Rufus Wainwright has opened up about how he visited gay bars at the age of 13, reduced his mother to tears when coming out – and what Shakespeare’s Grindr name would be.
Speaking to German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, the Canadian singer-songwriter also spoke about how she gave him Shakespeare sonnets as a sort of life advice.
‘When I was twelve, she noticed that I masturbated. The stains on the sheet gave me away,’ Wainwright said.
‘Afterwards, she came to me and said: “Rufus, if you want to know more about what you’re doing there in your room, read this sonnet.” I did.’
What she gave her son to read? Sonnet 129, whose first two lines read ‘the expense of spirit in a waste of shame is lust in action’.
A year later, he was sneaking out of the house at midnight to visit Montreal’s gay bars.
When it was time to come out, however, the singer’s parents didn’t take it well.
He has since forgiven them, saying they were ‘scared to death’ at the time because everyone was talking about AIDS.
His father never wanted to speak about it, Wainwright said; his mother, after finding a gay magazine, confronted her son.
‘She said: “Rufus, please don’t tell me anything I don’t want to hear. You’re not gay, are you?” I declined,’ he said.
‘Otherwise, she would’ve thrown me out of the house.’
A few years later, when he was 18, he came out to his mother during a trip to Paris, accusing her of not loving him because he was gay.
‘I drove her so far into the corner, she burst into tears,’ Wainwright said.
‘Of course I love you, she said, I’m only scared. The next day she went to Notre Dame cathedral, although she wasn’t a religious woman.
‘There, she claimed God had spoken to her: Rufus is like everyone else, a normal human being.’
And when asked for Shakespeare’s potential Grindr name, Wainwrigh’s answer is straightforward: ‘Willing to shake’.
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