That wonderful, horrible Gore Vidal | Buzz Blog

Friday, October 2, 2009

That wonderful, horrible Gore Vidal

Posted By on October 2, 2009, 5:36 AM

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My, oh my, a lot of people are certainly jumping on the anti-Gore Vidal bandwagon over at Qweerty!

Everybody is shocked, just shocked, that in a recent interview with The Times, Vidal bashed gay marriage. Doesn't he know that the modern LGBTQQIA movement has universally embraced marriage as the ultimate expression of social and legal equality? Obviously, he's just too old and out-of-touch to serve as an elder statesman for the cause. ---

You'd think it was the first time Vidal had issued a deliberately scandalous statement in hopes of provoking a storm of outrage. But, really, come on -- he's not a new kid on the block. We've known him long enough. Generating angry atmospheric disturbances is a hobby of his. It's what he does.

So, before we all vote to revoke his gay card, we should realize something: Gore Vidal never pretended to be a spokesman, much less an elder statesman, for the gay movement. He does have an extensive activist history spent promoting his own indefinable humanistic political views: He was a scathing critic of the George W. Bush administration, but his biting assessments of the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama haven't let anybody off the hook.

A leading literary and intellectual figure of the modern age certainly doesn't need me defending him. But, for what it's worth, regarding the issue at hand, Vidal's statement (as the author of the blog made clear) was not particularly directed against gay marriage qua gay marriage. It reflected Vidal's personal modern, post-World War II views about marriage, generally. (Tim Teeman, A&E writer for The Times, quoted Vidal as saying, "I'm not into partnerships.") As is clear even from the blog title, Vidal really only meant to bash Americans in general: "[I] couldn't care less [about same-sex marriage]. Does anyone care what Americans think? They’re the worst-educated people in the First World. They don’t have any thoughts, they have emotional responses, which good advertisers know how to provoke."

Can anybody deny that we have become a nation of mindless consumers with attention spans too short to read a newspaper article, much less a book? At one time, there were queers of many stripes who similarly decried the soulless state of mainstream American consumer culture. But today, apparently, them's fightin' words to red-blooded American gays. We're all Larry the Cable Guy now.

There was a time when the gay movement sought a meaningful revolution. Now, it just wants to conform.

I'm all for gay marriage. Unlike Vidal, I do happen to be "into partnerships" -- or, rather, I'm "into" the partnership Dave and I share. And I resent the fact that my family does not enjoy the same legal treatment as heterosexual families.

But I also recognize that the institution of marriage did not evolve out of some reverence for the deep, abiding love between husbands and wives, and their ability to produce offspring. The main purpose of marriage has, for centuries, been to protect the financial interests of the wealthy and to perpetuate gross economic inequities among the classes.

That's not what I signed on for.

At any rate, Gore Vidal's 84th birthday is tomorrow ... and I, for one, wish many happy returns to the venerable, vexing, brilliant old libertine.

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