When I read Memoirs shortly after it was published, I was not yet gay. At least, I did not consciously know that I was gay. Yet, I remember being taken with Tennessee Williams’ personal life. Although I did not consciously know that I was gay, I am sure that I was aware of my sexuality even though it was very, very repressed.
I was thinking of Memoirs and Williams today when I read I read Peter Monaghan’s “Bearing Witness to a Young Tennessee Williams” today; about how much life has changed since I was in high school. Although gay characters are ever present in current media, Tennessee Williams is the first gay man whom I ever met. In some significant ways, he taught me what it meant to be a gay man.
During one of my classes today, we were discussing significant experiences that influenced our world view. I had not yet read Monaghan’s article and cited another example–when a playmate told me that I had a small nose for a Jew boy. Even had I read Monaghan’s article, I doubt that I would have cited reading Memoirs because the impact was more complex than my first encounter with prejudice and would have been harder to summarize during class. But, in many way, my life and worldview were greatly influenced by Williams. After all, he was the only gay role model I had when I was a teenager.
Barbara Fister’s “This Short Blog Post is All About Me or, Term Papers on Trial — Again” (Inside Higher Ed. 2 January 2012) addressed Matt Richtel’s “Blogs vs. Term Papers” (New York Times. 20 January 2012) and Cathy N. Davidson’s “Should We Really ABOLISH the Term Paper? A Response to the New York Times” (HASTAC. 21 January 2012).