Thursday 31 December 2009

An Englishman in New York

Was looking forward to watching this last night, having recorded it from a couple of days ago. (John Hurt reprising his playing of Quentin Crisp.) Unfortunately I'd only just read Peter Tatchell's article denouncing Crisp, quoting several truly appalling sayings which could have come from the most rabid homophobe, so this detracted from any enjoyment I might otherwise have experienced. (Can't imagine how these odious pronouncements had passed me by - although must admit I haven't been active on the gay scene for a couple of decades now. The kindest interpretation I can put on what he said was that it was down to the ramblings of his then advancing senility.) John Hurt gave, as expected, an astonishing performance, but the only controversial issue that the programme dealt with in any depth was Crisp's dismissal of AIDS as a 'fad'. Anyway, when I first saw 'The Naked Civil Servant' way back in the mid-1970s it made a deep impression on me, and gave me much-needed renewed confidence in my having 'come out' just a couple of years before, belatedly, in my late 2os. Maybe 'Englishman' is worth a watch, especially if one is ignorant of his remarks as reported, as I had been. But even if one still doesn't know of them, I've spoilt it now, haven't I? .......Sorry!!!


  1. However flawed Crisp may have been, you can't deny the positive value his life had for furthering the audience for LGBT issues? Nobody's perfect and he was a man a bit out of his time during the 80s.

    Anyway. ;-)

    Happy New Year x

  2. A definitively glorious 2010 to you too, Dyl. Yes, Q.C. was a man of undoubted courage and a true pioneer in the early dark days of Gay Lib. At work at the time I remember colleagues who watched 'Naked Civil Servant', gave him points for bravery on the strength of this TV prog, but regarded him essentially as a freak, which I'm sure he himself would have been happy to agree with. But in my books, despite his blazing such a brilliant trail he really did undo a lot of his positive example by suggesting that the world would be a better place without gays and that he'd advise a pregnant mother of a potentially gay baby to have an abortion. I'm not sure how many of his later sayings were accurately reported though I'd still like to read somewhere that he later disassociated himself from such vile outpourings.

  3. The truth may be hard to swallow, and it may leave a bitter taste in your mouth, but at least it offers you something real, like perspective. Crisp was a valuable figure for us, but he was twisted on the inside, more than I would like to imagine any person could be. That's human and I have to except him for what he was, the good and the bad.

  4. Well I suppose, Kyle, it's the paradoxes that inevitably go with being human that is the conundrum we have to live with, like it or not - and of course no one is forcing us to endorse everything that a giant like Q.C. said.