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Irresistible Gilbert and Garland

Arts & Entertainment

Irresistible Gilbert and Garland

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Toronto playwright's latest is an embrace, and rejection, of gay culture
Toronto writer Sky Gilbert sets Come Back, his new novel, in a dystopia in the year 2050 in which a 138-year-old Judy Garland longs for her old addictions.
 
Unknowingly, the gay playwright and drag queen was writing about something close to home.
 
“Until Come Back was over, I didn’t realize how much it was about my struggles with addiction, alcohol and cigarettes mainly,” Gilbert says. “It also relates to my mother a little because my mother died of alcoholism.”
 
In the novel, Garland corresponds with her thesis advisor, expounding on stardom and gay life. In this way, Gilbert jams Come Back with radical ideas on an array of topics, including gay theory.
 
In 2050, everyone lives in a virtual cyberworld instead of reality. Machines keep Garland alive. Addled like most of the populace, she rarely leaves her home. When people do go out, they bear hideous physical alterations from living beyond their natural life spans. In using a sci-fi lens to critique our technology-addicted culture, Gilbert shares CanLit ground with Margaret Atwood, whose literary sci-fi novels, including Oryx and Crake, occur in dystopias caused by humankind running amok.
 
“I’m talking about our relationship to that [technological] world,” Gilbert says. “Like anything, you don’t blame technology; I think that human beings would find a way to fuck themselves, and have, without technology.”
 
His disenfranchised playwright, Dash King, the subject of Garland’s thesis, also runs amok failing to prove to academia that Shakespeare was gay. Sky used Dash to express frustrations about his failed attempts to write an academic paper on Shakespeare.
 
Dash, like Gilbert, is a sexual intellectual. This is how Gilbert describes himself and his Toronto housemates of the mid-to-late 1980s, when he roomed with Sue Golding at 67 Homewood Ave. She and another housemate were involved in the early years of The Body Politic, Xtra’s predecessor. His roommates proved to be radical, intelligent, promiscuous activists who expanded Gilbert’s intellectual vistas.
 
“They said, ‘You’re a slut’ and taught me how to love my ‘slutness’ and be intellectually informed, to understand intellectually what I was physically,” he says.
 
“That sort of ethos is gone,” Gilbert says, referring to gay culture, “except in older people like me and some younger ones who come back and discover it again because they’re just so frustrated with what’s out there.”
 
In Gilbert’s opinion, gay culture involves three elements: the first is gender play, the idea that femininity and masculinity can exist in equal parts in men and women and are explorable and enjoyable in both genders; a camp sensibility; and the idea of alternative relationships such as polyamory.
 
Gilbert opens Come Back with Garland rejecting gay culture, hoping to attract people who have also rejected it.
 
“Gay people are not really interested in . . . gay culture anymore,” Gilbert says. “The vast majority of gay men and lesbians have moved into this sort of marriage, religion, military thing.”
 
Such perspectives from Gilbert and Garland are oddly irresistible.
 
“It’s a really crazy novel about a Hollywood star, a gay icon who doesn’t want to be a gay icon,” Gilbert says.
 
Come Back
Sky Gilbert
ECW Press
$18.95 
ecwpress.com
 
 
  
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Comments

His fanciful
recollections of his time on Homewood and the serious damage these people had on him is so far out of his mental capacity and comprehension. “They said, ‘You’re a slut’ and taught me how to love my ‘slutness’ and be intellectually informed, to understand intellectually what I was physically,” he says. Poor Sky has no idea that THAT is NOT what they taught him. So now we've had years of being presented with what really should've been left at Art Therapy classes.
The last time I saw Sky Gilbert on stage
I remember when Sky Gilbert played the role of Gilles de Rais in the play “Jehanne of the Witches” at the Tarragon Theatre. Gilles de Rais was a French noble who allegedly sodomized and killed children. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilles_de_Rais I found the play disturbing and avoided productions involving Sky Gilbert after that.
obsession with bourgeoisie may be unrequited love
"I should begin by stating that I consider myself a transgendered person. I do not live 24 hours a day representing myself as belonging to the gender that I was not assigned at birth. Many people consider this to be the working definition of transgendered." Feb 1, 2012 Xtra

