Who Is Armistead Maupin, Whose Quote Opens ‘I Am Cait’? He’s Something Of An Icon


After all this time, it’s finally (almost) here! The premiere of Caitlyn Jenner’s eagerly anticipated documentary series I Am Cait is July 26, but details about the first episode are already pouring in from across the Web. As you’ll soon see when you watch it yourself, Episode 1 of I Am Cait opens with an Armistead Maupin quote at the top of the show that seemingly expresses the mission statement for both the series and Jenner, herself. If you’re unfamiliar with the author, I’ve got your crash course right here.

But first, Maupin’s quote:

The world changes in direct proportion to the number of people willing to be honest about their lives.

Not only does the quote perfectly embody the stage of life Jenner has embraced in the past year, but immediately sets the tone for the series. If I Am Cait hopes to create lasting change for the trans community, then producers could not have picked a more appropriate person than Maupin to look to for guidance. An American author and literary icon, Maupin has done wonders for the portrayal of the LGBTQIA community in mainstream literature.

His most popular work is the novel series Tales of the City, a semi-autobiographical fiction series centered around the lives of gays and lesbians in San Francisco. The first book in the nine chapter series was published in 1978, a time in which queer characters in literature were essentially nonexistent. At the time, he felt like the homosexual and transgender community were being relegated to the sidelines, unable to lead their own lives or be thought of as actual human beings. In an interview with The Guardian in 2014, he said that he hoped his writing could “[allow] a little air into the situation by actually placing gay people in the context of the world at large.”

Even while conceiving the revolutionary Tales, the writer met with an absurd amount of resistance to his realistic portrayal of “the homosexual experience. In that same interview, Maupin recalled one of his early editor’s biggest concerns for the book, namely that “that the homo characters didn’t suddenly outnumber the hetero ones and thereby undermine the natural order of civilization.” Talk about old-fashioned.

Attitudes have changed since Maupin first started writing, and many in the LGBTQIA community think that Maupin himself had an awful lot to do with it. Gay British author Quentin Crisp once described him as the man who “invented San Francisco,” and when Ian McKellen came out of the closet in 1988, it was Maupin he turned to for guidance. Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears even collaborated with Maupin to create a musical version of Tales of the City in 2011. Now, Jenner joins the ranks of LQBTQIA icons who tip their hats to his work as she, too, attempts to expand the boundaries of representation.

Who Is Armistead Maupin, Whose Quote Opens ‘I Am Cait’? He’s Something Of An Icon

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Reader’s Poll: The 50 Most Important LGBT Television Series

By /bent | /Bent
June 17, 2015 at 3:22PM

In the third of 10 lists announcing the results of our annual Reader’s Poll, we count down the 50 most important LGBT television series since Stonewall, according to you.

15. Tales of the City
Network: PBS/Showtime/Channel 4
On Air: 1993, 1998, 2001
Note: This adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s novels aired as three miniseries over a near decade, the first on PBS and the next two on Showtime. Fun fact: HBO originally acquired the rights in 1982, but reportedly ending up feeling that the book’s celebratory attitude toward homosexuality, casual sex and marijuana usage would not be deemed acceptable by the viewing public.

Click here for the full list


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Q&A: Laura Linney, actor

The Guardian
Rosanna Greenstreet
Saturday 13 June 2015 01.00 EDT

Born in New York, Linney, 51, was raised in a single-parent family. She appeared in the 1993 TV adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s Tales Of The City, starred on stage with Liam Neeson in The Crucible in 2002, and has been Oscar nominated three times. Her new film, Mr Holmes, is out on 19 June. Married to estate agent Marc Schauer, she lives in Connecticut and has a one-year-old son named Bennett.

When were you happiest?
During this past year, enjoying my family.

What is your greatest fear?
Everything that leads up to getting on a plane.

What is your earliest memory?
Talking to flowers in the front yard of my cousin’s home in Boone, North Carolina.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Self-loathing: it’s paralysing.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

What was your most embarrassing moment?
It’s less of a moment, more of a continuum.

Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
A painting by Aron Wiesenfeld.

What is your most treasured possession?
My memory.

What is your screensaver?
My son, when he was a week old.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
If I tell you then everyone will be looking at it all the time.

