Gay’s the word

Hugo Williams

  • States of Desire: Travels in Gay America by Edmund White
    Deutsch, 336 pp, £5.95, August 1980, ISBN 0 233 97301 X

You knew that the Mercedes was the ultimate gay motor, but did you know that the Corvette was the poor gay’s Porsche? That the Alfa Romeo and the Datsun 280-Z were ‘bright, snappy cars for gays’ or that the Fiat convertible suggested to a gay trick: ‘I am sporty, unpretentious and above all relaxed’? You could probably have guessed that the LA leather crowd drive pick-ups, jeeps and vans, which they park outside the leather bars to retire to, with trick, when the ‘back-rooms’ are too crowded with ejaculating cowboys. But did you know that the leather and Western neighbourhood of LA was Silver Lake, where the rents are still low enough for these blue-collar workers, some of whom have sacrificed professional careers to enter occupations – telephone or television repairs, Pacific Gas – which they consider to be ‘hot’ sexually? ‘We’ve reduced the things of the material plane to mere symbolical conveniences,’ said Isherwood in A Single Man. ‘The Europeans hate us because we’ve retired to live inside our advertisements, like hermits going into caves.’ ‘A Buddhist vision, really,’ thinks White.

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