Sexual Orientation: How Do Gays Play the Scene?

The great and powerful Google, ubiquitous in my blog, browser, calendar, e-mail and research, is apparently allowing me to forget to remember, so reliably does Google know my needs. So, when I see that omniscient Google has targeted an ad atop my gmail inbox that says, “Considering Bankruptcy? - Get a free consultation at our law offices in downtown Charlottesville,” well, it makes one pause. Am I? Like Google, Christopher Isherwood has that quality of restrained authority, with the slight English crankiness of an irritated GPS when you take the wrong turn off the traffic circle. In Isherwood’s A Single Man, George thinks that he “would like to abandon his shopping-cart, although it’s already full of provisions. But that would make extra work for the clerks, and one of them is cute.” George is gay, as was Isherwood. I do a double-take on “cute”, not one of surprise, but reinterpretation. With the unreliable assurance of one who spoke British-English in his youth, I relay BBC idioms to my wife, “banger’s a sausage, Dear.” It’s not the same with “cute,” we all know “cute” when we see it, except I see Audrey Hepburn (apologies, Dear), and George has (we’ll say) Cary Grant in mind. In my novel, Boiled Peanuts, Paul is a young heterosexual man who’s a peeping Tom. There’s some titillation in Paul watching a woman (I think), but what does a gay person feel who reads the scene? What gets reinterpreted? Does the reader alter a character’s sex, so that what’s cute to Paul will feel cute to the reader, or does the scene rely on its humor or drama and the sex is a bore? I’d be interested in hearing from gay or lesbian readers.

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