000 gay men, including an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 men who were sent to concentration camps, according to research by historian Rüdiger Lautmann.
Although sex between women was not officially illegal in Nazi Germany, lesbians were also persecuted. But their persecution is “much harder to trace because they weren’t included in the penal code and there was no specific categorisation of gay women in concentration camps (although some were made to wear a black triangle badge used to denote “asocial” prisoners).
Trans people, too, are known to have been persecuted under the Nazis, including being sent to concentration camps. According to Transgender Day of Remembrance, in 1938 the Institute of Forensic Medicine recommended that the “phenomena of transvestism” be “exterminated from public life.”
New York bans gay conversion, protects trans people
In the state of New York bills to ban therapists and other mental health providers from engaging in gay conversion therapy with minors and prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression passed the state Assembly and Senate.
The bill makes it a an act of professional misconduct for mental health providers to engage in any practice that seeks to change the sexual orientation of any individual under the age of 18, including “efforts to change behaviours, gender identity or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings towards individuals of the same sex.” Read more about the the ban of gay conversion on minors here and about the new protections for trans people here.
The long war against a gay “cure”
For most of human history, homosexuality has been condemned on three grounds: that it is a sin, a crime, and a sickness. Despite the emergence in recent decades of gay-affirming scriptural exegeses, many major religious denominations continue to regard homosexual acts, if not the homosexual inclination itself, as immoral.
As to the second rationalization, only in 2003, with the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, was gay sex decriminalized across the United States, thereby lifting the menace of legal sanction that had long shadowed gay lives. And thirty years earlier, a similar liberation had taken place when the stigma of mental illness was officially disassociated from same-sex attraction.
For this latter advance in human understanding, we largely have Frank Kameny to thank. A Harvard-trained astronomer fired from his job in the Army Map Service in 1957 because of his sexual orientation, Kameny was the first person to challenge the federal government over its anti-gay discrimination policies.
Understanding that the rationale for barring highly qualified homosexuals like him from public service rested not only upon the McCarthyite claim that they were liable to subversion, but also that they were mentally unfit, he took it upon himself to change the scientific consensus. Kameny’s most consequential insight as an activist was that it was not the homosexual who is sick, but rather the society that deems him so.
Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891), often dubbed “the boy poet”, offended writer Charles Clos by using his poems as toilet paper, is said to have masturbated into the drink of pianist Ernest Cabaner, & enjoyed spoiling poetry readings by shouting ‘SHIT’ at the end of every line.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Arthur Rimbaud in the film Total Eclipse in a scene with fellow poet and lover Paul Verlaine (David Thewlis)
Lauded as one of the greatest French poets in history, Rimbaud has inspired many generations of poets. He also wrote the bulk of his poetry in his teens and gave up on writing altogether at 21, after finishing one of his most revered pieces, Illuminations.
His love affair with Paul Verlaine, was marked as turbulent, to say the least. Their relationship ended rather violently, with Verlaine shooting Rimbaud in the wrist with a revolver in Bruxelles.
Schwules Museum, a well-known queer museum in Berlin, Germany, has launched an exhibition titled Rainbow Arcade. It explores the rich history of queer themes and characters in video games since 1985.
The exhibition leads its visitors through different sections highlighted in different colours. The exhibit covers more than 30 years of queer content in games through fan art, memorabilia and video interviews with designers. The last part of the rainbow tour also presents several playable contemporary LGBTI titles.
The exhibition was curated by Adrienne Shaw with Jan Schnorrenberg from the Schwules Museum and German gaming journalist Sarah Rudolph. Shaw was also responsible for the rediscovery of 1989 explicitly queer game Caper in the Castro, by developer CM Ralph. The game takes place in San Francisco and the protagonist is a lesbian detective, Tracker McDyke. She will need to solve the disappearance of her friend and drag queen Tessy LaFemme.
Moreover, Shaw created the LGTBQ Video Game Archive website in 2016, the first attempt to catalogue queer content in games. “Until the archive, there just wasn’t a historical understanding of LGBTI content in this medium,” she told The Guardian. “It makes it really easy to forget that this kind of content has always been in games.”
According to their website, “the exhibition will be taking stock of contemporary pop cultural questions of representation, stereotypical and discriminatory narratives in entertainment media, and our cultural memory.” This will also be the first time a museum will show the research by the LGBTQ Game Archive.
