|Liberace: Allen Warren|
I have always identified as queer, from the moment I saw Liberace's TV show long ago in the 1960's: the gorgeous sequins and extravagance, the lispy limp-wristed flamboyance. I loved it before I understood it as a sexual category. I loved it, even though none of those things are part of my own character; even though I am "heterosexual to a fault," as one of my friends remarked of me, and my tastes tend to be mainstream, boring, vanilla. But I understood, viscerally, what Liberace was doing: he was pushing the boundaries, he was saying "find room or make room, because I am exactly what I am. Remake your categories: don't try to remake me."
The Buddhist in me says: we are unhappy because we are on the wheel: because wanting by design cannot be more than temporarily satisfied: and the science guy says the same. We are not happy because we are not designed to be happy. We are designed for our happiness to melt away as soon as it draws near: desire is the mechanism that keeps us perpetually striving and edging out the evolutionary competition. But the pervert in me is not so sure. He says: "maybe we are unhappy because what we are taught to pursue is not what we really want to catch?"
The questions may have nothing to do with each other, but they are twined, in my mind. The Buddhist answer is orderly, scientific, obvious, right. But I have always been prone to this swerve into revelatory ecstasy: what if it's God who is right, what if happiness is possible, what if there is some way that our secret desires do in fact map to the contours of the universe? What then? And it always resonates, there are always others who lift their snouts when that ephemeral scent is on the wind, and we exchange quick, puzzled looks.