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A Very Queer Weekend

Walking home from the theatre yesterday afternoon after watching Alan Bennet’s History Boys follow up, “The Habit Of Art”, somebody ran a red light in the pouring and I had to run like hell so as not to get run over. I made it to the other side but I was running too fast and when I tried to apply the breaks I landed right on my face. Blood all over me, but everything essentially working order I went home.

This morning I wanted to write my review of both “The Habit Of Art” and “Little Richard: I Am Everything” but I woke up in pain and so this will have to do till I feel capable of writing something big. Lying in bed last night, borderline delirious, the movie documentary and the snapshot of art, seemed to merge in the mind. The heart of both shows are so long before that queer (denoting or relating to a sexual or gender identity that does not correspond to established ideas of sexuality and gender, especially heterosexual norms.) had any meaning over and above “faggot”, it didn’t really exist. Both of these shows relate certainly to homosexuality, the Macon peach cross dressed and Benjamin Britten and W.H. Auden discussed rent boys in great detail.

In 30s – 60s English public school life and University (W.H. Auden was an Oxford graduate) was a hot sheets of communism and buggery but not queerness as we define, the composer and the poet, were same sexers, but on a certain level they were deeply closeted in a country when as late as the late 70s you would be imprisoned if it became known. Auden was the great poet and Britten a major composer (16 operas, all great and ended with the lush and drear “Death In Venice”) and Auden one of the great poets of his generation. They collaborated in the 30s and Auden fell in love with him but Britten didn’t reciprocate, “The Habit Of Art” is about a fictional meeting between the two some 50 years later. Yes, it is gay but I don’t see how it is queer. It isn’t bisexual, there is no cross dressing and having spent a lifetime secure (if closeted) in their skin, they don’t exude ambiguity at all.

It seems fair to consider Little Richard queer. He once said “We are all both male and female. Sex to me is like a smorgasbord. Whatever I feel like, I go for. What kind of sexual am I? I am omnisexual!’” If you add to that being a drag queen at the beginning of his career, Little Richard is the blueprint for queerness. Britten and Auden were both men of letters, they were the establishment, and never were not. Little Richard was an outsider all the way through and took an immense sense of being ripped off to his grave. He taught queers how to be queer.

1 Comment

  1. Craig on May 1, 2023 at 12:45 pm

    Little Richard was the real deal and he was ripped off by everybody. I saw him once at the Olympic auditorium and he was doing a strip tease on top of his piano and the stage collapsed. It was surreal. I saw him a few days later on the Mike Douglas show in a neck brace talking about it. He opened for Country Joe and the Fish who didn’t get to perform.

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