A Queer Sunday

Reading John Waters’ article about Tennesee Williams – and in The New York Times Book Review, no less! – was a treat. I love them both, for being queer, for their art, for their humor and sarcasm and truth.

These are my people, and always have been.

But it made me think about the books I had to “steal” as a kid, or read secretly. For me, it was Joe Orton’s biography, Prick Up Your Ears, first and foremost. I heard about him reading interviews with Adam Ant, who simultaneously introduced me to Marc Bolan, the erotic art of Allen Jones, Derek Jarman, and Tom of Finland. Around the same time I discovered Soft Cell and Marc Almond, who in turn turned my head toward the likes of Jacques Brel and Jean Genet. (And I wonder why I turned out the way I am, reading about rough trade and anonymous bathroom sex when I was 15.)

They were all great “bad” influences, their books and art I hid from my mother. They told me there was another world out there, just as Tennesee Williams told John Waters there was.

So who were yours?

2 Replies to “A Queer Sunday”

  1. When I was 12 and 13, I was reading a lot of underground comics, and science fiction. On the comix side, getting hold of an anthology of Vaughn Bodé was a kind of revelation to me. Inside the cover, there was the artist in a dress and jewels; further on, an autobiographical comic with Bodé standing on a little planet ranting about being a transvestite. The “new wave” of sceince fiction was also excellent at times, with descriptions of alien sexuality and alien genders, and of course discovering that my favourite writer, James Tiptree Jr., was a woman.

    The strongest thing I take from Waters’ article is not the idea of discovering a “corrupting” book (you could go back to Wilde’s references to Huysmans for that), but the experience of not fitting in to a queer community where you expected to belong. It took me a long time to find places where I could say “I AM that” as he does, and it involved tedious incoveniences like sitting around in the company of meticulously-dolled-up CDs who only wanted to talk about sports, computers, and the stock market, with me thinking all the time “these are NOT my people”.

  2. For me the exposure to ” human variations” outside of the mircocosim of my Catholic unbringing came the summer my parents divorced when I was 13.

    My then 21yo brother took me under his wing and spend time with me since my dad was pretty much out of the picture, and he didn’t want me sitting home alone. At the time he worked as a pinball machine, jukebox,video game technician. So for an entire summer I rode with him and experienced some mighty interesting places with my virgin eyes ears and brain.

    Bars, bathhouses, underground gambling, card reading, strip joints….

    I met hookers, fags, felons, drunks, dancers, crooks, musicians……

    Riding in a truck constantly filled with sweet pot smoke and the sound of Tom Waits and Frank Zappa……….

    I learned what a dildo was, saw 2 men kiss for the first time, saw the pain of a heroine addict, a war veteran with no legs who lived in the back seat of an abandoned car……..

    Traversed all black neighborhoods and businesses for the first time…………

    Watched as a dancer performed for a disabled man in a wheelchair and felt the goodness of something both sweet and erotic for the first time…..

    A trans something bartender gave me Bit o Honey candies every visit and said to me once that I had beautiful eyes and would make a pretty girl…(I just melted with joy inside when she said that…lol…)

    What’s strange about that summer is none of the above seemed scary to me, (OK the heroine addict and some of crooks did…..) but the rest were so interesting to me. And they were so nice…..and nice to me. What I remember most were the smiles. There was just “something” about them being able to interact with me that was just too cool….for them and me.

    Yup……I was forever corrupted after the summer of ’77..


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