THE RELEVANT QUEER: Paul Monette, Courageous Poet, Author, and Activist, Born October 16, 1945

Paul Monette, interior photo from Halfway Home, 1991. Photo Tom Bianchi
Paul Monette, interior photo from Halfway Home, 1991. Photo Tom Bianchi

“No one will find the way out of hate and violence unless we do. Go without hate, but not without rage. Heal the world.”

TRQ: Paul Monette, Born October 16, 1945

Poet, author and LGBT activist Paul Monette, known for his writing on gay relationships, was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts on October 16, 1945. Monette was educated at Yale University, it was in 1974 when Paul met lawyer Roger Horwitz that he accepted his sexuality.

After several years teaching literature at Milton Academy and Pine Manor College, he moved with Horwitz to Los Angeles in 1978 and became involved in the gay rights movement. Paul and Roger lived in West Hollywood, where Paul explored his gay journey through writing novels, many of which featured gay protagonists.

Monette’s writing captures the sense of heartbreak and loss at the center of the AIDS crisis. His first novel, Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll, was published in 1978, and he wrote several more works of fiction, poetry, and a memoir. Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir, a heartfelt account of his partner’s battle with the disease, earned him both PEN Center West and Lambda literary awards.

In 1992, Monette won the National Book Award in Nonfiction for Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, an autobiography detailing his early life and his struggle with his sexuality. Written as a classic coming-of-age story, Becoming a Man became an important coming-out story.

Monette’s most acclaimed book, Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir, chronicles Horwitz’s fight against, and eventual death from, AIDS. The memoir details the final nineteen months of Horwtiz’s life, beginning with the day that he was first diagnosed with AIDS.

Monette describes the day as “the day we lived on the moon.” He distances himself from the reader to show the AIDS patients’ devastating loneliness. It was a miserable existence for Monette.

He writes, “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.”

Monette wrote an episode for Thirtysomething, a popular television show in which an advertising executive learns that he has AIDS. The show was one of the first to deal with AIDS crisis.

In 1995, Monette founded the Monette-Horwitz Trust, which honors individuals and organizations working to combat homophobia.

Monette died in his home in West Hollywood in 1995 of complications from AIDS. He was survived by his father, brother and Winston Wilde, his partner. Monette wrote thirteen books, or “glib and silly little novels” as he called them, before dying at the age of 49.

His gravestone reads, “Champion of His People.”

The documentary Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer’s End was released in 1996. The slim eloquent Sanctuary, a fable of same-sex love, posthumously appeared in 1997 and was hailed by critics as Monette’s last gift.

Paul Monette from Afterlife, 1990. Photo Star Black
Paul Monette from Afterlife, 1990. Photo Star Black
Paul Monette from The Last Watch of Night, 1993. Photo Gay Block
Paul Monette from The Last Watch of Night, 1993. Photo Gay Block
Paul Monette on Charlie Rose, May 25, 1994
Paul Monette on Charlie Rose, May 25, 1994
Paul Monette with his final companion, Winston Wilde, on Christmas in 1994. UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Paul Monette with his final companion, Winston Wilde, on Christmas in 1994. UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Paul Monette and Roger Bourland at the Wiltern Theatre, April 4, 1993
Paul Monette and Roger Bourland at the Wiltern Theatre, April 4, 1993
Paul Monette, Los Angeles, CA, 1992
Paul Monette, Los Angeles, CA, 1992
Paul Monette and Mary Oliver await the start of the news conference after receiving National Book Awards in NY on Nov. 18, 1992. Monette won the non-fiction category for Becoming a Man Half a Life Story. Photo Mark Lennihan_AP Photo
Paul Monette and Mary Oliver await the start of the news conference after receiving National Book Awards in NY on Nov. 18, 1992. Monette won the non-fiction category for Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story. Photo Mark Lennihan/AP Photo
A promotional postcard for Paul Monette The Brink of Summer's End, a 1996 documentary on Monette. Photo Tom Bianchi, UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
A promotional postcard for Paul Monette The Brink of Summer’s End, a 1996 documentary on Monette. Photo Tom Bianchi, UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Paul Monette, interior photo from Halfway Home, 1991. Photo Tom Bianchi
Paul Monette, interior photo from Halfway Home, 1991. Photo Tom Bianchi

About the Authors:

Troy Wise is currently a PhD student at UAL Central St Martins and teaches fashion and graphic design at London College of Contemporary Arts. His background is in marketing and he is founder and co-editor of Image Amplified. He lives in, and is continually fascinated by, the city of London.

Rick Guzman earned his most recent MA at UAL Central St Martins in Applied Imagination in the Creative Industries. He currently holds two MA’s and an MBA in the New Media, Journalism and International Business fields. Co-editor at Image Amplified since its start, he lives in London, is fascinated by history and is motivated by continuing to learn and explore.

*

Sources:

NY Times

YAMP

LA Times

Openroad Media

PRN Newswire

Legacy Project Chicago

Becoming A Man: Half a Life Story

Britannica

Liked it? Take a second to support Image Amplified on Patreon!

VOGUE GERMANY: Karly Loyce by Ralph Mecke

VANITY TEEN: Noah Eriksson Stjärnquist by Klara Fowler