Why gay history?
Well it’s sort of obvious.
Early on, James Broughton was important to the vibrant post-World War II community of artists in San Francisico known as the San Francisco Renaissance (which gave birth to the Beat era). Like many gay artists, his (early) work was often subjected to heavy self censorship in order to reach a wider audience. Back then, being gay wasn’t something you mentioned in public; in fact, it could cost you your job, or worse. In his personal life, Broughton also felt and succumbed to societal pressure to lead an outwardly heterosexual life style. Then, in his 60’s, he met his soulmate Joel Singer, and everything changed. He got married to Joel (before that was even a thing). He went on to produce many vibrantly gay works, (the poem “Nipples and Cocks” comes to mind!) and lived his life as an openly gay and joyful human being. As author and Broughton friend Mark Thompson put it:
“James Broughton wasn’t wearing a gay liberation flag, he didn’t need to do that. He was embodying it, he was living it.” – Mark Thompson
Watch this short video where you see James’ journey from an unsure young man into “one of the major poetic voices for gay liberation.”
This month we will explore his story, which is like others, and yet unique. We’ll explore some of Broughton’s particularly gay poetry and works. We’ll explore how far we’ve come in gay history, ask ourselves why it is important, and look at other artists who’ve worked to help us break out of societal pressures.
We’ll ask questions like,
“What times in your life have you felt societal pressure to conform?”
“What helped you break free of conforming and start to follow your own weird?”
We’ll ask you about your personal role models, and explore other interesting topics all related to our BIG JOY SPARK October theme: Gay History.