When Coward Came Out on American TV
To the Editor:
Regarding Andrew Holleran’s article titled “Mad about the Boy” on Noël Coward and his song of the same name (March–April 2022), it may interest your readers to learn that in his television special “Together with Music,” which aired live on CBS in 1955, Coward sang what he called his “own personal version” of the Scottish ballad “Loch Lomond.” While he sang the first verse “straight,” i.e. without altering the lyrics, in the second verse he sang of “my new love, my true love, my little sugar daddy” wearing “his wee bitty kilt of Caledonian plaiddy.”
How anyone could have missed that the singer was gay from that is beyond me, but the show, which also starred Mary Martin, got good reviews and life in the United States went on as before.
Annette King, Adelphi, MD
Sargent, Too, Left Plenty of Clues
To the Editor:
Whether John Singer Sargent was a homosexual, given that the term wasn’t in general use when he was alive, seems to me less important than the fact that he was a great realist artist and his subjects were often handsome men. What’s more, his interest in naked men and boys was not restricted to the excellent painting of Thomas McKeller that appears on the cover of The G&LR‘s Sept.–Oct. 2021 issue. The discovery of his watercolors of male nudes only adds to our suspicion. Then there’s the quotation attributed to Jacques-Émile Blanche declaring that “Sargent’s gay sex life in Paris and Venice was positively scandalous. He was a frenzied bugger.” That is more than suggestive and puts it out there quite explicitly.
Sargent is not alone as we wonder at the work of other artists who have been featured in recent issues. Painters like Thomas Eakins, Grant Wood, and Henry Scott Tuke hinted at more than their canvases reveal, given the constraints under which they worked. As Ignacio Darnaude observes in his Sargent piece, we will probably never know the artist’s true desires, but we as LGBT viewers have a special reason to enjoy his fantastic art.
John S. Lloyd, Pompano Beach, FL
The Calla Lilies Are in Bloom
To the Editor:
Thanks for the wonderful article about the two magnificent women artists (a painter and a novelist) who were also great gardeners: Frida Kahlo and Vita Sackville-West [March-April 2022 issue]. The author reports that Kahlo’s favorite plants included “elephant ears … yucca, and canna lilies.” However, the final reference is incorrect. Cannas are not actually lilies, though it’s a common mistake. The author may have meant calla lilies, which is correct.
Bill Busse, Fairmont, MN
In the March-April 2022 issue, the reviewer of a book titled Underdogs: Social Deviance and Queer Theory, was given incorrectly in several places. The reviewer’s name is Mitchel Civello (not Michael). In the piece itself, in an almost comical (if not so embarrassing) error, the first name of philosopher Michel Foucault was also changed to Michael. For that one we blame Autocorrect. In any case, Mitchel Civello has our deepest apologies.