On Tuesday, June 18th, at 9 pm, PBS will air a documentary called The Lavender Scare, about the purge of homosexuals from government jobs in the 1950s. President Dwight Eisenhower deemed LGBTQ people to be “security risks” due to the possibility that they might be subject to blackmail.
Narrated by Glenn Close and featuring the voices of Cynthia Nixon and David Hyde Pierce, based on David K. Johnson’s book The Lavender Scare, the film was directed by Josh Howard, who has won two dozen Emmy Awards, mostly for his work on 60 Minutes.
PBS partners with the Portland Public Library to present the POV film series, a program that allows the Library to screen documentaries prior to their official air dates on PBS. Unfortunately The Lavender Scare is not a part of that series, and although it has played at various film festivals, for most of us, our first chance to see it will be on our local PBS station on June 18th.
For a press release about the film, click here. For a review by film critic Godfrey Cheshire, click on this link.
Our hearts are saying hi! June Staff Picks explore LGBTQ+ voices in music, poetry, art, and our nonfiction and fiction collections.
My June pick is the soundtrack for the original Broadway musical Fun Home, adapted from Alison Bechdel’s brilliant graphic memoir of the same name. Bechdel came out to her parents in college, and shortly after learned that her father was a closeted gay man. Fun Home explores these broad plot strokes with countless other precise and memorable details about Bechdel’s life. The stage production won five Tony Awards (including Best Musical) and is the first musical ever to feature a lesbian protagonist. Both the memoir and musical are complex stories, artfully told, but the soaring music and clever lyrics (by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron) make the soundtrack especially worth picking up. Check out the tracks “Changing My Major” for a sweet, comic take on first love, and “Ring of Keys” (quoted above) for an innocent, profound moment of discovery.
At the moment, I’m also relishing a collection of Molly Malone Cook’s photographs with accompanying text by her life partner, beloved poet Mary Oliver. What a delight to hold a book that softly glows with Oliver’s love as she speaks of Cook’s craft. The very title, Our World, brings forth the idea of two artists finding a way to approach the world we all share, but also a way to share it intimately as a pair. A reminder of all love should be allowed to be: simple, abiding, proud.
Sarah R’s Picks
On a recent and rare trip to the movies I got to enjoy Wild Nights With Emily, in which Molly Shannon gives life to Emily Dickinson’s lesser-known but delightfully gay side. Pulling from a collection of love letters, which history had straight-washed, the film sheds light on the (sometimes secretive) queer romances of great poets. Why not get whisked away by some verse from LGBTQ+ wordsmiths across the ages? Might as well begin with the many translations and unearthed fragments of Sappho, the Ancient Greek poet laureate for women who love women. Onward to the early twentieth century: spend some time with Maine-born bisexual icon and Pulitzer Prize for Poetry-winning Edna St. Vincent Millay, whose own sapphic correspondences can be found in a book of collected letters. For woke and hilarious poetry by a living, breathing, captivating writer, check out Nature Poem by Tommy Pico. The book-length poem muses on colonialism and pop culture among other things, and is full of cheeky remarks on dating as an Indigenous, queer city dweller: “I don’t like boys, men, or guys,” the protagonist states at the top of a page, later concluding with, “Men dancing is fine tho. / Or like maybe men in socks? I dunno.”
“In the beginning, there is no he. There is no she.”
In her 2015 novel She of the Mountains (our Reader’s Advisory June 10 Book of the Week) Vivek Shraya shares two tales of love: stories of the goddess Parvati and her beloved Shiva intertwine with those of two lovers in modern Canada. A lyricalexploration of the complexities of individuality, queerness, and understanding, and a powerful story about hearing your own voice over the din of the crowd, Shraya’s riveting work challenges homophobia and identity policing from all corners. This swift, heartfelt, thought-provoking read resonates.
Bonus picks: Vivek Shraya’s new nonfiction title I’m Afraid of Men looks at “how we might reimagine gender for the twenty-first century.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 700 cases of measles have been reported in the United States this year. With Maine’s first confirmed case in two years, you may have many questions about how it was reintroduced, and how to take care of yourself and your family.
Here are some librarian-approved resources to help answer your questions:
What is measles? How is it diagnosed and treated?
MedlinePlus is run by the National Institutes of Health, and it is a go-to website for quality health information. They are providing a page with comprehensive information about measles, including symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
Who is contracting measles, and how?
Interested in getting the facts about the current outbreak? The Centers for Disease Control offer information on outbreaks, including where cases have been reported and information about the origin of each outbreak in the United States.
How can I keep young children from being exposed to measles?
What should you do if you’re exposed to measles? How effective is the measles vaccine? How does the CDC respond to measles cases? Find answers to frequently asked questions on the CDC’s Measles FAQ page.
If you have personal health questions, it’s best to contact your healthcare provider. You can also contact your local health officer of the Maine CDC with any measles-related questions or concerns.
Are you doing research on measles, vaccines, or other health-related topics? If so, please contact Rebecca Starr, PPL’s Health Librarian with your questions. I’m happy to help you to get informed!