Gary Indiana, I Can Give You Anything But Love

gary indiana

Gary Indiana goes to Havana in 2012 to write his memoirs. In between sex with hustlers, he tries to remember what it was like to be part of the LA political underground that gathered around various communes, the punk movement around the Mudd Club, the intellectual circles of the Reagan years, etc. It´s beautifully written and very entertaining but leaves a sour note. He admits to a lack of empathy and the book does indeed demonstrate the extent of it. He´s gallant about the personal cost of growing up in a homophobic culture — the bullying, the abuse, the breakdowns, the rapes — the need to invent oneself, to imagine a way of existing whilst every experience chips away at expectations of romantic love, to find community and survive the pandemic raging around. He´s clear-eyed, unsentimental and dispassionate about this. But it is disconcerting that every Cuban is depicted as a hustler on the make, out to get something from him, each is dehumanised in some way, even as he gallivants around Havana flashing his dollars and expecting the whole culture to bend its knee. It´s a quite extraordinary example of sexual tourism , American entitlement, and white privilege. And yet….it´s also a portrait of how a homophobic culture turns a sensitive young boy into an embittered old queen, and ends up being both illuminating and moving.

 

José Arroyo

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