The Eight Gayest Show Biz Stories of 2013

12.16.2013

By Michael Musto

Michael Douglas as Liberace, Jared Leto as transgender, Broadway got Kinky: Could it have been any gayer?

Could this year have been any gayer? Maybe if Miley Cyrus had twerked with a woman. (No, wait, the little diva did faux-entertain a lady’s butt on the VMAs. Never mind.) The year was plenty gay, as the entertainment world rocked with an eye popping mass of rainbow-colored announcements, projects, controversies, and accessories. Here were the eight most momentous LGBT moments of all, in my humble gay opinion:

1. Steven Soderbergh’s Behind The Candelabra—about the complex relationship between sparkly pianist Liberace and his boy toy Scott Thorson—couldn’t get greenlighted at the movies for years (“too gay”), despite the Academy Awards credentials of those involved. So Candelabra went to HBO, where it drew brilliant reviews and large ratings that shamed Hollywood for its sins of omission. Michael Douglas ended up nabbing an Emmy for his portrayal of the effusive and manipulative musician, while Matt Damon also scored as his upwardly mobile plaything, who obviously longed for a shiny and somewhat demented father figure. Meanwhile, Douglas allegedly told the press that the type of cancer he’d battled can be caused by an abundance of cunnilingus. Was that statement a subtle reminder that he’s not really a gay, he was just playing one on TV? I have no idea. I’m just pissed that I finally got on Smash—in the very last episode—and it aired opposite Candelabra!

2. Twenty years in the actualization, Dallas Buyers Club made it to theaters with the story of Ron Woodroof, the shady, real-life hetero with AIDS who went from zero to hero as he started importing experimental drugs for HIV sufferers in the 1980s. Matthew McConaughey staged a career triumph as Woodroof and Jared Leto was believable and moving as a transsexual with AIDS named Rayon. They’ll both be importing Oscar nominations from Hollywood very soon.

3. Kinky Boots—based on the 2005 movie—exuded gay pedigree right out of the Broadway gate. Harvey Fierstein wrote the script, gay icon Cyndi Lauper did the score, and Broadway Bares creator Jerry Mitchell directed and choreographed. The result—a well heeled tale of bonding beyond oppression—won Tonys for Best Musical and for out star Billy Porter, as well as for Lauper and Mitchell. It was all so feelgood, except when Fierstein bristled over my questioning the straight transvestite character he had written as the lead. It’s just that Porter told me he was playing Simon/Lola as gay! Whatever the case, the show’s box office is still straight…to the top of the chart.

4. Russia enforced legislation criminalizing the promotion of the alleged gay agenda. This horrendous move sent shock waves around the world, as vodka was poured into sinks and celebrities were forced to decide how to handle the horror. (Not the lack of vodka, but the lack of rights—though a stiff drink was sorely needed, I’m sure.) I’m well aware that this wasn’t a show biz story per se, but it certainly resonated in every sector, including entertainment and athletics. And the response was all over the place. For example, after Andy Cohen rejected the job of hosting Miss Universe in Russia, Thomas Roberts took it, citing gay visibility and the chance to offer hope. In the old days, we would have offered Bob Hope.

5. While watching the French film Blue Is The Warmest Color, one sensed that directed Abdellatif Kechiche got off on having his two lead actresses go wild with their rabidly passionate lovemaking sessions. I imagine he was probably sitting on the set, trying to applaud with one hand the whole time! Sure enough, the actresses, Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, bitterly complained to the press about the demands Kechiche had made on them in constantly pushing them to be sexier and more extreme. At least the resulting epic—in which a budding teen gets hooked on an older woman, who shows her some self-assurance and sex toys—was pretty riveting stuff that rocked the art houses. Don’t expect Blue 2, though—not with these three.

6. After the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision, Cosby Show’s Raven Symone tweeted, “I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you.” (I felt the same way. Now all I need is someone to marry.) That same decision helped propel “Same Love” (by Seattle-based rapper Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis, featuring lesbian singer Mary Lambert) to become one of the songs of the summer. The haunting plea for equality was recorded during the campaign for same-sex marriage in Washington state, which was ultimately approved. The song was released in 2012, but it didn’t start climbing the charts until this year, when it caught on as a cry for respect that music lovers hummed and learned from. But in case we were getting too complacent about our approval levels, another rapper, Eminem, came along with a whole new blast of homophobic lyrics. “I’ll still be able to break a motherfuckin’ table over the back of a couple of faggots and crack it in half,” rapped Eminem, seeming more out of touch than ever.

7. The flip side of gay marriage was a whole bunch of gay divorces and breakups. I never wanted LGBT couples to split because that would show that we’re just as fallible as straights, but hey, at least it results in some hot celebs being available for the rest of us. That point of view helped me choke back tears as news emerged about Zach Quinto and Jonathan Groff, Cheyenne Jackson and Monte Lapka, Jane Lynch and Lara Embry, etc, etc. But how do we get our blenders back?

8. But back to Miley! Her dirty dancing routine kept gay tongues wagging, though she was hardly alone in her diva antics. There was Lady Gaga, who got buzz for going all arty, even if her relations with Madonna, Perez, and Elton were more strained than the pasta in her dad’s restaurant. Katy Perry roared her way to more hit anthems, though the raised eyes of her Madame Butterfly number raised a few eyebrows. And Carrie Underwood yodeled well in The Sound of Music Live, even if her hills weren’t fully alive. Still, the lederhosen-laden telecast drew over 21 million viewers—that’s a lot of gays!

I could do a ninth item, one about the wacky gay-related remarks made by singers Michelle Shocked and Fantasia, but eight is enough, and besides, I’d rather end this on a high. So think of those two—and everyone else on this list—twerking with Miley and smile your way into an even gayer new year.

SOME COLE IN YOUR CHRISTMAS STOCKING

As for the savviest gay of the 1920s, Cole Porter is the elegant composer who wrote “You’re The Top,” though he was more likely a raunchy bottom, lol. The fact that he was married for 34 years to a woman—socialite Linda Lee Thomas—is the crux of Love, Linda: The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter, an Off-Broadway musical with the assured Stevie Holland as Linda, telling wifey’s story in between crooning classic Porter tunes. (“What Is This Thing Called Love?” indeed.) As Holland’s Linda explains it, “A marriage is not a can of soup. Just because a love between two people may be difficult to define, that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.” Linda’s souped-up state of mind apparently had her tolerating Cole’s taste for men because he was discreet about it, but when “suntanned Adonises” were suddenly swarming around the bon vivant, discretion went bye-bye and it wasn’t just Miss Otis who was full of regrets, it was Mrs. Porter too. I guess those little hotties came in like a wrecking ball. (Sorry, just trying to bring things full circle.)

Meanwhile, I’ve got something to “blow, Gabriel, blow” about: I hear Tony winning star Patti LuPone might be working on a live show with raucous singer/comic Bridget Everett (who’s on the verge of bagging a big cable show). These two are mutual fans and have sung together before, but this one could go all the way to Broadway, the way Patti and Mandy Patinkin did. If so, it’s already sizing up as a very gay and happy 2014.

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