“Something You Do in the Dark”–dare we protest?

Curzon, Daniel. “Something You Do in the Dark (a novel)”, IGNA Books, (original publication G. P. Putnam)1971.

Dare We Protest?

Amos Lassen

I am reviewing the reprint edition of Daniel Curzon’s “Something You Do in the Dark” which was originally published in 1971 by G.P. Putnam and is considered by the author and by others as “the first gay protest novel”. This is an intense read and an important read as well.

Our hero is Cole, a twenty-seven year old who is suffering the indignities of being arrested by the Detroit vice squad when he was caught in a public rest room. We meet him three years after his arrest and his prison term. Cole leaves prison a broken man having suffered sexual assaults and is really not sure what to do. He has no work, his relationship went sour, his family is not there for him and has been informed that his mother died while he was locked up and his father tells him that Cole, in effect killed her because she died of a broken heart. This puts Cole into deep depression which worsens when Teddy, his ex spreads the rumor that Cole had suffered a nervous breakdown.

This is an important novel especially for the younger gay generation so they can know that the rights that we have today were brought about at the pains of another generation. It is a political statement against the powers that were and we see just how vulnerable we were. The same kind of vice squad action is still here and it seems that it will always will be. Everything about his book is still relevant today but not as overt as it was the 1970’s. I remembered that my first visit to a gay bar included looking both ways before entering for fear of being discovered. We see how Cole’s father felt about his son’s homosexuality and we see that there was still a belief that one can be cured of “sexually deviant behavior”. Then there is Bud, Cole’s good friend who hides from his own homosexuality by marriage to a woman. However these are not stereotypes here and the novel reads as very real.

Cole is determined to avenge his arrester, John Keel, and he goes after him.  As you can see from some of the themes that I have mentioned, there is a great deal here and it is presented to us in sterling prose that captivates us from the first page. Curzon uses his novel to show us how the gay population was once treated and we owe him a great deal for that. He has given us unforgettable characters who lived at a time when it was not wise for someone to proclaim his sexuality. Everyone should read this and then use what was read to help create a better and more accepting world.

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