Monday, November 5, 2007
Patricia Warren (1936-)
What is so special about Montana that one of its daughters who is a living icon repeatedly returns to teach, inspire, and speak out against injustice? Patricia Nell Warren, like many others, sees Montana as possibly the "last best place" in America. This best selling author grew up among Montana cowboys, worked as an editor for Reader's Digest for 22 years, and in 1974 completed the most famous book in gay literature, The Front Runner, having sold over 10 million copies in ten languages. Winner of numerous awards, including the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, her other titles include Harlan's Race, Billy's Boy, The Fancy Dancer, and One Is the Sun.
Patricia Nell Warren speaks of Montana and its legacy like a mother speaking proudly of her growing child. In a two-part series, we will examine the many faces of the author, whose life is like the Montana Big Sky. While interviewing her from her Los Angeles offices, you'd swear she is five people wrapped into one. Not only is she a renowned author, but also a publisher, an advocate for gay teens, a voice of the future for aging gays, an outspoken leader against homophobia and injustice in general. Yet, hiding behind that dynamic exterior lies a spiritual teacher for any with an open mind and an open heart. In other words, she's a walking miracle wrapped inside a suit of armor. She is no Don Quixote charging at windmills. When Patricia Nell Warren charges forth it is not the sound of hoofbeats one hears, but the beat of one's own heart.
Perhaps it is her own Native American roots, growing up on a ranch in Deer Lodge, Montana, where she first saw the best in humanity. Tiny Deer Lodge, she loves to tell, once served as a trading center among Montana's First Nation people as well as its metis (mixed bloods). It was the metis who fostered the tradition of tolerance in the area. Then came white trappers who understood and respected the Native and mixed-blood tradition of esteeming all traders. For a tribe could suffer or flourish depending on whether traders ferried needed supplies around the Big Sky's river networks. Warren recognizes that Montana's legendary attitude about "live and let live" stems from these Native roots. It isn't until missionaries invaded the area that we begin to find discord and judgment separating "savage" from "the saved." - [Adapted from OutSpoken]
Books from Alibris: Patricia Warren