The DVD of Pride came out, meaning the sweet movie about LGBT activists who supported the striking miners in Thatcher’s U.K. But the real shock surrounding the DVD wasn’t the movie itself, it was the fact that all mention of the word ”gay” was mysteriously removed from the front and back covers. The releasing company vowed to get to the bottom of just who did this!... But the word “gay” can be suddenly added to things, apparently. In January, Cabaret Oscar winner Joel Grey came out in People as the community said, “Wilkommen, Joel.” And by the way, I wonder if Jennifer Grey is thinking, I’m glad he was in the closet all those years or I wouldn’t exist.… Also being suddenly forthcoming, the former Bruce Jenner announced that she’d be transitioning on an E! reality show, which was accompanied by the wildly popular cover of Vanity Fair with the title “Call Me Caitlyn.” Caitlyn Jenner went on to surprise, elucidate, and educate, with an Oympics-caliber message about accepting people for who they are. But how do we get her to transition from a Republican?
In New York, the Out Music Awards took money for admission (including from nominees and performers) and postponed the event after having a problem with a sponsor. The scramble for gay refunds started right away and weirdly enough, the show was never rescheduled, as of press time… Over at the Grammys—which actually happened—Sam Smith won multiple awards, wryly thanking the guy who broke his heart because Smith got an album and some trophies out of it. After that, everyone in music wanted to find that guy and date him pronto….In March, Jussie Smollett (who plays a misunderstood gay on Empire) came out on Ellen. Or he said he "has no closets," and we inferred that means he’s gay. Celebrity coming out seems to have become quieter these days, though it’s still audible and quite welcome, thank you.
Openly gay designers Dolce and Gabbana made dumb remarks about gay families having synthetic kids, but it’s their fabrics that are synthetic. (Dolce later apologized.) Later in the year, another design icon, Giorgio Armani, made equally repugnant statements, saying that males shouldn’t dress too “homosexual,” they should try to look like real men. And suddenly Armani seemed like less of a real man than ever….The Heather Has Two Mommies daughter was now gurgling that she’s actually against gay marriage, and it seemed to me that Heather suddenly had two brain cells…. Looking—HBO’s San Francisco-based gay answer to Sex and the City--was canceled after two seasons. They planned to go out with a movie-length special. Not sure if anyone will be Looking….It turned out that in 2014, ‘70s ballad-meister Barry Manilow had secretly married his manager, Garry Kief. No update as to whether Joey Grey was Best Man.
More late bloomers pop up in Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, a comedy in which Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen fall into each other’s arms as their spouses, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, are horrified. But not that horrified; Lily got Emmy nominated and the show got renewed. And Amazon’s Transparent continued to soar, with awards recognition for the show and its star, Jeffrey Tambor, as someone going through a profound change of life as the family freaks.
At the cineplex, LGBT-related movies popped up all over the place, making it a very good year for queer popcorn—or at least a year with a lot of gay content (some good, some meh). There was another look at haute couture designer Yves St. Laurent’s hedonism and genius. Robin Williams was a late blooming gay man, married to a woman, in Boulevard, while in Youth, Michael Caine was a retired conductor who’d “experimented” with homosexuality, to the chagrin of his wife. Tom Hardy played real-life identical twin brothers in Legend, one of them a “fat poof.” Similarly, gay playwright Alan Bennett was presented as two separate personalities (both played by Alex Jennings) and was visited by eccentric old Maggie Smith in The Lady in the Van. And Stonewall created a fictional character at the center of the legendary rebellion, tampering its wonderful message with a falseness that set gay alarms ringing.
Lesbians had their moment in the sun too. Rooney Mara was a young woman entering a bold new world with an older lady, played by Cate Blanchett, in Todd Haynes’ carefully styled 1950s-set flick, the acclaimed Carol. The equally good Freeheld had Ellen Page and Julianne Moore as lovers fighting for rights, and Lily Tomlin popped up again, this time as a crusty but ultimately admirable lesbian in Grandma. In Burnt, Uma Thurman plays a lesbian who made an exception for Bradley Cooper. (Bradley’s character makes an exception too, with a same-sex kiss, though it’s not what you think.) Also, the drug-dealing comedy Dope featured a lesbian character whose grandmother organized a circle of “loved ones” to gather ‘round her and pray the gay away. The character jokes that it sort of worked because she maybe now has some feelings for Justin Bieber!
Meanwhile, trans was the new black at the movie theater, just like in the media. Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne played the first recipient of a male-to-female sex change operation in the exquisite (but ultimately too-tasteful) The Danish Girl, while Romain Duris was both a father and a mother to his child in the glossy French gender film The New Girlfriend. The indie Tangerine centered on a trans sex worker furious to learn that her pimp boyfriend has been cheating with a “real fish” (the result was hilariously raunchy and original), while Mala Mala was a documentary about the Puerto Rican trans community, which Variety called “highly entertaining, never exploitative.” Also notable, Boy Meets Girl starred the captivating Michelle Hendley as a small-town transsexual growing into her own persona—and relationship.
In other LGBT-related plotlines, rocker Meryl Streep had an angry gay son in Ricki and the Flash, and The Gift was a thriller that interestingly dealt with the horrible effects of anti-gay bullying. And of course one of the year’s best received films, Spotlight, focused on the real-life horror of nearly 250 Boston priests and brothers who preyed upon (“not prayed for”) kids, in a story that was uncovered by a team of award-winning columnists.
Want some real life drama? Ian Reisner, who co-owns the Out NYC hotel and the dockfront real estate in the Fire Island Pines, had a dinner/chat in his New York apartment for rabidly homophobic Texas Senator Ted Cruz. When protests and boycotts came in, Reisner said he was terribly sorry and simply hadn’t thought it through and done his research. But then he followed that up with a fundraiser for a homophobic Wisconsin Senator. Bye, Ian!
In May, TLC pulled 19 Kids and Counting off the air when it came to light that years ago, costar Josh Duggar had molested five underage girls, including his sisters. And once again, reality shows that exploit damaged people act upset when the people turn out to be, you know, damaged. But here’s the gay angle. Duggar was a member of the Family Research Council, which campaigned vociferously against LGBT rights. He promptly resigned. I guess he was a bad image even for them.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK….