Aug 25, 2015

Andy Warhol: Gay without Pride

I've been reading the Diaries of Andy Warhol, where the famous pop artist spends about a thousand pages recording how much he spent on cabs during the last ten years of his life (1977-87).  It's tough going.  He knows everybody, and lists them by their first names, so it's hard to figure out who's who.  He spends a lot of time on boring things ("had lunch") and gives promising events a line ("Got a death threat").  He goes to church every day.  He takes a lot of phone calls.

If I didn't know already, I'd have no idea that Warhol was gay.  He mentions attractive men and women both, but he doesn't seem to like gay people.  He complains that a first-name celebrity took him to a benefit, and it turned out to be for fags and lesbians.  He complains about bars being full of fags.  In a restaurant, he discovers that a gay chef made his dinner, and refuses to eat it for fear of contracting AIDS.  He thinks Gay Pride Day is ridiculous (although he doesn't mind photographing the parade).

With all that homophobia going on, what's gay about Andy Warhol?

Homoerotic art, especially early in his career, and films like Blow Job (1964) and Trash (1970).

A homoerotic painting by Jamie Wyeth.

The Factory, where he made his pop art in the 1960s, was a gathering place for bohemians, including drag queens, transgender folk of various types, and rent boys.  That was a lot of visibility for the pre-Stonewall era.

But after Stonewall, Warhol seems to have mostly ran Interview magazine, had lunch with Liza Minelli and Paul Getty Jr., photographed attractive men in their underwear, and complained about fags.

Makes you wonder what the Factory was all about.

Maybe he stopped caring about gays when they stopped think of themselves as sexual outsiders and started fighting for full human dignity?

Gay men and lesbians who think they're just as good as heterosexuals!  How boring!

All accounts state that he was attracted primarily or exclusively to men, but never had a boyfriend, or even a sexual partner.  He preferred to watch rather than touch.

See also: The Andy Warhol Museums; and Walk on the Wild Side.