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  • November 18, 2008

    The Queen doesn't like "queens"

    Posted by: Andoni

    Queen_sofiaWell, not THE Queen as in Elizabeth, but the Queen as in Sofia of Spain. Turns out she doesn't like gays.

    In a new book, "The Queen Up Close" by Pilar Urbano, Queen Sofia tells the author that while she respects other sexual orientations, she does not understand why "they should feel proud to be gay." Then she goes on to say

    That they get up on floats and parade in the streets? If all of us who are not gay were to parade in the streets, we'd halt the traffic in every city.

    The Queen also opined that although gays were entitled to unions, the unions should not be called marriage.

    All I have to say is that the Queen probably can't help herself -- she was brought up Greek.

    Before she married Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and converted to Catholicism, she was Princess Sophia of Greece and brought up in the Greek Orthodox religion. Greek Orthodox is even more homophobic than Roman Catholic -- if such a thing is possible. Good thing the monarchy is pretty much a figurehead in Spain and the Queen's views don't really matter in governing. In 2005, the Spanish government was among the first countries to legalize  same sex marriage in spite of the views of the Church (or the monarchy). Apparently the churches in Spain have less influence over government than the churches in the United States. Could it be that all that bad history Spain had with Church and state intermingling taught the people that the church should not be involved in matters of the state?

    The Queen's comments were roundly denounced by Spanish liberals and gays. The palace apologized but also claimed that she was "inexactly" quoted, and the gay community more or less accepted the apology. The 70 year old Queen did not limit her candid comments to gays however; she also spoke out on euthanasia and religious education in schools

    King Juan Carlos is reported angry at the staff that permitted the Queen to sit for interviews for the book because the carefully controlled facade of the royal family has been pierced.

    As a tangential note, the trial  of those first same sex weddings in Greece was supposed to commence on Oct. 2, but it has been postponed to Dec. 4. It will be interesting to see if Greece has progressed as far as Spain in allowing for the separation of church and state. In my opinion the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece is more powerful than the Roman Catholic Church in Spain. The civil marriage laws in Greece were clearly gender neutral. So we'll see if Greece follows the law or a religiously biased interpretation of the law.

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    Filed in: Celebs , Values

    August 31, 2008

    God's mixed messages with Gustav

    Posted by: Chris

    Andersonsodec As Hurricane Gustav bears down on the Louisiana coast, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper is there on the scene in his tight T-shirt to give viewers the blow by blow. Unfortunately for Cooper, a longtime closet case, the annual gay bacchanalia Southern Decadence was canceled this afternoon in response.

    All hope for Anderson isn't lost, however, since many of the gay boys who apparently "packed Bourbon Street" just last night are no doubt still there and even more stir crazy.

    For those who believe that God uses hurricanes to express disapproval with His peeps, the message here is clearly mixed. On the one hand, this is the second time in four years that a tropical storm took out SoDec, since Katrina did the same in 2005. On the other, the Katrina aftermath was a disaster for an anti-gay White House, and Gustav has already claimed as its victim the first day of the Republican National Convention.

    (For a good laugh or disgust -- you choose -- check out this Gustav thread from the arch-conservative FreeRepublic.com. It's since been pulled -- the Freep moderator explained, "We really really REALLY don't need this" -- but Google has it cached for posterity's sake.)

    (SoDec photo via David Dust's blog)

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    July 12, 2008

    How was your day, Express readers?

    Posted by: Chris

    Danrenzi1 When last we checked in on Dan Renzi, "Real World: Miami" alum turned editor of the Express Gay News, South Florida's gay newspaper, he was editorializing about how his Latino boy toy didn't speak English very well. We hoped against hope that his curious selection to run a serious newspaper might result in young Dan exploring the big bad world that exists below the surface he is so used to barely scratching.

    Alas, the early returns aren't encouraging. This week's "editorial" is about how he took the day off from his Express duties to work as a stringer for Us Weekly, trying to gather dirt on baseball phenom Alex Rodriguez, rumored to be having an affair with Madonna. Is this was "E-List" celebs do in their spare time? Dig dirt on those with higher listings?

    Dan's gift of gab is well-suited for his blog "How was your day, Dan?" or even for 411, the lifestyle mag produced out of the same Fort Lauderdale offices as the Express. But readers of South Florida's only serious gay publication deserve better than an editor who has decided to treat his editorial column "like it's a big blog post from now on.  Screw the politics and the news is unnecessary."

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    Filed in: Celebs , Media

    August 20, 2007

    Counting progress in celebrity funerals

    Posted by: Chris

    6836801 When Merv Griffin died this month, many mainstream media obituaries dared to report what largely went unsaid throughout his long career: the legendary entertainer and entrepreneur was a closeted homosexual.

    That news probably came as a something of a shock to most Americans old enough to remember Griffin’s incarnations as a big band singer, or high-brow talk show host, or creator of “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune.” That’s because over the years, especially during the peak of his celebrity, media mention of Griffin’s personal life was limited to photos of him with gal pal Eva Gabor of “Green Acres” fame, with no hint she was really his “beard.”

    Merveva The willingness of some media outlets to pry open Merv’s closet door, at least after his death, would seem to represent a new maturity in how our society deals with homosexuality as a natural fact of life, rather than the secret shame it was for so many in Griffin’s generation.

    Until now, the mainstream media could be counted on to “straight-wash” the lives of gay public figures, whether they were fully closeted in life or not. When R&B crooner Luther Vandross died two summers ago, the public mourned a “lifelong bachelor,” and the media missed the chance to report the irony that a man who built his legend singing about love and lust dared not speak, or sing, about his own.

    Susansonta Ditto when feminist and intellectual Susan Sontag died from cancer in December 2004. Even though a proper search would have turned up some discussion by Sontag about her longtime relationship with photographer Annie Leibowitz, the media deferred to dig.

    Filmmaker Ismail Merchant was partnered personally and professionally with James Ivory for more than four decades, and that unique collaboration would have been the central storyline of retrospectives on Merchant’s life if Ivory had been female. But mainstream press accounts of Merchant’s death two years ago stuck to the work relationship.

    Unfortunately, the news about Griffin being gay wasn’t in the context of a loving, longtime partner now left behind, or even happiness in coming to terms with his sexual orientation, however late in life. Instead, the obituaries rehashed two tawdry lawsuits from 1991.

    One was a multi-million dollar palimony claim brought by Brent Plott, a former secretary-driver-bodyguard-horse trainer who claimed Griffin dumped him after a long live-in relationship. The second was filed by “Dance Fever” host Denny Terrio, alleging sexual harassment by Griffin, who created the show.

    Deney Both lawsuits were dismissed, although why isn’t exactly clear. Since gay couples are rarely recognized legally, gay palimony suits rarely succeed, and the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t authorize same-sex sexual harassment suits of the type brought by Terrio until 1998, so it’s simplistic to interpret Griffin’s court wins as a complete vindication.

    Whether or not the suits had merit, they did give the media a convenient way to raise rumors about Griffin’s homosexuality in retrospectives about his life. That’s playing fair, if not nice, since a hetero palimony or sexual harassment suit would no doubt receive attention in an obituary about a straight celebrity, too.

    But in a larger sense, the coverage of Griffin’s life after his death represents a lingering double standard that plagues reports about gay public figures. No doubt out of sympathy, the mainstream press usually defers to celebrities and other public figures when it comes to reports about a closeted same-sex relationship.

