Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Radclyffe Hall

My body's sense of timing is pretty terrible. Just a few days before Christmas, and I'm sick! I started with a very mild cold over the weekend, but this morning it feels like it might be morphing into something more like bronchitis. I may shuffle off to the doctor.

I'm back in the city today, running some errands. That's the only reason I'm able to make this blog post, as Dave's Internet connection is still out. We're trying to figure out what's wrong -- meanwhile, if I'm more quiet than usual on the Intertubes, that's why.

I'm just finishing "The Well of Loneliness" by Radclyffe Hall. It's a groundbreaking novel from 1928 about homosexuality, considered one of the high points of gay literature. It's intriguing and well written, though old-fashioned. So much of what still aggrieves the gay community -- a lack of ability to marry, a persistent belief among many straight people that being gay is a "choice" -- is present in this novel. There's also some unfortunately bad psychology: The main character is a lesbian whose parents wanted a boy, and in fact named her "Stephen," which of course perpetuates the tired idea that parents somehow cause homosexuality in a child. (Yet there are also strong assertions that gays are born that way, so maybe Hall was just trying to cover all her bases.)

From page 470: "As for those who were ashamed to declare themselves, lying low for the sake of a peaceful existence, she utterly despised such of them as had brains; they were traitors to themselves and their fellows, she insisted. For the sooner the world came to realize that fine brains very frequently went with (homosexuality), the sooner it would have to withdraw its ban, and the sooner would cease this persecution. Persecution was always a hideous thing, breeding hideous thoughts -- and such thoughts were dangerous."

(Photo: Barn, East Brunswick, NJ.)


  1. Maybe you can write the modern-day truth! I'm sure you have something to say when you read those trite assertions.

    I'm so sorry you are sick. I'm assuming your health insurance is still in effect. You may well need some of the dreaded antibiotics to get better.

    I hope you are well on the road to recovery by Christmas so you and Dave can enjoy each other and his wonderful Christmas dinner!

  2. So sorry you're sick! Take it easy - the viruses this season are really dreadful, not just H1N1.

    One of my long-time clients has just begun seeing a woman. For the client, it is her first experience with same-sex romance. She is very young and her attitude about it is incredible.

    She feels absolutely no need to "come out." ("that's so 1980," she says.) What she says, absolutely without shame or any kind of emotional charge, is that she has discovered something about herself she never knew, like those dreams in which you find a new room in your house. She simply says she is now dating Liz. End of story.

    I find her attitude so wonderful and refreshing and hope that more and more, as time passes, that people won't have to focus so much on gender in sexuality, but can be more free to feel love for whomever they want to.

    Much love and virtual chicken soup!!

  3. Dennis says get well soon--
    Dennis just got "the Price of Salt" by Patricia Highsmith
    out of the library today! Check it out.

  4. I hope you get lots of TLC, rest and soup to combat whatever bug has visited you.

    I read the book you discuss in college long ago. It would be interesting to re-visit and see just where things have shifted for me.

    Regarding Reya's comment about her client and no need to come out, that is refreshing and lucky for her. It shows how far we've come, and while there is still much to be done, Ms. Hall's efforts were indeed those of a pioneer and are still worth noting.

    I hope I live to see the day when people can love as they please without prejudice.

  5. Get well, my friend.

    A world in which we just could be what we are is a goal worth working for.