December 2019

Featuring Scarlett Sage

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My Fellow Rebel

I’m not an intellectual giant, but Gore Vidal was. Until I met Gore, I’d always said that the smartest person I’d ever known was Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the American atheist. After meeting Gore, I felt those two were on par as having the greatest intellect of anyone that I’ve ever known.

Gore Vidal authored more than 30 books, and they weren’t the kind that could be written in a year. He wrote the kind of books that you’d spend two or three years to write. His book on Abraham Lincoln became the gold standard for all other works on Lincoln, and there have been more than a thousand. Gore was also a playwright. You could compare him without hesitation to greats like Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. All you have to do is watch his play The Best Man to know that Gore Vidal is in that league. Myra Breckinridge may be his best-known novel, but many people don’t realize that he also wrote the screenplay for the classic film Ben-Hur.

Gore realized the magnitude of human sexuality and put it in the proper perspective: The greatest single desire that we have is the desire for survival; the second is the desire for sex. He never tried to compartmentalize sex, knowing that individuals vary according to what their sexual needs are. Gore once remarked that there is no such thing as homosexuality, only homosexual acts. He always thought that if you’re not harming anyone else, whatever you do is your business. We shared that philosophy.

I think Gore considered me a rebel with a cause, as was he. He came from a highly charged political family. He knew Franklin D. Roosevelt and was a personal friend of the Kennedys. Gore understood liberals, progressives and conservatives alike. But he felt that when it comes to human rights, if you’re going to err, it’s best to do it on the side of the liberals because it’s a disaster to do it with Republicans.

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