    So all too often, the public only learns about a public figure being gay when they’re caught up in scandal. Reports on Merchant and Sontag ignored their long-time lovers, but slap Merv Griffin with a palimony suit from his horse trainer and the press pack is finally ready to ask “the question.”

    This double standard doesn’t just come to life in a public figure’s death, either. The media turned a blind eye for years to Mark Foley’s long-term relationship with a Florida physician, so the public learned the Florida congressman was gay from graphic IM chats he had with pages. Former Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe skated by the same way, until allegations from pages surfaced against him, too.

    Singer George Michael lost a longtime lover to AIDS and even dedicated a CD to him, but the media left the subject of his homosexuality alone until he was arrested for offering sex to an undercover cop in a public toilet.

    You get the picture.

    Of course the other willing participants in the cover-up are the closeted celebrities themselves. Griffin was demonized by activists like Michelangelo Signorile for not coming out earlier. Ever the morally outraged gossip columnist, Signorile blasted Griffin for not clueing in his pals Ron and Nancy Reagan about AIDS, even though Signorile has no evidence he didn’t. For that sin, Griffin is apparently culpable for the horrific deaths of thousands.

    Washington Post TV columnist Tom Shales rallied to Griffin’s defense, explaining away his closet saying the truth would have destroyed his career. That excuse might have worked in the ‘70s and maybe even the ‘80s, but Griffin and the world changed too much in the last 20 years for that dog to hunt. Just look at Lily Tomlin, for example. And shame on Shales for not fessing up to how questions of homosexuality and the closet are personal ones for him, too.

    It takes two to tango, or in this case, perpetuate the double standard. Until the press is prepared to ask questions about happy romantic lives, it’s singularly unfair how they pounce on the scandals. And it’s even more revolting how leeches like Mark Foley or former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey wait until they’re wallowing in scandal to milk coming out for public sympathy.

    Are you listening, Anderson Cooper? Jodie Foster? Ricky Martin? How many more celebrity scandals — or funerals — do we need to get this right?

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    August 13, 2007

    A great gift idea for gay bashers

    Posted by: Chris

    Gi_artie2jpg Joseph Gannascoli is clearly aiming to milk his 15 minutes in the spotlight. On the heels of his "cookbook novel" called "A Meal to Die For," the actor who played "gay Vito" on HBO's "The Sopranos" is now peddling pool cues.

    You see, after several seasons as a closeted mobster, Vito got "whacked" by the family when they learned he was gay, and the method of the murder was beating him to death with a pool cue.

    "I have teamed up with the greatest billiards manufacturer in the country to make this signature pool cue. It is a great collectible for Soprano's fans and a perfect cue for all pool players," says Gannascoli in a press release that is as clueless as it is self-promotional. (Gannascoli claims he thought up the idea of the gay character and brought it to series producer David Chase.)

    What's next? Matthew Shepard's murderers selling fencing?

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    Filed in: Celebs

    August 11, 2007

    Real men aren't homophobes

    Posted by: Chris

    Remember back a couple of years ago when rapper Kanye West came out against anti-gay lyrics in hip hop? He said being called a mama's boy when he was younger caused him to become homophobic. "'Cause it’s like I would go back and question myself," he said back then.

    Well it looks like admitting he had a problem wasn't the first step for Kanye West ridding himself of homophobia.

    Responding to a tough-guy rapper who called him gay, West's response is old school. "I'm not gangsta, but I'm not gay either. Don't disrespect me as a fuckin' man."

    Grow a pair, Kanye. Real men are secure enough in their sexual orientation that being called gay isn't a threat to their manhood.

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    Filed in: Celebs , Music

    July 03, 2007

    Isaiah gets the last word (hopefully)

    Posted by: Chris

    Isaiahwashingtonshh_2 For someone who claims to be censored, Isaiah Washington sure does talk a lot. By my count he's given a half-dozen well-publicized interviews since being canned from "Grey's Anatomy," but there he was again last night on "Larry King Live," saying no one had heard his side of the story on the "F-word" flare-up that cost him his job.

    Washington has been a moving target all along, taking responsibility without actually taking responsibility — apologizing to castmate T.R. Knight, who came out as a result of the October incident, even while repeatedly denying he used the word in reference to Knight in the first place.

    Of course not much light was shed by Larry King, who in his inimitable kid-glove style walked Washington through his October clash with castmate Patrick Dempsey.

    Washingtondempsey Readers' digest: Washington claims Knight had complained to him during a long plane flight about abusive treatment by Dempsey, and Washington encouraged Knight to raise the issue with "Grey's" producers. In October, after several unrelated incidents in which Dempsey was late on set, the two actors got into a heated exchange.

    KING: So why does that lead to this word?

    WASHINGTON: [Dempsey] got un -- became unhinged, face-to-face, spittle to spittle, in my face -- first. I did not start it. And I'm asking him why is he screaming at me, why are we doing this? Get out of my face. Several times. Several times. And he just becomes irate. But I'm not understanding why am I being berated to this point in front of our crew, particularly after what we experienced in Seattle [when Dempsey was several hours late]. You know, I mean, I think you owe me on apology and I'm being berated.

    And by that time I pushed him out of my face and it just took off from there and I began to say a lot of -- a lot of things that I'm not really proud of -- but all referring to myself and how I felt I was being treated.

    KING: But how did the bad word come out of that?

    WASHINGTON: Well, I said several bad words, as well as he did.

    KING: To him?

    WASHINGTON: To him about how I was feeling. I said there's no way you're going to treat me like a "B" word or a "P" word or the "F" word. You can't treat me this way in front of our crew.

    KING: So you weren't referring to him as being an F person?

    WASHINGTON: Never. Never.

    KING: Or anybody else being one?

    WASHINGTON: Never, Larry. Never, never, never, never.

    King (of course) accepted the explanation at face value, but later in the show, in retelling the story, Washington's account changed significantly, in a way that explains the connection with the in-flight conversation Washington previously had with Knight, and in a way that explains why pretty much everyone but Washington took his "F-word" reference as a shot at Knight.

    WASHINGTON: I said, "I don't -- I don't want to bring anymore attention to this than I already have. I don't want to throw anybody under the bus, but I've got to clear my name. I -- this is misinterpreted. I did not say" -- I said yes, you're not going to "B" me, "P" me, "F" me, because I'm not T.R. I never said you are T.R.

    Going back to me thinking that I could be the big brother, to defend my family and T.R. which is not my place to do, against so- called bullying.

    So Knight had complained to Washington about Dempsey's abusive behavior, and when Dempsey became abusive toward Washington, he wanted to be clear with Dempsey that he was no faggot, like T.R.

    George_blogEven accepting Washington's account, he was referring to himself but by way of contrast with Knight. "You can treat T.R. like a bitch or a faggot. But you won't get away with it with me." "I'm a man," in other words, "unlike that faggot Knight." With defenders like Washington, who needs bullies?

    Can anyone imagine Washington accepting a similarly half-baked explanation if the roles were reversed? What if Dempsey had an on-set blow-up with a castmate and said, "I'm not your [N-word]. I'm not Isaiah." Would Washington have agreed the "N-word" wasn't used in reference to him? Methinks not.

