Gore Vidal's job - above and beyond that of writer - has always been making the same American establishment which spawned him uncomfortable; love him or hate him (often simultaneously), his assertive progressivism stands as a beacon in an age of retrogressive sentimentality such as ours...
For famously standing up to fascist windbag William F. Buckley, Jr. in 1968 (he was one of the first to challenge Buckley on his vitriolic homophobia) Vidal deserves every accolade; for revisiting American history with a clear eye he deserves every medal and honour his country can give him. Read as a series Burr (1973), 1876 (1976), Lincoln (1984), Empire (1987), Hollywood (1990), and The Golden Age (2000) comprise the most ambitious realization of American history in fiction ever attempted.
While his assertion that 'there are no homosexual people, only homosexual acts' hasn't won him any friends among the capital-g Gays, among post-gays he remains an icon. Whatever he may feel about his own relationships with women (including an affair with Anaïs Nin), he lived with Howard Austen from 1951 until Austen's death in 2005. Vidal only recently hit the news by suggesting that America was headed for a totalitarian regime; he was a few years late on that - given the attempts made by the Bush Administration to do that very thing - but as ever his insights got people talking.
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