Best Of The Web
“In the 1940s, sexologist Alfred Kinsey, who was on the verge of publishing his first major report on male sexuality in the US, enlisted a photographer named Thomas Painter to investigate gay subcultures. Painter, a white, openly gay man, had taken to photographing hustlers on the beach at Coney Island, one of New York City’s earliest gay hubs. He was particularly drawn to masculine white men who generally viewed themselves as heterosexual; Painter offered to take their photos, a trick he used as a lead-in to sex. In letters sent to Kinsey, Painter reported on the men’s sexual prowess and the changing landscape of Coney Island’s gay scene.
Although Painter was sometimes physically attacked, many men agreed to sleep with him — sometimes for money, sometimes not. “They don’t necessarily see themselves as being any different because of what they’re doing with him or other men,” said historian Hugh Ryan, who featured Painter in his 2019 book When Brooklyn Was Queer.
In one letter to Kinsey, Painter paraphrased a heterosexual-identified man who explained why he slept with Painter: “It does him no harm, is not unpleasant … so why not do it?”
But by the mid-1950s, as categories of heterosexuality and homosexuality hardened in the American consciousness, Painter noticed a change. Where once these straight-identified hustlers could move freely in and out of queer spaces, they were now defined by their association with queer men. Women wouldn’t sleep with them because they assumed these men were homosexual; the mixed bars serving both queer and nonqueer clientele that Painter frequented started closing down, and a polar vision of sexuality that also discounted bisexuality took cultural hold. Men who had a more fluid sense of their own heterosexuality thus had to suppress their desires.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"Blackface. I’ve been writing about, and researching – and opposing – racism for more than thirty years. And make no mistake: blackface isn’t funny. It’s racist. Ask Megyn Kelly. A year ago, the former Fox News star was filming a segment about..."
"Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s “selfie line” may be a “political phenomenon,” according to CNN, but it’s also a misnomer, twice over: The photos that supporters end up with aren’t technically selfies—campaign aides snap them—and no one waits in a line..."
"In the archives of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, there is an old postcard from the city aquarium of a large sea turtle with four boys straddling its back. The turtle lies flattened upon a pathway in front of a fence. At the feet..."
"As we celebrated my granddaughter’s third birthday this summer, I made the following rough calculation: I’d trekked from my home in New Jersey to her Brooklyn apartment roughly 150 times to provide once-a-week day care, plus other times as needed."
"That seems to be the emerging bipartisan consensus. “On the evidence we have, the meritocratic ideal ends up being just as undemocratic as the old emphasis on inheritance and tradition,” writes New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. “Our..."
"It was the 2019 Pet Sematary that finally broke me. Was this really necessary? I seethed in a theater earlier this year, at a loss for why anyone would green light a self-serious update to a 30-year-old so-bad-it's-good movie. "Update," even, was.."
"Tuesday was election day in Israel. But no winner has yet been declared. As of this writing, it appears that the parties committed to supporting Benjamin Netanyahu for prime minister will not win a majority in Knesset. At the same time, the..."
"The last time Netflix asked me “Are you still watching?” I had to think really hard about it. Was I still watching? Or at least enough to make my $16-a-month payment worth it? The subscription economy can be a wonderful thing. We don’t have to..."