The slurs he made about his own queer family were insulting, damaging and cold hearted. He was self promoting and self centered throughout his life.
Crisp remained fiercely independent and unpredictable into old age. He caused controversy and confusion in the gay community by jokingly calling AIDS "a fad", and homosexuality "a terrible disease", and his comment on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales: "She could have been Queen of England [sic] – and she was swanning about Paris with Arabs. What disgraceful behaviour. Going about saying she wanted to be the queen of hearts. The vulgarity of it is so overpowering."
Quentin Crisp was a contradictory, infuriating figure. Although astonishingly brave and defiant as an out gay man in the 1930s and 40s, he was later defiantly self-obsessed, homophobic and reactionary. Quentin denounced the gay rights movement and slammed homosexuality as 'a terrible disease'; adding that 'the world would be better without homosexuals.
This is a good film, with another stunning performance by John Hurt, but it sanitises Crisp's ignorant, pompous homophobia. Quentin disparaged homosexuality as an illness, affliction, burden, curse and abnormality. He regarded himself as 'disfigured' by his gayness. He never spoke out for gay rights or supported any gay equality cause.
'An Englishman in New York' invites us to admire Crisp as a hero and pioneer. By the time he moved to the United States he had ceased to be either heroic or pioneering. He turned into an ever-more bitter, self-obsessed person who resented that they way millions of gay people had come out and stolen his limelight.
Crisp hated the fact that he was no longer unique – no longer the only visible queer on the block. For this reason, he loathed the gay liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s. It had encouraged and empowered the mass coming out of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. He disliked being over-taken and over-shadowed by others; dismissing the new generations of out and proud gay people as johnny-come-latelys.
He never backed any campaign against homophobic discrimination or violence, and he declined to condemn anti-gay politicians and preachers.....