Dance critic George Jackson lauded McGill for "intricate footwork, fleetness, and his streamlined silhouette," further commenting that "McGill suffused his technique with a demonic intensity that made him right for the role of Carabosse in the televised ice version of Sleeping Beauty, Drosselmeyer in the Chicago ice spectacular of Nutcracker, and for the personifications of character or mood in the solos he set for himself."
McGill lived in Toronto but often performed in New York. McGill died of AIDS-related causes. "He was very calm," recalled Regis Gagnon of skater Shaun McGill in 1989 after McGill was told he had AIDS. Gagnon, 32 at the time, a program adviser at the Ontario Ministry of Health, lived with McGill in Toronto for four years prior to McGill's death. "I kept informed about the latest AIDS treatments. Shaun said to me, 'Just tell me what I need to know. I'll take the pills I'm supposed to take. But don't bother me. I've got work to do.' "
Regis Gagnon, ex-lover of the late Canadian figure skater Shaun McGill, sadly sitting on couch w. portrait painting of McGill on wall in bkgrd. at his apt. (Photo by Taro Yamasaki//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Shaun McGill was an ice dancer and choreographer. "He was very calm," recalled Regis Gagnon of skater Shaun McGill in 1989 after McGill was told he had AIDS. Gagnon, 32 at the time, a program adviser at the Ontario Ministry of Health, lived with McGill in Toronto for four years prior to McGill's death. "I kept informed about the latest AIDS treatments. Shaun said to me, 'Just tell me what I need to know. I'll take the pills I'm supposed to take. But don't bother me. I've got work to do.' "
Gagnon claimed McGill did some of his finest choreography and skating after his condition was diagnosed. "There was an intensity, a real need to produce," said Gagnon of his friend, who never won an Olympic medal but was regarded by his peers as one of the most creative skaters of his generation. "He wanted to get his work out because he knew his time was finite."
McGill, who spent a lot of time traveling, was one who kept his condition secret for fear that he would not be allowed to enter the U.S., where most professional skaters find work with various ice shows. One spring day in 1991 his secret was nearly revealed. On his way to Baltimore, home base of the Next Ice Age, a professional troupe he was working with, he was slopped by U.S. immigration officials in Toronto. "He didn't look totally well, so they look him into a room and interrogated him [about whether he had AIDS]," said Gagnon. "He had to tell them something so he'd be allowed to cross the border. So he told them he had cancer."
The officials told McGill that they would have to confirm his statement and asked for the name of somebody they could call. He gave them Gagnon's. Then, while the officials left him momentarily unattended, "Shaun sneaked out of the customs office, found a phone and called to tell me what kind of cancer he'd told them he had," says Gagnon. "It was pretty traumatic."
Only when McGill grew too weak to skate, shortly after that incident, did he stop performing. McGill's friend Tim Murphy, a cofounder of the Next Ice Age, remembers McGill's final performance with the company. "He said, 'I think this is the last time I'll do this,' " Murphy recalled. "We had a little cry and a hug. It was the only thing I ever heard him say about how he was affected by AIDS."
Beyond Shame: Reclaiming the Abandoned History of Radical Gay Sexuality by Patrick Moore
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Beacon Press (January 14, 2004)
Amazon: Beyond Shame: Reclaiming the Abandoned History of Radical Gay Sexuality
The radical sexuality of gay American men in the 1970s is often seen as a shameful period of excess that led to the AIDS crisis. Beyond Shame claims that when the gay community divorced itself from this allegedly tainted legacy, the tragic result was an intergenerational disconnect because the original participants were unable to pass on a sense of pride and identity to younger generations. Indeed, one reason for the current rise in HIV, Moore argues, is precisely due to this destructive occurrence, which increased the willingness of younger gay men to engage in unsafe sex.
Lifting the'veil of AIDS,' Moore recasts the gay male sexual culture of the 1970s as both groundbreaking and creative-provocatively comparing extreme sex to art. He presents a powerful yet nuanced snapshot of a maligned, forgotten era. Moore rescues gay America's past, present, and future from a disturbing spiral of destruction and AIDS-related shame, illustrating why it's critical for the gay community to reclaim the decade.
More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Gay Classics
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