"When I was young society seemed so totally restrictive I found that the time I did not spend on the piers or bath houses wasted. The heterosexuality of everyday life enveloped and asphyxiated me. I numbed myself to this life - something which all gay men and women do even if they bury the hurt of it."
I found this quite a powerful statement. Jarman is writing in the context of his own upbringing in England during the '50s and '60s, and the new conservative Thatcherite Britain of the late 80's. An environment that spawned the infamous Clause 28. I was in London in 1988 and remember vividly the anger of the anti-Clause 28 movement and AIDS activism. The justifiable feeling that gay people were being invalidated, demonised and allowed to die.
In his films and his writing Jarman takes a very sex positive stance, which I admire. It's probably hard to imagine these days, but beats and bath houses were at one time a primary social outlet for gay men not just a sexual one. For some men they still are the primary place where they can connect with other men.
It was the statement about being enveloped and asphysxiated by the heterosexual world, and numbing oneself and burying the hurt of it that really got me. I have to say that this kind of rang true in parts for me. Especially as a young man, and as a teenager, I craved any kind of representation I could find. Validation I guess. I still do seek out films, tv and books that have gay characters. If the statistic that gay people make up approximately 10% of the population is true, even today there isn't 10% of the public media that represents me. Everything from advertising to politics parades an endless stream of heterosexual singles, couples and families.
It is true that the times and environment where I live is a much more positive and accepting one that the one Jarman was writing from. Even still, it is somewhat hurtful to look around and rarely see myself and my gay brothers and sisters represented.
It might sound like an odd suggestion, but the day I see a gay couple mixed in with all the other couples in a Coke commercial I'll feel like we've reached some sort of milestone.