How to Be a Gay Literary Icon

Michael Gregg Michaud

Say you knew Tennessee Williams.

Say you slept with him.

He’s dead, who’ll know?

Enter your latest book

in the annual Lambda Literary Awards

and vote for yourself.

Be sullen.

Be fat with a receding hairline

a 44 inch waist

and a mother complex.

Frequent hustler bars.

Be photographed with Sandra Bernhard, Madonna,

or Jeff Stryker.

Dedicate your books to dead people

or your analyst.

Be photographed for your book jacket

tightly clutching a pet cat.

It doesn’t need to be yours.

Pretend to know Camile Paglia.

Accept every party invitation

but never go.

Tell engaging anecdotes

about radical writer groups in the 1960s

and imply you were there.


Heckle at Republican rallies

but only when covered by network news.

Have a handsome young boyfriend,

preferably a college gymnast.

Pay him if you have to.

If you pay him,

call him your research assistant.

Cough a lot.

Smile sadly when you talk about Stonewall.

Fill your home with autographed books

but never read them.

Pay your friends to be shills at your readings

and tell them to laugh very loudly.

Cue them with a telling nod.

Apply for grants you will never receive

and blame it on homophobia.

Come from a broken home.

Speak in hushed tones and wear glasses.

Tell each young male fan he, too, can write,

with the proper instruction.

Give him your phone number.

Talk about “gay sensibility”

and sound like you know what it means.

Affect an accent.

Any accent will do. Claim to be an abused child.

Be co-dependent

and never politically correct.

Have compulsive addictions to drugs,

alcohol, and/or sex.

Be in recovery.

Don’t quit your day job.