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to Be a Gay Literary Icon
Michael Gregg Michaud
Say you knew Tennessee Williams.
Say you slept with him.
He's dead, who'll know?
Enter your latest book
in the annual Lambda Literary Awards
and vote for yourself.
Be fat with a receding hairline
a 44 inch waist
and a mother complex.
Frequent hustler bars.
Be photographed with Sandra Bernhard, Madonna,
or Jeff Stryker.
Dedicate your books to dead people
or your analyst.
Be photographed for your book jacket
tightly clutching a pet cat.
It doesn't need to be yours.
Pretend to know Camile Paglia.
Accept every party invitation
but never go.
Tell engaging anecdotes
about radical writer groups in the 1960's
and imply you were there.
Heckle at Republican rallies
but only when covered by network news.
Have a handsome young boyfriend,
preferably a college gymnast.
Pay him if you have to.
If you pay him,
call him your research assistant.
Cough a lot.
Smile sadly when you talk about Stonewall.
Fill your home with autographed books
but never read them.
Pay your friends to be shills at your readings
and tell them to laugh very loudly.
Cue them with a telling nod.
Apply for grants you will never receive
and blame it on homophobia.
Come from a broken home.
Speak in hushed tones and wear glasses.
Tell each young male fan he, too, can write,
with the proper instruction.
Give him your phone number.
Talk about "gay sensibility"
and sound like you know what it means.
Affect an accent.
Any accent will do.
Claim to be an abused child.
and never politically correct.
Have compulsive addictions to drugs,
alcohol and/or sex.
Be in recovery.
Don't quit your day job.