MANAGED DECLINE

Gay men are supposedly artistic, but in one artistic field, the graphic arts, we are notably inept when we’re not absent entirely. As I’ve written before, graphic design is “the one and only sphere of the visual arts not dominated by homosexual[ist] men.” It’s true. Apart from Roger Black (who wasn’t even out for three-quarters of his career) and Chip Kidd, where are the gay designers? And of the few others you could name, why are they simply no good?

I’m not including myself in this cohort. I’m not a designer, I’m a writer. I can just barely make a page of type legible and correct, but that’s it. Why, I ask myself once or twice every year, did I end up fascinated by a discipline in which I’d more or less always be alone? It would be hard to top that one; perhaps I’d have to go into engineering.

One recalls with great pleasure the work of B.W. Honeycutt in Spy. (I have several references to him in Ten Years Ago in Spy, but none with substantive information.) Honeycutt was an actually-talented actually-gay designer, but he died early. Now one reads the heavily-coded memorial notices for Darrin Perry (1, 2), who designed, among other things, Wired.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made… to the Human Rights Campaign[,] an organization that was a voice for his beliefs.

Well, the generically-named Human Rights Campaign is a gay-rights lobby group. Why are the writers of Perry’s memorial notices putting him back in the closet? What, one may ask, is wrong with saying Perry was a gay man whose family urges you to support gay rights? That is not the kind of bequest a straight man would make.

The shamefully-skimpy obituary uses an apparent euphemism, stating that Perry “died unexpectedly.” Now, if “died suddenly” is the standard blandishment for “committed suicide,” what does “died unexpectedly” mean? Did he have AIDS and did he die of an unforeseen ailment, as, for example, one of those heart attacks that befall guys who are on the cocktail for long periods?


UPDATE: “The cause of death remains under investigation,” “with the results to be announced in 14 to 16 weeks.”

Did he have a lover, partner, or spouse? UPDATE: According to the San Francisco Fog obituary, yes: Jonathan Manzo.

Why is everyone pretending it’s somehow shameful or disreputable to state that Darrin Perry was gay? It’s OK to send money to a lobby group, but not OK to talk about why you’re doing it? It’s OK to fund gay rights, but not state that a man was gay?

The difference with B.W. Honeycutt is that nobody tried to recloset him after he passed on.


Updates

I’ve added a few updates inline in this posting since it appeared. Now they get their own section.

2005.01.30

Photo District News, emphasis added: “Perry’s death was a shock to the staff at Wired, many of whom had grown close to the designer over the years. ‘Darrin had his demons, [as] we all have, but he really loved life in the Bay Area,’ [Brenna] Britton says. ‘I’d never seen him look as good.’ ” Well, that pretty much tells us he was a depressive or bipolar and that his suicide was a surprise to everyone. He didn’t die suddenly; he died “unexpectedly,” i.e., everybody thought he was finally doing well.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2004.12.02 15:02. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
https://blog.fawny.org/2004/12/02/perry/

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