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The Year in Gay: A Look Back at 2014’s Gayest Show Biz Moments


Plus: Musto’s 10 Favorite Stage Shows

A gigantic LGBT sandwich with chipotle mayo on top, 2014 could not have been gayer if it had frosted hair and a turned-up collar. It was a 12-month spree of romping, vamping, and hot sex, with no one of any note ever pausing for gay breath. Here, in random order, are some of the very gayest happenings of the year:

*English singer/songwriter Sam Smith--a sort of male Adele--managed to glide up the charts with his creamily sung tales of romantic woe, despite the general dominance of divas like Taylor, Iggy, and Ariana. The openly gay balladeer garnered six Grammy nominations as a new divo was born.

*Conchita Wurst was the drag winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, rising like a phoenix with her song "Rise Like a Phoenix". The full beard might have tipped people off that this was actually a gay man, Austrian singer Thomas Neuwirth.

*Hilarious insult comic Bianca Del Rio won RuPaul's Drag Race, edging out runners-up Courtney Act and Adore Delano. Long may she rip people new assholes. Meanwhile, the show's season seven contestants have been announced, and they're a diverse group from all around the country, including two NYC gals, Miss Fame and Pearl. "I hear those two did very well," claims an insider.

*Actor Jonathan Bennett was outed by his Dancing With The Stars judge Julianne Hough during a TV interview she gave in September. Hough noted that Bennett seemed to be hitting on her via a tweet, but she felt it wouldn't work because, "He's gay." She previously dated Ryan Seacrest.

*Orange is the New Black writer Lauren Morelli divorced her husband to date Samira Wiley, who plays Pussey Washington on the show. Yes, Morelli left a man for Poussey.

*Orange's Laverne Cox earned an Emmy nomination and emerged as an articulate and forceful spokesperson for transsexual rights. Laverne for President! And First Lady can be Jill Soloway, for creating's dark comedy Transparent, with Jeffrey Tambor as a transitioning dad. Adding even more to its pedigree, the Golden Globe-nominated show just hired trans singer/songwriter Our Lady J as a staff writer.

*Facebook made everyone use their real names (i.e., the names they use in life, not just on the stage or on the lam), which meant tons of drag queen profile pages were suddenly deleted. Fortunately, it was all later worked out, so more than half of my 5,000 "friends" magically returned.

*NYC's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade lifted the ban on gays after more than 20 years of this absurd exclusion. Next up for them: Free the slaves?

*Out jock Michael Sam was kicked to the curb by the Rams. He was not picked up by any other NFL team either, though the Dallas Cowboys did grab him for the practice squad. And then they dropped him. Here's hoping Sam's sexuality had nothing to do with the end of his tight-ending.

*The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer's fiery 1985 play about the early days of the AIDS crisis, had dragged around for years as a proposed movie, though it surfaced as a stunning Broadway revival in 2011 before finally getting lensed for the tube. Ryan Murphy directed it for HBO, with Mark Ruffalo as the eternally angry Kramer character, Matt Bomeras his sick boyfriend, and Julia Roberts as the disabled doctor helping them fight the big boys. The affecting result looked like it was going to get shut out of the Emmy awards until copping the big one--Outstanding Movie. Murphy used his podium time to encourage young people to fight for a cause with Kramer-like passion.

*With the series Looking, HBO has been spotlighting the current gay community, San Francisco-style. The show didn't immediately pick up enormous amounts of supporters, but it's kept on trucking--sort of like the community itself, lol.

*There were no fewer than two movies on the table about Yves St. Laurent--one authorized, one not--plus a slew of other terrific films with gay themes. For example, Love is Strangehad John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as mature lovers in a crisis; The Skeleton Twins costarred Bill Hader as a troubled but likeable gay actor/waiter; Pride focused on the real-life contingent of LGBTs who supported the miners on strike in Thatcher's UK; and The Imitation Game stars Benedict Cumberbatch in a sure-to-be-nominated performance as the gay man who helped crack the Nazis' code while tying not to crack from the pressure. This all made up for Steve Carell's creepy fixation on Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher.

*Self-loathing made for a riveting thriller with the raunchy French film Stranger By the Lake, in which gay men were drawn to an anonymous sex site, where they unconsciously sought their doom. The unhealthy allure of danger was the theme of the film--and gay men avoided seeing it in droves.

*The funniest scene in Chris Rock's show biz satire Top Five had a closeted gay guy begging his girlfriend to finger his delicately poised butt. She ended up giving him the middle finger.

*Ellen Page came out in February, stating, "I'm tired of lying by omission." I knew I could count on Juno to tell the truth. In November, singers Ty Herndon and Billy Gilmanjoined her in openness. Yee-haw.

