Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A great closeted gay American author and artist has died

The "celebration" from Where the Wild Things Are.

Maurice Sendak, 1928-2012.


  1. Closeted? I am listening to an archival interview with him where he is talking about his late partner of 50 years. Maybe he wasn't publicly out most of that time, but he was fairly public about being gay for the last ten years or so.

  2. Sendak was closeted into his 70's, I believe, which means you are officially "closeted" for the rest of your life, IMHO. And he admitted he was never able to come out to his parents. That in the end is key. I don't mean this really as criticism at this point - after all, would "Where the WIld Things Are" have ever been published if Sendak had been known as gay? And he DID get further than Edward Gorey got, I'll grant you that (an odd parallelism there, btw). Still, I'd argue his homosexuality is key to his art, and there is too little discussion of that.

  3. I will note how often I sense a note of resentment from straight people (not necessarily from you, Ian) when I openly discuss this or that semi-closeted author as gay or closeted.

    And not for nothing but John Travolta just got sued by yet another man for unwanted sexual advances. In case anyone is still suffering from THAT delusion.

  4. I guess I've just been aware that he was gay for several years, that it was public knowledge and that he didn't mind talking about it in interviews; so I just don't think it fair to call him closeted.

    Keep in mind that In The Night Kitchen was already controversial as it was because several illustrations portray the child protagonist Mickey naked-- had Sendak been out in 1970 when the book was published, the homophobia of that era would have attempted to portray both Sendak and his partner, the psychoanalyst Eugene Glynn, in the worst possible light and likely destroyed both their careers. I don't have a stake in this (and when I do voice disapproval it's for those closet cases who actively work for the homophobic agenda) but in terms of the closet, I simply feel that gay folk of Sendak and Glynn's generation have to be judged by different standards than gay baby-boomers or gay gen-Xers in terms of their willingness to be visible.

    On the other hand, had Gorey been out (we may never know for certain, but your reading is rather persuasive) he would still have had his career since most of his work was aimed at an adult audience.

  5. A) I don't think it's wide public knowledge. It's "public knowledge" for those who read certain publications, which is not the same thing.


    B) I'm not really "judging" him, as I said. I'm just reminding people.