Showing posts with label Hollywood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hollywood. Show all posts

August 27, 2016

Anti Gay Gays Made Hollywood and Their Movies Outs Them as Such

When I came out of the closet and declared to my family that I was a homosexual at 19, I had just moved to San Francisco. Not yet ravaged by the Plague, the city was an infamous gay Mecca, still drunk on the relatively recent advent of gay liberation. As an introduction to the city I took one of the “self-help” workshops popular at the time, a seminar particularly attuned to gay men, where a final exercise involved writing your parents to let them know you’re gay. Because all my interest in theater and disco wasn’t enough. Coming out was framed as an act of the Gay Revolution, a passport to freedom from guilt and stigma.

It sounds good on paper. But like so many things, the reality was bracing. My mother’s response was an award-worthy display of feigned shock. “I had no idea,” she wrote back to me unconvincingly before imploring me not to say anything to my stepfather. And while her apparent ignorance seemed preposterous, her idea of gay men was based on effeminate celebrities she’d seen in movies and on TV, like Charles Nelson Reilly, Paul Lynde and Alan Sues. None of these supporting actors ever actually declared they were gay, they just portrayed quick-witted men who wore jaunty scarves, not handsome enough to seem sexual or masculine enough to be seem threatening.

However while there are now several popular actors who’ve come out as gay, the most notable probably being Neal Patrick Harris, none of them are seen as matinee idols. A number of leading men still manage a double life, juggling their public image with their hidden orientation. I recently watched the documentary Tab Hunter Confidential in which 1950s screen idol Tab Hunter provides a glimpse into the machinations involved with being a closeted movie star in that era. He gave an interview this week revealing more. Coming out as we know it today was not an option. However, Hunter says how he worked around the complications and even managed to have relationships, including with actor Anthony Perkins who was pursuing his own star trajectory.

And while Confidential shows us an idealized and noble version of how Hunter handled the pressures of being gay, much of what he says is sincere and thoughtful. In particular he’s adamant about how the decision to reveal his sexual orientation was ultimately his alone. It’s a truth increasingly overlooked when people talk about coming out as the worldly stigma is minimized and people become flippant. The consequences may be less drastic but it’s still a personal call.

Recently the young gay actor Noah Galvin, lead in the sit-com The Real O’Neals, was publicly chastised for remarks he made in an interview about fellow actor Colton Haynes. Haynes had just come out as gay himself in a rather subdued way, an act Galvin described as “fucking pussy bullshit” (he has since apologised). His sneering at the milquetoast manner of Haynes’ admission is in stark contrast to the long avoidance by the film industry of the idea there are gay men at all, particularly male actors who hope to be leading men. 

It could seem puzzling that a business that depends so heavily on the talents and gifts of gay people would be obsessed with obscuring the true sexual orientation of it’s leading players and public faces. Usually this boils down to some variation of “the audience won’t believe so-and-so is playing a straight man if they really know he’s gay”. Its an amusing ploy on the film industry’s part, feigning concern over our belief in a hero’s sexual desires while he or she is surrounded by flying dragons and belligerent aliens.

Who, exactly, is this mystery audience confounded by movie leads acting straight? Gay men would believe it. Hell, we’re experts on that grift. I can’t imagine women really care. The ultimate concern of course is that precious young male heterosexual demographic, the one whose buying powers are legend. Just knowing your screen hero is gay could call into question what it means to be masculine, what it means to be yourself, what it really is to be a man who is honest about who he loves. Perish the thought. What would ever happen then?

July 18, 2016

Not Since Delicious Tab Hunter Out Hollywood Actor


In the new documentary Tab Hunter Confidential, the actor is twice referred to as “delicious.” He’s even called “A breath of spring.” And what words could describe how radiantly beautiful he is in, of all things, a TV clip about mental illness which he made in the 1950s after he had to commit his mother to an institution. It was a public service announcement providing national awareness and compassion for the disease. In this doc, Hunter earns awareness and compassion for his gay life story. Today’s Hollywood has no equivalent movie star.
“I would never talk about my private life,” Hunter remembers his early years. The doc traces his pop career, including the moment when the tabloid magazine Confidential, exposed his 1950 arrest at “a limp-wristed pajama party.” (The charge “disorderly conduct” was a code.) Surviving the scandal, Hunter proves there is life after slander. This doc, produced by Hunter’s life partner Allan Glaser and directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, is a personal public service announcement and the most entertaining movie so far this year.  Born to German-American parents as Art Gelien, he was renamed “Tab Hunter”—a comically bland name to match his blue-eyed blond features which at that time were considered “All-American.” The name-image match-up was devised by Hollywood agent Henry Willson who specialized in pretty boys like Guy Madison (Robert Moseley), Rock Hudson (Roy Scherer), Troy Donahue (Merle Johnson), Chad Everett (Raymon Crampton). If Willson was a glorified pimp, he yet had an uncanny read of the American market, knowing what appealed to women as well as men—plus the special, subconscious allure of delicate masculinity that was particular to gay subculture.
Hunter doesn’t say much about that twilight world, but talks about growing up beautiful, sought-after and “scared of my own shadow.” He confesses his closeted Hollywood life: “I had the ability to live behind this wall.” Today, his gayness is an open secret, but taking the public into his confidence is still a major event. Although Hunter is a movie icon—the luckiest of the lucky—this film reveals a different side to the coming-out dilemma by presenting his story of personal growth. Hunter’s gentlemanly discretion, so different from current political boldness, emphasizes personal decency—a virtue as timeless as his good looks.  
In professional terms: Hunter became a popular screen heartthrob in the 1950s—the era of “the teenage revolution”—also achieving success by making rock’n’roll music. (His Number One hit “Young Love” for Dot Records convinced Warner Bros. Studios to start its own record company.) “They [Warner Bros. Studio] created this persona; that was your job to be that persona. You were rewarded for pretending you were something you’re not,” he explains. 
 Here is Tab with long time boyfriend Anthony Perkins
 A product of Hollywood’s golden age, Tab Hunter became Hollywood’s golden boy. His first starring role, at the tender age of 19, was opposite Linda Darnell in the romantic South Seas adventure Island of Desire. An instant success, Tab went on to star in over 40 major motion pictures, including Battle Cry, The Pleasure of His Company, That Kind of Woman, Gunman’s Walk, They Came to Cordura, Ride the Wild Surf, The Loved One, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, and the Academy Award-nominated Damn Yankees. A few of Tab’s leading ladies include Sophia Loren, Natalie Wood, Gwen Verdon, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Debbie Reynolds, Kim Basinger and Michelle Pfeiffer. Multi-talented Tab also enjoyed a very successful recording career that culminated with one of the top records of the rock and roll era. His recording of Young Love zoomed to number one on the charts worldwide (knocking Elvis out of the top spot) where it remained for six weeks. 

