Mar 21, 2016
Quentin Crisp: Homophobic Gay Pioneer
He didn't like doing housework, so he didn't do any: "after four years, it doesn't get any worse."
He liked to wear makeup and feminine clothing, so he did, on the streets of London in the 1930s, even though he was constantly accosted, screamed at, and beat up. Asked "Who do you think you are?", he replied, "I don't think I'm anyone but myself."
Like Jean Genet and Yukio Mishima, he grew up in an era where gay people were expected to hate themselves and each other. And he never got over it. He denigrated "homosexuals," even to gay audiences. They usually laughed, thinking that he was joking.
Then in 1968, he published The Naked Civil Servant, arguably the first gay autobiography -- at least the first I ever read -- a trenchant, witty account of of being completely true to yourself as gay and feminine in homophobic London. (The title comes from his job, posing naked for art students, for which he was paid by the government.)
He wrote more books -- How to Have a Life Style, How to Go to the Movies, The New York Diaries. He appeared in movies -- Hamlet, Orlando, Homo Heights. He went out to dinner, said witty, trenchant things -- actually, whatever he wanted -- and was taken to events, including Gay Pride events.
He went to his grave believing explicitly that every heterosexual, however vile, was superior to every gay person, however noble.
That didn't stop him from accepting invitations to appear at Gay Pride events.