Maurice Sendak, one of the greatest authors of our time, is turning 80–and, according to the New York Times, is just as tortured as ever, and every bit as imaginative. The man who gave voice to my rage as a child in Where the Wild Things Are, fear in Outside Over There, and who wrote about going out into the greater world in We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy went through a hard year, after a triple-bypass surgery that “left him too weak to work” and the death of his companion of over 50 years. In the wake of that passing, the Times reporter asked Sendak:
Was there anything he had never been asked? He paused for a few moments and answered, “Well, that I’m gay.”
He says he never told his parents because he thought they’d be ashamed, and now wishes he had. He never came out publicly because, as a gay man doing children’s books in the ’50s and ’60s, he would have been crucified. Even now, I’m afraid that a man who made my childhood a more comforting and imaginative place to be is going to be a bullseye for a new regime that didn’t ban books, but might have.
The Advocate’s Popnography column has a brief tribute, and a great photograph (above).