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.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
After his electrifying debut novel, Fight Club (1996), became a publishing sensation and celebrated movie in the late 1990s (film still above), Chuck Palahniuk (pronounced PAHLA-nick) maintained a shroud of privacy over his personal life. He had a reputation as a quirky individualist, keeping a tight rein in controlling what the public knew about him. Over the years, several publications reported that he had a wife, but no further details were forthcoming. Turns out, those reports were false. He had all along been in a long-term relationship with a man.
Although Palahniuk quickly removed the audio post, it was too late. He had already outed himself. Fight Club had been his career-making book, spawning a true cult of hyper-masculinity. Throughout the country men had subsequently founded clubs where they engaged in unregulated fighting, in imitation of Chuck’s scenario in Fight Club. Certainly Palahniuk had to wonder how those myriad fans might color their opinion of him with the revelation that the book was the work of a gay male. He may have recalled John Cheever, whose bisexuality was revealed to the general public only after his death. Critics and other writers suddenly focused on Cheever’s sexuality, instead of commenting on the value of his works and his place in literary history.
Palahniuk had a lot to cope with. Some of his fans thought that Chuck was embarrassed by his homosexuality, because of his quick removal of the self-incriminating audio post. He had other things on his plate, as well. Just four years prior to his self-outing, his father, Fred, had been dating Donna Fontaine, whom he had met through a personal ad. She had an ex-boyfriend, Dale Shackleford, who had recently been imprisoned for sexual abuse. Shackleford had vowed to kill Donna as soon as he was released from prison. After his release, Shackleford indeed followed them to Donna’s home after they had gone out on a date. Shackleford shot them both and dragged their bodies into Donna’s house, which he set on fire immediately afterwards.
While on tour to promote his novel Diary in 2003, Palahniuk read aloud a short story titled “Guts”, a graphic over-the-top tale of accidents involving male masturbation. It was reported that several dozen listeners fainted at the grizzly details. Playboy magazine would later publish the story in their March 2004 issue, but they refused to publish another story along with it, because they found the second work too disturbing. Chuck continues to read “Guts”(from his book Haunted), and people still continue to faint.
You may test your fortitude by reading it at this link:
Palahniuk now lives as an openly gay man, and he and his unnamed male partner (and two dogs) reside in a former church compound outside Vancouver, Washington, in the state where he was born in 1962. They also share a second home in Oregon.
His most recent novel is Damned (2011), which concerns a thirteen year old girl who finds herself in hell, unsure why she has been sent there, but tries to make the best of it. Palahniuk has described the novel as if “The Shawshank Redemption” had a baby by “The Lovely Bones” and was raised by Judy Blume. “It's kind of like The Breakfast Club set in Hell.” Palahniuk has said the novel was written as a way to deal with the death of his mother from breast cancer in 2009. Highly positive reviews followed its publication.