Eric Bentley
playwright and critic

I cast Quentin as Lord Alfred Douglas in my play Lord Alfred’s Lover. "His inclusion in this cast" (so Quentin wrote in the program) "is the whim of Professor Bentley who will be held entirely responsible for any disgrace that is hereby brought upon the history of the American theatre." And, to be sure, what the American theatre gained in that enterprise was not one more great British actor but one more great British personality. And working with Quentin I came to know that this personality was not what it had commonly been supposed to be. My friends in the gay community tell me Quentin had all the wrong opinions. But what I learned was that his opinions—if indeed he really held opinions—were not the important thing about him. I also learned that he was not at all what the world expects an "effeminate homosexual" (his term) to be. The world expects fragility and weakness, but Quentin was one of the toughest, strongest men (or women) that I have ever known. To be this way was his contribution to the gay movement and his act of defiance to the homophobes. Whether he had opinions or not, he gives the rest of us plenty to think about.

Copyright © 2000 by Eric Bentley and Estate of Quentin Crisp. All rights reserved.
Photograph copyright © by Edward St. Marc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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