The examination of ‘the image of the homosexual as a sad young man,’ is in essence a critique of stereotypes and a contextualisation of the many novels, plays and films produced in the 1950s and 60s which condemned gay men to a nether-world of self-loathing, ennui and melancholy. But it also sketched out a lineage in which the image can be seen to have evolved through historical representations of masochistic religious martyrdom (Saint Sebastian), romantic lyricism (the death of Chatterton), medical pathology (the weak invert), psychoanalytic trauma (Freudian mother-love), and urban alienation (angsty existentialism). These are hardly conducive of the positive role-models that gay liberation validated in the late Sixties and Seventies, yet in a sense they offered a form of fulfillment and redemption.
There are two photographs of Amanda Bynes on my desktop titled ‘covers.’ In one she is wearing a combination that had since turned cool but for me will always whisper ‘This is all I could bring myself to pull over my feet’: sliders and socks. Covering her head and face is what the media called a ‘blanket,’ but is actually a grey paisley scarf, the kind you might buy in a train station and use once, then forget about.
I am mesmerized by the image. The scarf is to fashion what silence is to language. It affords Bynes temporary inscrutability, a fleeting space between her body and her covers, where she may momentarily withdraw from our gaze.