The estimable Quentin Compson ( frequently confused with the fictional character of the same name) wants to know if I have anything to say about The Creature From the Blog Lagoon’s latest essay in Marty Peretz’s Neo-Con Fanzine (Link it? I’d rather swallow poison.) modestly entitled “The End of Gay Culture.” Only The Creature would think of composing a definitive statement about that which he knows absolutely nothing.
Ever since he waddled out of the primordial ooze of second-rate British emigres some fifteen to twenty years ago, Sully has made it his business to condemn the gay liberation movement (without whose efforts he would never have been afforded a platform in the first place) and the “libidinal pathology of gay men” (which he — far in execess of Michel Foucault — indulged in at barebackcity.com – as Quentin, Mike Signorile and I discovered at Datalounge ) Now he wants to pull down the curtain on the whole show once and for all, spouting one banal pseudo-apercu after another from his perch in P-town. But why read Sully when you can simply go to the Spiritus Pizza Webcam and watch the comings and goings of all and sundry (the Creature included) yourself?
Yes, la vie gay has changed a lot since 1969 when some very fierce drag queens elected to show the NYPD and its Mafia bosses precisely who was boss.
“So we are taking off our masks, are we, and keeping
our mouths shut?” , the great Frank O’Hara asked quite a few years prior to “Stonewall” in the opening line of a poem bluntly entitled “Homosexuality”. That poem’s best line, however is:
“so I pull the shadows around me like a puff
and crinkle my eyes as if at the most exquisite moment
of a very long opera”
itself remindful of the opening of William Gaddis’ A Frolic of His Own —
“You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law. . .The rest of it’s opera.”
Just finished reading The Recognitions. .Marvelous book. Easily the Great Modern American Novel. (And yes Jonathan Franzen can go fuck himself.) Surprising amount of gay characters. All minor, but flitting in and out of Gaddis’ central mise en scene of la vie boheme in New York and Paris just after World War II to considerable effect. They trouble some of Gaddis’ principle characters (especially the women, who imagine every man who doesn’t make a move on them must be “queer”), but clearly not Gaddis himself who is intrigued and amused by life on the margins of a world that’s in itself marginal. And indeed marginal it shall largely remain despite the best efforts of such diverse well-meaning souls as Ang Lee and Ellen Degeneres to render it banal.
Patrice Chereau says “When you’re in love everyone is in the same place.” And that indeed is true as he demonstrates in the greatest motion picture ever made. But there are other aspects of non-heteroesxual culture that are more elusive, as the matchless James McCourt has demonstrated and the estimable Doug Ireland has been ruminating over recently in his posts on Gore Vidal
Vidal, of course, famously rejected “gay,” both as a matter of personal style (he never was a “joiner”) and by way of staking a claim to bisexuality as a socio-political power position. That he enjoyed what Cole Porter called “the urge to merge with a splurge” far more than any desire to nest with a suitable female — even for the odd “quickie” — has been obvious for eons. He has fashioned himself a Lone Wolf – aloof from coupledom of either the most decorous or the most robust sort.
Still he’s never been an entirely solitary figure like Larry Hart or Pasolini. But his relationship with Howard Austin wasn’t that of lovers or (shudder) “partners” (that most reprehensible of weasel-words, reducing profound alliances to the disgustingly mundane level of law office associates).
It would be nice if Gore had something to say about it. Maybe he will. I certainly hope so — more for his sake than mine. Proust had much to say about Reynaldo Hahn. But then that started as a grand passion, not a profound friendship like Gore and Howard. “Grace to be born and live as variously as possible,” was O’Hara’s motto. And Gore and Howard (who somewhat resemble O’Hara and Joe LeSeuer minus the fucking) were one of those possibilities.
Looking around the current scene we can find figures as diverse as Gus Van Sant, Todd Haynes (who even live in the same town), Marc Cherry (Hollywood insider), and Craig Lucas (Hollywood outsider) plus the exquisitely “transitional” Alexis Arquette and Patrick Califia-Rice.
I worry about Christopher Rice, as his Mom has suddenly elected to play Leonardo Di Caprio on that sinking ship known as the Roman Catholic Church. But sissies are tough. It speaks volumes that the guy who would have gotten beaten up and had his lunch money stolen on a regular basis is now the coolest dude in the room.
And the opera? Exquisite as always.
“Soave sia il vento
Tranquilla sia l’onda,
Ed ogni elemento
Ai vostri desir”