    I do agree with Washington that the situation was blown completely out of proportion, though Washington contributed more than his share by repeating the "F-word" at the Golden Globes, ruining the celebratory mood after the cast won several trophies. And his failure — to this day — to accept responsibility for the fact he did use the word in reference to Knight, only made matters worse.

    Even still, I don't believe Washington should have been canned from the cast. And as a big fan of the show since its first episode, I'll miss Dr. Preston Burke and his quirky relationship with Cristina Yang (played by Sandra Oh).

    But I am happy to see the "F-word" move closer and closer to the off-limits territory occupied by the "N-word," where it's no longer acceptable to use in any context, no matter how innocuous. A few semi-guilty folks like Washington may get overblown treatment, but it's a small price to pay for the societal good that will result -- in playgrounds and workplaces and TV sets everywhere.

    Click here for a complete news summary of the Isaiah Washington brouhaha, compiled by Gay News Watch.

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    June 24, 2007

    I second that emotion…

    Posted by: Chris

    Mario_cantone When I first heard the news that among the replacements being considered for Rosie O'Donnell on "The View" were three catty queens, my reaction was pretty much exactly what my friend Cyd Zeigler had to say over at The Dooryard:

    I'm bothered by the news that has popped up in the last 36 hours or so about The View looking for a gay guy to replace Rosie O'Donnell. Good idea, lots of gays are tuning in, it'd be interesting having that dynamic to play off the women. THIS is my problem: The guys they're looking at are Ross the Intern, Mario Cantone and Perez Hilton. Aaaaarrrghhhh!!! In other words, the only gay guys they want to have on are more catty and bitchy and feminine than Rosie was. Unfortunately, that's what the media (mainstream or gay) want to put out there as the face of gay men, so that's what we're stuck with.

    PerezhiltonfingerLike Cyd, I'm not hyper-sensitive about feminine gay guys or harbor illusions that to be masculine is to be "straight-acting," a phrase I disdain. But these hacks are essentially modern-day minstrels, mincing for money — the last thing they need is greater exposure.

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    Filed in: Celebs

    May 29, 2007

    Now THIS is daytime cattiness…

    Posted by: Chris

    Hasselbecksilverstone Yesterday I (sort of) stood up for Rosie O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, whose supposed "catfight" was actually an interesting exchange about the Iraq War, not to mention a curious personality study.  The same can't quite be said for Alicia Silverstone, who was the first "View" guest after the Rosie-Elisabeth faceoff.

    Check out this video from a "View" fan with way too much time on his hands…

    You just gotta love it…

    At least Rosie and Elisabeth are plumbing the depths of "the power of forgiveness"…

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    May 28, 2007

    Defending Rosie (sort of)

    Posted by: Chris

    Rosiehasselbeck By now you've no doubt heard about Rosie O'Donnell's split-screen blow-up last week with conservative 'View' co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck. Shortly thereafter, Rosie announced she wouldn't return to the show — even though her contract doesn't expire until the end of June. Most pundits dismissed the whole thing as a catfight, which is as misogynist as it is untrue.

    I appreciate the Rosie O'Donnell who speaks her mind on "The View" far more than the saccharine sweet Rosie who self-censored for years on her own daytime talk show. (Are you listening, Ellen?) And I appreciate even more a daytime talk show that's willing to feature a toe-to-toe on the Iraq war instead of pander about the latest celebrity DUI.

    So let's take the confrontation seriously.  Was Rosie justified in the level of umbrage she took from Hasselbeck? The tete-a-tete was actually in response to an earlier show, on May 17, when Rosie argued that U.S. policy in Iraq is a "terrorist" policy because (she claims) 655,000 innocent Iraqi civilians have died.  From Rosie's own blog, here's an excerpt of what was said:

    O’DONNELL: I just want to say something. 655,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Who are the terrorists?
    HASSELBECK: Who are the terrorists?
    O’DONNELL: 655,000 Iraqis — I’m saying you have to look, we invaded –
    HASSELBECK: Wait, who are you calling terrorists now? Americans?
    O’DONNELL: I’m saying if you were in Iraq, and the other country, the United States, the richest in the world, invaded your country and killed 655,000 of your citizens, what would you call us?
    HASSELBECK: Are we killing their citizens or are their people also killing their citizens? 
    O’DONNELL: We’re invading a sovereign nation, occupying a country against the U.N.

    Subsequently, Chris Matthews on "Hardball" (hardly a right-winger) and other TV talking heads suggested Rosie was calling "our troops" terrorists. Flash forward to Friday, when Rosie blamed Hasselbeck for not defending her against the charge when the two subsequently revisited the issue on-air.  Apparently Hasselbeck only put the question back to Rosie rather than saying she knew it wasn't what Rosie really believes.

    Here's the clip for those who want to see:

    Lost somewhere in the obvious passion that Rosie brings to this subject is that her provocative rhetoric has consequences, and it's up to her, and not "her friend" Elizabeth, to defend what she says.  Rosie's point about U.S. policy is interesting, and one that probably rarely gets heard by a "View"-type audience.  She was focused on whether U.S. policy in Iraq is responsible for the deaths of far more innocent civilians than are "the terrorists."

    But she can't be too surprised that some would conflate calling "U.S. policy" terrorist with calling the soldiers who execute it terrorists.  I've never seen anyone suggest that only Osama Bin Laden is responsible for his terrorist policies, and not the foot soldiers who execute those policies.  So Rosie's suggestion is an inflammatory one and, as much as I oppose this war, I'll take Hasselback's side on whether Rosie's wrong-headed or not.

    What's more, calling U.S. policy "terrorist" is equally wrong-headed.  Terrorists target innocent civilians to terrorize their opponents and achieve their theocratic objectives.  U.S. policy, however poorly executed, has been to establish a democratic government and is directed at enemy combatants.  I believe that "our side" (including "our troops") have made every effort to spare civilians to a degree far greater than, say, we did toward "innocent" Germans and Japanese during WWII.  (Hiroshima anyone? Nagasaki? Berlin?)

    The biggest irony, for me, was that Rosie claimed Elizabeth Hasselbeck "cowardly," and yet it was Rosie who bailed from the show after the confrontation. "The View" has at times done a commendable job of breaking the daytime monotony with some real conversation on real issues. But that means engaging in a respectful debate with those who disagree, not walking off in a huff (and a schmaltzy blog poem or two) when we don't get our way.

    Speculation on who might replace Rosie on "The View" includes fellow comedian Kathy Griffin, who is as loud and as gay-friendly (though with the gay boys not the gals).  From everything I've seen of her over the years, I doubt she'd duck from a fight — with Donald Trump, Elisabeth Hasselbeck or Rosie herself.

    In case you missed it:

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    Filed in: Celebs

    April 05, 2007

    'Wait for the celebrity' game

    Posted by: Chris

    Lilytomlin To the "glass closet" examples of Anderson Cooper and Jodie Foster, Rex Wockner adds the example of Lily Tomlin, who (finally) acknowledged she was gay in a late 2000 interview on cable access TV (of all places) and even then did so almost in passing. From an article Wockner wrote at the time about the interview:

    Speaking to journalist Ann Northrop in late November, Tomlin said: "I'm not going to make a big national case of it which is what, really, everybody would like to do, or some people. But in most articles, most people refer to Jane [Wagner] as my partner or my life-partner or whatever. ... We've been around so long and been through so much and I always kind of took a lot of stuff for granted and I just never -- I also never wanted to be anybody's spokesperson or poster person. You know, I see what happens to too many people."

