Gore Vidal Dies

The bestselling author introduced one of the first openly gay characters in the American novel

Courtesy of GoreVidalNow.com

Considered to be one of the most influential chroniclers of culture, Gore Vidal died last night at the age of 86. Best known for his works of fiction and non-fiction, Vidal’s impact on gay literature was also notable as he was the first American novelist to write an openly gay character into the book The City and the Pillar in 1948. Many of his other works have also been beloved among LGBT readers, including Myra Breckinridge, which delved into feminism and transsexuality, and his memoir Palimpsest, in which he recounts several gay affairs, including one with fellow writer Jack Kerouac.

During his fabled career, Vidal did little to avoid controversy, often becoming embroiled in legendary feuds with the famous and infamous, like Truman Capote and Norman Mailer, and even running for political office twice in New York and California. During a particularly heated moment on national television, conservative commentator William F. Buckley even called Vidal a “queer.”

Vidal was also outspoken in more recent years about the war in the Middle East and what he criticized as America’s aggressive fight against terrorism and the Bush White House’s failed policies. Whether he was writing in Hollywood or taking on tough and timely events with the ease of a scholar, he will be remembered as being a social critic, keen observer and brilliant biographer of our lives.

About the gay world, he once said this: “There is no such thing as a homosexual or a heterosexual person. There are only homo – or heterosexual acts. Most people are a mixture of impulses if not practices.”

While no statement has been made about his memorial, the author requested that his ashes be interred with the remains of his partner of five decades Howard Austen. He preceded Vidal in death in 2003.