This week I talked with Phillip Ward about the worldwide publication of The Last Word which is the third and final installment of Quentin Crisp’s autobiographies. Between 1997 to 1999 Ward tape-recorded and later transcribed hundreds of hours of Quentin’s last words and upon his death Quentin left the rights and responsibility to publish The Last Word to Phillip who later enlisted former Pink News features writer Laurence Watts to help edit this must-read book. The previous two books in the trilogy The Naked Civil Servant which starred John Hurt made Crisp famous and How To Become A Virgin detailed his move to New York but The Last Word was really Quentin’s heartfelt swan song written by a man who knew the end was near. Crisp died from a heart attack in November 1999 in Manchester, England at the age of ninety. In The Last Word Crisp really shares his philosophies, wit, dignity and humor that he was infamous for as he said goodbye to the world. We talked to Phillip about the difficult task of editing Quentin Crisp’s words after his passing and his spin on our LGBTQ issues.
When asked what advise he has for LGBTQ teens struggling with Trump’s presidency Ward stated:
This is an opportunity for LGBTQ teens to begin the process of tuning in to their “inner president” and tuning out our alleged president and his affiliated bullies. That’s a starter. They need to be reminded that Trump is what a bully looks like when left unchecked. Trump does not define you. You define you. Knowing that is a pathway for teens discovering their-own self-guidance and wisdom. Just like Quentin Crisp espoused, life is about finding out who you are and authentically expressing your truth in the world. I encourage teenagers to reach out to others and to understand that isolation and self-loathing are our greatest enemies, not Trump. Live your life with love, love in any form, including LGBTQ love. It’s a threat to those who hate us. That’s why some may continue to hate us for the unconditional love that we symbolize and more importantly teens need to realize that there is great power in love. For teens who are bullied they must seek help from others even if they receive it from across the country through Skype. There is strength in numbers and knowing that they are never truly alone is empowering and will hopefully ensure their safety, which is of paramount concern and ideally if they can they should find a qualified mentor that might make their process easier. We should volunteer our time to organizations that help teens and take the initiative in that respect. The greatest contribution that we can make is not to tell them they are merely accepted and tolerated but to enable them to profoundly feel and know in their hearts that they are loved and deeply cherished. Incumbent upon preceding generations to be the wind beneath their wings because they will perpetuate the legacy of love.
Phillip Ward is a consultant and researcher, curator, multimedia artist, photographer, poet and writer. Phillip was Quentin Crisp’s personal assistant, dresser, typist, escort and travel companion for fourteen years until Mr. Crisp’s death in 1999. Ward is the archivist and curator of the official Quentin Crisp website and is the literary and executor of Mr. Crisp’s estate.