Allen Ginsberg is one of America’s most beloved poets. He is viewed by many in the LGBT community to be one of our icons. He was unashamed of his sexual orientation in a period when that could be dangerous. He was also, unfortunately, unashamed of his opinion that grown men should be allowed to have sex with underage boys. It saddens me that so few Ginsberg fans acknowledge this, and what it means. It bothers me that so few have the courage to call this “giant” out, even after his death (maybe now especially that he is gone.) It is one of the few things I have found myself completely agreeing with Andrea Dworkin on, and it is a sick, sad state of affairs that goes beyond just the hand wringing “we can hate the man but love his art” sort of crap that we see with the likes of Polanski or Allen, but is an outright heads in the sand continuing hero-worship of the man.
Which is why I am interested and afraid to see how recent developments with director Bryan Singer will unfold. If you have not heard, the man who brought the X-Men to the big screen, and returned to breathe fresh life into the franchise, has been accused of drugging, sexually assaulting, and essentially pimping out a young man in the late ’90’s when the alleged victim was only 17. It is very early days in this news and Mr. Singer, like all accused, is due his right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. I will not get into all the scenarios, the what ifs and coulda beens, that always pop up with these stories. So many of them either turn into a witch hunt or ugly victim blaming, either way they are not what needs to be discussed here.
Because while the man who gave us the Usual Suspects has the right to be presumed innocent, it does not mean we in the LGBT community should automatically assume he is innocent. By all means, no one should be ready to pass judgement one way or the other, but too often we see members of a disenfranchised group circling the wagons to defend one of our icons, or ignoring the whole issue.
No, Bryan Singer does not speak for the rest of us, and anyone who points at his alleged behavior and tries to condemn all of us for it, or worse, uses it to support the murder instigating argument that we are all pedophiles, can go straight to hell. That said we have an obligation to ourselves, to our larger community to withhold our support, to call him out, should he be found guilty in this matter. I hope that, again IF he is guilty, that rather than attack his accusers and detractors as homophobes (though I am sure there will be those only interested in this case for that reason) we give our support to the young man in question.
This is not to say I am certain any of this will unfold this way. So far the LGBT community has been quiet, or at least the leaders of our advocacy groups have been. Perhaps that is the way it should be. Then again, maybe I will finish this to read a rant trashing the alleged victim by this popular gay rights champion or that. I hope not though. Because the world needs less Allen Ginsbergs not more. It needs less leaders in ANY group hiding behind their status as an icon for that group and putting us all in the crosshairs. It needs less young people being victimized. It needs us all putting aside our wants for the needs of the whole community. We WANT Bryan Singer to be innocent, because for many of us he used the X-Men to tell our story, but we NEED to be mindful of his potential guilt and the scars on the heart of his alleged victim if the accusations are true. We need to raise ourselves up, not our heroes.