What is your favourite smell?
Sun on skin.

What is your favourite word?
Places. At the top of the show, when the audience is seated and the cast and crew are ready to go, through the monitor in your dressing room, the stage manager calls “Places”.

Which book changed your life?
The Iliad.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Part of a large family.

What is top of your bucket list?
Do a musical. Learn to sing first.

What do you owe your parents?
My life.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
They know who they are… I’m sorry.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My husband, son and the theatre.

What does love feel like?

What was the best kiss of your life?
The first time my son kissed me.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn’t. The good, the bad and the ugly have led me to a good place.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
To see Laurette Taylor in The Glass Menagerie, and Jessica Tandy in A Streetcar Named Desire.

How do you relax?
Watching Game Of Thrones.

How often do you have sex?
None of your beeswax.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
Watching my father die, I suppose.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My relationships.

How would you like to be remembered?
As a good parent.

Where would you most like to be right now?
Jumping off a dock into a New England lake on a sunny day and swimming with my family.

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New York Public Library: Our Favorite Female Characters

Our Favorite Female Characters
by Lynn Lobash, Manager of Reader Services
April 7, 2015

We asked our staff about their favorite female characters. Here are some they highly recommend for kids, teens and adults alike.

I love Mrs. Madrigal in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series! I admire her wisdom, tolerance, and ability to nurture people and relationships, qualities that make her everyone’s favorite San Francisco landlady. —Elizabeth Waters, Mid-Manhattan

Click Here to read the entire article.


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Juned In And Gayed Out

By Armistead Maupin

The Following originally appeared in The New York Times on June 27, 1981

SAN FRANCISCO— June is a hectic month for brides and homosexuals. Take my own schedule, for instance. So far this month, I have read from my books at the Gay American Arts Festival in New York City and at the Walt Whitman Bookshop in San Francisco, attended the New York premiere of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, addressed a rally at the San Jose Gay Pride Celebration, and rooted for the contestants in a gay tricycle race benefitting the S.P.C.A. and a gay dog show sponsored by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an ”order of gay male nuns dedicated to the expiation of guilt,” as it describes itself.

As you may have guessed, I’m a San Franciscan. I’m, therefore, wistfully aware that simple logistics prohibit me from taking part in the two-day gay block party in New Orleans or the gay Mississippi River boat cruise in Minneapolis or even the Fireman’s Ball sponsored by Black and White Men Together, in Houston. I suppose I could pass up Denver’s fabled gay beer bust, if it didn’t mean missing the music of the 100-member Gay and Lesbian Community Center Kazoo Band. As it is, there is scarcely enough time for me to complete my gay square-dance course and board the gay wagon train that’s ready to roll in the California desert.

A friend of mine, Vito Russo, who wrote ”The Celluloid Closet” – it’s about homosexuality in the movies -also suffers from gay overload in June. His schedule included a mad dash to The Coast for the San Francisco International Gay Film Festival where he screened, among other things, ”rare footage” of Bette Midler performing at the Continental Baths.

”Are you a mess?” I asked Vito at lunch recently. ”I sure as hell am.” He smiled stoicly and replied: ”It’s just June.” ”But it’s getting worse,” I said. He shrugged. ”Judy should’ve picked another month to die.” He meant Judy Garland, long an object of adoration among gays, for reasons that have never been fully explained. Miss Garland’s funeral was a dozen years ago this month. The following night (June 28, 1969), under the first full moon of summer, a small band of New Yorkers who had finally had enough stood their ground and fought back against policemen attempting to bust a gay bar in Greenwich Village. That event, commonly called The Stonewall Rebellion (after the establishment under siege), is regarded as the Lexington and Concord of the modern gay rights movement.

Ever since then, June has been an exhausting time for members of our tribe. Ken Maley, a San Francisco media consultant who has spent the last two years leading international journalists through ”The Gay Capital of the World,” says that this is the month when many homosexuals find themselves ”gayed out” for good. ”A lot of people can’t take it,” he says. ”I myself am thinking of spending July with my straight brother in Kansas.”

I know exactly what he means. There are times when I wonder how I can muster the stamina to attend one more Cops vs. Homos softball game, one more Dentists for Human Rights awards brunch, one more potluck supper and Bingo night to benefit gay Cuban refugees. Would it have pleased Oscar Wilde, I ask myself, to know that someday The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name would qualify him for membership in a health club, a bowling league, and a savings and loan association?

