*Letters between Forster and Isherwood on Homosexuality and Literature (2008) edited by Richard E. Zeikowitz. **The drawings of Isherwood and Forster on the book cover are by Don Bachardy. :-) In fact, the book was dedicated to Bachardy by the editor.
***A letter where Isherwood is sending his high praise to Forster for his book, Maurice.
Favorite quotes about Maurice from Isherwood’s letter:
”What a book! In some ways, your very best.” - Totally agree, Christopher!
“And Maurice himself is a masterpiece–one of the few truly noble characters of fiction.” - Heck yeah! You better believe it!
“I have nothing, really, to criticize about the ending–except that you shouldn’t stop there. Or there should be a sequel.” - I love that Isherwood was demanding a sequel! LOL!
“I should love to know what [Alec and Maurice] are doing now.” - The moment when Isherwood became ALL of us in the Maurice fandom.
What she means:
Ao3's most read fic has 844,743 hits. Any book with those readership numbers would end up in all the top most read lists in the world. If we put our money where our mouth is and consumed queer literature by queer writers not only it would become normal to see queer representation in libraries, but we would also distribute wealth to queer writers. Instead we continue consuming the same old media by the same old white cishet male creators and providing it with free advertisement with our fanfiction and I don't get why you all are okay with this!!!
I get it a lot about Declan’s character. “Why would you give Dex male pronouns if he’s trans?”
So allow me to go through the very conscious decisions I made as a storyteller.
He isn’t trans. Or at least not that said in the strict definition. When the book begins, Declan is confused and believes he may be non-binary, or “in between” he sees himself as a divided person. The female costume being something he wears to express a portion of his identity. He feels comfortable in it because it is new and allows him to be a more complete version of himself. But as he experiences a relationship with Carter as a girl, lying to Carter, he realizes that his identity isn’t that simple. That he can’t divide his mind like that. In a way, that female version of him becomes a kind of mask. He thought she was from within, but she was actually another projection.
It’s by easing into intimacy with Carter and being accepted no matter what he puts forward that he begins to see that he doesn’t have to be a girl or a boy. He can be whatever he wants in the moment. He can be fluid. Which is what he chooses to be: fluid. So I guess that makes him trans, doesn’t it?
So why did I leave him with male pronouns and not they/them? Two very good reasons. Firstly, the transition between pronouns can be technically jarring. To switch back and forth from others saying “he” to the narrator saying “they” is confusing to people who aren’t familiar with the concept of pronoun changes and frankly to lots of other people. It is one limitation of the written word, and while I’d love to apologize for the limitations of English, I’m not going to.
Secondly, he is a he. By the end he has come to realize that his gender is somewhat fluid, but that he is comfortable being “he”, which I felt was completely transparent given that the omniscient narrator (yeah that asshole) continued to refer to him as “he”. Not all trans people change their pronouns. Not all of them want to change them. Especially not ones who, on the spectrum, lean more toward their biological sex.
TL:DR the book opens with a confused person who believes they might be trans or completely non-binary, but ends with someone who considers themselves to be a somewhat gender fluid gay transvestite, so yeah, trans. He doesn’t change his pronouns because he is comfortable, which becomes clear when you read the book and actually have an idea of who Dex is as a person. Human sexuality and gender identity is complex and should be, and please stop oversimplifying or pigeon-holing people. Please stop asserting that every gender fluid, non-binary, or otherwise character or person should have to trade out pronouns.
Do you have a problem with that? Does that bother you that the character grows and changes? That they become comfortable? That they realize that they don’t want to change pronouns?
Melville Gilcrest (Scripps College ’19) is an archivist, activist, and a queer/nonbinary student. They are currently researching LGBTQ+ history at Scripps in the Ella Strong Denison Library, with the help of the 2017 Arthur Vining Davis Library Internship grant.
The project, entitled “Scripps Underground: Exploring the Queer Histories of Scripps College,” is an attempt to bring together the voices of past and present generations of LGBTQ+ Scripps students. Using archival materials, interviews, and surveys, they hope to create a more cohesive picture of queerness at Scripps through decades of discrimination, invisibility, activism, coalition-building, and isolation.
For more information, contact Mel at firstname.lastname@example.org
My library changed their icon to Pride colors and today posted a link to the blog about resources for LGBTQ people, written by one of our youth librarians.
First two comments are tsk’ing about how they’ll no longer support the library. Let me tell you, homophobic patrons, there are plenty of queer people working in that library. We’ve touched your favorite book. We’ve fixed the computer you used to place holds. Our gay little hands have been behind every service you’ve used there. We won’t miss you.
My dad is a very religious man, quite senior in his church, but also a super queer-positive man. I just found out about something that he has apparently been doing for years. Okay, get this. He combs the church library for homophobic books (there are a lot). He checks out like 1 or 2 every Sunday, then takes them home and THROWS THEM IN THE GARBAGE. And no one has ever dared question him about why he is gradually absconding with the entire queer section of the church library, because he is so senior and established and respected.