*Irish musician Hozier delivered a powerful song against gay bashing called "Take Me To Church," while Macklemore's Ryan Lewis, and Mary Lambert kept promoting their yay-gay messages. And it seemed as if popular music had reached its most enlightened state since the 1960s.

*Joan Riversdied from therapeutic complications during a medical procedure, and it was a real crime, since the 81-year-old comic--the original Bianca Del Rio--had a lot of hilarious years left in her. Rivers had long cultivated a gay following, who loved her acid wit and wicked obsession with gossip, and she worshiped us right back. Her "Can we talk?" was the world's most provocative icebreaker, one that prompted Pavlovian whinnies of glee around the globe.

*Star of all media Neil Patrick Harris will host the Oscars in February. Oh, good, they finally got a gay person, unlike last year, when it was...Ellen. Nevermind.



Neil Patrick Harris & Alan Cumming backstage at the Tony Awards


Broadway couldn't have been more LGBT-scented this year. In the New York theater world, gay and drag are clearly the new normal, to the point where some tourists who find themselves sitting down to a hetero romantic comedy get a sinking feeling of "What the hell is this?"

My 10 best bits on Broad-gay this year:

Side Show

This is the lauded but soon closing revisal of the '90s musical about the conjoined Hilton Sisters (no, not Paris and Nicky; I'm talking about 1930s vaudeville stars Daisy and Violet). The show always had a character who backed out of marrying one of the gals at the last minute. Well, in openly gay director/reviser Bill Condon's version, it was spelled out that he was gay--and suddenly it all made sense.


A revival of a revival, this Weimar-themed classic has Alan Cumming reprising his Tony winning performance as the ambisexual MC who taunts audience members with remarks about how he's going to be their proctologist for the night. Emma Stone is currently playing the strangely optimistic wreck of a woman who gives him the Help.

Casa Valentina

Harvey Fierstein's ambitious and passionate play dealt with straight cross dressers who gathered at a resort--except that at least two of them clearly weren't so straight. And that's why they call it drama!

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

The victim of a botched sex change and a horrible ex-paramour who ripped off her material, Hedwig came back in a winning production helmed by NPH, who climbed the scenery, tossed off wisecracks, and walked off with a 12-inch Tony.

The genie's number, "Friend Like Me," in Aladdin

I'm not sure if he was intended to be gay, but honey, that character really came off light in the carpet. Fabulous, gurl!

On The Town

A buoyant chestnut about a trio of sailors hitting New York for thrills and romance, this energetic retread has the guys shirtless at various points and also added gay background bits and even a rather phallic loaf of bread. New York, New York, it's a wonderful town.

It's Only A Play

Terrence McNally's backstage comedy was gussied up with new references and proved to be pretty mirthy (when it didn't descend into weirdness on occasion). Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing are priceless as mouthy theatrical types, and so is Micah Stock as the ditzy gay coat check boy slash aspiring actor who insists on singing "Defying Gravity."

Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical

Let me branch out to Off-Broadway and tout the musical power of this evening, featuring Anthony Wayne as the flamboyant disco singer who asked "Do You Wanna Funk?" Mighty real indeed.

Me, My Mouth, & I

Also Off-Broadway, Joy Behar's autobiographical monologue is a riot, with a healthy sprinkling of gay references. For example, Behar says that when she was up-and-coming, she was so popular in the West Village that she wanted to make T-shirts that read: "If you recognize me, you're gay." Of course, by now, some bisexuals recognize her too, lol.

Christmas WithThe Crawfords

Just when you thought more mirth couldn't be drawn from the persona of twisted diva Joan Crawford, back comes this holiday chestnut, full of giddy gaiety, Hollywood desperation, petulant children, celebrity drop-ins, and lots of singing and dancing. Downtown favorite Joey Arias is perfection as the shellacked-haired Crawford, who brims with broad shoulders and delusional aspirations. Sherry Vine shines as the sadistic Baby Jane Hudson. (Yes, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? is heavily referenced, as are Mommie Dearest, Mildred Pierce, and Torch Song. No diva vehicle is left unturned.) And dropping by--usually by mistake--are Judy Garland, the Andrews Sisters, Ethel Merman, Carmen Miranda, Gloria Swanson, and a spiritual-singing Hattie McDaniel, who won't even let Joan touch her Oscar. The cast is tops, and it all adds up to a lively and delightful entertainment that's nothing to shake a wire hanger at.

As for Fun Home, that acclaimed musical about the awakening of a lesbian cartoonist, I haven't forgotten it. It's coming to Broadway--and to this column next week!

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Michael Musto