Edmund White's Lies

Bill Weintraub

Bill Weintraub

Edmund White's Lies


Edmund White, a gay novelist and icon of mainstream gay male culture, was quoted in the NY Times last Sunday as follows:

The most terrible thing about AIDS is that it destroys the relationship, no matter how loving, between the two partners and eats away at the character of the person who's dying. Nobody has AIDS and is noble.

When I first read that statement, I was shocked, so far was it from my experience of my own lover and our experience of AIDS -- but on reflection I realized that I shouldn't be surprised to hear a doyenne of analist culture be so destructively denigrating towards men who love men.

Because after all, at the heart of the gay male culture which has lionized Edmund White and off of which he's fed all these years, is an act of degradation.

Not willing to let White's lies stand unchallenged, I sent the following letter to the NY Times -- which did not print it.

To the editor:

I was astonished by Edmund White's assertions that "Nobody has AIDS and is noble" and that the disease destroys a relationship, "no matter how loving." ("His Masterpiece May Be Himself, Remade as Fiction," the NY Times, Sunday, 10/26/03.)

My late partner, gay journalist Brett Averill, who died of AIDS in 1995 [editor: the Times carried a news story obit on 6/25/95], was both my hero and the noblest person I've ever known.

His disease did not change his character -- at least not for the worse. He became sweeter, perhaps, and more loving, and certainly more spiritual, but he was not one bit less noble than he'd been before he was ill.

Nor was our loving relationship destroyed. Although coping with his illness did strain both of us, if anything fighting the disease together bonded us more completely.

And, as most bereaved people know, death does not dissolve such a bond.

I'm sorry for Mr. White if bad behavior and broken vows constituted his experience of AIDS; but they did not mine, nor, I daresay, that of tens of thousands of other loving partners.

Bill Weintraub

I've posted this because I want guys to understand that when we talk about phallus, fidelity, and masculinity as the polar opposites of anus, promiscuity, and effeminacy -- there's a reason.

Analist culture is not simply the exaltation of one particularly nasty sex act above all others.

It's also the abjuration of anything decent or elevated or, dare I say, heroic between two men.

In the analists' world, heroic love is not possible. AIDS -- and by extension any challenge -- destroys the bonds between men, while corrupting even the best of characters.

To the analists, men who are attracted erotically to men are "gay," helpless flibberty-gibbets condemned to forever flit from one meretricious partner to the next, while "real men" do the donkey work of this world.

That's a lie, a pernicious and soul-destroying lie which has devastated a generation of men even when they've been physically untouched by HIV.

If you tell people over and over that they are not capable of love or loyalty -- they will not be.

But if you present another model, and offer examples of those who have and do live up to it -- so will they.

Heroic Homosex: to love one man as an equal and a man -- with total fidelity.

The linchpin of warrior cultures, it's now our model, our construct, our paradigm.

Legions lived it in the past.

Thousands do today, and with your help, millions more will.

In my letter I said that I felt sorry for Edmund White, and, though the sentiment is probably wasted upon him, I do.

But I feel sorrier for all those men whose lives have been corrupted by the nonsense of White and his analist confreres.

Only you can oppose Edmund White's lies -- by reaching out to other men and speaking the truth of your own lives.



Re: Edmund White's Lies


What a sign of our sad times is Mr. Whites quote. An attitude, it seems to me, of the "me first" philosophy. The idea that nothing is worth fighting for,that if it isn't easy or you can't cheat, then don't bother. That if you can't win then don't try.

Life and death present all of us with challenges,great and small, of which Aids is one. It is not ignoble to die from Aids, or from any disease, or to fail in lifes/deaths challenges. That is sad or even tragic, but not ignoble. What IS ignoble is not facing those challenges at all. To whine and moan about how unfair life has been to YOU. Most of us are not Hector or Odysseus, most of us need the help of a friend, partner or lover to help us meet these challenges, but we can all strive to follow the heroic ideal. And we need to follow it as best we can. We need to remember that life is not about winning a prize, or F@##'ng the most partners, it's about living or dying as best as you can. After all, we all grow old, we all lose our looks, and we all will die.

Because if we lose the Heroic ideal, then what will be left is what we are starting to see now. The loss of self worth, and with that, the loss of the appreciation of others and their struggles. The idea that anything/everything is okay as long as it benefits ones self. That it is not only correct to cheat, but you are stupid not to. The idea that if you fail at something it invaildates the entire effort, so don't bother.

Be safe everyone,



Re: Edmund White's Lies



I must commend you on your good articulate writing and letter to Edmund White.

Your message was more than good, it was exceptional in putting into words the beauty of the loving relationships between men.

I thank you, my lover thanks you, and I'm sure all other men that have found beauty and harmony in the intimacies of loving the beauty of another male also thank you.

Garcon69--MSN Groups

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