Tab subsequently starred in his own television series for NBC, was nominated for an Emmy for his performance opposite Geraldine Page in Playhouse 90’s Portrait of a Murderer and has guest starred in dozens of television shows. He also appeared on Broadway with Tallulah Bankhead in Tennessee Williams’s The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore.

Tab’s film career took off once again in the 1980s/90s as he starred in such films as John Waters’ Polyester, Grease 2, and the cult comedy-Western Lust in the Dust. Turning to producing, Tab teamed up with Allan Glaser to produce Lust in the Dust and Dark Horse .

Tab can now also add best selling author to his list of credits. His recently published autobiography TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL became a national best seller and garnered critical praise from the NEW YORK TIMES, WASHINGTON POST, VANITY FAIR, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, NEW YORK POST, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, LARRY KING LIVE, CBS SUNDAY MORNING and dozens more

An award winning feature film documentary also entitled Tab Hunter Confidential based on the book was released in 2015.

 Combine Source:

April 13, 2016

Fmer Liza Minnelli’s Husband Dead, 62. “ The Biggest Freak to go to the Jungle”

   DEATH Gest 1_6.jpg
30/01/03 of reality TV star and music producer David Gest with his wife Liza Minnelli, as he has died today in London aged 62, his friend Imad Handi said in a statement. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The entertainer and former husband of Liza Minnelli was found dead in the Four Seasons hotel in Canary Wharf, London.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Police were called at 10.17 on Tuesday 12 April to the Four Seasons hotel, in Westferry Circus, E14, to reports of an unexplained death of a man in his 60s. London Ambulance Service were called to the scene. Life was pronounced extinct at the hotel.
"A post-mortem will be held in due course. Next of kin are in the process of being informed."

David Gest
The TV personality gained a following in the United Kingdom recently when he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother. Friend Imad Handi said: “It is with great sadness that I can confirm that David Gest has died today.

Gest was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Southern California where he counted Michael Jackson and his brothers as his childhood best friends. He resided in Memphis, Tennessee and York, Yorkshire before his death.

Gest admitted that in the 1980s he had two plastic surgery operations from the same plastic surgeon used by Michael Jackson. He stated he regretted the operations but no-one could have stopped him at the time.

Gest and Liza Minnelli were married on March 16, 2002, and separated less than a year and a half later in July 2003.[6] In October 2003 he sued her for $10 million claiming that she had been violent and physically abusive during their marriage, behavior the affidavit blamed on Minnelli's persistent alcoholism.[6] Minnelli denied the accusations, claiming Gest was simply after money. The suit was dismissed in September 2006 for lack of triable issue of fact.

Gest was found dead on April 12, 2016 in his hotel room, of the Four Seasons hotel in London's Canary Wharf district. His death was described by police as involving no suspicious circumstances.

He's the biggest freak ever to go into the jungle ... as I saw for myself when I had the pleasure of having tea with him on his recent visit to London.

"I'd like to meet David Gest," he told me then, "because he's either the weirdest person in the world or the most fascinating."

So it's no surprise David Gest, the estranged (and very strange) husband of Liza Minnelli was already screaming I'm A Celebrity before he even got to Australia, missing two flights from LA because he refused to fly business class.

The 53-year-old music producer (whose jungle age is officially 48) insisted ITV stump up an extra £7,000 for him to fly first class - on top of the £100,000 fee he's rumoured to be receiving for taking part in the show which starts tonight.

Exactly how much he'll be taking part remains to be seen. He has already refused to bungee jump into the jungle camp for the opening show in case the plummet affects the injectable fillers in his face.

And as he's never seen the series let alone a Bushtucker Trial, how he'll react if asked to eat kangaroo testicles could make for memorable TV - especially if they're not served up by his butler on the finest bone china.

Quite simply, David Gest doesn't do roughing it.

