Just time for a quick story today.
I was asked to speak to a high school English class a few years back. The class had read To Kill A Mockingbird and the teacher, knowing I had written about Harper Lee and Truman Capote (you've all read Capote In Kansas by now, I assume!), thought I could offer some insight as to the creation of Harper's masterpiece.
Well, I serve on the school board of our little town, and the last thing I need is an angry parent showing up at a board meeting asking why the hell I was teaching her little angel about the evils of man-sex. I didn't want to be dishonest about Truman's sexuality, but I didn't want to invite controversy, either.
I asked the teacher how, in talking about the character Dill and his Truman Capote life-model, she had dealt with Truman's sexuality. The smiling teacher informed me that she had simply been referring to Truman as "flamboyant!". Um... okay!
So, I did my little talk. As I walked the class through my experiences in researching Truman and Harper, I spoke at length about the Clutter killings and how I portrayed them in my book. Along the way, I mentioned that I believed Truman had, during the writing of In Cold Blood, fallen in love with one of the killers, Perry Smith.
When I asked for questions, a girl at the back of the class raised her hand a little sheepishly. "So," she asked, "Perry was a girl?"
"No," I replied, "Perry was a gentleman, as well".
Girl screws her face up for another silent beat before finally offering, "Um... oh... yeah. Okay."
And we moved on. Never heard from any parents, so I guess no one was too badly traumatized.