Gay Pride (Allen Ginsberg – Out Since The ‘Fifties)

[Plaque for Allen Ginsberg in San Francisco’s Castro, on the sidewalk, on the Rainbow Honor Walk]

Gay Pride – Allen Ginsberg –  LGBT hero –

Today, celebrating the day,  a little fugitive footage – queer tv – from Network Q’s,  “Out Across America” –  episode 35, from  September 1994 – (for the rest of this particular episode see here).

Filmmaker Jerry Aronson is interviewed, on a sunny day in Boulder, about his film “The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg,”   Allen makes a number of appearances.

Producer-director, David  Surber begins: “Our cinema feature this month is part biography, part history lesson and part loving tribute… In addition to his significance as a poet, and activist, Ginsberg’s important to the queer community, because he’s one of the very few men in his generation to have always been open and honest about his sexuality.”

And, later on in the clip, Aronson points out – “the simple fact that he was out in the ‘Fifties  and was completely open in a way that made it completely normal to be gay as normal as it is to be straight – and this was in the ‘Fifties! which..  And when he was on television when he was on the (Dick) Cavett show and he just says it,, and, yeah, on the (William) Buckley show – “faggot individualist”, and on the Cavett show talking about his father and his boyfriend, you know, taking care of his father. Just the way it is. And that’s how the film         (“The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg,”)  presents it.”

Allen: “It took me a long while to come out, that is to say, till i was maybe seventeen or eighteen, and it was very painful before that in the sense of heart-sick for love and not being able to get it and too timid to ask for it and a feeling of being ugly and unwanted and unwantable ( although looking at , photographs of myself now, I felt I was a good piece of ass,  I don’t know, a smart young kid, pretty enough, but I’d be curious to see how I would react now, at the age of sixty-eight, if I met the young Allen Ginsberg, eighteen, if I’d be attracted or not, Anyhoo..

When I came out, I came out to (Jack) Kerouac, in the sense we were very close already, we had a kind of heart-to-heart relationship, and he was staying over in my room and I was sleeping on the floor, on a mattress and he was in a bed and I sort of opened up and confessed to him that I liked men and I liked him. And his response was to groan -“Aw!” –  (a sort of sympathetic groan) , knowing we were so bound together already, artistically and emotionally, that he knew there was going to be trouble, or that we’d make out sooner or later (which we did on and off, not very much but enough to, you know, let our hair down once in a while). He liked girls, black silk panties and garters, but when he got drunk he liked (a) blow job…”

“So I had an easy time in a way because I had a community that would not only sympathetic but intelligent…”

[Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky – Photograph by Richard Avedon]

Allen recounts the classic moment of his first encounter with his life-time lover, Peter Orlovsky – “I met Peter (Orlovsky) through Robert LaVigne, and he said he was a painter, so I ambled up the hill with him and went into this big old Victorian house and there was a huge painting on the wall of a beautifull naked boy seated on a Greek couch and my heart sank when I saw the picture – Who?, you know, Who is that? – And then Peter walked into the room, looking as beautiful as the painting, very shy but very friendly

[ “Nude With Onions” (Portrait of Peter Orlovsky) – Robert LaVigne (1954)]

So we immediately got into conversation, and so I approached Peter later on, (the next day, or something like that).  But then Peter and I finally got together after a long long indecision, you know – did we really want to commit to each other? (and I remember once we decided, we were to sit in a cafeteria downtown and took a kind of marriage-vow, or vow to remain with each other and make sure we each got into heaven and not go into heaven without each others presence). I was about twenty-eight and Peter was about twenty-one or -two. But I remember when we made this vow of celestial heavenly earthly immortal fidelity, that, once I realized he was making it and I was making it, that something broke open and it was like the heavens showered with gold and that finally I found someone that loved me as I loved them,  and (it was) the first time I felt accepted in my life completely”

“And “Howl” wasn’t written to be published. It was written to amuse myself and be sent to Kerouac. And then once it was out of the bag, so to speak, then I took it for granted that it was ok. My hesitancy, actually, was having my father read intimate details of my sexual life….”

“In some Western psychological term, there is no permanent identity of any kind. You know the self is a nebulous trans-shifting matter of molecules and apprehensions and vibrations and neural reflexes. There’s no soul, so to speak, or no ultimate permanent identity as in a Christian or monotheistic or monolithic notion of a self that’s established, that goes to heaven or hell, So there are many identities,and nobody has any single permanent identity. I think it’s the clinging of an identity that gives rise to homophobia, the clinging to the heterosexual identity, it’s the clinging to a homosexual identity as a fixed solidified thing that gives people a sense of guilt or anger that is projected. But it is the attempt to solidify an identity and make it,  force it on others, whether you’re Pat Robertson or Jesse Helms, or the Pope, or the Ayatollah (Khomeini), or some gay guy that is so angry at his parents and angy at himself that he has to scream out angrily that he’s gay and challenge everybody in front of their face, instead of seducing them, or instead of just being whatever self there is apparent at the moment”.

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