as written to Ian Ayres)

I’d been pen pals with Quentin Crisp for quite some time before we actually met in the flesh. In one letter I asked him how he felt about being a part of gay history. He responded in his usual shaky writing with: "Gay" history will, as time goes by, evaporate. As it becomes unimportant what sex people have, we shall only be a tiny footnote in the dictionary of the world.

But, in a later letter, regarding the oppression of homosexuals, he wrote: I have frequently told the young that freedom comes and goes—like the tides. The Jews are in and out of favor in the Soviet Union every ten years or so. We shall always fear the threat of oppression. It is as natural and as inevitable as the weather.

In response to a letter in which I asked Quentin how he imagines his meeting with God will go, he wrote: Here is my conversation with You-Know-Who.

Tap Tap

Y.K.W: Come in.


Y.K.W: Well?

Me: I’ve arrived.

Y.K.W: So what?

Me: I thought I had to announce my arrival.

Y.K.W: Whatever for?

Me: I don’t know. I’m sorry. Shall I go?

Y.K.W: By all means.

Me: Where shall I start?

Y.K.W: Anywhere. You’re not going to like it here, you know.

Me: I thought I was in Heaven.

Y.K.W: It’s a Hell of a place. You’ll have to learn to play the harp, for one thing.

Me: Oh, g—. I mean, Dear me!

Y.K.W: I never liked you.

Me: Nor I you, Sir.

Y.K.W: Good. Now we’ve got that straight.

Me: Good-bye, Sir.

Y.K.W: Good-bye. I don’t expect we’ll see each other again.


Photograph copyright © by Phillip Ward. All rights reserved.
Quentin Crisp text copyright © 1999–2007 by Quentin Crisp. All rights reserved.
Text taken from personal letter written to Ian Ayres.

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