His list of phobias and ailments make Paul Burrell and Natalie 'Oh my God. I touched a tree' Appleton look like Tarzan. They are: Vertigo, nausea, hypertension, scalp tenderness, insomnia, dysphoria (a constant feeling of unease), photosensitivity, vomiting, shingles, a polyester allergy and chronic phonophobia (a morbid fear of the sound of his own voice). Despite his bulk he also claims to have anorexia. Many of his conditions - he claims to be on 11 different types of medication - can be traced back to his short-lived marriage to Liza. Just 16 months after the wedding in March 2002 which featured David's best friend Michael Jackson giving away the bride, Elizabeth Taylor as maid of honour, Martine McCutcheon as bridesmaid and a guest list of 850 of their very closest friends, their marriage headed for the rocks.

Nobody expected it to last. But they are still legally married, as their divorce cannot be finalised until their lawsuits are resolved.

When we met this year he was more than happy to reminisce about the woman who, on his previous visit to London had thrown a lamp at him in the Connaught hotel.

"I think there's still a special place in my heart for Liza," he said sentimentally, despite suing her for #7million for lasting injuries he claims she inflicted on him during her drunken rages. The lawsuit was thrown out two months ago.

Liza hit back claiming #1.3million alleging he stole from her. His favourite moment of their wedding, was, he says, "looking at my wife down the aisle and thinking I was marrying the most beautiful woman in the world".

Or, as his lawsuit against Liza put it: "At the time of the marriage, the defendant's career had been eclipsed, she was an alcoholic, overweight, unable to be effectively merchandised, could not get insurance to perform on stage or in any other media."

I'd heard so many mad stories about David, it's hard to separate fact from fiction and anecdote from exaggeration.

For instance, this is how he describes proposing: "I took her to the 80th floor of a New York building, I don't remember its name, we went on the balcony. I pro- posed."

It's a lovely story - except the only skyscraper in Manhattan with 80 or more floors is the Empire State Building, a name no one would forget - and it doesn't have balconies.

David has been dogged by rumours he is gay, but he just shrugs them off.

He says: "I don't care. As long as they spell my name right you can say whatever you want I said, bring me one guy I've ever been with and no one came forward. I've always loved women. I still love women and I date plenty of women."

A Californian, he dated Michael Jackson's older sister LaToya. In the 70s, he says he lived for 10 years with a woman called Ellen - notable for being the only person he mentions who isn't ridiculously famous. Hollywood star Jane Russell is "like my second mom". Whitney Houston "is like a sister".

The first time he met Liza was at Frank Sinatra's house. But he says: "I'm not name dropping."

Would he ever get married again? "Absolutely. I love being married. Liza and I both had a great sense of humour, we made each other laugh."

Slightly at odds with the 10-page lawsuit which listed five separate incidents where Liza allegedly beat him with her fists.

He says: "Anybody who deals with an alcoholic knows there are ups and downs.

When not drinking, Liza is the most incredible woman and a great talent, but she has a disease. It's hereditary. Her mother Judy Garland had it, too."

Of their stay in London in June 2003, he adds: "I tried to pick her up after she had been drinking vodka and threw her over my head to get her into bed. She hit my head a number of times. She broke every blood vessel in the back of my head. A bodyguard finally got her in bed. He was hit in the stomach...and he's a karate champ of England.

"It was a rough period. I lost two years of my life. I was ill, having injections in my head of three different medications to take the pain away. I'm just glad to be alive. I still feel the pain but I thank the Lord every day for being alive and able to go back to doing what I want to do. I was very naive when we started dating.

"I'm a conservative guy who likes to do things with style, who cares about the people in his life, wants to make the world a better place and wants to create great entertainment for people."

If he does make it through an evil Ant and Dec bush tucker trial, he'll have plenty of opportunity to do that.

Sources: Wikipedia, The Mirror UK, Belfast Telegraph Uk

April 11, 2016

Olly Alexander Admits to Having Eating and Body Looks Issues


Olly Alexander, the frontman of best-selling pop band Years & Years, has disclosed that he suffered from eating issues and an unhealthy relationship with his body for a decade.
Speaking to BuzzFeed News on Friday during a Facebook Live event just hours before the band’s biggest ever concert at Wembley Arena, the singer described how he battled with a fixation on food from his childhood until his early 20s – as he was also coming to terms with his sexuality, his parents’ divorce, anxiety and depression.
The problems began, he said, aged 10 when he started attending a local gymnastics class: “It was the first time I was starting to have an awareness of my body and strength and [thought], ‘Older boys, they’re really muscly and they could do things that I couldn’t do’ and that’s the point, from then onwards… I started to have body issues and not eating, like I wouldn’t eat.”
He explained: “I was stuck between this place of being really, really, really skinny and hating it – because I wanted to be muscly like other boys – but at the same time didn’t want to put on weight because that was bad as well. I struggled with it for a really long time actually.”

