The Gay Writers Who Changed America

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Novelist Christopher Bram chronicles the rise of gay consciousness in American writing in the years following World War II to the present day. Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America begins with a first wave of major gay literary figures-Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Allen Ginsberg, and James Baldwin, pioneers who set the stage for new generations of gay writers.


Christopher Bram

Comments [10]


Three terrific books by Gore Vidal (to be read in chronological order):

Lincoln (He excoriates Lincoln, which might surprise a lot of Lincoln worshippers out there.)

Feb. 14 2012 05:20 PM

jgarbuz from Queens: Your comment about gays producing the next generation of writers reminded me of something a sociology professor once remarked in class. He said that the way you know that being homosexual was an aberration of nature is because (as you sort of pointed out) homosexuals are not inclined to reproduce. Of course, homosexual men and women are quite capable of having heterosexual sex if they want to reproduce, even though they might not enjoy the experience. Then again, there are many heterosexual people who choose not to have children. (BTW, I'm not saying that the professor's observation is correct; I was just mentioning it because of your comment.)

Feb. 14 2012 05:18 PM
Tony T. from Brooklyn

@Jenny- You're so right that it should be asked and I heard Bram address it elsewhere. Since I can't quote him, my impression: he started off wanting to cover men and women, but ran into structural problems--there is a timeline of contact/connection among the male writers he examines and that did not cross over or have a discernible parallel among the women writers--and also eventually decided that he was ill-equipped to critically examine their pioneering work. As he said (and again, paraphrase) lesbian writers deserve their own history and their own historian dedicated to illuminating their work.

Feb. 14 2012 05:18 PM
Jennie from Brooklyn

Hi, love the show and am really really enjoying the British Museum segments. A suggestion about this particular segment: This is a book about "gay" literature which seems, as far as I could tell from hearing the segment, to be exclusively about men's writing and stories. While it's not problematic for a writer to choose to focus on men's writing for any reason at all, I would have preferred that, in promoting the segment you acknowledge that focus and, during the segment to have asked the author to explain. I do believe if this were a segment covering a book about African American or Irish writers who were exclusively male (or female), we would know that and we would be told why the book was focusing on one gender, and how the writer arrived at that focus. I kept wondering where the women were and why he left them out. I'm sure there's a good answer and it would have been informative to hear it. Thank you.

Feb. 14 2012 03:19 PM
john from office

Dboy, well stated. I agree.

Feb. 14 2012 02:00 PM

maurice by e m forster - really heartbreaking book worth reading

Feb. 14 2012 01:59 PM


Dimwitted, as usual.

Feb. 14 2012 01:57 PM

I know I'll be excoriated for this but, here goes...

I can't help but make the observation that gay culture was so much more interesting when it was closeted. Before the scramble to mimic straight culture in its unfortunate pursuit of marriage.

I'm not suggesting that ALL people should not be treated equally, it's just sad and unfortunate that gay culture is forced to adopt straight paradigms in order to be treated correctly.

Just a thought...

Feb. 14 2012 01:56 PM
Joe from nearby

I get such a kick out of historical revisionists who try to reach back and claim that deceased people 'really' were gay, basing it on nothing more than speculation. If they were alive and could speak for themselves would they agree?
Lenny- thanks for questioning your guest's speculation.

Feb. 14 2012 01:45 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Oy vey, everyone is gay! If they all marry each other, who will produce the next generation of writers?

Feb. 14 2012 01:42 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.