British-born author, literary critic and journalist Christopher Hitchens (62) died yesterday from pneumonia, a complication of oesophageal cancer. He was being treated at a Texas hospital.
Vanity Fair magazine, which announced his death, said there would never be another like Christopher. Editor Graydon Carter described the writer as someone of ferocious intellect, who was as vibrant on the page as he was at the bar. Hitchens fostered a reputation as a cynical contrarian.
In later life he moved away from the left. Following the September 11 attacks he argued with Noam Chomsky and others who suggested that US foreign policy had helped cause the tragedy. He supported the Iraq War and backed George W. Bush for re-election in 2004. No one was immune to his scathing (but brilliantly written) remarks: Bill Clinton was called a cynical, self-seeking ambitious thug, Henry Kissinger a war criminal and Mother Teresa a fraudulent fanatic.
The publication of his 2007 book God Is Not Great made him a major celebrity in his adopted homeland of the United States, and he happily took on the role of the country's best-known atheist. Hitchens was everything a great essayist should be: infuriating, brilliant, highly provocative and yet intensely serious.
Although twice married and the father of children, Hitchins commented openly about his bisexual past, in particular the homosexual activity of his student years. Leaked snippets from his memoir, to be published next month:
"Most boys decided quite early on that, since their penises would evidently give them no rest at all, they would repay the favor by giving their penises no respite in return. It was quite possible to arrange a vigorous session of mutual relief without a word being spoken, even without eye contact.
I didn’t lack for partners when it came to the everyday business of sheer physical relief.
Were poems exchanged? Were there white-hot and snatched kisses? Did we sometimes pine for the holidays to end, so that (unlike everybody else) we actually yearned to be back at school? Yes, yes, and yes.
Every now and then, at Oxford, even though I was by then fixed on the pursuit of young women, a mild and enjoyable relapse would occur, and I suppose that I can ‘claim’ this of two young men who later became members of Margaret Thatcher’s government."
Role models of greatness.
Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.