The Lovecraft That Dare Not Speak Its Name — Part 4

Michael O. Varhola

The Lovecraft That Dare Not Speak Its Name — Part 1

The Lovecraft That Dare Not Speak Its Name — Part 2

The Lovecraft That Dare Not Speak Its Name — Part 3

Another ready example of a somewhat different sort can be found in the prose poem "The Quest of Iranon," which the author wrote in 1921 (and which the scrupulous Loveman ostensibly characterized as "the most musical and flowing" of Lovecraft's works to that point). It is replete with homoerotic imagery and, while the word "men" appears 16 times and the word "man" four, the feminine counterparts for those words appear not even once in what is essentially a description of a land where women do not even exist. A telling line can be found in the words of a young boy who encounters the title character and suggests becoming his companion:

"Let us leave the city Teloth and fare together among the hills of spring," Romnod proposes. "Thou shalt shew me the ways of travel and I will attend thy songs at evening when the stars one by one bring dreams to the minds of dreamers. ... Let us go to Oonai, O Iranon of the golden head, where men shall know our longings and welcome us as brothers, nor ever laugh or frown at what we say.”

This literary evidence of homosexuality does not come through so clearly in most of Lovecraft's stories and, frankly, it does not come through at all in many of them. As noted above, just as important as what is present in Lovecraft's work, however, is what does not appear in them. Those notable absences include very few examples of female protagonists; wives, girlfriends, or female love interests; or even female villains with any sort of dimension. So glaring is this dearth of female characters that when films based on the works of Lovecraft are produced they generally have inserted into them irrelevant female characters that did not appear in the original stories.

The automatic response of many to this observation is that Lovecraft could hardly write about these things because they were largely outside his realm of experience, to which I would reply, "Exactly!" And, to the extent that the author was married and might have any sort of meaningful relationships with women, these things are not reflected in his writing. If his writings were to contain an aesthetic appreciation for the qualities of both men and women that would be one thing. That women were simply not part of his world, that he was not attracted to them nor did he routinely think of or consider them in any way, while substituting male characters for those that in someone else's work would be filled by women, is almost by definition an indicator of his sexual orientation.

That Lovecraft was indeed a homosexual I am convinced as surely as I would be if he told me himself. And, having obtained that revelation through the tools of my craft, I am able to enjoy the works of one of my favorite authors even more — because I now understand it and him in ways that I previously did not. 

Main illustration for Lovecraft's "Beyond the Wall of Sleep," a "Dreamlands" story like "The Quest For Iranon"