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Exhibition installation view of Robert Mapplethorpe: the perfect medium at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 27 Oct 2017 – 18 Feb 2018. All artworks © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission. Photo: AGNSW, Christopher Snee

Friday essay: Mapplethorpe and me

The distinctive visual style of Robert Mapplethorpe’s beautiful, oversized images seems now more classical than shocking. But he can still reveal the subconscious of an era we think we have outgrown.
A rainbow wreath laid by defence forces at a contemporary Anzac Day service. Daniel Spellman/Defence Gay and Lesbian Information Service

Witch-hunts and surveillance: the hidden lives of queer people in the military

Until 1992, being a gay or lesbian soldier was illegal in Australia. New research is unearthing the heartbreaking stories of people who devoted their lives to the military but were discharged when their sexuality was exposed.
André Holland and Trevante Rhodes in Moonlight: it has seemed in recent years that queer films are just not Best Picture material. A24, Plan B Entertainment

With Moonlight’s Oscar win, Hollywood begins to right old wrongs

When Warren Beatty began his acting career in the 1950s, the idea of homosexual men at the centre of a cinematic story could not be countenanced. Moonlight still shows us lives generally absent from film screens.
Queer in more ways than one…The Lobster marries the romantic and political. The Lobster

Is a story about heterosexual coupling the queerest film of the past year?

The narrative of monogamous coupledom exerts much force in our imaginative and social worlds - even queer films are dominated by love plots. But The Lobster, a savagely funny film about heterosexual love, is a welcome exception.
Fanfiction: all it takes is to imagine a story beyond the canonical work. Kristina Alexanderson/flickr

Explainer: what is fanfiction?

Fanfiction is nebulous, confusing and often mocked. It's also explosively popular. So what is it?
Set in what seems like an eternal dusk, Tangerine is breathtaking in its beauty and garishness. Images courtesy of MIFF

From iPhone to iFilm: the queer experience of Tangerine

US director Sean Baker's Tangerine is a film that's queer in both storyline and filmmaking approach. Featuring trans actors and shot on an iPhone 5S, it teases with ideas of authenticity and truth.
Empire, currently screening on Channel Ten, is throwing stereotypes to the wind and presenting strong drama that is black, queer, and diverse. Channel Ten

In your face: Empire is proving diversity isn’t a dirty word

Empire, a TV drama about a black hip-hop star turned music mogul, is breaking new ground by foregrounding 'risky' issues around race, sexuality and class.
Dykes on Bikes have been opening the Sydney Mardi Gras since 1988. Will Choi

Dykes on Bikes and the long road to Mardi Gras

Dykes on Bikes have been starting Sydney's Mardi Gras parade since 1988 – and many for many participants, the yearly ride to Sydney is as important as the parade itself.
David McDairmid’s exuberant artworks help us understand the changing face of HIV/AIDS art. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

From camp to gay to queer: David McDiarmid and HIV/AIDS art

At the end of July, Melbourne hosted the 20th International AIDS Conference. A huge red AIDS 2014 sign perched on the Swanston Street Bridge between Flinders Street Station and the Melbourne Concert Hall…
Wurst embraces a wide spectrum of individuals who recognise their own gender performance as imperfect. Georg Hochmuth/EPA

Conchita Wurst’s Eurovision win and the power of performance

Four songs in to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night, six Icelandic men in a band called Pollapönk took to the stage dressed in fluorescent suits and declared to an ecstatic house…
Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, stars of Blue is the Warmest Colour, at the Cannes Film Festival. EPA/Ian Langsdon

Strong, diverse and controversial: queer film in 2013

From limited theatrical releases to the queer film festival circuit – and being refused classification – 2013 has seen films with LGBT content distributed to audiences by a variety of means. Box office…

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