Dancing Queen


By Aaron Hicklin

OUT: As a gay judge on a major television network, do you encounter any resistance?
BT: No! Never ever, but I think everybody's gay any way! I meet some actors and think, You've got to be a queen, c'mon! They are so plucked and moisturized. I am actually the worst person because I get it wrong. [Laughs] But I always put the talent and the person first because you can be gay, straight, black, white, but if you're a piece of shit, you're a piece of shit regardless'. I was going to say 'cunt.' I love that word. You know why? Because it makes people laugh! They just fall apart! I heard Elizabeth Taylor is the same. And Judi Dench. I love when people talk blue -- it makes me laugh. Swearing like a sailor.
OUT: Or a trooper, even. So you've never felt that your sexuality has held back your career?
BT: Obviously, I've never been offered a film as a leading man. But then again I do understand that there is still a perception of what a leading man should be. I don't think the public in general is yet ready. In England on television it's not an issue. It shouldn't be an issue. It should be about your work and how good you are at your job. Look at John Barrowman -- he's wonderful -- he's just brilliant. You should just be allowed to be yourself regardless. Are you good at that? Can you play the part? It shouldn't be 'Oh! He's gay! He could never play this part.'
OUT: Were you funny as a kid?
BT: Yeah, I've always had a sense of humor -- laughing at yourself helps get you through the bad days. They call it bipolar now -- everyone's bipolar. It's all bullshit. It's life, honey -- cope with it. Because there'll be bad days, and there'll be good days. The bad days will come, so don't be shocked. You'll be better tomorrow. You have to laugh about it.
OUT: What were the bad days?
BT: When my parents died. The '90s were a really hard time because of the deaths, the enormous, terrible dark cloud of AIDS. I lost so many friends. Of my generation there are very few people left -- all my best friends in the company, beautiful dancers, actors. There was a time when nearly every week -- it was very difficult to keep positive, to keep going. And then my mother died suddenly. My grandmother died. My grandfather died. My father died. My best friend's wife. I thought, This is crazy! All through the '90s it was one thing after another. It was very hard emotionally to cope because -- and obviously I had to work. Eventually, we all have to face certain things. People die. It wasn't easy, but I survived.
OUT: It's 2008, and you're still standing, as Elton would say.
BT: It's really become my kind of my leitmotif -- my life motif -- and look what happens? It's very easy with things like that to retreat, and that's the wrong thing to do. You have to go and work. If not, you find yourself in a deep well and you'll never be able to get out. And the hard truth is that shit will happen. You cannot avoid shit at any level. You can be the biggest star in the world and shit will happen. Always.
OUT: Five years ago, did you imagine this is the direction your life would take?
BT: I always dreamt it, but I never thought I'd be in Hollywood at this stage in my life. It's really a dream come true, but you can never tell how life is going to turn out. If something comes your way, you just have to grab it. And take the good with the bad. Because it's still hard work. It's bloody hard, I'm telling you -- doing two shows on two continents at the same time --
OUT: I take it you don't have time for relationships.
BT: I haven't had one, but I'm open! [Laughs] I tell you, I need one desperately.

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