The issues around eating and body image carried on into early adulthood. “For ten years at least really I would say I struggled with that,” he said, adding that it involved “skipping meals and constantly thinking about food and…obsessing over what I ate and what was going into my body and hating my body in the mirror.”
Going without food, he said, was in part an attempt to feel more in control. Asked by BuzzFeed News whether he would describe his problem as an “eating disorder” he replied: “I wouldn’t want to call it that myself… I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder but I definitely had a difficult relationship with food.”
However, that relationship has improved significantly, he said, thanks to a “good support network” and “years of therapy”: “I’ve looked at some of the causes that have been at the root of why I had not just problems with food but [also] there were links with depression and anxiety, and I’ve started to really unpack some of those things.”
Although he now enjoys a healthier relationship with eating, Alexander stressed that he remains vigilant about it.
“It’s really a life-long process,” he said, “that I think anyone that’s experienced any mental distress or mental illness knows it’s something you manage – it’s not something that just goes away. So it’s an ongoing thing.”
Leon Neal / AFP / Getty Images
Alexander, whose band’s album Communion reached number one last year and who has won Brit and MTV awards, also described the pressure he has exerted on himself.
“I used to, before I went on stage, feel like, ‘I’m a terrible singer, [that] no one’s going to like it, and all these people who bought tickets don’t actually want to be here.’” Thanks to therapy, however, he now adopts a “positive mental attitude”: “I just say to myself you’re going to nail it, you’re gonna be great.”
In a wide-ranging interview – as the rest of the band were preparing for their performance in front of 10,000 fans – Alexander continued with the theme of health and wellbeing, criticising the NHS for not making the drug that prevents HIV more widely available.
Last month, NHS England announced that it would not be rolling out PrEP – a medication regime that uses the drug Truvada to stop people contracting the virus. The announcement sparked widespread anger from HIV charities, doctors and activists.
“It concerned [me] mainly because I feel like it really stigmatised people living with HIV,” said Alexander. “I can’t believe we’re still stigmatising or shaming people that have any sort of sexually transmitted illness but especially HIV because it feeds into this narrative that shames gay men especially, but not just gay men – lots of people get HIV.”
Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images
He added: “I don’t understand why anything that’s a preventive drug is not a good thing.” The cost of treating people with HIV far outweighs the cost of the drug that prevents it, he said, but increased discussion about the issue also needs to play a part.
“There needs to be more education and awareness around HIV because it just feels like we’ve gone back a bit, like, ‘It’s not a thing [anymore]’ or, ‘Ooh I’m gonna catch it from looking at you’. Alexander, who said he had no sex education at school, added that it “should be compulsory” for pupils.
The singer, who is gay, also spoke out about the need for schools to educate pupils around sexuality and gender, championing the cause of gender variant, trans and non-binary people – identities that were explored in Years & Years’ video for Desire.
Asked by BuzzFeed News if he had ever questioned his gender identity, Alexander replied: “Oh my god, 100 per cent,” before explaining, “I’m a cis[gender] male, I identify as a man but… I’ve never felt like a masculine male.” Growing up, he said, people called him “girly”. “I was like, ‘Why do I have to be one thing or the other and why is that bad?’ 
I believe there’s a fluidity to all of it really… we still have these quite enforced binary norms in school. It’s a process. But I do think it’s changing… kids are really smart and are much more tolerant and understanding of things that older people aren’t getting.”
Much of this change has come about through social media, he said. “Now we have this platform – all these people who in the past didn’t have a voice at all, now there are other people all round the world who share the same opinions or similar experiences.” He added: “You have a voice now and people have to listen.”
 Patrick Strudwick is the UK LGBT editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London. 
Contact Patrick Strudwick at

March 23, 2016

Scott Baio Comes out for Trump

If you feel surprised that such a nice guy which we known his whole TV life, then look at where he was born, family ties, his back ground and you will notice is similar to many Trump supporters. These are not the college graduates or millennials. These are the baby boomers, people that work with their hands usually not with their minds and it seems that they are not working with their minds on this particular decision either, so important for the ones that don’t talk like Trump does.  Adam

Scott Baio endorsed Donald Trump on Saturday in an appearance with Fox News personality (and The Jinx prosecutor) Judge Jeanine Pirro, telling her that:
It’s very simple, because when he speaks, I understand him. He speaks like I speak. He communicates with people very well. I want him … to go to Washington and blow it up.
As frightening as it may be to see the depth of the country’s support for a politics of racial resentment, Baio’s endorsement may be a positive sign. Because if there’s one thing we know about Scott Baio, it’s that he has a long history of making awful decisions on television. While the nation waits for the third act (Scott Baio learns a valuable lesson), here’s a brief video treasury of some of the other appalling decisions Scott Baio has made on our television sets over the years.
Drinking Too Much in The Boy Who Drank Too Much, 1980:
“Get off my back, all of you!” says Scott Baio in this CBS special presentation. Though viewers didn’t know it at the time, Baio’s denial about his alcoholism would foreshadow his later denial of Trump’s winking appeal to white supremacists.
Being Mean to His Gay Friend Alex to Get Into West Point in The Truth About Alex, 1986:
Even though Scott Baio eventually stands up for his gay friend—and even goes to his piano recital—Baio’s initial discomfort with modernity will be familiar to Trump supporters everywhere.
Agreeing to Have Anything at All to Do With Baby Talk, 1992:
Maybe Scott Baio was trying to teach heartland viewers a valuable lesson about bicoastal liberal condescension when he appeared in the second season of this horrible sitcom. “This is how little they think of you,” he seems to be saying. “They think you’ll lap this garbage up.” Or maybe the toddlers in this Look Who’s Talking spinoff spoke like Scott Baio spoke, in a way Scott Baio could understand. Either way, a terrible, terrible decision.
Getting Stoned and Hitting His Brother Over The Head With an Oar, Nearly Drowning Him, Right Before an Important Swim Meet in the ABC Afterschool Special “Stoned,” 1980:
The long, slow series of catastrophes Scott Baio causes after deciding to get stoned in this Afterschool Special echoes the way the GOP’s embrace of the Southern Strategy inexorably led to Trump. Here’s hoping a cool, anti-drug teacher (Mitt Romney?) can teach the Republican Party a valuable lesson about peer pressure (and tax breaks for the rich) before things get too out of hand.

