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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                139
                Jack Twist was James Dean.
                As an insight into the pervasive pop-culture influence of Drummer,
             it is worth noting that long before Annie Proulx ever spun the yarn for
             her sensitive Edna Ferber-esque short story for The New Yorker (1997), the
             archetype, plot, and characters of that cowboy love story had appeared in
             a dozen testosterone versions during twenty-four years in Drummer.
                Dean died iconic, a misunderstood good boy, like an anguished Peter
             Pan who people judged was a victim of his life in the fast lane.
                In other words, Dean was like a good middle-class boy who thinks he
             fits in until interior voices tell him he doesn’t, and outsiders try to shame
             him with guilt.
                James Dean died a rebel forever. That’s what queers are. It takes
             an act of rebellion, an act of revolution to come out of the closet, and
             then — the sucker punch! — not get sucked down into gay culture where
             a lifestyle is not a life.
                If readers thought I brought “something special” to the leather cul-
             ture of Drummer, it was, maybe, simply that quintessence of liberated
             masculine-identified gay male I saw in the rebellious fuck-you stare of
             James Dean.
                Because of his face that had validated a generation of young men, I
             changed the face of Drummer during my three years as editor in chief and
             validated the new generation of homomasculine men
             •   with my pen writing about our authentic leather scene and not
                about camp,
             •   with my own camera shooting real people who were players one
                could meet in real life, and
             •   with my grassroots Drummer Outreach to readers to participate
                in my gonzo journalism by sending in photos of their accessible
                selves for features like my “Tough Customers” so that Drummer
                was not filled only with the faces and bodies of don’t-touch-me
                models.
                If I hadn’t struggled against all odds to write about a man like James
             Dean, I might not have become muscular enough to write Drummer.
                Back in the 1950s when, as a teenager, I had to read between the lines,
             and then learned to write between the lines, I ached for the day I would
             write lines that were out, honest, verite, masculine, and erotic.
                That’s how James Dean fitted me up for Drummer.
                He was identity.
                He was desire.
                He was a hot dangerous image a careful driver sees approaching in a
             rear-view mirror.



           ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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