Paul Monette

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Paul Monette
West of Yesterday, East of Summer (Paul Monette book - cover art).jpg
Monette on the cover of West of Yesterday, East of Summer
Born(1945-10-16)October 16, 1945
DiedFebruary 10, 1995(1995-02-10) (aged 49)
Cause of deathHIV/AIDS
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills
Alma mater
OccupationAuthor, poet and LGBT rights activist
Known forThe Monette-Horwitz Trust
Notable work

Paul Landry Monette (October 16, 1945 – February 10, 1995) was an American author, poet, and activist best known for his essays about gay relationships.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Monette was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and graduated from Phillips Academy in 1963 and Yale University in 1967. The rigid social confines of his suburban, middle-class upbringing placed Monette in a position where life in the closet seemed to be the only option. For the majority of Monette's childhood, he felt suffocated and alienated by the strict, religious atmosphere in which he was raised. Monette would later describe this life in the closet as hindering his personal development as a child, as he was forced to deny a part of his identity that was seen as sinful by everyone around him.[2] He described his youth in the closet as an ‘internal exile’, an ‘imprisonment’, and claimed that closeted life equates to ‘the gutting of all our passions till we are a bunch of eunuchs.’[3]

Conflicted about his sexual orientation, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he taught writing and literature at Milton Academy. In 1978 he moved to West Hollywood with his romantic partner, lawyer Roger Horwitz (November 22, 1941 – October 22, 1986). He wrote and published several novels during this time period, starting with Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll in 1978, which featured a gay protagonist.[4] Monette himself later described the books he produced in this time period "glib and silly little novels."[4] His more serious work came later in his life and was largely driven by his experiences with AIDS.

Notable works[edit]

Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir[edit]

Monette's most acclaimed book, Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir, chronicles Horwitz's fight against, and eventual death from, AIDS.[5] The memoir details the final nineteen months of Horwtiz's life, beginning with the day that he was first diagnosed with AIDS. Monette describes the day as "the day we began to live on the moon," isolating himself from the reader in order to demonstrate the devastating loneliness that is felt among AIDS patients and their loved ones. It was a miserable existence for Monette, he writes: "within three months this sense of separateness would grow so acute that I really didn't want to talk to anyone anymore who wasn't touched by AIDS, body or soul."[6]

Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story[edit]

His 1992 memoir, Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, tells of his life in the closet before coming out, culminating with his meeting Horwitz in 1974.[7] Becoming a Man won the 1992 National Book Award for Nonfiction.[8]

Other works[edit]

Monette also wrote the novelizations of the films Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Scarface (1983), Predator (1987) and Midnight Run (1988), as well as the novels Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll (1978), Afterlife (1990) and Halfway Home (1991). He wrote Afterlife (1990) and Halfway Home (1991) which were centered around people with AIDS and their families' experiences.[9] He once said in an interview that "One person’s truth, if told well, does not leave anyone out."[10] Because of this belief, he tried to tell the truth in a way that gave a voice to a community that was usually left out.[10]

Later life and death[edit]

Monette's final years, before his own AIDS-related death, are chronicled in the film Paul Monette: On the Brink of Summer's End by Monte Bramer and Lesli Klainberg.[11] "By the end of his life, Monette had healed most of his psychic wounds, but his rage persisted."[12] He said, "go without hate, but not without rage; heal the world."[12] He had tried to use his rage to heal the world through his writing and activism. Monette died in Los Angeles, where he lived with his partner of five years, Winston Wilde.[13] Monette was survived by Wilde; his father, Paul Monette Sr., and his brother, Robert L. Monette.[14] Horwitz and Monette are buried alongside each other at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California

The Monette-Horwitz Trust[edit]

Shortly before his death in 1995 Monette established the Monette-Horwitz Trust to commemorate his relationship with Roger Horwitz and to support future LGBT activism and scholarship. Monette's brother Robert served as the appointed Trustee until his death in 2015.[15][16] Monette-Horwitz Trust Awards are given annually to individuals and organizations for their contribution to eradicating homophobia through their literary, scholarly, archival, or activist work. The award's eight-member advisory committee includes Monette's surviving partner, Winston Wilde and the writer Terry Wolverton.[17] The Lesbian Herstory Archives and the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives received the inaugural Monette-Horwitz Trust Awards in 1998. Other organizations which have since been recipients include Athlete Ally, Naz Foundation India and the Addison Gallery of American Art.[18] Among the individuals who have received the award are Sunil Pant,[19] Lillian Faderman,[20] Allan Bérubé[21] and Leslie Feinberg.[22]