March 11, 2016

Homophobic Hollywood have Some Brave Actors That are Out and Thriving

For as homophobic as Hollywood can be there are also many honest brave actors that have come out and still they thrive in their careers. Once gay marriage was made legal in this country it changed everything. It is a platform LGBT can stand with dignity and shame the detractors by reminding them that wether single or married the gay haters are the ones that should be ashamed. They are the ones that are going against the legal laws in the country and the history pathways that makes discrimination out of form with the human experience.

I will like to show 15 actors, many you know and some you night not but they are out and thriving in Hollywood. Many came out a long time ago but others are young belonging to a generation of people that does not understand why they should hide from who they are.

July 20, 2015

Woman Testified Cosby Drugged and Raped Her, He Said ’Consensual’

 Duche bag Cos-bye. Also mentor, Republican, long time straight married man,
against same sex marriage as immoral and supported
 by his money, Hollywood and  the same very
 people who supported Michael Jackson (i.e.Whoopi Goldberg).
Bill Cosby reimbursed his talent agency after it paid $5,000 to one of his mistresses in order to keep the affair a secret from his wife, according to excerpts of a deposition published by The New York Times.
The New York Times, which published the story Saturday, said it obtained a deposition from a 2005 court case in which a young woman named Andrea Constand sued Cosby, claiming he drugged her before allegedly raping her. He refuted her allegations, saying the act was consensual.
Cosby reportedly said during the deposition that he is a “pretty decent reader of people” when it comes to "romantic sexual things," and she did not say "don't ever do that again." 
Cosby said he once planned to write a personal check for Constand's schooling instead of using his foundation and would explain to his wife that he did so because "there is a person I would like to help."
"My wife would not know it was because Andrea and I had had sex and that Andrea was now very, very upset and that she decided that she would like to go to school or whatever it is," he said, according to the transcript.
He also described, according to the Times, how he routed a payment to Therese Serignese through his agent. He said the agency sent her $5,000 and he reimbursed them to hide his payment to her from his wife.
The Times reported the actor also admitted under oath to obtaining quaaludes for recreational use, telling lawyers “young people were using [them] to party … I wanted to have them just in case.”
Cosby reportedly said he suspected his doctor knew he was not using them for the back pain for which they were prescribed.
The newspaper characterized Cosby as standoffish throughout the questioning, with him reportedly sparring with the attorney when pressed about why an employee quit working for him.
Cosby: “That's confidential.”
Attorney: “What do you mean it's confidential?”
Cosby: “Look it up in the dictionary.”
More than two dozen women have claimed to be sexual assault victims of Cosby and have called from him to be held responsible for his alleged actions. The nonprofit group Promoting Awareness/Victim Empowerment has also insisted President Obama revoke Cosby’s Presidential Medal of Freedom.
"There's no precedent for revoking a medal. We don’t have that mechanism," the president said last week.
Cosby -- who has never been formally charged for sexual assault in connection with any of the allegations against him -- denied wrongdoing in the Constand case but settled it out of court.
"The only reason Mr. Cosby settled was because it would have been embarrassing in those days to put all those women on the stand and his family had no clue," the Cosby camp said in a statement to ABC News. "That would have been very hurtful."
According to the Times, Cosby did admit during the deposition to giving women drugs but insisted he never did so without their knowledge.
Cosby's attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment. His attorney has repeatedly denied the allegations against him.
A WAO story

July 9, 2015

Do We need more Hollywood on Stonewall or Do We need something else?


It was inevitable, though this was rather quick: Hollywood wants to give the story of gay marriage the big screen treatment via the case that led to the Supreme Court's landmark ruling last month.
The New York Times is reporting that Fox has made a deal for the life rights of both Jim Obergefell and his attorney Al Gerhardstein.  The former is the man who successfully petitioned the court to force his home state of Ohio to recognize his marriage between him and his partner of 21 years, John Arthur (they were married in Maryland only months before John’s death in 2013). It is suggested he would be a central figure in the film.
Fox also picked up rights to Obergefell's tentatively titled upcoming book "21 Years To Midnight," which he will be writing with journalist Debbie Cenziper (who has won a Pulitzer). 
No word on a director or writer, but the folks behind "Twilight," "The Fault in Our Stars" and "The Maze Runner" -- Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen -- are set to produce. Which obviously leaves is a little concerned. I mean, really, the whole thing does. 
Going all "Twilight" on this story and watering it down for the masses would obviously be an awful idea.  And frankly, this isn't even the LGBT rights story we feel desperately needs cinematic treatment right now anyway.  There are far more important -- and dramatic, for that matter -- examples from the 50 or so years of activism/homophobia/ that came before.  Like The Wolfenden Report or the forming of the Gay Liberation Front or the insanity of this case in Georgia in 1986. And don't think that just because we have "Angels in America," "The Normal Heart" and, ugh, "Philadelphia" that we are done with AIDS narratives. Hollywood gave us like 20,000 movies about the Vietnam War. 58,307 Americans died in that war. Over 650,000 Americans have died of AIDS. You don't think the AIDS is comparable to the Vietnam War? Go watch "How To Survive a Plague."
This is not to say whatever Fox does with all these bought rights couldn't turn out okay. Hopefully they go the right route and hire a team that can deliver something similar to what Gus Van Sant and Dustin Lance Black did with "Milk," a rare example of an exceptional mainstream take on the gay rights movement (made by actual LGBT folks to boot). Or at the very least give us something along the lines of last year's respectably sentimental UK import "Pride." 
But what happens when minority stories go mainstream and money can be made from audiences beyond themselves has proved consistently problematic in terms of representation.  Between this and the upcoming Roland Emmerich-directed "Stonewall," the Hollywoodification of a certain segment of LGBT folks' stories could be about to have a moment we can't control. Fingers crossed Hollywood gets it right, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

