Oct 4, 2013

Kurt Vonnegut: Homophobia on Trafalmador

When I was in college in the 1980s, all of the hip, cool guys read Kurt Vonnegut.  All of them.  He was even printed in Playboy

Oh, he's great!  They would exclaim.  There's this science fiction writer, see, but it turns out that the things he's writing are real....and, and, the crazy Trafalamadorians are behind Stonehenge....and, and Vonnegut and his sister turn into ducks...and, and Billy Pilgrim gets unstuck in time...and, and.

Sounded sort of like Monte Python and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  Besides, The Sirens of Titan had a hot guy on the cover.  So I checked some of Vonnegut's books out of the library.

The homophobia was equal to or surpasses that of anything on the syllabus of my Modern American Literature class.

In The Sirens of Titan (1959), Salo, a robot, is in love with a man.  "There was nothing offensive in this love.  That is, it wasn't homosexual."  Well, that's a relief!  Can't have any of that offensive "homosexual" love!

In God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965), we read the personals column of a newspaper.  Some of the ads are nice, and others are sick: "St. Louis hairdresser, male, would like to hear from other males in the Show-me State."  Am I supposed to find this disgusting?

In Breakfast of Champions (1973): Dwayne's son had "grown up to be a notorious homosexual" named Bunny.  It was filmed in 1999, with Bruce Willis as Dwayne and Lucas Haas (left) as Bunny.

The short story "Harrison Bergeron" (1961), an impassioned plea against equal rights, posits a future dystopia where everyone is equal -- literally.  Attractive people have to wear masks, smart people hear loud noises to break their concentration, and graceful dancers are hobbled, all due to the draconian political correctness fomented by lesbian feminazi Diana Moon Glampers.

 It's been filmed three times, with  Avind Harum, Sean Astin (top photo), and Richard Kindler as the heroic heterosexual Harrison.

Lest you think that Vonnegut's homophobia mellowed with age, try his memoir, Man without a Country (2005):

“If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts."

Ok, how could being gay possibly hurt your parents?
And who in 2005 thought that you could decide to be gay in order to hurt them?