If you’re stirred by these author quotes, amble down our archive for more.
When he wrote “Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness,” Allen Ginsberg (who would have been ninety-one this week) spoke not just to his fellow poets, but also to fellow LGBTQ people who had been forced to conceal their true selves by daylight.
The progress of the past few decades can’t be overestimated: young queer people are truly growing up in a different world than Ginsberg or even many of us today could ever have imagined. Even so, none of the traps or obstacles meant to restrict sexual exploration and corral gay and/or trans people from living full, equal lives have been truly dismantled.
This month as Pride celebrations are scheduled all across America, people who might have little else in common — including straight allies — have an opportunity to follow their inner moonlight together, in full view of neighbors and onlookers.
Hatred may still flow in abundance, but at least it’s getting harder and harder to claim ignorance.
1. Rita Mae Brown (Rubyfruit Jungle), Gay Olympic Gays Opening Ceremony, August 1982
“The only queer people are those who don’t love anybody.”
2. Rachel Maddow (Drift: The Unmooring of American Literary Power) on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, November 21, 2008
“The single best thing about coming out of the closet is that nobody can insult you by telling you what you’ve just told them.”
3. Allen Ginsberg, Family Business: Selected Letters Between a Father and Son, 2001
“You assume we are all sexually stable; while on the other hand, as I have become acquainted with people, I find that they are all perverted sinners, one way or another, that the whole society is corrupt and rotten and repressed and unconscious that it exhibits its repression in various forms of social sadism.”
4. Harvey Milk, quoted in Randy Shilts’ The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, 1982
“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door in the country.”
5. John Scalzi (Old Man’s War), “Quick Takes on Two Things of Passing Literary Interest,” 2011
“In general there should be gay characters in YA because a) surprise, there are gay folks everywhere and b) in my opinion as a father, there’s not a damn thing wrong with my child encountering gay folks in her literature, because see point a).”
6. Armistead Maupin, Further Tales of the City, 1980
“Queers doing cowboy dancing. Who would’ve thunk it? Kids who grew up in Galveston and Tucson and Modesto, performing the folk dances of their homeland finally, finally with the partner of their choice.”
7. Alice Walker, The Color Purple, 1982
“I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is, just like a fish is. I have a right to be this way…I can’t apologize for that, nor can I change it, nor do I want to… We will never have to be other than who we are in order to be successful…We realize that we are as ourselves unlimited and our experiences valid. It is for the rest of the world to recognize this, if they choose.”
8. Kate Bornstein, Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws, 2006
“Let’s stop ‘tolerating’ or ‘accepting’ difference, as if we’re so much better for not being different. Instead, let’s celebrate difference, because in this world it takes a lot of guts to be different and to act differently.”