If she or ze is transgendered why is she or ze talking about gay men? She/ze posed in leopardskin bikini at Bear events and sneered at all the gay men. And this is supposed to be healthy? Role model? Interesting? Never has bourgeoisie shame been so defining of a career!
Judah ben Him
I think "hate" is a little strong, I will give you that he has/is been consumed by fear. It's a little different, but in the end we all have to grow up. I was just suggesting you give him time to do so. In his own way he was one of many who supported my own personal Gay Liberation so I'm not so sure he has done as much damage as you claim. Things are often not what they appear to be, I've learned it's more important to look at the outcome rather than the path to get there. But hey, I totally understand your valid animosity, totally.
no redemption for this clown
John (of the cross?), Are you Jesus of Nazareth? Forgiveness is for personal life not public critique of nasty clowns who have done more to harm gay mens' liberation than to help it. Gilbert hated and hates gay men and many of us hate him back. No need for therapy or personal saviours.
Judah ben Him...
You're being a little harsh are you not? As one of those he has mistreated, I can assure you that such venom only feeds the darkness in yourself. Let it go. He may be those things you describe and I suppose I could add a few of mine own, but seriously get over it. Perhaps one day he'll reach out and fix the damage he has clearly done to you and others if he's able. Until then try to forgive.
No sympathy for this venemous cunt
James Dubro and Zach, Sky Gilbert is reaping what they have sown. For 30 years that person has trashed, insulted, hated, spat on, screamed at and attacked homosexuals and gay men in Toronto for not being like him (whatever that is). A nasty, unpleasant, boorish, untalented asshole is the person many of us long timers have known as Sky Gilbert. Theatre is one thing but gay men have been on the receiving end of his bitterness and self-loathing since 1979. Gilbert deserves every beat down, bitch slap and contemptuous spit of every gay man in Toronto he ever attacked.
What's not to love
Sky Gilbert is still here. A survivor of the untold wreckage left by the Aids crisis and the changing gay culture in Toronto. He was there as a co founder of Buddies and Bad times, way back in 1978. Buddies in those days was a light at the end of a very long tunnel. Ya he can be mouthy, bitchy and a bit ego centric. After all, what Diva isn't? Before you start your "critique" of this man's life and his work, ask yourself what the hell did you contribute when the gay world was in crisis? The book sounds interesting and unique, just like Sky.
Enuf of the bitchy Old Queening of Sky
Why do so many of us gay men dump on our few successful writers and gay personalities. And what a short memory we have. Sky Gilbert has given much of his life to the LGBT community--he founded and perservered with Buddies in Bad Times theatre-- against all the odds; he wrote many excellent plays; he created the fun persona of "Jane" he has written some very fine and witty poetry volumes as well as novels. I know Sky is acerbic at times (LOL)and in many ways sets himself up for severe critiques (he has attacked me personally in one of his "Eye" columns years ago re my thankless police liaison work as somehow treacherous) , but he is prolific, creative and occasionally brilliant. Enough already of dumping on him as a writer & LGBT personality. We are lucky to have many creative people in the LGBT community who work in our community over the lure of the mainstream. While far from a Saint, Sky has, overall, been a gift to our community for many years. I'd like to suggest we stop being bitchy old queens-- and try not to savage Sky's incredible output unless we can do better and be half as productive, creative & provocative. It seems many of us love to hate him, but let's try & not do so in so nasty, unappreciative a manner
Enuf bitchy old queen Sky-bashing
Why do so many of us gay men dump on our few successful writers gay personalities. And what a short memory we have. Sky Gilbert has given much of his life to the LGBT community--he founded & perservered with Buddies in BAd Times theatre against all the odds; he wrote many excellent plays; he created the personality of "jane"; he has written some very fine & witty poetry volumes as well as novels. I know Sky is acerbic & in many ways sets himself up for severe critiques (he has attacked me personally ij one of his columns years ago re my thankless police liasion work) , but he is prolific, creative and occasionally brilliant. Enuough already of dumping on him as a writer & personality. We are lucky to have many creative people in the LGBT community who stay in our community over the lure of the mainstream. While far from a Saint, Sky has, overall, been a gift to our community for many years. I'd like to suggest we stop being bitchy old queens-- & try not to savage his incredible output unless you can do better and be half as productive, creative & provocative.

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