My name is Marcel Proust. I live in Paris and I have been a close friend of Victorius Vinsky since January 007. With a bagful of ‘remembrances of things past’ and with a lot of enthusiasm I began my work on ‘Swann’s way’ employing very long paragraphs to create an unique writing style to beat the boredom of short and tepid essays that one often comes across at many L’ecole in our beautiful Paris . I was deeply sad that no one wanted to publish this work including Andre Gide, whom I thought as a reasonable chap, after all he has written ‘The immoralist’ and has asked several existential questions that I almost considered the writing to be accepted. Alas, reality was different indeed otherwise, I shan’t be telling you what I was going to do right now.
I was occupied with this nagging thought of rejection whilst having my favourite petite madeleine dipped in tea, that somehow my spirits were elevated to a different plane, whence suddenly I was in one with the Universe, and from deep within an inexorable urge to write a letter to my dear dear friend Victorius sprang in me. Without delaying any further, there I was with a paper and pen composing a letter to Victorius’s family who live in the farmlands in Orkney Islands and where tradition is still at its cusp and a wavered thought caught asunder would be marked as deviant. And thus I began this letter with much earnesty.
In our different conversations with me and with his other friends Victorius has always openly expressed a very deep and affectionate love towards you: his grand-parents, parents, sisters and brother. He has often mentioned being very grateful for the education and support he received from you. He definitely does not appear as a selfish and egocentric man living far from his island to fulfil some individualistic pleasures. He is a deeply thoughtful human being who is interested in enquiring into the deeper questions of life as well as being in his heart a respectful grand-son, son and brother. He is also an independent human being who wants to find a way of living which is rich and meaningful for him.
Over the years Victorius has suffered from being far from you and not being able to really communicate to you. After he calls you on the phone he is often deeply sad of not being able to talk to you openly, of not being heard and – above all – sad of not being able to express his love and consideration for you while at the same time being respected and loved for what he is.
Victorius is terribly afraid of telling you that he is a different human being. Different as a boy and a girl can be different or as an Brazilian and an American can be different. But at the same time, he is still your son and brother and above all a human being. Accepting that one’s son or brother is not as we would like him to be can be a terrible deception but after all who is exactly as one’s parents wanted one to be? If I may ask you very respectfully: are you exactly like the way your parents wanted you to be? Is being alive about conforming to the persona other people would like us to be without respecting the being which is inside and which needs to grow and search for the ultimate freedom?
Victorius loves you from all his heart but he is afraid to tell you that he is different. Different from what you would like to him to be and different from what society wants him to be. Victorius is a homosexual or to use a less clinical term, he is gay. He is not sick, he has not been damaged in his past, he is not a potential killer, and he is not a devious human being. He is a lovely man, very kind, extremely bright, full of joy and laughter and at the same time very serious. He wants to live life to the full, he wants to keep loving and respecting you all and he is deeply afraid of being rejected by you.
Some human societies do not treat gay people very nicely: in some countries you can even receive the death penalty, be tortured and stoned to death. Quite a high price to pay. In other countries it is openly accepted although there are still some deeply rooted rejections against homosexuals. It is a hard life – but which life is not hard? – and for a gay man or a lesbian going through the process of accepting one’s own difference is not only a very difficult time, it is also a basic need. Being accepted by one’s own family and friends is also a basic need.
Homosexuality exists in the whole of nature, not only in humans, and is part of biological life. Victorius as a grand-son, son and brother loves you. He may not express it as you would like him to express it but he still loves you. Victorius as a grown up man is not ashamed of what he is and, as any other human being, he only wishes to be respected and loved.
I hope this letter was not too difficult for you to read and if it was, can I suggest just to let it rest and to read it again, at a later time. Love and respect are rare items on this planet and this letter was written with the wish to re-awaken those two things.
When your friends and siblings will know about Victorius’s difference they might talk about it. They might even gossip and make fun of him, but all that is nothing compare to what you and him can exchange together when you talk over the phone or when he visits you. I think when there is acceptance the door is open. But when there is judgement things become much more difficult and painful.
If you look into your own hearts the Victorius you know is there. It may not be easy to put aside all the misconceptions and prejudices one has about being gay but if I may suggest – even if it is for a second – next time you talk to him, just talk to him from your heart. Then, you may notice that there is no difference.
With much respect.
Marcel Proust, who loves Victorius as dearly as he loves the madeleines…
(written while Marcel Proust eats the Madeleine dipped in tea on 3 Sep 1921.)