Queer Toronto Magazine featured my essay on the ‘Happy Endings’ I found in Schitt’s Creek back in August…
The start of my journey (love that journey for me) as a queer person starts some sixteen years ago in a video store in Montreal. In my mind now I’ve renamed that video store Rose Video and nobody can tell me any different. In that video store my flatmate pointed to a DVD and said, ‘It’s supposed to be good, it’s about AIDS.’ That DVD was Tony Kushner’s seminal play turned HBO mini-series, Angels in America and for me it was the start of my journey as a queer academic, queer writer, and really the point at which I became the queer person I am today.
So, what weirdness did my brain come up with looking at both side by side? how do even I link seminal, Brechtian Epic AIDS play and quirky Canadian comedy? good question… a huge part of what I (try) to do is look at the big picture. ‘Know your history’ is a huge part of how I look at queer culture. I started seeing Schitt’s Creek as a kind of tipping point in the queer cultural history we had to date. Only time will tell just how much of one, but for someone who has spent a career ‘joining the dots’ and teaching students to ‘know their history’ this felt like a truly exciting, and ok yes, nerdy moment, for me in the work I was trying to write.
Because for me it’s about the through line, it’s how I understand myself in the world- culture, and who I relate to. But as a queer person, it’s not always easy to see. To use another ‘know your history’ example, it is the ‘I belong to a culture’ speech from The Normal Heart. And, if ever there was a man kicking down doors, it was Kramer- when he says, ‘I belong to a culture.’ Ned’s speech begins ‘I belong to a culture that includes Proust, Henry James, Tchaikovsky, Cole Porter, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle….’ He goes on and adds ‘These are not invisible men’. The point being of course they were…in terms of their true identity, in terms of the stories we tell. He includes EM Forster- a man who stopped publishing his work when he started writing gay stories, he includes Auden, Byron, Tennessee Williams, all of whom hid their sexuality in plain sight. He says, ‘all through history we’ve been here.’ And that’s what I talk about when I talk about that ‘through line’ in Queer history.