A while ago I found a volume of gay & lesbian Jungian psychiatrists; it was based on the idea that the post Freudian complexes, such as the Oedipal complex were in need of revision for gay, lesbian, transgender & queer psychology. It made good sense.
Likewise, I’ve always relished the volumes of Armistead Maupin about his home city San Francisco. The second last in his SF series Michael Tolliver Lives is about Michael transplanting himself, together with his husband Ben, to the state of his upbringing, Florida. I re-read it now a couple of times. I’m sure I get different things with each new try. This time I felt personally validated by reading about Michael’s daily intake of medication. Still, something was not working; it felt like equations of political correctness were being thrust at me far too regularly for my comfort.
It reminded me of my visit to my Glebe dentist for some oral torture, this week. On the way, I dropped in to check out a CRUELTY FREE VEGAN store. The prices of everything were works of fiction, in their own right. The shop assistant could have been an Ellen de Generis attendant. She took my money for two items, then leant forward to tell me in a hushed voice that the till could not issue receipts. In an esprit d’escalier moment on the pavement outside I realised I could also have described the transaction as cruelty free.
Like Michael Tolliver I still eat meat, but carve it into smaller & smaller pieces, as if trying to transmute its reality. Yes, I survive at the cost of cruelty to other species. In an Australian book of fiction someone described an indigenous man pronouncing a prayer of compassion for the duck he had just killed, & which he was about to roast. We live in cities, and even as vegans, our personal comfort is maintained at the cost of encroachment on the lives of other species in the wild.
Anyway, I’d reached that moment in the Maupin book where Michael & Ben decide to have a threesome with Patreese, who turns out to be the hairdresser of Michael’s mother. Suddenly, the book became sacramental; something that we GLBTIQ folk sorely need from our artists: the ability to bolster our energies with wholesome & generous depictions of the best our lifestyle is capable of.
Okay, Patrick Gale achieves it here & there: in the Cat Sanctuary, in his volume of short stories Dangerous Pleasures. But there’s an English tendency at work in Gale’s writings to create a larger sense of community, including your neighbours. & that’s fair enough. Richard Stephenson does it in his Donald Strachey PI detective series. You get the sense of incremental growth that Donald experiences, especially in the book $0 Million Dollar Smile, about a holiday in Thailand. There’s the tiniest tinge of sexual dogmatism involved in both Maupin & Stephenson; but after all few of us are placed on our path in life already perfect. We are always growing, always learning. Calling the motel threesome between Michael Ben & Patreece a sexual encounter does not do the writing justice; it’s a benefaction for us all; may we all grow, learn & live better.