The What, Where, & When of Gay Buffalo
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Publisher: Tim Moran

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In Memory

Mike Maffei
3/20/53 - 12/28/06

Mike was a beloved figure
in Buffalo's local folk music/coffeehouse scene. Mike lived for almost 17 years with AIDS. His activism was widely admired and to know Mike was to feel inspired.


2013’s Interior. Leather Bar, a provocative, short film by directors James Franco and Travis Mathews, defies easy categorization. On one level it purports to be a film that re-creates 40 minutes of S&M imagery that was cut from William Friedkin’s 1980 thriller, Cruising. It quickly becomes apparent that it is also a documentary about the making of their film. But the lines between reality and fiction begin to blur when it also becomes obvious that everything is staged, much of it is scripted and the actors are, in fact, being directed.


Fade in on an adorable young man who looks like the boy next door. He is obsessed with "Go," a muscular and handsome go-go dancer, whom he has been stalking on a website. He impulsively sends Go a drunken e-mail wherein he pretends that he is filming a documentary about dancers and that he is looking for a subject who can be his “muse.” Getting Go, The Go Doc Project is an edgy, yet also at times poignant, look at an introverted young gay man who gets more than he bargained for when he meets his internet fantasy in the flesh.

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While watching 2013’s Stranger by the Lake, there were times when I was reminded of The Garden Of Earthly Delights, painted by Hieronymus Bosch. The entire film takes place at a lake in south France that is a popular gay cruising spot. The beach is dotted with nude men sunbathing and there’s action aplenty in the surrounding woods. Promiscuity is on parade yet much of this is oddly charming. The forest is a carnal Disneyland, yet innocent as a Garden of Eden. However, like the right hand panel of Bosch’s famous triptych, there is also a dark side to paradise.
Brokeback Mountain is the Citizen Kane of queer cinema. Some films make an impact on their first release only to be forgotten later. This one has lost none of its raw power. Brokeback Mountain was the breakthrough film that we awaited for decades. It was an exquisitely crafted movie, a critical and commercial success, and a surprise crossover hit. Conservative pundits and the family councils all went into apoplexy, jokes were made by comedians, and the mythology of the American cowboy underwent a major revision. But, above all, Brokeback Mountain was a love story that resonated with audiences both gay and straight.

According to popular legend, playwright Tennessee Williams underwent psychoanalysis in 1957 to "cure" his homosexuality and the play Suddenly Last Summer was the result. This is inaccurate; the truth is much more complicated than that. Many view Suddenly Last Summer, especially the film version, as being one of the ultimate artistic expressions of a self loathing queer. The inclusion of a negatively portrayed homosexual is hardly proof of this; Williams' fiction is populated with far more grotesque examples of heterosexuals.

Edwardian England was not a good time to be gay. The climate was so bad that noted novelist E.M. Forster began writing a book with a homosexual hero in 1913 that he never published in his lifetime. That book, of course, is Maurice and, in 1987, Merchant Ivory Productions adapted the book to the screen. The film features superb performances and a meticulous attention to period detail. It is a rich filmgoing experience and one of the most beautiful films in all of queer cinema.
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