I’m not a big hero person. I certainly never label anyone as a role model. No one should behave a certain way just to train other human beings. But we lost one of those today who was a hero to me for what he represented and the words he spoke. That man was Gore Vidal .
Vidal spoke his mind and had zero hesitation in expressing the truth on any number of subjects, from politics to the military to homosexuality. A brilliant writer of books, plays, essays and screenplays Vidal was one of a kind. He had famous feuds with people publically and never backed down or bowed to rules of mannered, societal debate.
In 1968, ABC News invited Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr. to be political analysts of the Republican and Democratic presidential conventions. Verbal and nearly physical combat ensued. After days of mutual bickering, their debates degraded to vitriolic, ad hominem attacks. During discussions of the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests, the men were arguing about freedom of speech in regards to American protesters displaying a Viet Cong flag when Vidal told Buckley to "shut up a minute" and, in response to Buckley's reference to "pro-Nazi" protesters, went on to say: "As far as I'm concerned, the only sort of pro-crypto-Nazi I can think of is yourself." The visibly livid Buckley replied, "Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto-Nazi, or I'll sock you in the goddamn face and you'll stay plastered." After an interruption by anchor and facilitator Howard K. Smith, the men continued to discuss the topic in a less hostile manner. Buckley later expressed regret for having called Vidal a "queer," but nonetheless described Vidal as an "evangelist for bisexuality."
It’s a great loss…
The New York Times described him in his obituary as being in his old age "an Augustan figure who believed himself to be the last of a breed, and he was probably right. Few American writers have been more versatile or gotten more mileage from their talent." The Los Angeles Times described him as a "literary juggernaut" whose novels and essays were considered "among the most elegant in the English language". The Washington Post remembered him as a "major writer of the modern era" and an "astonishingly versatile man of letters". Popular Spanish publication Ideal reported Vidal's death as a loss to the "culture of the United States" and described him as a "Huge American novelist and essayist". The Italian La Corriere described him as "the enfant terrible of American culture" and said that he was "one of the giants of American literature". Twitter has been used by some to memorialize Vidal by posting their favorite Vidal quotes and sayings.