February 5, 1962 [Victim]

Dirk Bogarde is brave, playing a homosexual in Victim. He has few allies in the movie--but they include his wife, mustering all the British resolve she can; and Det. Inspector Harris, who dryly comments to a self-proclaimed Puritan that such a religious bent also used to be illegal--and who recognizes that the laws against homosexuality form a “blackmailer’s charter.”

This is a gloomy picture, an uncomfortable one, but so matter-of-fact that high emotion is dampened--although it does encourage scorn for the blackmailers, sympathy for the homosexuals, and a kind of sad doubt that one can go on as though this is someone else’s problem. There was a man on a street where I once lived who enjoyed dressing up; he insisted on being called “Francis,” never “Frank”—and one could hear that “i” in his name yearning to become an “e.” I’m not sure if he desired men as much as he desired to be a woman--but the children on the block jeered at him and the teenagers balled their fists and frowned. Francis was quiet, despite his preening, and I worried less about him than anyone else in the neighborhood.

I am not holier than anyone; but, after watching Bogarde pick his way through the gloom and menace of his situation, try to hold in his terror, and rise to the occasion to “confess” (for that is the situation: to tell the truth is an admission of guilt), I know that the least we could do for him--and for Frank, for the sensitive ones, the “confirmed bachelors” and “mannish women” and sissies and tomboys and all the rest--is leave them be.


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