June 30, 2015

Hollywood Embraces and Shuns Gays Depending on the Month


Activist David Mixner stood alone on a theater stage in Los Angeles at the start of this year’s Gay Pride Month, sharing his memories with an audience of friends, political figures and a smattering of celebrities, about the time Ronald Reagan saw the light.
It was 1978, and aides to Reagan, who was on the cusp of launching his presidential campaign, believed he was ready to endorse a California initiative to ban gays and lesbians from teaching in the state’s classrooms, a ballot proposition inspired by the anti-gay crusades of singer Anita Bryant.
Mixner remembered when he and fellow activist Peter Scott landed a secret meeting with Reagan, who was exceedingly charming and willing to listen. Mixner warned the soon-to-be candidate that the initiative would create anarchy: Students could retaliate for a bad grade by accusing their teachers of being gay.  
ReAgAn didn’t immediately reveal what he was going to do, but he later penned an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. He not only didn’t support the proposition, but rather publicly opposed it. “Whatever else it is, homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles,” he wrote. The initiative was defeated, delivering a nascent LGBT movement one of its first victories.
There is a long and turbulent road that leads from those days of activism to the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. In the recent past, it was unthinkable that the battle for equality would even reach this moment, and it is a sign of progress for the LGBT movement, and a reminder of how the media, government, the entertainment industry and people on the street played a crucial role in shaping public opinion and approval.
The Supreme Court ruling covers only marriage. LGBT citizens remain the only group in America who do not have national protection in terms of housing and employment. And, as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 proved, legal standing doesn’t guarantee universal acceptance. Yet while many may view the marriage decision as no surprise, it still has far-reaching implications, including considerations of religion, law, health coverage and child care. 
There has been a roller-coaster shift in attitudes since 1978, with moments of exuberance followed by crushing setbacks; Reagan’s initial helpfulness was followed by his administration’s years of indifference to AIDS, which killed tens of thousands of gay Americans.
Despite the aura of inevitability that surrounded the marriage decision, the fight isn’t over. The court majority established a clear constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but states may face resistance as they carry out the decision in areas where opposition is still strong.
“We are going to see a little bit of a backlash,” Mixner says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an increase in hate crimes directed against us.”
Mixner calls the past few years “epic” in the pace of progress for LGBT rights. Jim Obergefell, the namesake plaintiff in the same-sex marriage cases weighed by the Supreme Court, filed suit to demand that Ohio recognize his out-of-state marriage to John Arthur. Obergefell writes, in an essay for Variety, “What I didn’t expect on my way to that courtroom was to discover how much our story and our fight resonated with people across the country.” (Obergefell’s essay, Page 19)
The entertainment industry has helped change hearts and minds, but the extent of its contribution is a matter of debate.
In some ways, Hollywood has embraced the LGBT movement; in others, it’s shunned the cause.
With TV shows like “Will & Grace,” primetime may have paved the way; Vice President Joseph Biden cited the sitcom as a major factor in increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians. But the industry doesn’t look so groundbreaking when it comes to the paucity of A-list stars who have felt comfortable enough to come out. Recent years have seen the first out athletes in the NBA and NFL; at the multiplexes, audiences are still waiting for a gay action hero.
Civil rights activist Julian Bond is among those who see the media as having been a significant influence. “Americans began to get used to gay people,” he says of the shift in public opinion. “Instead of being, say, frightened of gay people, or unsure about them, or (thinking) ‘What are they up to? Or is there something wrong here?’ I think they have gotten used to gay people through television, the appearance of gay actors on TV, gay characters in movies, gay people appearing in ways we hadn’t seen before.”
The biggest challenge beyond housing and employment is perception. Activists worry about complacency in the LGBT community. As Bond points out, the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in the 1960s didn’t end racism. “People who are opposed to it now are going to keep at it. They are not going to give up the ship.”
Variety commissioned a survey by USC Annenberg’s celebrity-branding authority Jeetendr Sehdev that showed that 78% of the public supports equal employment and housing rights for gays and lesbians. However, most are unaware that LGBT adults don’t already have those rights throughout the country. For instance, many don’t realize that it is still legal in many states to fire someone for being gay.
A federal employment anti-discrimination law, proposed decades ago, has yet to make it to the president’s desk, and there are doubts it will move forward any time soon with the GOP majority in Congress. A comprehensive anti-discrimination bill “will be the biggest battle we’ve ever faced in the movement,” says Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “But it’s a battle we need to have. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s a battle that we’ll ultimately win.”

