The HBO film adaptation of Larry Kramer’s stage play The Normal Heart is being hailed as life changing and inspirational… by some. Others are doubting its genius. Some are challenging Larry Kramer’s revisionism, lesbians and people of color are wondering where they were whilst the war against aids was being fought by these heroic white gay men.
There is no mention of lesbians, save one scene, in which a woman enters the offices of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and cries about the loss of her best friend, a gay man named Harvey. She says that she wants to help the GMHC in any way possible, “even though,” she says to Jim Parsons‘ character, Tommy Boatwright, “all my lesbians friends say ‘What have you guys done for us?’”
This is a spectacular inversion of resentment from the original playtext. Instead of gay men scoffing at the idea of lesbians being included in the movement (“I don’t believe in lesbians”), you have a woman who is only indirectly identified as a lesbian describing her lesbian friends’ disdain for gay men. The disdain is made exponentially worse by the fact of it being reactionary (“What have you guys done for us?”), as if lesbians are inherently heartless misandrists.
Both Kramer and Director Ryan Murphy perpetuate ideas about the uselessness of women for gay men. Of course, my acquaintances who love and count women amongst their best friends will accuse me of gender myopia.
They will tell me that was how it was and not how it is.
At the London Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Director of hit film GBF gay white Darren Stein maligned lesbians during a Q&A telling the audience that lesbian stories were not worth telling and lesbians are ‘not funny’.
This weekend on Fire Island I had to endure friends of others. Jacques Correia the Ralph Lauren accessories designer and his very young, red headed spanish boyfriend David who rarely smiled during the three days we shared a space but found time to tell me at very great length about the bi yearly concept publication he wants to start, apparently it will have no online presence at all and will be a ‘classic’ like The World of Interiors… but with fashion… you know, a Chanel frock in a Chanel interior. Blegh.
Within minutes of their arrival David swept the yard, Jacques filled the fridge with $500 worth of food from the overpriced local store The Pantry. Food I would ultimately have to pay for. They scoffed at how little food was in the fridge. He followed meticulous online recipes from which he would not deviate. Worst of all… Jacques was not prepared to share the kitchen with anyone else.
He prepared a nice but forgettable curry with over cooked basmati rice. The following day he concocted a ‘soup’ which was more like a stew and had far too many ingredients. I politely told him how wonderful everything was. I ate it. I had diarrhea.
Jacques is the kind of person who adores Lee McQueen and Issy Blow and Hamish Bowles. He hates conversation unless it is about him or his insular Ralph Lauren world. I can only imagine what his home is like. Small black pebbles placed artfully on chipped mirrors.
Jacques and David ‘hate’ the internet but can’t keep away from their phones. They think they have style. They think they are funny, educated, entertaining and open-minded.
The day after Jacques and David arrive Jacques Indian ‘friend’ Basher pitches up. Ralph Lauren menswear designer, annoying but charming. He realizes immediately that three against one is not very fair.
To Jacque’s horror I offer to cook dinner on Sunday night. I ignore Jacques endless rhubarb crumble suggestions… he wants to put coconut flakes in the crumble. I refuse. To punish me for commandeering the kitchen, for this impertinence, they were late for dinner, they were very drunk when they arrived for dinner and were incredibly rude to the other guests. Jacques whispered jokes to his friend Basher all the way through dinner and refused to join in with any conversation other than his own. When he finally engaged it was to malign lesbians, particularly masculine lesbians whose bodies and sexuality he found hysterically funny.
His friends boasted that they knew no lesbians because knowing lesbians would be a ‘waste of time’.
The following day, using ingredients that I paid for, Jacques baked delicious looking biscotti. Tons of them. They sat on the stove wrapped in tin foil. I was not offered a biscotti.
Lady Rizo, Rob Roth and Rizo’s friend film director Gill arrived at the house. The loud, rude women pulled off their clothes, revealing wide white hips and full breasts and long hairless legs. The gay men in the house looked appalled. Real women behaving like gay men.
Jacques left with the biscotti within hours of their arrival. He wasn’t going to let lesbians eat his biscotti.
What a CUNT.