This post was written by Meghan, an MLIS student from Dominican University.

“Oh no.  I don’t think homosexuals are really happy.  I wouldn’t say this. I think they’re madly gay, and this itself is a dead giveaway, isn’t it?” 

  • Quentin Crisp in conversation with Studs Terkel
Quentin Crisp by Ella Guru - Oil on Canvas

Quentin Crisp by Ella Guru – Oil on Canvas

Studs Terkel speaks to Quentin Crisp in his one-room flat in a boarding house in London’s Chelsea neighborhood, where, at the time of the interview, Mr. Crisp had lived for thirty years.  Although Mr. Crisp was 61 when he was interviewed, and ultimately lived to be 90 years old, he remarked to Studs Terkel, “I don’t expect anything new from my life now.”  As a “self-confessed homosexual,” Quentin Crisp suffered a great deal during his early adulthood, as he was subjected to verbal, emotional, and physical abuse from friends, family, and strangers.  However, he came to the realization that the best way to cope with this treatment was simply to accept it.

By the time of the interview, although a sexual revolution had taken place and Crisp was then living in a much more “permissive” society, he still claimed that the best way to live was to accept one’s chains, rather than trying to break them, saying, “when you can’t sink any lower, then you’re absolutely free.”

Quentin Crisp NYC 1992 Ross Bennett Lewis

Quentin Crisp NYC 1992 photo by Ross Bennett Lewis

Mr. Crisp was an actor, writer, a well-known public figure, and the subject of films and interviews.  He nonetheless felt that he was “always at the losing end.”  Were he alive today to see that the struggles he endured during his life have paved the way for others, perhaps his outlook might have changed.

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