Louie Crowder, playwright and novelist, completes this series. Here’s what he has to say:
I quit the theatre again. After years of navigating the wonders of the self-producing playwright, I wrote a novel. The consistent nagging that fueled dialogue fueled the prose; I wasn’t convinced it would but apparently the Muse doesn’t care so much about the medium as she does the release of the information. I’ve found it’s easier to be experimental in prose than onstage. I’ve also found the process of a novel to be more rewarding than the stage. With the theatre, there are too many people involved in the development; in the end the playwright seems to be the least important. The novel is a lonelier process but the payoff is having more control and being an active participant in the final product (at least on the level where I currently reside). I’m not sure it’s always been that way. The film industry redefined the theatre. When theatre became a feeder for film, stage lights across America dimmed in requiem. Haha; it’s true.
Thematically, I’ve also found prose to be more accepting of the things I need to write about: gay equality in the contemporary South, the differences between the Boomers, X’ers, and the Millennials regarding sexuality and civil rights. There are two gay Americas. One is comprised of the coasts and enclaves; the other is made from the South and the Midwest. The coasts and enclaves are progressive and aggressively pro-equality, the South and Midwest are not. Two different sets of civil rights, two different sets of reasonable freedoms. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why the HIV infection rate remains high in the South. Actually, Louisiana has the cities with the #2 and #3 highest infections rates in the country (New Orleans and Baton Rouge).
I consistently hear, “Things are better,” “No one cares about sexuality anymore,” “Gay equality is a non-issue,” “AIDS is the new diabetes.” The Millennials like to say things like that; they are, apparently, the enlightened generation. The greatest tragedy of the Millennial generation is their joyful erasure of gay history, including the ongoing struggles of the Boomers and the X’ers. My generation grew-up in fear of who they were. I can’t imagine a generation of kids not being raised in fear and self-hatred. Recently, after reading In Irons, a friend told me she finally understood what I was trying to achieve with my work, “I get it now, Louie. It’s suffrage you’re talking about: gay suffrage. Because nobody cares if anybody’s a fag or not anymore. Documenting suffrage is important, too.” It’s not suffrage, it’s shining a light on the still darkened places. But at least she’s making an effort to see beyond her straight perspective. My lofty goal in this body of work is to elevate the American gay community; to create a dialogue and better understanding. I suppose that means I’ve become an activist for gay equality, and that suits me just fine.
The play BrickHouse published (A Better House for Ritchie), the novel Gallatin & Toulouse published (In Irons), as well as the new novel that comes out in the spring (Henry Gereighty) directly take on issues of the contemporary Southern gay experience, the group of gay men who still exist in hiding. I ask my students if they think gay equality can ever happen in the US, because I don’t believe it can. They consistently tell me, “Yes, of course, but it’ll be another couple of generations.”