Art, music, avante gard, masks, tuba, thoughts, dreams
In the English-speaking world, the modern gay and lesbian movement begins not with the Stonewall riots in 1969, but with Oscar Wilde’s conviction in 1895 for “gross indecency,” and in particular with the famous speech Wilde gave at his trial on “the love that dare not speak its name.” His speech caused the public gallery in the courtroom to burst into spontaneous applause, much to the chagrin of the judge and prosecutors. It was this trial, and the public witness that Wilde gave to a particular vision of homosexuality, which turned the issue of homosexuality into a public controversy that rages to this day. It was the Wilde trial which—not solely, but certainly more than any other single event—first imparted to queer people in large numbers both a place in the public consciousness and a consciousness of their own queer identity without which the later Stonewall riots would in fact have been impossible.
Before the availability of the tape recorder and during the 1950s, when vinyl was scarce, people in the Soviet Union began making records of banned Western music on discarded x-rays. With the help of a special device, banned bootlegged jazz and rock ‘n’ roll records were “pressed” on thick radiographs salvaged from hospital waste bins and then cut into discs of 23-25 centimeters in diameter. “They would cut the X-ray into a crude circle with manicure scissors and use a cigarette to burn a hole,” says author Anya von Bremzen. “You’d have Elvis on the lungs, Duke Ellington on Aunt Masha’s brain scan — forbidden Western music captured on the interiors of Soviet citizens.”