Editor’s Note: Following is an edited transcript of a speech that Edmund White delivered at the OutWrite conference in Boston on February 23, 1996. For most of the years through the 1990’s, OutWrite was an annual, weekend-long event held in Boston, usually in the dead of winter. This was a great stroke of luck for the editors of the HGLR, which is published in Boston, as it provided a means for them to meet and schmooze with GLBT writers and introduce them to the magazine.
Of the many memorable keynote speeches that emerged from these conferences, this one by Edmund White stands out, I think, as a uniquely important statement that deserves to be brought back. While offering a thumbnail history of gay literature since World War II, White is able to trace the development of a new genre—a self-consciously “gay” idiom written by and for gay people—culminating in his own early novels (such as 1978’s Nocturnes for the King of Naples and 1982’s A Boy’s Own Story) and those of his generation of out writers. This article appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of the HGLR.