When it comes to adoption by same-sex couples, the picture gets murkier. According to the Sehdev survey, 42% oppose adoption by same-sex couples, mirroring the opposition to same-sex marriage. Earlier this month, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, signed a law giving adoption agencies the power to refuse service to couples if it violates an agency’s religious beliefs. A fear among LGBT activists is that conservative state legislatures could pass similar laws.
“The Michigan law was targeting the LGBT community, it was targeting same-sex couples, and it was a deliberate backlash to what we’re seeing on marriage equality,” says Emily Hecht-McGowan, director of public policy at the Family Equality Council. “We have a long road ahead of us until legal equality translates into lived equality.”
Even in California, where the passage of the rights-denying Proposition 8 was a wake-up call to LGBT activists and allies, another initiative may make it to the 2016 ballot mandating that people use publicly owned restroom facilities of their biological sex. It’s a response to the movement for transgender rights.
Even on the issue of marriage equality, side issues are likely to trigger debate. Corporate America, including Hollywood studios, was far ahead of federal and state governments when it came to recognizing the need for benefits for same-sex couples. If marriage is an option, however, does it still make sense to recognize domestic partnerships? Some companies have been eliminating that category of benefits. “This is unfortunate for many couples, gay and straight, who either cannot or do not wish to marry,” says Camilla Taylor, marriage project director for Lambda Legal.
A measure of where things are lies in the pressure to tie the knot — a familiar feeling for many a heterosexual.
“I never thought getting married would become such a stereotypical ‘gay thing’ to do,” says 25-year-old actor Chris Colfer (Kurt Hummel on “Glee”). “In just a few years, what was discussed as only a prospect has now become an expectation in my circle of friends. I can’t tell you how many hysterical arguments I’ve gotten into by defending my right not to get married.”
What encourages people like former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), however, is the recent turnabout in Indiana, after Gov. Mike Pence signed a religious freedom law that was met with hostility from the business community. Despite what lies ahead, Frank believes that the LGBT movement is close to winning. “In America, link up the moral argument (for fair treatment) with the profit motive, and you have a pretty tough coalition,” he tells Variety. “The likelihood of (there being) substantial religious-based loopholes to these laws is very slight.”
However, not everyone is convinced. Rick Scarborough, founder of Vision America, believes that marriage “is part of the natural created order” and should only be between man and woman; God’s law, they say, takes precedence over any civil law. His group started an online declaration, in which clerics and lay people have vowed that if the law clashes with their religious beliefs, they will commit acts of civil disobedience.
Attention also is likely to focus internationally, in countries where being gay is still a crime or others that have outpaced even the U.S. in recognition. In May, Ireland became the first country to accept same-sex marriage by popular vote. More quietly that month, Mexico (another strongly Catholic country) ruled that the country’s constitution would be violated by defining marriage as a union only between a man and a woman.
How much has Hollywood influenced public opinion?
The novelty of a gay character in primetime may be giving way to the normalcy of shows with gay couples and gay families, but it didn’t happen overnight. All but invisible in the ’50s and ’60s, gay characters began to appear as networks pursued more relevant, sophisticated content in the ’70s. The first sitcom to feature a positive gay character was “All in the Family” in 1971. A year later, the TV movie “That Certain Summer” provided the first lengthy, sympathetic portrayal in primetime of a gay relationship.
On the bigscreen, 1969’s “Midnight Cowboy” cautiously presented two sexually confused characters, without being explicit about their orientation, while “Sunday Bloody Sunday” (1971) offered up a well-adjusted gay doctor (Peter Finch).
“‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ was the first film to present gay relationships in a way that was real and honest,” recalls Rob Epstein, director of the 1984 documentary “The Times of Harvey Milk.” “It was the first gay kiss that didn’t end with a punch in the face.”
For a decade, though, it more or less existed in a bubble. With a few exceptions, such as “Boys in the Band,” Hollywood largely steered clear of gay issues and characters. When the industry did turn its gaze in their direction, in films like William Friedkin’s 1980 “Cruising,” gay life was portrayed as nightmarish and aberrant.
On Broadway, gay content claimed a bit more of the spotlight, but even there it suffered from a victim complex. “Gay people were either comic relief, or they were alcoholics or miserable and committed suicide in the third act,” says playwright Terrence McNally, who rallied against the trend along with fellow writers including Harvey Fierstein.
David France, the director of the 2012 documentary “How to Survive a Plague,” argues that the AIDS crisis in the 1980s radically altered the public’s perception of homosexuality.

