QOTD 2 (2009-04-05)

I am reading this play about AIDS (that I mentioned above) and it is making me cry. I just wanted to share one more monologue with you:

I belong to a culture that includes Proust, Henry James, Tchaikovsky, Cole Porter, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Christopher Marlowe, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Tennessee Williams, Byron, E. M. Forster, Lorca, Auden, Francis Bacon, James Baldwin, Harry Stack Sullivan,John Maynard Keynes, Dag Hammarskjold … These are not invisible men. Poor Bruce. Poor frightened Bruce. Once upon a time you wanted to be a soldier. Bruce, did you know that it was an openly gay Englishman who was as responsible as any man for winning the Second World War? His name was Alan Turing and he cracked the Germans’ Enigma code so the Allies knew in advance what the Nazis were going to do-and when the war was over he committed suicide he was so hounded for being gay. Why don’t they teach any of this in the schools? If they did, maybe he wouldn’t have killed himself and maybe you wouldn’t be so terrified of who you are. The only way we’ll have real pride is when we demand recognition of a culture that isn’t just sexual. It’s all there-all through history we’ve been there; but we have to claim it, and identify who was in it, and articulate what’s in our minds and hearts and all our creative contributions to this earth. And until we do that, and until we organize ourselves block by neighborhood by city by state into a united visible community that fights back, we’re doomed. That’s how I want to be defined: as one of the men who fought the war. Being defined by our cocks is literally killing us. Must we all be reduced to becoming our own murderers?…

When you talk to 20-year-old kids about how to define gay culture or gay identity, their answers are not just post-Stonewall. They’re post-AIDS. I cannot imagine being 20 or 30 years older and watching my friends die. And I think the fact that young people don’t have a sense of unified gay community, or maybe only do in terms of the marriage equality fight, has as much to do with the fact that we are no longer perceived as dying because of the kind of sex we have as it does with the fact that the police are no longer raiding our community spaces. Groups band together when they have to fight back. And we can fight AIDS now outside of the boundaries of the gay community, so it is presumptuous of me to say that that community needs still to band together. What new threat can possibly equal AIDS? But oh, I feel so shaken by how fragile things seem to have been, then.

Yet another real-seeming moment that has now been historicized from the point of view of my generation. Yet this one is not so distant that it can’t make me cry.

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