Love's mirror, kisses and all

By Cornelius A. Fortune

In 1986 in England, the Local Government Act of 1986 (referred to as Section 28, or Clause 28) prohibiting homosexuality was passed; in the clause, gay family relationships were labeled as "pretend."

Two years later, the anthology "AARGH!" (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia) was published in opposition to Britain's antigay legislation. Alan Moore's contribution, "The Mirror of Love," traced the history of same-sex love. It is a brilliant, now out of print work, written by Moore and illustrated by Steve Bissette and Rick Veitch. (The clause was repealed in 2003 by The House of Lords.)

Given the current struggle in America, "The Mirror of Love," newly reissued by Top Shelf Productions, is more relevant in 2004 than it ever was in 1988. This time however, the illustrations are replaced by the beautiful, yet haunting photography of Jose Villarrubia, a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art and frequent collaborator with Mr. Moore - he also happens to be a gay man, but this doesn't matter as much as you'd think it might. Alan Moore isn't gay, but his work is so poetic, flighty, and sensual, you might think he was. He dedicates the book, "To anyone who loves, a kiss, with tongues and everything."

That's why this work is so powerful: it's all-inclusive, and makes the case that "queer," isn't necessarilyÉqueer. He suggests in his work that homosexuality is a naturally occurring phenomenon in nature:

{ITAL The animals remember:

dolphins still rotate

their matings

between their own sex

and its reverse,

their raptures echoing

for miles.}

The book's first words are: "Even preceding landfall, things loved freely once, ignoring gender."

There's so much to take in, you might want to hold your breath: Moore weaves history, lyrical play and humor, all at once, and takes us along with him through time...

{ITAL Leviticus condemned

most sexual practice

as unclean,

including that

between two men.

This was designed

to snub the Canaanites,

whose male priests

practiced sodomy.

Had they been

cannibals instead,

how different

might things be.}

Villarrubia accompanies this passage with an extreme close-up from the book of Leviticus. The word "blood" is circled in red, glaring at us, reaching out from the past (some would say our present). Each of the books' photographs invites us into a marriage; a union of word and image, not unlike that found in comic books, where the two mesh as one. Love's signal, transmuted upon the page.

The book includes several appendices: Who's Who in the Mirror of Love; poems by Sappho, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and Wilfred Owen; a suggested reading section; a forward by novelist Robert Rodi and an introduction by Obie Award-winning playwright David Drake.

This is an important work because it celebrates love in its many incarnations - unabashedly, unapologetically. The book is unashamed to be romantic, as is the idea of love - purified and simplistic, idealistic or even unrequited.

Alan Moore's words are like prayers uttered, invocations awakened.

Listen and be awed.

"The Mirror of Love" is available now at your favorite independent LGBT bookstore. Cornelius A. Fortune is a Detroit-based freelance writer.

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