On the face of it, the idea is simple: to write an emancipated novel showing the gay environment in the light of middle-class values and proving that sexual orientation is in no way at odds with the cultural expectations of the ordinary man in the street, as far as life in the community known as society is concerned.
Marcin Wilk, one of the most interesting young gay critics in Poland, once issued the following appeal: “I wish an author would show up (…) who’s prepared to write not just like someone who knows the nuts and bolts of writing and has studied all the Ferros, Whites, Forsters, Ritzes, Foucaults and so on, but who – and this is the most important thing – refers to his own positive experiences of being gay”… And here he is!
Żurawiecki aims to show the gay environment as a group of people who do have their exotic rituals, of course, but who don’t stand out from the rest of society in any particular way. They’re an integral part of it; like all of us they bear the weight of its good and bad points, its woes and complaints. He tries to make his medium universal, only subtly emphasising the Polish background against which the novel’s heroes live out their simple stories – having love affairs, moving house and running into trouble… We don’t know where Adam, the main character, works, though the story of his problems and finally his sacking, is one of the key plots: “at an insurance or an advertising agency” – that’s all the narrator offers, and that’s all right, because Żurawiecki’s main concern is to show that having an alternative sexuality doesn’t conflict with human values such as honesty, sincerity and the desire to help others, which are the standards for inter-personal relations throughout European and American culture.
Novels about the fate of minorities (sexual, ethnic or religious etc) have had, have and will continue to have above all an educational function. This book too is faultless in this respect. Thanks to Three Men in a Bed, To Say Nothing of the Catwe have an opportunity to learn about the environment of thirty-year-old, high earning gays, their petty intrigues (such as the superb scene of Adam’s matchmaking), sensitivity and emotions (the relationship between the three lovers), and also to find out something about the habits of cats.
- Igor Stokfiszewski