“There was a before AIDS and after AIDS in terms of civic standing,” he says. “When AIDS hit, there were no gay people out in public life; there were no gay celebrities, no gay media figures (that) anybody knew about. We went from darkness to light through the awful crucible of the AIDS epidemic. We learned gay people had relationships, and they left someone behind when they died.”
Onscreen, films like “Longtime Companion” (1989) and “Philadelphia” (1993) depicted the personal impact of the AIDS crisis. In time, the disease element vanished, giving way to films such as “The Birdcage” (1996) and “The Kids Are All Right” (2010) and TV shows “Queer as Folk” (2000-05) and “Glee” (2009-15), which featured gay people who were healthy and relatively happy in their own skin. In recent years, digital companies such as Netflix and Amazon have seen the commercial possibilities of telling stories about gay or transgender characters in “Orange Is the New Black” and “Transparent,” earning awards and subscribers in the process.
Performers like Neil Patrick Harris have proven that sexual orientation shouldn’t determine whether an actor plays a gay or straight role.
“I’ve been fortunate in getting to play against type (in the recent film “Gone Girl” and CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother”) while people know what my actual type is,” he says. “That’s been empowering to others, and certainly to me, that I can tweet pictures of my husband and my kids.”
Not everyone is thrilled with the types of gay characters being presented onscreen. Frank praises real-life figures such as Ellen DeGeneres, but is critical of what he considers to be stereotypical portrayals of gay men on shows like “Will & Grace.”
He’s not the only one who sees mixed messages from the media. According to USC Annenberg’s Sehdev, six in 10 Americans believe that LGBT characters are not portrayed in a positive light.
His survey results also show that the most influential factors in shaping attitudes about gays have been knowing someone who is LGBT (84%) or knowing LGBT parents (69%); straight leaders championing LGBT equality (80%); and famous public figures who are gay, lesbian or bisexual (78%). Just 38% identified LGBT characters on TV and in movies as influential.
That’s not insignificant. Entertainment, while not as important as a personal connection, is still a factor in public awareness.
When it comes to major movie releases, there has been a lag, especially as studios depend ever more on international audiences. In some substantial territories poised for growth, LGBT acceptance may be seen less as an issue of fairness, and more as one of permissiveness.

“It’s just a bigger ship to turn around,” says Jeffrey Friedman, director of “Howl” and “Lovelace” alongside Rob Epstein. “Film is bigger and bulkier and it’s less supple as a medium. TV is always looking for novelty, and gay relationships and gay experiences are a great treasure trove.”
There are pockets of the industry, such as the country and hip-hop music scenes, where progress has been mixed, despite the presence of “out” stars like Frank Ocean and Chely Wright. Country singer Ty Herndon, who recently went public about being gay, admits that he faced criticism from some fans. “We’re at the gateway of change, but there’s a long ways to go,” says Herndon, who believes that the chance to be a positive influence is more important than any career blowback from his decision to come out.
“In the South, kids are killing themselves,” he says. “It was important to let them know they’re not broken.”
This belief in the role that media can play in changing lives has prompted parts of the entertainment business to assume an activist role. The effort to overturn Prop. 8 in the federal court started with an idea hatched by Rob Reiner, his wife, Michele, and political consultants Griffin and Kristina Schake at a 2008 brunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel. David Geffen and Steve Bing provided $3 million in seed money, and producer Bruce Cohen was president of a nonprofit set up to pursue the litigation.
As the Prop. 8 case made its way to the Supreme Court, they maximized their connections to the industry, raising money from star-filled benefit performances of “8,” a play written by Dustin Lance Black about the 2010 trial over same-sex marriage.
Just this month, Lambda Legal has rolled out a series of videos from celebrity activists, including one from Julianne Moore that has generated about 670,000 views, as a way of messaging to a bigger audience. “She reaches a broad range of folks, not just the LGBT community,” says Lambda’s Leslie Gabel-Brett of Moore.
Still to be determined is whether that energy will endure — in 2016 and beyond.
The presidential election contest next year may be the first in which opposition to same-sex marriage is more of a handicap than an asset in the fall campaign. Democrats seem determined to use marriage equality as a generational wedge against Republicans, a turnabout from 12 years ago. A younger generation of conservatives no longer see gay rights as antithetical to their beliefs, with nearly half of those under 50 declaring themselves as being in favor of gay marriage, according to a study by Project Right Side.
“My great hope is that Republicans will see the writing on the wall, and not dig in their heels and gin up a wedge issue to win a primary and make themselves irrelevant in the general,” says Margaret Hoover, a pro-gay marriage political commentator and former aide to President George W. Bush.
There remain questions about whether the LGBT movement can stay unified as opposition softens and new legislative goals are pursued. When gay hoteliers hosted a reception for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, also a Republican presidential candidate, they got pushback and calls for a boycott of their hotel. One of the hotel owners later admitted to having given Cruz a campaign donation.
Frontiers Media columnist Karen Ocamb, a veteran reporter of the LGBT movement, wrote in a recent essay that “sometimes it seems bashing and bullying people for venturing an inch or two beyond the accepted cool-guys groupthink of the day is an acceptable blood sport, with the most clever and vicious turn of phrase collecting the most likes and retweets. Of course, the critics see themselves as merely holding the offender accountable.”
She got a lot of flak for her piece, but her point was, how can the LGBT community achieve full equality without talking to and persuading anti-LGBT legislators to vote for the freedom side of history?
Frank thinks the road forward demands political shrewdness — perhaps of the type that, 37 years ago, may have helped convince Ronald Reagan to go public against an anti-gay initiative.
“You know who the most successful activists in America are?” Frank asks. “The people in the National Rifle Assn.” They win because they vote, they track legislation and they badger elected officials, Frank argues. There’s a lesson there. “We can use our rights as citizens,” he says. “That is the key. Marches and demonstrations are not going to do this. It is (about) getting deeply engaged in the political process.”

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