Gays and Lesbians
• In the 1920s, Anita Loos wrote an excellent comic novel titled Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In the 1960s, she visited swinging London, where she was asked if she would change anything in her novel if she were writing it in the present day. Ms. Loos replied that yes, she would change the novel — for one thing, the title would be Gentlemen Prefer Gentlemen.
• Gay author Joel Perry recommends being out of the closet so gays and lesbians can fight for their rights. Of course, he realizes that being out means possibly being targeted for abuse, but even that can be an opportunity for activism. For example, if a bigot calls him a queer, he corrects the bigot by saying that he is a “fantastic queer.”
• As a gay teenager, Paul Guilbert showed little fear. Whenever someone called him “faggot,” he would reply, “That’s right, honey.” (And whenever someone hit him, he hit back.) Mr. Guilbert was Aaron Frick’s date at his high school prom, which Mr. Fricke writes about in Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story About Growing Up Gay.
• Lesbian cartoonist Kathleen Debold was a crossword freak, but she noticed that crossword puzzles seldom had gay themes. For example, the answer “stein” was never “Stein,” as in “lover of Toklas,” but instead its clue was “beer mug.” To correct this deficiency, she wrote the book Word Gaymes: 101 Puzzles with Lesbian and Gay Themes.
• When Out magazine editor Sarah Pettit entered college, she walked up to a man who looked very gay to her and asked, “Excuse me, you’re gay, aren’t you?” After he replied that he was, she said, “Well, then take me to where the gay people are.” They went to a party, and she met the first woman she ever dated.
• Children’s book author Gary Paulsen used to own a huge dog — a Great Dane — named Caesar. Despite his size, Caesar was afraid of trick-or-treaters. One Halloween, a boy in a werewolf costume came to the Paulsens’ door. Caesar looked at the masked boy, the masked boy looked at him, and the masked boy growled. Caesar ran into the bedroom and hid in a closet until the trick-or-treaters stopped coming. For the next six Halloweens, whenever the first group of trick-or-treaters appeared — no matter what costumes they were wearing — Caesar ran into the bedroom and hid in the closet until trick or treating was over.
• The Authors Club in New York City is not always a serious institution. At the beginning of the 20th century, it hoaxed a large number of people, including literary critics, into believing that a fictitious person, Feodor Vladimir Larrovitch, was the Father of Russian Literature. During a chess game at the Authors Club, Richardson Wright watched William Jordan play George Simonson. During the game, Mr. Wright and Mr. Jordan kept asking Mr. Simonson questions about Feodor Vladimir Larrovitch. Of course, Mr. Simonson was forced to admit that he knew nothing about the supposed Father of Russian Literature. While talking to Mr. Simonson, Mr. Wright and Mr. Jordan made up an elaborate biography of Mr. Larrovitch. They continued to talk about Mr. Larrovitch at the Authors Club, and soon most of the members were in on the joke. Eventually, Mr. Jordan gave a lecture on the father of Russian Literature. Following the very successful lecture, the Authors Club decided to further honor Mr. Larrovitch with a tribute on April 26, 1907. Members of the Authors Club read tributes to Mr. Larrovitch and read samples of poems. They even unveiled a portrait of the famous Russian author. The hoax didn’t stop there, however, as members of the Authors Club then published a book titled Feodor Vladimir Larrovitch: An Appreciation of His Life and Works. The book was taken seriously by the literary world, and serious reviews appeared about it. Eventually, however, a Swedish sportswriter revealed the hoax, and the Authors Club finally stopped honoring Mr. Larrovitch. The hoax was fun while it lasted, and it lasted as long as it did only because the Authors Club is normally a serious organization. Imagining the Authors Club creating a hoax, according to Mr. Wright, was like “imagining your great-grandmother rollerskating.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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