Serenade

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I was cruising the Daily Star site to see if they ever published my last article for them (by the way, the Star has a sharp new layout), when I came across this story: Court issues indictment in case of homosexual composer's murder. Readers of James M. Cain's neglected gay-bashing classic Serenade will recognize some major plot points, and the underlying presumption that it's really the victim's fault for staining the other guy's honor:

On Wednesday, the Mount Lebanon court issued an indictment saying the killer of composer Samir Qobt was a 17-year-old young man whose poverty led him to satisfy Qobt?s homosexual pleasures.

According to the indictment, the young man left his family in the North and headed with his uncle to Beirut to look for work. One day, while he was walking in the street, a luxurious car stopped near him. The driver, Qobt, asked him to get in and offered him a job as a bodyguard and an actor in return for $10 per day, the indictment said…

"The relationship deteriorated," the article notes, "when Qobt failed to keep paying."

With crowds of Tennesseans trying to ban gays from the Volunteer State, it's no use looking down our noses, but still, this notion that killing your partner is the way to exorcise that "five percent in all of us" Cain wrote about is one blast from the past nobody needs.

NEXT: Music with Soul

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  1. Tim Cavanaugh,

    Perhaps you know more about the story than just what’s presented in the article but I don’t see an anti-gay angle here at all.

    This seems to be an age old story where a wealthy high status individual enters a relationship with a poor low status person who eventually kills them. Sexual orientation really isn’t an issue.

    The poor person may be a gold digger who kills their patron when threatened with the end of the relationship or somebody who feels exploited and even raped by the power imbalance in the relationship.

  2. Tim Cavanaugh,

    Perhaps you know more about the story than just what’s presented in the article but I don’t see an anti-gay angle here at all.

    This seems to be an age old story where a wealthy high status individual enters a relationship with a poor low status person who eventually kills them. Sexual orientation really isn’t an issue.

    The poor person may be a gold digger who kills their patron when threatened with the end of the relationship or somebody who feels exploited and even raped by the power imbalance in the relationship.

  3. Building on Shannon Love’s foundation.
    Building on Shannon Love’s two-ply foundation:

    I presented my high school sophomore paper on “the evolution of man” to my biology class in Tennessee in 1959. The teacher, trying to observe the law, asked “objectors” to leave the room. No one did.
    In about 1973, I voted, as a member of Session of a Presbyterian church in Ohio, to allow gay ministers.
    My point is, as “bash fodder,” personally, and having survived until now, I must conclude most folks are simply not “bash prone.” So a message of tolerance is not really a “hard sell.”

  4. Hey, ONE county in Tennessee is hardly representative of the WHOLE state….

    The Monkey trial was getting old, so Rhea county conjured up soemthing new to keep the oddity tourism dollars (and free publicity) going. What could be more market savvy?

  5. You missed the best part of the story:
    “But, when Qobt tried to make advances, the 17-year-old took a knife and stabbed him several times. When Qobt resisted, the young man grabbed a statue of Virgin Mary and beat him until he died.”

    Not only do we have buggery, but Christianity as well!

  6. On the other hand, you have a county in Oregon who took a step in the other direction, and voted to ban all marriage in the county:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/03/19/politics/main607508.shtml

  7. The detail about the Virgin Mary was so wonderful I didn’t want to spoil it for anybody who clicked through to the article.

  8. Points to Tim Cavanaugh for referencing out-of-print noir novels.

    Serenade isn’t as good as Postman, but definitely Cain’s weirdest. The homosexual twist hit me like a left hook — it’s not a common angle in most ’30s and ’40s fiction.

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