‘A Raisin in the Sun’ Brings Joyous Tears of Catharsis


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March 25, 1959, Vol. IV, No. 22

The Gay Underground

Seymour Krim deserves credit for tackling the question of homosexuality in the March 18 [1959] issue of The Voice. With something like 10 per cent of the adult male population involved, homosexuality is due for some serious attention.

However, Krim is of base in suggesting that queer brigades are about to storm the citadels of prudery, with Reichian slogans inscribed on their sequinned banners. First, homosexuals as a group aren’t going to lead any revolt because the last thing they want is to get involved in any real struggle. They just want to be let alone to lead their precious lives in their presently established dainty fashion. Second, in implying some kind of moral integrity and fervor to the “gay underground” is to fail to see gay society for what it is—a tragic sub-culture which is every bit as sick as the larger society in which it exists… — David McReynolds

Welcome, Miss Hansberry

By Jerry Tallmer

When I was one month old a young Negro woman named B. came to work at the apartment in which I was an infant. She did not leave that employ until some 30 years later, after the marriages of my brother and myself and the death of my father. She was in more ways than I shall ever be able to write, or know, the surrogate mother and formative, sheltering force of my life up at least through high school or beyond, and it is for that reason I consider myself particularly vulnerable among already-vulnerable white New Yorkers in everything concerning Negroes. It is also why through the years I have erected certain inner barriers against over-compensating in the direction of pro-Negro sentimentality, and it is certainly the reason why I insisted on maintaining within myself a healthy skepticism toward “A RAISIN IN THE SUN” (Barrymore Theatre), despite the enthusiastic first reviews, until I had actually seen it. This I did last week. Every barrier crumbed to dust before the play was five minutes old; for the first time in what seems like a thousand years I was utterly swept up onto the stage among the actors and their drama; intermittently throughout the tears came smarting to my eyes, as to all other eyes around me in a packed house taut and fervent with response; and last night in the dark, as I relived the entire performance, and saw again the great gray lion’s head of Claudia McNeil at the climax, saw Poitier’s fantastic beauty and freedom as an actor, saw Ruby Dee’s inviolable pushed-to-the-wall sincerity, I gave in and virtually cried like a baby with the joyous, nourishing tears of catharsis…

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