So long, Gore Vidal
Whenever you hear the news that someone whom you have long admired has passed away you think immediately about how they have affected your life. At least I do.
I was a teenager when I first read Gore Vidal’s novel, The City and the Pillar. Published in 1946 it’s a story of a young man who struggles with his sexuality in a post-World War II society.
The protagonist was controversial at the time because he was well-adjusted and was not killed off at the end of the story, as was the norm with gay characters at the time. It was long believed by publishers and movie-goers that audiences wanted gay characters to be punished for their immoral behaviour.
The book stood out for another reason though, and that was due to its frank and unambiguous representation of homosexuality. The mere utterance of the words “gay” or “homosexual” was taboo in those days. Gore Vidal didn’t care, and that made him a brave man.
So when I think about Vidal, who died at the age of 86 yesterday, I remember reading The City and the Pillar. I was young, alone, isolated and in dire need for material that spoke to what I was experiencing at that time in my life. Along came this book, and my heart forever belonged to Gore Vidal.
Rest in peace.