    Tomlin has subsequently talked about being gay in a number of interviews, almost all in the gay press. For whatever reason, the mainstream media has almost entirely ignored the story — perhaps because Tomlin has been mostly out of the spotlight for a number of years now, save a few movie roles here and there.

    But I do have to roll my eyes a bit when Tomlin, like Rosie O'Donnell would later, claims never to have been "in" the closet, asking rhetorically how she could then come out. O'Donnell even had the nerve to act surprised at all the fuss (most of which she had scripted), pointing out that she had been accompanied by her girlfriend to many public events.

    Yes, but the media was playing the tacit game of "wait for the celebrity" to open the closet door before including their partner in coverage. I remember one particularly notorious gossip item in a New York tabloid that mentioned Rosie had been accompanied by "an attractive blonde" to a Knicks game. Only a few nerds out there realize that "blonde" with an "e" refers to women, while "blond" with no "e" refers to a man. Talk about subtlety!

    Mostly, Tomlin and O'Donnell's own history belies their claim to have never been "in" the closet. No celebrity who so studiously avoids talking about being gay or having a same-sex partner for that many years, knowing the rules of the "wait for the celebrity" game, can then with a straight face claim to always have been "open."

    It's not as if Tomlin has any difficulty expressing herself...

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    April 04, 2007

    Out cracks the 'glass closet'

    Posted by: Chris

    Outmaycover Gay gossip maven Michael Musto penned the current cover story of Out magazine, on how celebrities like Jodie Foster and Anderson Cooper have figured out a way to live gay lives fairly openly without the general public ever being the wiser.

    The story is more interesting because of Out's ballsy cover illustration than in anything Musto wrote. After all the gay press, especially my alma mater the Washington Blade, has been writing about both Foster and Cooper, and their glass closets, for years.

    But it's a bit of a hoot knowing that in bookstores across the U.S. and internationally, the magazine peering public will see too individuals holding masks of Foster and Cooper, over the headline "The Glass Closet."

    I've stated and restated my view on "outing" for years: it's always fair for the media to ask "the question" of public figures and then let the person have their say. If they choose a non-answer, as Foster, Cooper, Clay Aiken, Ricky Martin, Sean Hayes and umpteen others have of late, then so be it. We all know that no bona fide heterosexual has ever refused to answer a question about their sexual orientation, so the non-answer is really an answer, after all.

    There's almost never a justification for "going behind" the non-answer — or a claim of heterosexuality — in the case of entertainment celebrities. Only when public figures have actively worked against gay right does their sexual orientation become so newsworthy that it's worth delving some into their private lives.  And even then, good editors are always balancing the newsworthiness on the one hand, and the degree of invasion into their personal life, on the other.

    Musto does a good job of explaining how the "glass closet" phenomenon works, from the celebrity's rationale (some would say, rationalization) to the media's complicity. It's the latter that gets my goat far more than the former. The publishers of Out magazine — now Planet Out — certainly  understand that rationalization, since the publication with the screaming-faggot name is delivered in a plain brown envelope that doesn't identify its contents.

    I also like that Musto isn't afraid to point out the inevitable goofs when a glass-closeted celeb accidentally lets their little light shine from behind the bushel:

    Keeping the glass up is a high-maintenance job, especially since many celebs are left to do it—or, more often, screw it up—alone. … That would explain the various slipups that happen when the luminaries take their own images by the balls. I was wildly amused some years ago when the terminally noncommittal Sean Hayes was asked by a newspaper interviewer what he likes in a partner and he blurted out that he’s “not into that gay ideal of musclemen.” This from the guy who refuses to label his sexuality. Whoopsy!

    I have a similar story about Cooper, who angrily e-mailed me after the Blade reported, in matter of fact fashion, that Cooper had shown up for the GLAAD Media Awards in New York a few years back — before he was on CNN — and quipped from the stage that he hoped to find a boyfriend from the night's festivities. He can claim he's not out, but he said what he said and he didn't challenge the article's accuracy.

    Clearly the celebrity treatment of homosexuality has trended along with society's acceptance of gay people. The days of Ellen (and even Rosie's) big coming out party already seem dated. The ho-hum reaction to T.R. Knight ("Grey's Anatomy"), Lance Bass (N Sync) and Neil Patrick Harris ("Doogie Howser, M.D.") isn't just due to their B-list status. As America cares less, so will celebrities.

    And someday, both Jodie Foster and Anderson Cooper will ride that wave, and no doubt receive courage awards from gay rights groups when they finally do so.

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    January 31, 2007

    Is the 'F word' the new 'N word'?

    Posted by: Chris

    KnightwashingtonDoes actor Isaiah Washington deserve the serious heat he's getting for calling "Grey's Anatomy" cast-mate T.R. Knight a "faggot" on set, or even for using the same word later in a Golden Globes press conference?

    After all, since the initial flap Washington has issued two written apologies, admitted himself into counseling, and even met with leading gay activists with a promise to make things right. Yet still the fallout continues, as rumors swirl that he'll be yanked from the popular program.

    Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, chose rather dramatic language to condemn Washington, particularly considering the actor used the "F-word" the second time only in denying that he'd used it the first.

    "When Isaiah Washington uses this kind of anti-gay slur," Giuliano said, "whether on set or in front of the press, it does more than create a hostile environment for his cast-mates and the crew of 'Grey's Anatomy.' It also feeds a climate of hatred and intolerance that contributes to putting our community in harm's way."

    GLAAD ratcheted down the rhetoric once Washington took a meeting/self-flagellation session with Giuliano and with Kevin Jennings of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, but the issue has dominated GLAAD's public activity for weeks.  Does it deserve the attention?

    At first blush, the whole thing struck me as more political correctness than protecting "our community." It's not as if Washington launched into the kind of expletive-laden racist tirade as Michael Richards (a.k.a. Kramer from "Seinfeld"), much less the anti-Semitic diatribe that exposed Mel Gibson (again) as a bigot we knew him to be. And that's even assuming (and I do) that Washington actually used the "F-bomb" against Knight, who came out as a result of the original on-set flap back in October.

    To make matters more prickly, Washington is a prominent African-American with a history of taking on challenging roles, including gay and even drag queen characters, with an uncharacteristic sensitivity. (Will Smith, are you listening?)

    Washington Post columnist Jabari Asim even uncovered an Essence magazine essay by the actor from a decade ago, in which a thoughtful Washington writes about his first amateur acting gig, playing a "flaming drag queen" named Sweetie Pie, which offered him "a firsthand look at gay-bashing."

    "I was the target of angry expletives, jeers and nervous laughter and was even spat upon by a junior-high-school student who took my performance just a little too seriously," Washington wrote back then. Not exactly the kind of thing you'd expect to hear from a heartless homophobe.

    In fact, Jasmyne Cannick, a respected black lesbian activist and columnist, has leapt to Washington's defense, accusing "white gay America" of hypocrisy and the "gay mafia" of "smelling meat, dark meat."

    Cannick's beef isn't just that the gay press and activists overreacted. To her, "the whole thing reeks of white privilege" and hypocrisy because, she claims, white gay America hasn't protested a peep against Charles Knipp, the white gay drag performer (somewhat) better known as Shirley Q. Liquor, a self-described "inarticulate black woman on welfare with 19 kids."