I don’t know. I do know what my own life was like before these oddly Rotarian-sounding institutions became a part of it. I remember all too well how the word ”queer” sounded when I was 14 years old and living in North Carolina. I know, too, that there are still children being brutalized by the obscene fundamentalist notion that their sexuality is an abomination to the God that created them, and that there are still nervous liberals who will tell you earnestly that they don’t care ”what you do in bed” but wonder ”why you make such a big deal of it.”

I make such a big deal of it, I suppose, because I wearied of other people making a big deal of it behind my back. The cards are on the table now, and the world seems a nicer place because of it. If nothing else, June is a time when I remind myself that I am queer in almost every sense of the word, and that I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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Armistead Maupin’s Design for Living

Although this article is posted on Armistead’s main website, I felt it was worthy of a repost.  This article is from the Advocate 1985.

1. Stop begging for acceptance. Homosexuality is still an anathema to most people in this country—even to many homosexuals. If you camp out on the doorstep of society waiting for ‘the climate’ to change, you’ll be there until Joan Rivers registers Democratic. Your job is to accept yourself—joyfully and with no apologies—and get on with the adventure of your life.

2. Don’t run away from straight people. They need variety in their lives just as much as you do, and you’ll forfeit the heady experience of feeling exotic if you limit yourself to the company of your own kind.

Furthermore, you have plenty to teach your straight friends about tolerance and humor and the comfortable enjoyment of their own sexuality. (Judging from ‘Donahue,’ many of them have only now begun to learn about foreplay; we, on the other hand, have entire resorts built around the practice.)

Besides, it’s time you stopped thinking of heterosexuals as the enemy. It’s both convenient and comforting to bemoan the cardboard villainy of Jerry Falwell and friends, but the real culprits in this melodrama are just as queer as you are. They sleep with you by night and conspire to keep you invisible by day. They are studio chiefs and bank presidents and talk-show hosts, and they don’t give a damn about your oppression because they’ve got their piece of the pie, and they got it by living a lie.

What earthly good is your discretion, when teenagers are still being murdered for the crime of effeminacy? I know, I know—you have a right to keep your private life private. Well, you do that, my friend—but don’t expect the world not to notice what you’re really saying about yourself. And about the rest of us. Lighten up, Lucille. There’s help on the way.

4. Stir up some shit now and then. Last spring I wrote a commentary for the Los Angeles Times on the subject of television’s shoddy treatment of homosexuality. The piece originally contained a sentence to the effect that ‘it’s high time the public found out there are just as many homosexuals who resemble Richard Chamberlain as there are who resemble Richard Simmons.’ The editor cut it. When I asked him why, he said: ‘Because it’s libelous, that’s why.’ To which I replied: ‘In the first place, I’m not saying that Richard Chamberlain is gay; I’m simply saying there are plenty of gay men who resemble him. In the second place, even if I were saying that Richard Chamberlain is gay, it wouldn’t be a libelous remark, because I’m gay myself and I don’t say those things with malice. I don’t accuse anyone of being gay; I state it as a matter of fact or opinion.’ When the new city of West Hollywood assembled its council last month, the Associated Press identified the three openly gay members as ‘admitted homosexuals.’ Admitted, get it? Fifteen years after the Stonewall Rebellion, the wire service wants to make it perfectly clear that homosexuality is still a dirty little secret that requires full confession before it can be mentioned at all. If you don’t raise some hell, that isn’t going to change.

5. Don’t sell your soul to the gay commercial culture. Well, go ahead, if you insist, but you’d better be prepared to accept the butt plug as the cornerstone of Western civilization. I am dumbfounded by the number of bright and beautiful men out there who submerge themselves completely in the quagmire of gay ghetto life, then wonder why their lives seem loveless and predictable. What the hell did they expect?

If you have no more imagination than to swap one schlock-heavy ‘lifestyle’ for another, you haven’t learned a goddamn thing from the gay experience. I’m not talking about sex here; I’m talking about old-fashioned bad taste.

