Jim Grimsley’s gay characters, for the most part, are not affluent, they don’t live in Manhattan, and they don’t have AIDS. “My whole problem with those Violet Quill writers“—writers like Felice Picano, Andrew Holleran, Edmund White—”is that they are men of privilege, and they don’t see anything outside of that worth exploring. I have no interest in the New York scene,” Grimsley said at Bailey/Coy Books last week, “and it’s been written to death.”
So Boulevard, Grimsley’s new book, is pages and pages of sex between boys with Southern accents—so much sex that it began to disturb an old man in the audience. He sighed loudly, shook his head, and looked around the room and then at his watch whenever Grimsley read things like steel tit clamp, Caucasian- colored dildo, and shit fuck.
Grimsley had not yet read The New Yorker’s profile from two weeks ago of Faggots author and AIDS activist Larry Kramer. In the article, Michael Specter writes about Kramer’s histrionic attempts to focus the media’s attention on AIDS: wrapping Sen. Jesse Helms’ home in a giant condom, shouting on television, “President Reagan, your son is gay!” Specter also recalls his own tempestuous history with Kramer, including when Kramer called Specter, formerly a health reporter, a “Nazi” and a “murderer” for “ignoring the severity of the epidemic.” Gay journalist (albeit hypocritical conservative) Andrew Sullivan is quoted as saying: “If you call someone who is not doing enough . . . a murderer, what do you do when somebody is stabbing someone in the street? . . . Is everyone a Nazi?”
Kramer has other enemies, too, even among his fellow gay novelists. He’s insisted that it’s the obligation of gay writers to write about AIDS, which, Grimsley said last week, “is a little out-of-date.” Grimsley was diagnosed with HIV in 1981. “My only obligation to AIDS is to live through it, and if Kramer was here I would tell him that.
“The battle Larry Kramer has with Edmund White is interesting but pointless,” Grimsley went on. “Kramer thinks there’s too much sex in gay novels. White says, ‘That’s because you didn’t have enough sex in your life, Larry.'”