Tag Archives: #BOTD

Gay History - April 11, 1901: Writer Glenway Wescott is Born

Gay History – April 11, 1901: Writer Glenway Wescott is Born

Glenway Wescott was an American writer known for his poetic prose and explorations of themes related to homosexuality, human relationships, and existentialism. Born on April 11, 1901, in Kewaskum, Wisconsin, Wescott was raised in a conservative family and attended the University of Chicago, where he became involved in the city’s vibrant literary scene.

Wescott who was openly gay, early works were heavily influenced by his experiences in Paris in the 1920s, where he became part of the expatriate community that included Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and other luminaries of modernist literature. In 1925, he published his first novel, “The Apple of the Eye,” a coming-of-age story set in the Midwest, which drew praise for its lyrical style and psychological insights.

Wescott’s second novel, “The Grandmothers,” published in 1927, marked a departure from his earlier work, as it dealt openly with homosexuality and same-sex relationships. The book was banned in Boston and other cities, and it was not until the 1960s that it gained wider recognition as an important work of gay literature.

Wescott was also a prolific essayist, memoirist, and translator. He translated works by writers such as Jean Cocteau and Marcel Proust and was a lifelong friend of the poet and novelist Thornton Wilder.

Despite his achievements as a writer, Wescott’s personal life was marked by tragedy and loss. In 1933, he met the writer Monroe Wheeler, who became his lifelong partner and muse. The couple lived together in Europe and the United States, and their circle of friends included many of the leading cultural figures of their time. However, their relationship was strained by Wescott’s alcoholism, and in 1944, Wheeler left him for a younger man.

Wescott’s later years were marked by financial difficulties, and he struggled to support himself through his writing. He continued to publish works of fiction and nonfiction, including the acclaimed memoir “Continual Lessons,” which chronicled his life and literary career.

“At one of his own dinner parties, Wescott is eager to regale his guests with stories about Jean Cocteau and to put questions to the composer and (all too candid) diarist Ned Rorem, “but Truman Capote shouted me down all evening, in his falsetto way, about various crimes and atrocities.” This was, after all, the period of  In Cold Blood. “As it happens,” continued Wescott, “I have never been with him in all-male society before, and was astonished to find that the subject matter of sex doesn’t interest him at all.” And when one of President Johnson’s aides, “the father of six children,” resigns after “having been arrested for indecent behavior in the men’s room of the notorious Washington YMCA,” Wescott wonders: “Will foolish homosexual or ambi-sexual men never cease to involve themselves in public service careers? I suppose the danger of the risks they run excites them—just as the men’s room surreptitiousness, the voyeurism, the exhibitionism, intensifies their desire.”
Glenway Wescott – Continual Lessons

Glenway Wescott died on February 22, 1987, in Rosemont, New Jersey, at the age of 85.

Today, Glenway Wescott is remembered as a writer who pushed the boundaries of his time, both in terms of his exploration of homosexuality and in his stylistic innovations. His work has been celebrated by writers such as Edmund White and Michael Cunningham, who have cited him as a major influence on their own work

Gay History - March 28, 1921: #BOTD Actor Dirk Bogarde

Gay History – March 28, 1921: #BOTD Actor Dirk Bogarde

Actor Dirk Bogarde (March 28, 1921- May 8, 1999) was born Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde, but his friends and fans just called him Dirk. Throughout his career, Bogarde appeared in more than 60 films and was known for his captivating performances and charming and sometimes intense screen presence.

Bogarde who became one of Britain’s top matinee idols in the 1950s. In the 1960s decided to do away with his heart-throb image with more challenging and greatest roles, including that of the closeted Melville Farr in 1961’s Victim, who resolves to break up an extortion racket that targets gay men. Time magazine, in its review of Victim, called it “a plea for perversion.” “Everybody in the picture who disapproves of homosexuals proves to be an ass, a dolt or a sadist,” Time fumed. “Nowhere does the film suggest that homosexuality is a serious (but often curable) neurosis that attacks the biological basis of life itself.”

But it was Bogarde’s work with director Joseph Losey that really cemented his reputation as a serious actor. In 1961, Bogarde starred in Losey’s film “The Servant,” which was a critical success and received several award nominations. The film explored themes of class, power, and sexuality and Bogarde’s portrayal of the manipulative manservant was both subtle and mesmerizing.  Bogarde also took on the gay lead in the 1971 art house film Death in Venice. Warner Brothers tried to drop the distribution of Death in Venice because they feared it would be banned for obscenity, but relented after Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Anne attended the London premiere.

It was brave for a popular actor to take on gay roles, especially in the 1960s and 1970s and it was doubly brave for Bogarde because he never officially came out although his sexuality was often the subject of rumors. He became an advocate for gay rights and was outspoken about his support for decriminalizing homosexuality. He remained dedicated to his lifelong partner, Anthony Forwood, whose 1988 death after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease and liver cancer led Bogarde to become an advocate for assisted suicide. Bogarde, by then had quit acting and turned to writing, publishing seven memiors and several novels. Bogarde didn’t come out in any of his memoirs, although he did talk about caring for Forwood. 

Dirk Bogarde was knighted in 1992, suffered a debilitating stroke in 1996, and died of a heart attack in 1999. It wasn’t until 2004, upon the publication of an authorized biography, that his brother, Gareth van den Bogarde, finally acknowledged publicly that Dirk was gay.

Dirk Bogarde was a talented and brave actor who left an indelible mark on the film industry. He was known for his nuanced performances and his ability to convey complex emotions on screen. His portrayal of characters who were both flawed and compelling. Bogarde’s legacy continues to be celebrated by fans of classic cinema, and his influence can be seen in the work of many contemporary actors

Read more about the movie “Victim” and watch the FULL MOVIE HERE