No, Virginia, we don’t all have good taste. We are just a susceptible to the pitfalls of tackiness as everyone else in the world. Your pissing and moaning about the shallowness of other faggots falls on unsympathetic ears when you’re wearing a T-shirt that says THIS FACE SEATS FIVE.

3. Refuse to cooperate in the lie. It is not your responsibility to ‘be discreet’ for the sake of people who are still ashamed of their own natures. And don’t tell me about ‘job security.’ Nobody’s job will ever be safe until the general public is permitted to recognize the full scope of our homosexual population.

Does that include teachers? You bet it does. Have you forgotten already how much it hurt to be fourteen and gay and scared to death of it? Doesn’t it gall you just a little that your ‘discreet’ lesbian social-studies teacher went home every day to her lover and her cats and her Ann Bannon novels without once giving you even a clue that there was hope for your own future?

Not long ago I sat transfixed before my TV screen while an earnest young man told a gay cable announcer about his dream of becoming Mr. Leather Something-or-other. He was seeking the title, he said, ‘in order to serve the community and help humanity.’

He wore tit rings and a codpiece and a rather fetching little cross-your-heart harness, but he sounded for all the world like a Junior Miss contestant from Modesto. If our fledging culture fails us, it will be because we forgot how to question it, forgot how to laugh at it in the very same way we laugh at Tupperware and Velveeta and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

6. Stop insulting the people who love you by assuming they don’t know you’re gay. When I began my book tour, a publicist in New York implored me to leave his name out of it, because ‘my family doesn’t know about my…uh, lifestyle.’

Maybe not, but they must be the dumbest bunch this side of Westchester County; I could tell he was gay over the telephone. When my own father learned of my homosexuality (he read about it in Newsweek), he told me he’d suspected as much since I’d been a teenager. I could’ve made life a lot easier for both of us if I’d had the guts to say what was on my mind.

7. Learn to feel mortal. If AIDS hasn’t reminded you that your days are numbered— and always have been—then stop for a moment and remind yourself. Your days are numbered, Babycakes. Are you for living them for yourself and the people you love, or are you living them for the people you fear? I can’t help thinking of a neighbor of mine, a dutiful government employee who kept up appearances for years and years, kept them up until the day he died, in fact—of a heart attack in the back row of an all-male fuck-film house. Appearances don’t count for squat when they stick you in the ground (all right, or scatter you to the winds), so why should you waste a single moment of your life seeming to be something you don’t want to be? Lord, that’s so simple. If you hate your job, quit it. If your friends are tedious, go out and find new ones. You are queer, you lucky fool, and that makes you one of life’s buccaneers, free from the clutter of two thousand years of Judeo-Christian sermonizing.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself and start hoisting your sails. You haven’t a moment to lose.

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Did you know?

Armistead Maupin made a guest appearance on “Frasier” as a caller named “Gerard”.   The episode originally aired January 16, 1996 and is titled “The Friend” (Season 3, Episode 11).  The episode may be found on on Netflix, or HuluPlus.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 11.46.00 AM.







Frasier: So why is it we have so much trouble making friends? Is it
because we’ve become closed off? No longer want to reach out
to our fellow man? Well I’d like to think that if one of you
listeners out there happened to see me on the street you’d
feel free to walk right on up to me and
Roz: Excuse me Dr. Crane, we have to stop for a very important
public service announcement [waits for show to go off air]
HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? You’re opening yourself up to every
creep out there!
Frasier: Oh Roz that’s exactly the kind of cynicism I’m talking
about. I, for one, happen to believe in the kindness of
Roz: Well I believe in the strangeness of strangers! [signals
show is about to start again] Three seconds.
Frasier: Hi, we’re back with the topic of friendship. Now let’s go to
the switchboard. Roz, who’s on line one?
Roz: Good news Dr. Crane. It’s Gerard from Stanwood. A new
Frasier: Hello Gerard. I’m listening.
Gerard: Well I called for another reason Dr. Crane. But what you
just said really moved me. I wish more people felt that way.
Frasier: Well thank you Gerard. I sense a kindred spirit.
Gerard: Maybe we could get together some time? Have a beer? Maybe I
could, you know, comb your hair?

Transcript from http://www.kacl780.net/frasier/transcripts/season_3/episode_11/the_friend.html

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