    Of course, even mentioning a huge star like Washington in the same breath as a two-bit drag act like Knipp is a bit like comparing apples and watermelons; their respective cultural influences aren't in the same time zone. And to suggest white gay activists relished frying up "dark meat" is nonsensical to anyone remotely familiar with the racial politics of the gay rights movement.

    What's more, Cannick is flat-out wrong on the facts, since I know for a fact that many gay publications (including those I've edited) have covered Knipp and the protests that follow his performances in many cities. When he was invited to appear at a gay benefit in Atlanta two years ago, negative publicity from articles in Southern Voice resulted in his being uninvited. And while I agree completely that Knipp goes way way over the line, he has been defended by legendary black drag queens like Washington, D.C.'s  Ella Fitzgerald and RuPaul herself.

    More importantly, Cannick misses the same point I did in chalking up the whole mess as P.C. run amuck. It isn't about Isaiah Washington or his race or his TV show. It's actually about taking a page out of the playbook used so effectively by African American activists. Nothing focuses the public on an issue like celebrity, and Washington's temper tantrum offers a unique opportunity to consign the "F-word" (in its short and long form) to the same dustbin of history as the "N-word."

    Efforts to combat anti-gay bullying will only go so far so long as anti-gay slurs — not to mention the use of "gay" itself to mean "lame" or "stupid" — remain playground de rigueur. Like it or not, Washington's abject apologies, like those of Richards and Gibson (and Jesse Jackson's "hymietown") before him, jump-start social change, getting through to teachers and parents and even the kids in ways that years of earnest press releases couldn't hope for.

    So spare me the sympathy for Washington, who'll no doubt redeem himself and be jumping on Oprah's sofa in no time. I'll keep my eyes on the prize.

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    January 10, 2007

    Take that, Kylie!

    Posted by: Chris

    Madonna Three days into the voting, Madonna and Cher have commanding leads in our little survey question about who's the greatest gay icon of all time.  As I write this post, Madonna has more than a third of all votes (35.7%) and Cher is not far behind with about a quarter of the tally (24.8%).  Judy, Liza and Barbra trail distantly, and the rest don't even register.

    I'm not at all surprised that Kylie Minogue has almost no backing here — though her fans can certainly be vocal.  Our poll confirms that the U.K. survey that named the Aussie pop star the greatest ever was by no means representative of friends of Dorothy stateside. Yeah she's beautiful and been through rough times (cancer) — two of our gay icon criteria. But, sorry, she comes up short on talent; she's had only a small handful of hits stateside and there's not much behind the pretty looks — at least not for me. 

    Madonna and Cher, on the other hand, are obvious choices.  Madonna has maintained peak popularity for almost a quarter century.  And in the 40 years Cher has spent in showbiz, she's had so many comebacks I've lost count.  Both have reinvented themselves to keep up with the times and to do their part to push the envelope.  I would even agree that Madge gets the upper hand, if for no other reason than that she's shown more substance in her art.

    I'll leave the voting open for a few more days to see if Cher can make up the distance, or Kylie can come back from her embarrassing early showing.

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    Filed in: Celebs , Polls

    January 06, 2007

    My gay icon lies over the ocean

    Posted by: Chris

    Kylieminogue A headline in the Belfast Telegraph caught my eye this morning: "Kylie in queen sweep as gay icon of all time." According to a survey by U.K.-based OnePoll, the Australian pop singer was the biggest gay icon ever.

    Huh? What were those blokes smoking?

    Sexy songstress Kylie Minogue hit top of the gay pops yesterday after she nailed the greatest gay icon of all time accolade. The Aussie pop princess, who fought a difficult battle with breast cancer last year, pipped Country and Western legend Dolly Parton to the post for the esteemed title.

    A lot of people took a chance on pop supergroup ABBA, who came third. In fourth place was Wizard of Oz star Judy Garland, whose lifelong battles with drink, drugs and men, have assured her a permanent place in gay iconography.

    Dolly Holy Madonna, what a difference an ocean makes! I would venture to say that Kylie wouldn't show up in the Top 10, or maybe even the Top 100, gay icons of all time for us Yanks. I was pleased to see Dolly so high on the OnePoll list since she's a personal fave of this Southern boy. But gay icon Dolly? Maybe, though not No. 2 of all time.

    So let's put this to the test. Take a minute and vote in the thoroughly un-scientific survey I've added (via Vizu) just below my glamour shot to the right of the blog posts, and let's see how it turns out. Don't worry — voting won't navigate you off the site or register you with anything. And as soon as you vote, you can see the results so far.

    And maybe with your comments to this post, we can discuss what qualities make a great gay icon. Here are my top 5 characteristics:

    1.  Strong/independent female

    2.  Just the right level of bitchiness/attitude.

    3.  Overcame adversity with grace and strength.

    4.  Beautiful but not necessarily in a classic way; more in the way she carries herself.

    5.  Entertaining in a general sense, but with a level of camp that flies a bit under the mainstream radar.

    Oh — and of course — and immediately recognizable by only her first name…

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    December 29, 2006

    2006: The closet's swan song?

    Posted by: Chris

    Bladeyir2006 The Washington Blade and its sister publications came out with their Year in Review issues today, and their choice for the story of the year was, "Swan song from the closet: Politicians, performers made news in 2006 by coming out."  Using the closet to tie together the Mark Foley and Ted Haggard scandals, as well as the celebrities who decided to come out, the story draws some interesting conclusions about the status of the closet as we head into 2007:

    Having confined and defined much, if not most, of modern gay existence, "the closet" showed once again in 2006 that it is still a mighty force, albeit a shadow of its once powerful self. In fact, some believe the closet is steadily inching toward irrelevance, as successive generations of gay and lesbian youth settle into their sexual orientation without first surrounding it with four walls of angst, denial, duplicity and shame.

    Far from being a place that only harbors half-truths and paralyzing secrets, the 2006 version of the closet helped fuel best-selling memoirs and a breathtaking power shift in Congress. The closet opened its doors on the set of America's most popular prime-time television series and inside one of the nation's most influential megachurches. And whereas coming out of the closet was long considered social and professional suicide, in 2006 it proved anything but.

    That somewhat rosy assessment is backed up by examples like Lance Bass, the 'N-Sync alum, who revived his fame by coming out, and embattled politicians Mark Foley and James McGreevey, who tried using the closet as "an escape hatch" in the midst of scandal.  Their stories are contrasted with that of Haggard, who stuck to his anti-gay guns even after being outed by a gay escort.

    So we're left to conclude that the closet remains a problem mainly for conservative Republicans. "Outside of Republicans, [the closet] is going to recede as more and more people are going to be out from day one so it won't be an issue," the story quotes David Ehrenstein, author of "Open Secret: Gay Hollywood 1928-1998," as saying.

    "I think there were much larger issues than Mark Foley that influenced the elections, but with that said, I think both the Foley and Haggard scandals reinforced the perception of the right wing forces of the Republican Party as being cynical hypocrites," echoed Mark Foreman, of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.

    Of course, official Washington is littered with closeted Democrats who defy such nice caricaturization,
    but the razor sharp political divide in the U.S. over the last decade or so makes black-and-white as popular with the left as it does the right.  That's how Ehrenstein can publicly praise the decline of the closet for all except Republicans while at the same time more discreetly cheer on efforts to involuntarily "out" even the most junior gay Republicans who work in the nation's capital.

