Praised by Mario Vargas Llosa, Carlos Fuentes, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Edmund White, and according to the Guardian, "widely acknowledged as Spain's greatest living writer," Juan Goytisolo has lived in self-imposed exile in Marrakech since the 1960s. (He is 78 today and now spends part of each year in Paris.) His more than thirty books make clear why he left his native land: Franco, the post-Franco government, the Catholic church, middle class bourgeois attitudes, and homophobia. Also, he loves Arabs, particularly illiterate or uneducated men whose gayness is not marked by effeminate behavior but a hyper virility. Depending on which critics you ask, his masterpiece is either his two-volume memoir, groundbreaking for among other things their frankness about gay sex, or his trilogy comprised of Marks of Identity, Count Julian, and Juan the Landless. His most recent novel, A Cock-Eyed Comedy, recounts the ribald sexual antics of a priest in Goytisolo's typically subversive style.
If you watch the CBS profile below from last August celebrating the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater's 50th anniversary, you'll see some great dancing and an American success story of a black troupe thriving in a typically white corner of the arts. What you won't see is any mention that he was gay, or gay people's contribution to dance, that he died of aids, or aids' toll on the world, nor will you see any of the more complicated aspects of his life, like his devastating arthritis, his addiction to cocaine, or his dependence on lithium. To his final days, at fifty-eight, he was so terrified of his mother's homophobia (growing up in Texas, he hid his dancing from her for two years; when she first saw him backstage in make up, she slapped his face), he asked his doctor to lie about the cause on his death certificate. His private demons never obscured his public genius. One of the seventy-nine dances he choreographed, Revelations, set to spirituals and gospel music, is among the most popular and most seen ballets of the twentieth-century.