Not too long after that, my second date with Forster came about after Time magazine printed an article about how Merchant-Ivory was turning Forster's gay-themed novel Maurice into a film. The possibility that there was going to be a gay Room with a View was more than I could handle. When I went to work that afternoon at the local public library I was surprised to see that we actually had a copy of Maurice on the shelf. Published just 15 or so years earlier I was certainly one of the few to check it out. I think if I hadn't have worked at the library I would have been too afraid to check out this "gay" book despite the fact that there was nothing about its outward appearance that would have given it away. I took it home that night and read the whole thing cover-to-cover, finishing sometime after 3:00 am. I had to get up for school in the morning, but it was worth it.
Having said all of that, there are some real gems of stories in this collection. And most of them explore in one way or another Forster's fascination with breaking down, at least in fiction, class barriers and social mores that are damaging to the human heart. In so many cases I think that class stands in for sexuality in Forster's fiction. In Maurice and in many of the stories in The Life to Come sexuality can actually stand on its own and be considered for what it is.
|Requiescat in pace: Tyler Clementi|
I think gay suicides, especially among the young, have always been undercounted and that this recent rash of suicides may be more indicative of increased awareness than an uptick in actual suicide rates. I do think, however, when you have large chunks of the population wearing their hate and intolerance of gays as a badge of honor, it is not difficult to understand why some of these kids are driven to such despair.