    When outing activist-blogger Michael Rogers recently published embarrassing personal photos of a young, already-out student who worked as a lowly advance staffer for Vice President Dick Cheney, Ehrenstein cheered on the effort.  "You shouldn't have blacked-out the faces of the other guys," Ehrenstein wrote in a comment to Rogers, referring to the young staffers' friends, even though they had no apparent connection to Cheney. "They're collaborators," claimed Ehrenstein.

    When one commenter using "Sad" as a moniker took issue with the outing, Ehrenstein was quick to reply, with a reference to outed escort-conservative journalist Jeff Gannon (a.k.a. James Guckert).  "Don't be sad, 'Sad,'" wrote Ehrenstein. "Now go suck off Guckert like a good little KAPO."  Kapos, so you don't miss the reference, were concentration camp prisoners who worked for the Nazis in low-level administrative positions. 

    This is the world according to David Ehrenstein, and it's the other side of the closet that re-entered the debate this year, though it's not mentioned in the Blade review.  The Foley story, especially, raised anew questions about when it's justified to "out" someone in government, whether they're holding elective office or not.  For Ehrenstein and Rogers, there are no limits to be observed, no boundaries of personal privacy to be respected, and for Ehrenstein at least, dissent is tantamount to complicity.  The Task Force's Foreman, as well, though not dirtying his own hands with outings, has publicly said he supports them.

    Neilpatrickharris For most of the rest of us, 2006 was indeed a banner year in adjusting to the changing dynamics of the closet.  As each new public figure emerges, there remain fewer "firsts" like Ellen DeGeneres in prime time or Elton John in music or Martina Navratilova in sport, to grab the biggest headlines.  And so both Neil Patrick Harris ("Doogie Howser, M.D." and "How I Met Your Mother") and T.R. Knight ("Grey's Anatomy") continue to play sexually active heterosexual men in popular TV shows, despite coming out this year in People magazine.  As the Blade story notes, popular culture is once again miles ahead of politics.

    Tammybaldwin Because in politics, despite Ehrenstein's partisan assessment of the closet as a Republican problem, the U.S. Congress is a bipartisan, heteros-only club.  We must search back almost a decade to 1998 for the one and only time someone was elected for the first time to Congress despite being openly gay.  Despite all the pro-gay triumphs of November 2006, not a single openly gay non-incumbent even won a primary for the U.S. House or Senate.  And when the new Congress is sworn in next month, that same solitary member of Congress, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), will serve alongside Barney Frank (D-Mass.) as the only elected gays on the Hill.  So much for the closet's swan song.

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    December 13, 2006

    No laughing matter

    Posted by: Chris

    Jasonstuart Give Jason Stuart some credit for chutzpah. He no doubt gets it from years of combat duty, working as an openly gay stand-up comic in mostly straight comedy clubs. But after a press conference at the Laugh Factory, site of Michael Richards "n-word" rant last month, Stuart turned the tables a bit on a black civil rights activist overreaching a bit in response to Richards.  The New York Times reported:

    In the lobby of the Laugh Factory after the news conference, Jason Stuart, a gay comedian, buttonholed Najee Ali, a civil rights activist, and said, ''Twenty-five percent of every black comic's act is gay-bashing and none of you have done anything about that."

    Earlier, Mr. Ali had shouldered his way to the microphones to tell the cameras that what Mr. Richards said showed that many white people harbor deep racism. In the lobby, he said he opposes [a ban on using the 'n-word'], and he responded to Mr. Stuart. ''It wasn't so much what he said," Mr. Ali said. ''We've heard the word used by many comedians. It was the rage, the hatred, the anger."

    Talk about your moving targets. The reality, as we all know, is there's truth in humor. And whether a black comic's fag jokes are said with "rage, hatred and anger" or not, they contribute to a hyper-masculine, homophobic culture that plays itself out everywhere from hip hop music to the "Down Low" phenomenon.

    Within a few days of the Times article, Stuart's chutzpah was on chutz-break. He issued an open letter claiming he has made peace with Ali (who says "he has been on the front lines to support all folks from prejudice") and was misquoted by the Times, and had really said, "about 25 percent of black comics have anti-gay material in their act and just as many or more white comedians do the same."

    Regardless, Stuart's larger point shouldn't get lost in all the back-pedaling. Richards' rant was an out-of-control, unscripted response to heckling that did, of course, reveal a darker side to the man we know as "Kramer." But the anti-gay riffs in white and black comics' routines are scripted to get laughs and do, and say much more about what prejudice is still acceptable in society.

    Of course comedy involves poking fun at all sorts of groups.  And gay activists have been more guilty than most at lacking a sense of humor, but there's an important difference between a comic who is laughing with you and one who is laughing at you.  Let's hope the Michael Richards rant helps us keep a closer eye on that line.

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    Filed in: Celebs

    December 06, 2006

    In celebrity news…

    Posted by: Chris

    • Reichenlance Lance and Reichen have split up, according to People magazine. I always cringed a bit when the mainstream media reported Lance Bass, the N'Sync alum, and Reichen Lehmkuhl, the "Amazing Race" alum, were "partners," when clearly they'd just begun dating. I certainly never heard them use that word, or even "boyfriends." I agreed 110% with an op-ed I published in the Blade by Randy Foster slamming the Human Rights Campaign for handing the two "visibility awards," even though Bass had just tip-toed out of the closet. But the fault lies with HRC, which has doubled its previously slavish devotion to celebrities as its black-tie fund-raisers have turned even softer than the days when at least high-profile political figures made appearances. All that said, I was impressed by the acceptance speeches given by both Bass and Lehmkuhl, who recognized they weren't really deserving but dedicated themselves to be going forward. 

               Here's what Reichen said:

               Followed by Lance:

    • Jamiefoxx Jamie Foxx took a playful shot both at rumors that he's dating Oprah Winfrey (yes, really) and more persistent rumors about the unusually close friendship between the talk show queen and best friend Gayle Knight. On the stage for a special tribute to fellow actor Will Smith, Foxx said, "I was talking about you the other day. I was laying in bed with Oprah, and I turn over to Gayle and I say, 'You know what?'" The subsequent audience laughter drowned out the rest of what Foxx had to say. Later, he apparently requested that Bravo edit the joke out of an upcoming broadcast of the event.
    • Alexisarquette Gay-transgender-"out there" actor Alexis Arquette slammed newly out actors Neil Patrick Harris ("Doogie Howser M.D.") and T.R. Knight ("Grey's Anatomy") for appearing at a Hollywood fundraiser for a suicidal hotline but not mentioning anything about their personal lives during brief on-stage comments each made. "People like that are weak," Arquette is quoted as saying. "It's pathetic." The same story, by the somewhat dodgy celebrity site WENN, also reported that Harris exited his limo separately from boyfriend and fellow actor David Burkta, explaining to USA Today that his "highly paid public relations firm" had warned him to "lay low for awhile." Such antics if true are a bit pathetic for someone who claims to be comfortably out, though I don't think gay actors are obliged to discuss their sexuality every time they go on stage.
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    Filed in: Celebs , HRC

    November 27, 2006

    Hi, I'm Anderson

    Posted by: Chris

    Andersoncooper Even thousands of miles from the U.S., standing in an airport in Salvador, Brazil, poor Anderson Cooper can't cruise guys in private.  From today's Page Six gossip report in the New York Post:

    Anderson Cooper was friendly at a Brazilian airport on Friday. "Hi, I'm Anderson," he said to the "attractive" man standing next to him at the flight connection monitors in the Salvador terminal, a spy told the Post's Braden Keil. The 25ish fellow was wearing a tight T-shirt, cut-off shorts and an earring. According to our witness, the unshaven, solo-traveling CNN star chatted for 20 minutes with the stranger before the fellow had to say goodbye and board his flight to Rio.

