1. This week, as I ran through the frozen park, I thought about a book review I had recently read. The book in question has been getting a lot of "buzz" for the usual reasons: it's a debut novel, it's long and addresses "big" themes like life and death and fate, it has a catchy title and a nice cover. Nothing unusual so far, but what struck me about the synopsis of the book was that one of the characters is gay; this character, who grows up in the 1970s, moves to a big city (you can probably guess which one), where, apparently, although the reviewer didn't quite say it in the attempt to avoid "spoilers," he succumbs to AIDS. 2. The reviewer went on to say that the arc of this character was the weakest part of the book, something the author seemed to have included to demonstrate his/her "wokeness" and show that he/she had "done their reading" about gay life in the 1980s. Overall, however, the reviewer offered strong praise for the book; killing off a gay in such a predictable manner was just a blemish. 3. I was struck by the idea that we -- as in those of us who occasionally read novels -- have for the past several years been afflicted with similarly dispiriting narratives (vis-a-vis a gay character) that receive heaps of unbridled praise from the mainstream literary media. Off the top of my head, I was able to list five (highly acclaimed) novels from the past decade in which a gay character dies of AIDS, and five more where a gay character is somehow defeated, either physically or emotionally, in ways that have a lifelong (negative) impact, permanently stunting the character and rendering them almost inhuman. (I include "Call Me By Your Name" in this latter category.) Interestingly enough, and not at all coincidentally, none of these novels were written by people who identify as gay. 4. My point is not to say that fiction doesn't have a role in mirroring (the tragic impact of) reality, or possibly even expanding upon it in ways that build empathy or awareness for a marginalized population, such as gay men in the (ongoing) AIDS era. But it should not be the only narrative, particularly when the author is not a part of the population in question, and when that particular narrative has been very well explored -- with devastating, heartbreaking impact -- by many others who do belong to the population in question. I'm sure most of the writers I've half-identified would regard themselves as "progressive" and "gay friendly"; after all, they might say, they took a "risk" by including a gay character in their story, when everyone knows that gay representation in popular culture is relatively non-existent and not market-friendly as a rule. But the larger question to be addressed is why non-gay authors continue to write (and be encouraged to write) about gay people (and get much acclaim for doing so) in ways that are shallow, constraining, and predictable. The answer is obvious: they write for a non-gay audience, an audience that will not object to a predictable narrative filled with cliches in which the gays all die, an audience that will congratulate themselves for bearing witness to these deaths, when huge swaths of society don't even do that. Nevertheless, this audience -- and those who perform for them -- are morally bankrupt. 5. I would rather have no show at all than this gay minstrel show. 6. Last week, a popular gay-rights organization released a survey of Americans that, for the first time since they started conducting it, shows a declining acceptance of gays among respondents. I don't put too much weight in such things, but I couldn't help but think about this information in light of the noxious representation of gays we regularly confront not only in the political arena, but also in the cultural one. In a way, the former -- which is comical -- seems less offensive and dangerous to me than the latter, which is more insidious as a result of its progressive costume and accouterments. 7. Instead of being seduced but this show, I ask the question: with so many stories to be told that offer a sense of possibility -- of radical change in so many different contexts where we need and crave it -- why are we, as a society, giving our largest platforms to those who would, apparently, rather see us dead or deranged?