  • Monette, Paul (1975). The Carpenter at the Asylum. Boston: Little, Brown. OCLC 1230675. (poetry)
  • Monette, Paul (1978). Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-57821-5. (novel)
  • Monette, Paul (1979). Nosferatu the Vampyre. New York: Avon Books. ISBN 0-380-44107-1. (novelization of 1979 film)
  • Monette, Paul (1979). The Gold Diggers. Los Angeles, New York: Alyson Classics Library. ISBN 1-55583-458-2 (novel)
  • Monette, Paul (1981). The Long Shot. New York: Avon Books. ISBN 0-380-76828-3. (novel)
  • Monette, Paul (1982). Lightfall. New York: Avon Books ISBN 0-380-81075-1 (novel, cover by Wayne Barlowe)
  • Monette, Paul (1988). Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 0-15-113598-3. (memoirs)
  • Monette, Paul (1989). Love Alone: Eighteen Elegies for Rog. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-01472-4. (poetry)
  • Monette, Paul (1990). Afterlife. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-517-57339-3. (novel)
  • Monette, Paul (1991). Halfway Home. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-517-58329-1. (novel)
  • Monette, Paul (1992). Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 0-15-111519-2. (autobiography)
  • Monette, Paul (1994). Last Watch of the Night. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 0-15-600202-7. (essay collection)
  • Monette, Paul (1995). West of Yesterday, East of Summer: New and Selected Poems, 1973–93. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-13616-1. (poetry)
  • Monette, Paul (1997). Sanctuary: A Tale of Life in the Woods. New York: Scribner. ISBN 0-684-83286-0. (novel)


  1. ^ Wilde, Winston Legacies of Love, The Haworth Press, ISBN , p174
  2. ^ "Rutherford, (Gordon) Malcolm, (21 Aug. 1939–14 Dec. 1999), Obituaries Editor, Financial Times, since 1995", Who Was Who, Oxford University Press, December 1, 2007, doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u181675
  3. ^ Seidman, Steven; Meeks, Chet; Traschen, Francie (February 1999). "Beyond the Closet? The Changing Social Meaning of Homosexuality in the United States". Sexualities. 2 (1): 9–34. doi:10.1177/136346099002001002. ISSN 1363-4607.
  4. ^ a b Fein, Esther B. (February 12, 1995). "Paul Monette, 49, Who Wrote of AIDS, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  5. ^ Fein, Esther B. (February 12, 1995). "Paul Monette, 49, Who Wrote of AIDS, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  6. ^ Hill, S. E. (June 1, 1999). "(Dis)Inheriting Augustine: Constructing the Alienated Self in the Autobiographical Works of Paul Monette and Mary Daly". Literature and Theology. 13 (2): 149–165. doi:10.1093/litthe/13.2.149. ISSN 0269-1205.
  7. ^ Martinez, Gerard (October 11, 2005). "Becoming a Man looks at difficulties of gay lifestyle". The Daily Texan. Archived from the original on July 14, 2007. Retrieved December 1, 2007.
  8. ^ "National Book Awards – 1992". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-24. (With acceptance speech by Monette.)
  9. ^ Fein, Esther B. (February 12, 1995). "Paul Monette, 49, Who Wrote of AIDS, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  10. ^ a b "One Person's Truth: The Life and Work of Paul Monette (1945-1995). Conference and Exhibition, UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library, October 14, 2005". January 16, 2008. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  11. ^ Monte Bramer; Lesli Klainberg (1996). "Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer's End". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 22, 2008.
  12. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (February 6, 1998). "Paul Monette: More Active and Angry on the Way to the End". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  13. ^ "One Person's Truth: The Life and Work of Paul Monette". UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library. 2005. Archived from the original on January 20, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2008.
  14. ^ Esther B. Fein (February 12, 1995). "Paul Monette, 49, Who Wrote of AIDS, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved February 22, 2008.
  15. ^ Monette-Horwitz Trust (2015). About the Trust Archived February 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  16. ^ Cook, Bonnie L. (9 May 2015). "Robert L. Monette, 63, instructor". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  17. ^ Monette-Horwitz Trust (2015). Advisory Committee. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  18. ^ Monette-Horwitz Trust (2015). Awardees. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  19. ^ Cohen, Benjamin (22 April 2009). "Gay Nepalese MP looks towards greater acceptance of gays and lesbians". PinkNews. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  20. ^ Gambone, Philip (2010). Travels in a Gay Nation: Portraits of LGBTQ Americans. p. 110. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0299236838
  21. ^ Faderman, Lillian (2007). Great events from history: Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender events, 1848-2006, p. 524. Salem Press. ISBN 9781587652653
  22. ^ Wilson, John Morgan (29 April 2010). "2010 Monette-Horwitz Trust Award Recipients Announced". Lambda Literary Foundation. Retrieved 10 December 2015.

Further reading[edit]

Archival sources[edit]

External links[edit]