John Waters, director of “Pink Flamingos” and author of “Hairspray,” gave a comedic talk as Wisconsin Union Directorate’s distinguished lecturer Thursday.
Waters spoke in the manner of a stand-up comedian, using jokes instead of arguments to discuss his life as a maverick and LGBTQ rights activist. His jokes often followed the same provocative tone as his many works in film and literature.
Waters, now 69-years-old, gained prominence from his early films, which often featured exaggerated dialogue and ridiculous situations.
He joked on topics ranging from blossoms to the joys of hitchhiking. The evening’s tone could best be encapsulated by his statement, “When I was a very young man, I saw men jerking off to birth, and that’s why I’m up here.”
He spoke on the evolution of the LGBTQ community and the plethora of new terms for different types of members. He said he lamented the loss of gay bars and clubs, but likes what they represent for LGBTQ acceptance at large.
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Waters spoke on his experience campaigning with former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley to legalize gay marriage. He said with the difficulty people have finding someone to love, it’s preposterous anyone would want to bar someone from marriage.
He joked about the internal rules among progressives that sprouted from the civil rights movement. He spoke about radical feminists who say transgender women are “not their sisters.”
He also joked racists should be forced to travel.
“No one can be a racist if they travel,” he said.
He criticized the use of trigger warnings in colleges, saying the reason people go to college is to have their beliefs challenged.
Waters voiced his longing for the rebelliousness of being homosexual during the early progressive movement.
“Yeah, I miss being an outlaw,” Waters said. “But seeing the White House lit up with gay colors is amazing.”