    Anderson Cooper is among the highest profile openly closeted celebrities — by that I mean, he is unwilling to identify his sexual orientation. (Something, by the way, no straight man in history has been unwilling to do.) He is joined in those illustrious ranks by Sean Hayes (queeny "Jack" from "Will & Grace"), Ricky Martin, Clay Aiken and former New York Mayor Ed Koch.  Talk about strange bedfellows.

    But unlike those others, Anderson has at least strongly hinted that he's gay, albeit long before he was lead anchor at CNN.  Back in the late '90s, Anderson showed up at a black-tie dinner for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in New York. Before making a presentation, he joked with the audience that he was at the event "hoping to find a date."

    Looks like all these years later, despite rumors of another Latino boyfriend, he's still doing the same.

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    November 22, 2006

    In the news…

    Posted by: Chris

    • Connecticut Lawyers for eight gay couples in Connecticut have filed a brief with the state supreme court, challenging the constitutionality of the state's Vermont-style civil union law, passed after the  couples originally sued in 2004. Lawyers for the couples are arguing that passage of the civil union law only proves the state knows gay couples should be treated equally, and only opening up marriage truly accomplishes that. Even if the arguments are valid, they may sandbag efforts elsewhere to pass civil union laws, if legislators worry such measures will be used to then sue in courts for marriage. Again a case of good law making for a bad result for gay couples.
    • Barbarawalters Barbara Walters has declared the Kelly Ripa-Rosie O'Donnell-Clay Aiken feud officially over: On Wednesday’s "The View," Walters said, "Rosie O'Donnell is one of the kindest, most sensitive people I know. And so is our friend Kelly Ripa. And Rosie and Kelly talked yesterday after the show. Rosie and Clay Aiken have talked. And all is well with the world, and all is well with them."
    • The Bush Justice Department is defending in court the Child Online Protection Act, signed by Clinton in 1998, that threatens fines and prison times for Web publishers who fail to block material "harmful to minors." The ACLU challenged the suit, along with Salon.com and Philadelphia Gay News, because software filters are overbroad and often block non-graphic sites on subjects like gay rights and sexual health. A federal judge heard closing arguments in the trial on Monday after four weeks of testimony.
    • A judge in São Paulo, Brazil, has ordered the government to permit a gay man to be the second parent on the birth certificate of his partner's daughter. The court-ordered second-parent adoptions is the latest court ruling expanding gay rights in the world's most populous Roman Catholic country. No doubt Pope Benedict XVI, set to visit Brazil soon, will not be pleased.
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    Shut up, Clay and Kelly

    Posted by: Chris

    Tori Spelling riffs off the Clay Aiken-Kelly Ripa spat at the American Music Awards. If only it took…

    Also, an intrepid YouTube user catches Ripa with her foot in her mouth — well, actually, her hand on someone else's…

    And finally, an even more intrepid Citizen reader points out that, at the very end of this vid clip of Kelly Ripa calling into "The View," when a guest co-host playfully illustrates her point about "boundaries" by  grabbing Rosie's boob, Rosie responds just as playfully. With a grin she says, barely audibly, "One more time, c'mon…"

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    Filed in: Celebs

    November 21, 2006

    Kelly vs. Clay and Rosie

    Posted by: Chris

    Who would have thought that Kelly Ripa, Clay Aiken and Rosie O'Donnell would be locked in a three-way feud over homophobia, sexism and manners? It all started last Friday, when Aiken filled in for Regis on "Live with Regis & Kelly."

    Apparently the chemistry between Ripa and Aiken wasn't so great, and the closeted "Idol" alum crossed the line when he playfully put his hand over Ripa's mouth as she tried to ask a question. Ripa was visibly upset, and after telling Clay that was a "no-no" exclaimed, "I don't know where that hand has been!" My first reaction to seeing the video on AOL was that the line was a slam at Clay being gay — well, openly closeted. Apparently, Rosie agreed, and said so on "The View":

    Then Kelly Ripa called in, and in between professions of adoration, she and Rosie went at it over whether Ripa's comment was anti-gay.  Kelly's explanation? It's cold and flu season and as a mother she was worried about catching something, since Clay had shaken hands with people in the audience. Give me a break:

    The irony here is that everyone assumes, without really addressing it, that Clay is gay. Kelly claims it was actually sexist for Clay to put his hand over her mouth, something she claims he would never have done to Regis or a male co-host.

    Yes, it's silly, but it's one of those minor blow-ups that offers a window into the culture. Viewing the actual clip of Kelly's reaction, I'm still with Rosie on this one. Probably most encouraging, though, is how matter-of-fact the gay angle is covered, including Rosie's comfort level discussing it — are you watching, Ellen? What a long way daytime talk has come since Rosie's closet days just a few short years ago.

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    Filed in: Celebs

    November 20, 2006

    In the news…

    Posted by: Chris

    • Romneymitttb John McCain isn't the only Republican shoring up his anti-gay conservative bona fides in anticipation of a 2008 presidential run. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told a rally outside the State House in Boston yesterday that he plans to sue the legislature to force a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage onto the '08 ballot. Lawmakers blocked a petition earlier this month by recessing a Constitutional Convention until Jan. 2 of next year. Lost on Romney and his cheering rally was the juicy irony that he is now asking the so-called activist justices on the state's highest court to overrule the democratically-elected legislature. The state's constitution contains no guarantee that the people can vote on petitions, mind you, but Romney will ask them to read between the lines.
    • The 4,000 churches in the North Carolina Baptist State Convention voted last week to kick out churches that won't kick out gay parishioners. The vote was aimed at 16 heretical Baptist churches in the state that are affiliated with the more moderate Alliance of Baptists. The policy to ban the churches that don't ban isn't really new, but it gives the state convention the authority to "investigate" member churches suspected of gay-friendliness. Billy Oxendine, pastor at Faithful Calvary Baptist Church, praised the new policy, even as he butchered English. "The Lord speaks against [homosexuality]. Two men lying together is an abomination," he said. "It's something they choose to do. God don't make no gay people to be filthy and nasty. He ain't a part of that."
    • Williamsrobbie2Speaking of filthy and nasty, naughty straight boy Robbie Williams is still denying rumors that he's gay, but he allows that he'd consider a same-sex abomination under the right circumstances. "I wouldn't enjoy it but I could do it under pain of death, or if it meant saving a baby bunny from being burned alive," he told the Daily Mirror. Hasenpfeffer, anyone? All in all, it's still women for Robbie. "A great set of tits and a slappable arse are the must-haves for me."
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    November 05, 2006

    Doogie digs dudes

    Posted by: Chris

    The mainstream media is reporting that Actor Neil Patrick Harris, famous for playing teen prodigy doctor "Doogie Howser M.D.," came out this week to quell rumors that he might be straight — which would be an interesting twist on the usual way these things work. But it's not at all clear that's how it actually played out. Harris told People:

    "The public eye has always been kind to me, and until recently I have been able to live a pretty normal life. Now it seems there is speculation and interest in my private life and relationships.

