Pop! Art! Out!
In honor of
National Coming Out Day
which happens this Friday, we would like to quote a few paragraphs from Warhol’s Popism book, written by Warhol himself, as well as, Pat Hackett, his secretary and friend.
We were becoming the target for some very aggressive attacks on drugs and homosexuality. If the attacks were done in a clever, funny way, I enjoyed reading them as much as anybody. But if someone in the press put us down, without humor, on “moral grounds,” I would think, “Why are they attacking us? Why aren’t they out there attacking, say, Broadway musicals, where there are probably more fags in any one production then there are at the whole Factory? Why aren’t they attacking dancers and fashion designers and interior decorators? Why us? When all I have to do is turn on my TV to see hundreds of actors who are so gay you can’t believe your eyes and nobody bothers them. Why us, when you could meet your favorite matinee idols from Hollywood who gave out interviews all the time on what their dream girls were like–and they’d all have their boyfriends with them?”
Naturally, the Factory had fags; we were in the entertainment business and–That’s Entertainment! Naturally, the Factory had more gays than, say, Congress, but it probably wasn’t even as gay as your favorite TV police show. The Factory was a place where you could let your “problems” show and nobody would hate you for it. And if you worked your problems up into entertaining routines, people would like you even more for being strong enough to say you were different and actually have fun with it. What I mean is, there was no hypocrisy at the Factory, and I think the reason we were attacked so much and so vehemently was because we refused to play along and by hypocritical and covert. That really incensed a lot of people who wanted the old stereotypes to stay around. I often wondered, “Don’t the people who play those image games care about all the miserable people in the world who just can’t fit into stock roles?”
When kids we knew would have nervous breakdowns or commit suicide, people would go, “See? See? Look what you did to them! They were fine until they met you!” Well, all I can say to that is, if a person was “fine” when they met us, then they stayed fine, and if they had bad problems–sometimes nothing and no one could fix them up. I mean, there’s always been an awful lot of people out there on the streets talking to themselves. It wasn’t like someone was issuing me newborn babies with good chemicals and letting me raise them.
And there were a lot of sexually straight people around the Factory, too, anyway. The gay thing was what was flamboyant, so it got attention, but there were a lot of guys hanging around because of all the beautiful girls.
Of course, people said the Factory was degenerate just because “anything went” there, but I think that was really a very good thing. As one straight kid said to me, “It’s nice not to be trapped into something, even if that’s what you are.” For example, if a man sees two guys having sex, he finds out one of two things: either he’s turned on or he’s turned off–so then he knows where he stands in life. I think people should see absolutely everything and then decide for themselves–not let other people decide for them. Whatever else it did, the Factory definitely helped a lot of people decide.