Stephen S. Mills

Homosexuals Die at the End



Claire Bloom is everything

in the 1963 film adaption of The Haunting of Hill House

by everything I mean amazing—I mean everything

we love about old white Hollywood—about their obsession

with censorship yet their love of outward displays of the homoerotic.

Claire Bloom as Theo

pumps up the lesbianism of the character—

to the point that Eleanor, played by Julie Harris, calls her “unnatural”:

mid-century lingo for homosexual.

But Theo isn’t punished in the way the 1960’s cinema liked

to punish the unnatural—

the homosexual.

Theo doesn’t die.

Theo leaves Hill House.

Theo lives.

What's in a Name?



On the arrival of Jackson’s third baby,

the nurse asks her what her occupation is.

Jackson says, Writer.

Nurse says, Housewife?

Jackson says, Writer.

Nurse says, I’m just going to put housewife.


On my arrival at the hospital where you

are having your appendix removed,

I must say husband over and over.

Yes, I am his husband.

Any family?

Yes, I am his husband.

Who should we contact?

Me, I am his husband.


And when Jackson is asked to identify

the father’s name and occupation

she says, Just put down housewife.

I don’t remember his name.

The nurse isn’t amused.




Jackson wrote in The Road Through the Wall (her first novel):


No man owns a house because he really wants a house,

any more than he marries because he favors monogamy.


The novel is a story of men

and women and children

on a street called Pepper.


And I wish to say it was similar

to my street. My childhood.

My growing up. But it wasn’t.


I only played with a few neighbor kids:

Latter-Day Saints whose names all began

with the letter D. Though I can’t remember

any of them now. Dennis probably.

David, surely. Daniel? Maybe.


Or am I remembering it wrong?

Was it a J and not a D?

Justin. Jared. John.


And then one of them, the youngest,

let our dog out one summer day. August.

And off he ran—the dog—then dead.

A car. So fast. And how I took off

my flip-flop and threw it at him—the boy.


We never played again.

That was our tragedy.

That was our hole in the wall.


And then years later with my own dog

and a boyfriend of four years

(his name also beginning with D—

this I am sure of), I admitted monogamy

may never work for me. That love and sex

don’t always have to meet.


That we might find someone else to fill

the space where one body can’t possibly

be expected to always fit.

And then how we thought of the joy

of never buying a home. Renting forever.

Who needs ownership?


STEPHEN S. MILLS is the author of the Lambda Award-winning book He Do the Gay Man in Different Voices (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2012) and A History of the Unmarried (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014). He earned his MFA from Florida State University. His work has appeared in The Antioch Review, PANK, The New York Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review, Knockout, The Rumpus, and others. He is also the winner of the 2008 Gival Press Oscar Wilde Poetry Award and the 2014 Christopher Hewitt Award for Fiction. His third poetry collection Not Everything Thrown Starts a Revolution (Sibling Rivalry Press) came out in September of 2018. He lives in New York City.