Op-Ed: How Eddie Izzard Inspired One  Lesbian Author



I confess I was quite smitten with my Tadzio even before he morphed into Sara. I took the name from the enchanting boy in the famous novella, Death in Venice, though few seemed to have gotten the reference. No matter. From the beginning, Tadzio was already nearly Sara, womanly alluring and with a touch of mockery, half baroness and half elf. Garbo and Eddie Izzard fading in and out of each other.

But Sarah, Son of God is something more than a panegyric to trans women. As the title suggests, it toys with a more dangerous theme, that those who cross over know "passion" in the biblical sense of travail. To be frank, it blasphemes, unashamedly, and thus runs the risk of alienating both lesbians and Christians (as well as transgender people, if I’ve gotten it wrong.)

Fortunately, the transgender readers I heard from were enthusiastic, and I was even granted an interview in the online transgender journal Frock. Lesbian readers who contacted me also loved Sarah and only the faithful seemed ambivalent. The reviewer at Rainbow Awards expressed distaste for the novel’s treatment of biblical figures, but recommended it nonetheless for two awards. Go figure.

Why roil the waters, then, with such controversy? When there are so many other stories to be told, why of all things, illuminate a trans woman as someone to fall in love with, and then challenge Christian orthodoxy with her?

I confess it was not out of zeal for equality for all LGBT people, but because I myself could imagine falling in love with her. And perhaps I took a wicked pleasure in trying to lure readers into loving her too. It was not tolerance I pled for, but equal desirability. And if received wisdom about divine love was given a new twist as well, then that dust was worth stirring up too.

Tolerance seems a paltry goal anyhow, when trans people were some of the most courageous of our ancestors. It was trans women who poured with righteous anger from the Stonewall Inn onto the streets of New York in 1969, and who went to jail that night, in our name. Breaking gender rules can be sexy, but courage is much sexier, and the Stonewall transgender defiance that triggered the whole gay equality movement must count as heroism, the sexiest thing of all.

Thank you, Eddie, for reminding me.

About the Author
Brussels-based lesbian author Justine Saracen's work has always focused on the exotic. Trips to the Middle East inspired her Ibis Prophecy books, which move from Ancient Egyptian theology to the Crusades, and dramatizes the dangers of militant religion. Her third novel, Sistine Heresy, winner of a 2009 Independent Publisher’s Award, was a blasphemous backstory to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes while her fourth, Mephisto Aria, is a WWII thriller with one eye on the Faust story and the other on the world of opera. The novel won the 2011 Golden Crown award for best historical novel, two Rainbow awards and was a finalist in the EPIC award competition. Her latest novel, Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright, places us alongside Leni Riefenstahl, filmmaker of the Third Reich, and follows the desperate lives of collaborators, spies, terrorists, and homosexual lovers in Nazi Germany.


Tags: Books