THE RELEVANT QUEER: Author, Poet, Activist Paul Monette, Died 10 Feb. 1995

Paul Monette by Star Black, 1978

“It would take me the better part of growing up to understand that intimacy, more than sex or even sexual orientation, was the universal battleground, and no easier for straight than gay.”

TRQ: Paul Monette, Died 10 February, 1995  

Author, poet and activist, Paul Monette, winner of the National Book Award in Nonfiction for his book Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story in 1992, was born in Massachusetts. He attended Yale University and taught literature at Milton Academy and Pine Manor College. 

In 1974 Paul met his partner, lawyer Roger Horwitz, and together they moved to West Hollywood in 1978. It is in Los Angeles that Paul began writing novels featuring gay protagonists  as a way of understanding his own experience.

Paul describes his thirteen books as “glib and silly little novels,” though in reality he was a respected author and poet. Living and working at height of the AIDS crisis, the ravages of which were intensified by irresponsible governmental neglect and denial, Paul grew more and more politically active. In his fiction and poetry, Paul articulated the devastating heartbreak and incomprehensible loss felt by those impacted by AIDS.

Paul won the PEN Center West and Lambda literary awards for Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir. His most acclaimed book, it tells the story of Roger’s battle with the disease. It begins on the day Roger was diagnosed, which Paul describes as “the day we began to live on the moon” as a way of expressing AIDS patients’ intense feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

“Within three months this sense of separateness would grow so acute that I really didn’t want to talk to anyone anymore who wasn’t touched by AIDS, body or soul.” Roger’s  battle with the disease lasted nineteen months.  

Paul’s autobiography, Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, describes his own struggle with his sexuality and became a seminal coming-out story.

In 1995, Paul founded the Monette-Horwitz Trust, honoring both his relationship with Roger, and those individuals and organisations fighting homophobia. Paul died at home in West Hollywood in 1995 from complications from AIDS. He was 49. 





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