John Irving and Mutable Sexuality

Jun 20, 12

In this interview, John Irving discusses his characters as sexual outsiders, the mutability of sexual desire and the intolerance of sexual differences. “There’s no question that I’ve always identified with a wide range of sexual desires.” His latest novel, In One Person (Simon & Schuster), follows bisexual narrator Billy Abbott on a sexual journey spanning decades.

In regards to his own desires and fears Irving said,

“I told that story for years about my first girlfriend who was so afraid of getting pregnant that she permitted only anal intercourse, which I liked so much that it only added to my terror that I really must be gay. “Oh my God, I really like this.” And then, what was I to do with the fact that I was often much more attracted to the mothers of my girlfriends than I was to the girlfriends. And there were those unmentionable older boys who attracted me in a more than hero worship way when I was 13, 14, 15 and they were 17, 18, 19. This simply taught me that sexual desire itself is terribly mutable if you’re honest, and that I don’t know why someone like Shakespeare could write so easily about the mutability of sexual attraction and the sexes and we seem to struggle with it so. We in America in particular.”

Read the whole interview by Frederick McKindra at Lambda Literary.