“Rainbow Arcade is special because it explores the intersection of queer history and game history, two distinct areas of contemporary culture that have been neglected and underestimated for a long time and therefore haven’t been archived really well,” explains Schnorrenberg. “It is actually one of the very first sociopolitical video game exhibitions ever and many video games and designers that we are featuring have never been shown in a museum before.”
Yesterday was the day. From now on Tumblr will no longer allow “adult” content on its platform. But the microblogging site says it still wants users to think of it as a place to “explore sexuality.” This morning, Tumblr posted a lengthy message explaining its new guidelines, which are now in effect:
A couple of weeks ago we announced an update to our Community Guidelines regarding adult content, and we’ve received a lot of questions and feedback from you. First and foremost, we are sorry that this has not been an easy transition and we know we can do a better job of explaining what we’re doing.
It then went on to clarify that it won’t be “deleting” all adult content. Instead, it will be “hiding” it so only the person running the page to which the content was uploaded can view it. In other words: If you wanna post a racy video of yourself, that’s fine, but nobody except for you will ever be able to see it. Oh, and it can’t be too racy.
Seems completely pointless? Yup. Just like Tumblr as a whole nowadays. Tumblr went on to clarify that any content showing genitals or sexual acts, real or simulated, will no longer be permitted, adding:
Photorealistic imagery or photography–images, videos, or GIFs–with real humans that include exposed genitals or female-presenting (yeah, we know you hate this term) nipples or depict sex acts is not allowed per our guidelines.
Furthermore, Tumblr added that it “has always been home to marginalised communities and always will be”, and that it recognises its “special obligation” to these communities. It also said it doesn’t want to “silence the vital conversations that take place here every day.”
LGBTQ+ conversations, exploration of sexuality and gender, efforts to document the lives and challenges of those in the sex worker industry, and posts with pictures, videos, and GIFs of gender-confirmation surgery are all examples of content that is not only permitted on Tumblr but actively encouraged.
Good joke, Tumblr.
On Monday, Tumblr announced that it will ban “adult content” from its social network starting December 17. But the ban will penalise the site’s thousands of LGBTQ artists, educators, sex workers and others fans as well.
Tumblr’s move was foreseeable: Last November, Apple briefly removed Tumblr from its App Store. This January, the US congressional Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) will hold websites liable for when users post any content seen as promoting sex work. Eager to avoid prosecution, Tumblr and other sites are purging all sexual content.
An estimated 20% of Tumblr’s current traffic comes from people seeking adult content. So Tumblr’s decision will make the site more advertiser friendly while effectively killing off one-fifth of its user base. Its automated system for detecting adult content is currently flagging pictures of sand dunes, women sitting on desks, wrestlers and other non-explicit content. Thus, it’s hassling far more than just posters of adult content.
While Tumblr may retain its large fandom and social justice communities who use it to connect and share artwork, the ban will harm user who’ve amassed hundreds of thousands of followers through a shared love of erotic art & images celebrating sexuality. Meanwhile the site will still allow posts glorifyig white supremacy. Here are five communities that’ll be most harmed by Tumblr’s adult content ban.
Imagine living in a world where kids grow up not being taught that their bodies are something to be ashamed of or that sex is something nasty that will taint you as a person. Or actually being taught how to have sex safely to not get pregnant or STDs or how consent works.
You’ll need quite some imagination for this seeing how the West seems to slide back into the moral mindset of the 19th century lately. Led by American companies who have no problem whatsoever with violence or nazi propaganda on their sites, this new Puritan movement just culminated in one of the biggest social networks banning all NSFW content.
Tumblr, the site that has become a hub for so many communities and artists with adult themes, the site that is used to view porn by a majority of its users, wants to become a “better and more positive” place. Apparently that doesn’t include body or sex positivity. Tumblr did say that they won’t remove artistic nudity in art, paintings and sculptures for example but turns out that statement was not quite true as you can see below:
Two weeks from now, all NSFW content will be removed from Tumblr. The decision comes just weeks after the Tumblr app was removed from Apple’s iTunes store because of problems with Tumblr’s content filter. Apparently Tumblr came to the conclusion that just removing all porn would be easier than fixing their software.
The NSFW bloggers are easily Tumblr’s largest community so this move will be a huge blow to the site. The stock price of Tumblr’s parent company Verizon is in free fall and many users started fleeing the site, migrating to Twitter and other networks just hours after the decision was announced.