In popular culture, with the advent of Ellen’s talk show and popular sitcoms like Glee and Modern Family, being gay and being out can appear chic, vogue and easy. But reality negates this ideology and the proof of that can be seen in a newscasts where young gay people jump from bridges, fearful of the social stigmas and repercussions of being outed.
June is National Gay Pride Month, and on Sunday, June 26 at 4:30 p.m., the will have a salute to Gay Pride with a reading by two celebrated authors: Erin McHugh and Elaine Sexton.
Erin McHugh is a former publishing executive and the author of numerous books. Her latest book, The L Life: Extraordinary Lesbians Making a Difference, is a beautifully rendered portrait-album as well as a tribute to out and proud gay women. The seasoned photographer Jennifer May took all the photos.
In The L Life, Ms. McHugh speaks to and writes a diverse set of women: actress Jane Lynch of the sitcom Glee and the Christopher Guest movie Best in Show; Linda Villarosa, a novelist, journalist, and former Executive editor at Essence magazine; and Dr. Susan Love, writer, researcher, who partnered with Avon to start the Love/Avon Army of Women to fight and prevent breast cancer.
Elaine Sexton is a poet, with two collections of poetry: Sleuth and the most recent Causeway. She also teaches poetry workshops at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College and works in magazine publishing.
Sexton’s poetry captures and encapsulates the everyday with an acute and intuitive eye for details that lay beneath surfaces and plains. In the poem Public Transportation from her collection Sleuth she writes:
…She is a brain surgeon or a designer of blowdryers.
I know this because I am in her skin this morning
riding the bus, happy to be not young, happy to be
thrilled that it is cold and I have a warm hat on.
Everyone is someone other than you think under her skin…
In a Q & A with Frank Juliano, Director of HVWC, I asked why it is important to have LGBT writers read at HVWC?
It is important because we support all writers, first and foremost. As a gay man, I want to celebrate and honor my colleagues. Lastly, all groups, all diversities, must be represented by the arts.
Is there something special about Erin and Elaine as writers?
Why Erin and Elaine? As Larry Kramer said on the Tony Awards program, gay people are extraordinary. Elaine is a brilliant writer, poet and teacher. She is renowned in her field. Erin is that rare combination – political activist and artist. She has a keen perspective and a point of view that demands attention, yet she is humble and incredibly supportive of others.
What does HVWC hope to accomplish with its reading series?
All our readings are to promote the art and craft of writing and the spoken word. All our voices should be heard – whether we are black, white, Hispanic, rich, poor, gay… There is nothing truly more democratic than the arts, and as arts professionals, it is our responsibility to provide those opportunities for people to share in these common experiences.
Erin McHugh is a former publishing executive and the author of nineteen books, including the five-volume series The Portable Queer. She is currently working on her upcoming book, One Good Deed. She lives in New York City and South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. You can see other books by Erin McHugh at All Book Store.
Elaine Sexton is teacher and Executive Publisher with Harris Publication and is the author of two collections of poetry, Sleuth and Causeway, both published with New Issues (Western Michigan University). She lives in New York City. You can check out more of Elaine Sexton’s poetry at From the Fishhouse.