February 1 in LGBTQ History

1978: Tom of Finland has his first U.S. exhibit at Robert Opel’s Fey Way Gallery in San Francisco.

1979: A gang of teenage boys stands outside Tennessee Williams’s home in Key West, Florida, and begins throwing beer cans and firecrackers at the house while chanting “Come on out, faggot!” The incident is just the latest in a string of bizarre homophobic attacks aimed at the openly gay playwright.  Five days later, his dog is kidnapped from his backyard, never to be seen again.

1980: Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo opens nationwide.  Though rather homophobic (Richard Gere’s lead character states that he “doesn’t do fags”), the whole film is steeped in a gay aesthetic.  Years later, Schrader noted, “At the time we were at the apex of the gay movement in all its manifestations, especially in the arts.  The influence was everywhere–in our fashion, in disco, in the drug scene.  It affected that film’s aesthetic, too. All my friends at the time were gay.”

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