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Beware of Spokespeople

As the de facto spokesperson for the Agincourt community, I’m mindful of that responsibility. I do not speak for more than my own hopes for the place and not for what may actually be afoot there. To whit, I saw an advert in the current issue of the London Review of Books which torqued my sense of self.

I Speak for Me

I speak for me, just me, me alone. If you mistake anything I have said, or might yet say, as representing anyone but myself I apologize and wish to set the record straight.

The current London Review of Books (05 July 2018) notes a new anthology of short stories centered on “the love that dare not speak its name”. As a gay man, this title ought to have risen to the top of my list of must-reads, you might well imagine, but it holds less interest for me than, say, a new biography of Nelson Mandela or Royal Bodies, a collection from the LRB of pieces about the current British royal house, the Windsors, prurient voyeur that I am. Would I read a collection of gay-related fiction to see if I’m doing it right?

The publisher’s blurb promises treatment of “the social, cultural, psychological, and emotional issues facing the LGBTQIA community in the world today”, and therein lies its off-putting-ness. The acronym for the segment of the population which includes me, in one respect, has grown well beyond my antediluvian point of view. LGB had already stretched my sense of community, but its expansion represented by the addition of T, Q, I, and A has introduced at least one letter for which I have no point of reference, and by implication affords a sense of wonderment about just how inclusive any “community” can be before it ceases to be one. If this connotes a lack of sophistication or inability to acknowledge nuance which put me among the luddites, so be it until I can reassess the situation. To others in this LGBTQIA community, I apologize if this seems insensitive, but I want to share with you an opinion—and it is just that and just mine—formed thirty years ago when there were far fewer letters in the acronym.

At the time our then mayor had the foolhardy temerity to declare Gay Pride Week (for the first time and for which he took considerable heat), the local press was eager, as it always is, for a spokesperson, someone to prop before camera and microphone to speak to the general public—the Others—about what the LG (and possibly B) community felt/believed/had to say on the issue of celebrating its existence. And it should probably go without saying that someone was more than willing, anxious even, to stand before that camera and allow the press to construe that he spoke for me—as though there had been a plebiscite sweeping them into that position. To the Others whom he addressed there may have been the impression that his words were mine, his opinions mine, his positions mine. They were not, but I chose silence over stepping forward, because I believed my words-opinions-positions were no more than mine and warranted no forum (pun intended).

And so it is, this book ought to be on my list, if for no other reason than it represents a sampling of points-of-view (twenty-one short stories by, presumably, twenty-one authors—all likely younger than myself and at least one of whom might actually not be LGBTQIA) which might very well expand my consciousness and, at the very least, provide some nouns for all those new letters in the ever-expanding acronym. Until that time, I suppose, I shall continue to be a voice whining in the wilderness, but whining for none other than myself.

Cromwell: Yet how can this be? Because this silence betokened, nay, this silence was, not silence at all, but most eloquent denial! More: Not so. Not so, Master Secretary. The maxim is “Qui tacet consentire”; the maxim of the law is “Silence gives consent”. If, therefore, you wish to construe what my silence betokened, you must construe that I consented, not that I denied. Cromwell: Is that in fact what the world construes from it? Do you pretend that is what you wish the world to construe from it? More: The world must construe according to its wits; this court must construe according to the law.


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