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Whitney Houston and Robyn Crawford, Writers on Stonewall’s 50th, and More LGBTQ News

Whitney Houston and Robyn Crawford, Writers on Stonewall’s 50th, and More LGBTQ News

Author: Brian Gentes

May 19, 2019

Recently, in LGBTQ news…

David Reddish at Queerty reports that Whitney Houston’s “longtime lesbian” companion Robyn Crawford, has written a tell-all book about her “friendship with Houston which began when the pair met at a New Jersey high school.” A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston will be published by Dutton in November, and in the publisher’s words: “Finally, the person who knew her best sets the record straight.”

In other memoir news, Chelsea Manning is working on a memoir, which Farrar, Straus & Giroux will publish next year. The New York Times’s Charlie Savage spoke with her about the book, which is yet to be titled and will center more on Manning’s life and gender identity than on the Wikileaks court battles:

Chelsea Manning

Photo: Chelsea Manning via The New York Times

This is less a book about the case and more a book about trials, tribunals, struggles, difficulties, and overcoming them and surviving. If people are expecting to learn a lot more about the court-martial and a lot more about the case, then they probably shouldn’t be interested in this book. But if they want to know more about what it’s like to be me and survive, then there are reams of information in here.


I’m really opening myself up to some really intimate things in this book, some really very personal moments and much more intimate points of my life that I’ve never disclosed before. You’re probably going to learn more about my love life than about the disclosures.

June 28th will be the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. “Like any historical symbol that is asked to carry so much significance,” the editors of Harper’s Magazine note, “Stonewall sometimes bears its weight uneasily.”

To mark the anniversary, Harper’s asked eight prominent contemporary LGBTQ writers–Alexander Chee, T Cooper, Garth Greenwell, Eileen Myles, Darryl Pinckney, Brontez Purnell, Michelle Tea, and T Kira Madden–“to respond to the simple but surprisingly fraught question: What does Stonewall mean to you?”

Edmund White also wrote on the subject for his introduction to The Stonewall Reader, which Penguin Press released last month. Literary Hub has an excerpt.

Alexander Chee, Masha Gessen, and Barbara Smith will be receiving special honors at the Lammys this year, and Lambda’s own William Johnson recently spoke with them for Literary Hub about the queer books that influenced them. (If you’d like to attend the Lammy ceremony in New York on June 3, you can still get tickets here!)

The theme of this year’s Met Gala was Camp, and for the occasion, Matthew Schneier at The New York Times convened six experts to debate “that celebration of artifice and exaggeration” which Susan Sontag called “a vision of the world in terms of style.”

Not long after Truman Capote first met Jack Dunphy in 1948, Capote decided he “needed to win him over,” Ratha Tep writes in The New York Times; to do this, “he hatched a plan: they would head to Italy.” Tep retraces their steps along the Mediterranean, stopping and exploring the places where Capote worked on Summer Crossing, The Grass Harp, and In Cold Blood.

And if Tep’s piece interests you, consider checking out Christopher Castellani’s latest novel, Leading Men, which begins with Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo meeting Capote during this same period at his party in Portofino.

Find Me coverFind Me, André Aciman’s sequel to Call Me By Your Name, has a cover. The book, which “revisits its complex and beguiling characters decades after their first meeting,” is due out in October from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Journalist Lyra McKee was killed while covering the violence in Northern Ireland last month. Rest in peace, Lyra.

At the Los Angeles Review of Books blog, Grace Hadland wrote about seeing the new film Wild Nights with Emily, which she says “introduces a new genre—a kind of mock period piece biopic with a lesbian feminist bent.”

And The Advocate’s Tracy E. Gilchrist spoke with Annabel Jankel about her new film Tell It to the Bees, an adaptation of the Fiona Shaw novel starring Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger.

In other film adaptation news, Ashok Rajamani’s memoir, The Day My Brain Exploded, has been optioned by Animus Films.

Jeanna Kadlec at Literary Hub wrote about the use of coded queer language to reconstruct queer identity in literary history:

If you believe your history textbook tells the whole story—if you believe a history of the state—then your history of queer folks is going to be markedly short, especially if you are looking for queer and trans people of color.

LGBTQ literary historian Hugh Ryan, whose recent book When Brooklyn Was Queer Kadlec cites in her piece, recently appeared on the Literary Disco podcast to talk about the “long, meandering path to finishing his book.”

Ben Morse spoke with comic book artist Phil Jimenez for about how the X-Men changed his life:

“My obsession with the X-Men is what spurred me on to create my own comic books,” Jimenez reflects. “By the time I left high school, I had almost 50 comic books that I had written and drawn—all rooted in some facsimile of the X-Men universe—to my name, and this was the portfolio I used to get into art school in New York City!”

“Would American Psycho be published today?” asks The Guardian’s Leo Benedictus as he considers the differences between shocking books of different eras, from Lolita all the way to contemporary prize-winning novels such as A Little Life and The Underground Railroad.

Ross Mcindoe wrote about the late Oliver Sacks’s obsession with weightlifting for Literary Hub, and what insight his fitness regime might provide to the author’s writing. Sacks’s final volume of essays, Everything in Its Place, was published by Knopf in April.

At RadioTimes, Thomas Ling wrote a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into narrating an audiobook, which is “a lot harder than you think.”

Looking for something new to read? The Millions’s Kelsey Wroten has put together a list of essential graphic novels and memoirs about queer women.


Featured image of Robin Crawford with Whitney Houston (via Queerty)
Chelsea Manning by Hannah Mckay/Reuters via The New York Times


Brian Gentes photo

About: Brian Gentes

Brian Gentes is Lambda Literary's awards manager.

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