    "So, rather than ignore those who choose to publish their opinions without actually talking to me, I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love."

    DoogieburktaBut the rumors that frustrated the actor aren't that he's straight, as the media are generally reporting the story. It's gossip that he got a gig on his sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" for actor David Burkta, described in an Oct. 23 gossip item by Canada.com as "his longtime sweetheart." (Photo of Burkta, 31, with Harris, 33, via Towleroad).

    After the Canada.com report, Harris' publicist Craig Snyder was quoted on ContactMusic.com as saying, "He's not of that persuasion."

    The problem is that ContactMusic lives and breathes on unattributed stories and quotes like this one. In some cases, the U.K.-based site steals legitimate stories without attribution. But I'm convinced, after watching the gay-related info on ContactMusic.com for a long time, that they also routinely invent quotes from whole cloth. The practice is so rampant on the site that I refused to run any information from ContactMusic in the gay publications I edited unless it could be independently confirmed, which was almost never.

    Credit goes to the gossip mavens at Defamer.com for pointing out that Harris' publicist is actually Craig Schneider, not Snyder, and for adding this gem about ContactMusic: "A grain of salt free with every suspiciously underattributed celebrity news item!"

    My guess is that Schneider (a.k.a. Snyder) never said a damn thing about Harris' sexual orientation, considering an exhaustive Internet search turns up ContactMusic as the only outlet reporting the initial denial (under either spelling), until a zillion un-thinking media outlets repeated ContactMusic's unattributed report. And without something more from the actor, it's hard to believe he was referring to his own publicist when he told People he was frustrated with, "those who choose to publish their opinions without actually talking to me." The better bet is that the object of his ire was Canada.com.

    At this point, we also don't know whether Burkta is in fact Harris' "longtime sweetheart," as Canada.com reported, or whether Burkta is also "proud to say" he's "a very content gay man," as Harris told People. Still there's some irony that Harris has come out before openly closeted actor Sean Hayes, who as Jack on "Will & Grace" managed to drag Harris' character from running a meeting for "ex-gays" to joining Jack for a man-on-man shower.

    Just don't look for Hayes to come out on ContactMusic.com, or closet-crushing has-been the Advocate. In fact, the Harris exclusive for People magazine makes a recent trifecta: first N'Sync's Lance Bass, then "Grey's Anatomy's" T.R. Knight, and now Harris. Since the departure of celebrity-obsessed exec editor Judy Weider, the Advocate has been missing out on all the big coming-out interviews.

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    Filed in: Celebs

    November 02, 2006

    Homosexual superiority?

    Posted by: Chris

    Just yesterday I pointed out that despite our XY chromosome, we gay men are much better behaved than our heterosexual counterparts, who can't seem to get together for a good time without getting into fights or pulling out their guns. Apparently at least one heterosexual male agrees.

    Moby Dance music genius Moby said he's so appalled by macho straight male culture that he hopes his future children will be gay. That way "they are less likely to get into a fight and less likely to date rape people." (Memo to Neil Patrick Harris: So don't be so defensive about it; after all, you played one on TV.)

    Moby adds, "I'm straight but I've grown up around gay people and gay clubs. They are superior to straight people. If you have a gay child, you're more inclined to be a prouder parent."

    That may depend, however, on the parent's religious or political affiliations. Consider this honor roll:
    *   GOP activists Alan ("lesbians are selfish hedonists") Keyes: daughter Maya is lesbian
    *   Eagle Forum founder Phylis Schafly, pushed GOP platform's anti-gay planks: son John is gay
    *   Anti-abortion, anti-gay activist Randall Terry: son Jamiel is gay
    *   Sadie Fields, former head of Georgia Christian Coalition, pushed state amendment banning gays from marrying: daughter Tess is lesbian 
    *   the late Charles Socarides of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH): son Richard is gay and was Bill Clinton's gay liaison
    *    the late California state Sen. Pete Knight whose "Knight Initiative" banned gay marriage there: son David is gay
    *    Bill Byrne, chair of Cobb County, Ga., Commission in 1993 who backed infamous resolution proclaiming "homosexual lifestyle" unwelcome: daughter Shannon is lesbian

    And, of course, Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Mary is gay, though he does seem to be a proud poppa. The same can't be said of momma Lynne Cheney, who was offended when asked about Mary's sexual orientation during the 2000 presidential campaign.

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    November 01, 2006

    Also in the news…

    Posted by: Chris

    *    Violence in the Castro last night, when 10 people were wounded after gunfire broke out between two rival groups attending the gay neighborhood's massive Halloween street party. I'll give 100-to-1 odds the gunplay wasn't the doing of the gays and their friend in attendance. Reports AP, "members of the district's large gay community say the party had started attracting gay bashers along with the usual colorfully costumed characters." There's a good reason why even nightclubs with metal detectors routinely disconnect them for "gay night."

    Georgemichael *   British pop star George Michael is complaining that his gay fans abandoned him after he came out of the closet. "Gay fans are only interested when you're in the closet," he said during a U.K. TV special last night. "Once you're out, they don't give a toss." Of course, George "came out" when he arrested in 1998 for trying to have public sex with an undercover police officer. At the time, gay sympathy was generally with him, but he's squandered it since with a series of embarrassing stunts involving more public sex in London, and falling asleep at the wheel (pictured) under the influence of various substances, usually marijuana or GHB. Caught after one particular incident, he said that cruising for public sex is "what gay men do." Later, after making still further headlines for smoking a joint during an interview, he offered one wish we can all agree on: "I hope my future is very different. I hope I learn to shut my mouth. If I did, I would probably have all the sex I like, wherever I like. Which I do anyway, to be honest with you.”

    *    A new poll shows that 7 out of 10 heterosexual Americans know someone who is gay. The rest of the Harris online poll is not so useful, focusing on what percentage of self-identified gay respondents consider themselves "out" to friends and family. Hello — if they self-identified as gay in an opinion poll, aren't they fairly likely to out in general?

    Spainmapclipart19 *   Elementary and secondary schools in Spain are launching a program to teach the existence of gay families, a year after the country begin marrying same-sex couples. This is a kind of nightmare scenario for conservative Christians in the U.S., who see it as pro-gay indoctrination. In fact, it's teaching students about the world around them. It remains to parents and churches to add to that lesson whatever moral condemnation they have for gay relationships. But it's not the job of the government to hide the existence of gay people from students to satisfy the religious teachings of some parents, whether or not they're in the majority.

    *    Meanwhile back in my home state and hometown of Memphis, Tenn., the state has given up attempts to regulate a facility where parents can send their children to undergo therapy to supposedly avoid becoming gay or to convert back to heterosexuality. The facility, operated by the "ex-gay" Love in Action group, was ordered closed as an unlicensed mental health facility. Love In Action sued, claimed their First Amendment freedom of religion (i.e., indoctrinating minors to their religious beliefs) was being violated. The issue came down to whether LIA was " controlling patients' access to their prescription medication," as if that were the only way to measure whether unlicensed mental health therapy was being practiced. In a settlement, the state dropped regulatory efforts and agreed to pay LIA's legal fees because the facility will no longer handle patients' meds. So the abuse will continue… (Hat tip: Ex-Gay Watch)

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