Rediscover: Coming Unbuttoned

James Broughton (1913-1999) was a poet, filmmaker and author who was part of the San Francisco Renaissance, a predecessor of the Beats movement. He was a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a street performance group that uses drag and religious images for charity and LGBT activism, and the Radical Faeries, a spiritual group for gay men. Broughton maintained a joyful, sexually open attitude throughout his experimental films. He delighted in breaking taboos in work like The Bed, a 1967 short film that "celebrated the dance of life" and won multiple film festival awards.

In 1993, Broughton wrote the autobiography Coming Unbuttoned (published by City Lights Books). He recalls the earliest meeting with his muse, Hermy, whose radiant presence reappeared periodically from age three on: "He insisted I would always be a poet even if I tried not to be.... Despite what I might hear to the contrary the world was not a miserable prison, it was a playground for a nonstop tournament between stupidity and imagination. If I followed the game sharply enough, I could be a useful spokesman for Big Joy." Coming Unbuttoned shows how Broughton brought Big Joy to all his endeavors, from a professorship at the San Francisco Art Institute to his many relationships with men and women. Last year, Query Books republished Coming Unbuttoned ($17.95, 9781944507015) with a new foreword by Mark Thompson, author of the Gay Spirit, Gay Soul and Gay Body trilogy and editor for the Advocate magazine. --Tobias Mutter

Powered by: Xtenit