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Memorable LGBTQ Show Biz Glimpses From 2016

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Ellen DeGeneres continued to make waves (or at least lead the masses in the wave) as the lesbian queen of daytime, while Rachel Maddow, Don Lemon, and Anderson Cooper kept nighttime talk TV bright with questions and banter.

Award winning actor/playwright Harvey Fierstein spoke eloquently about the Orlando massacre and the kind of compassion it demands for our community, and on a more effervescent note, he dug back into his Edna Turnblad role for a Hairspray Live! that hardly had NBC screaming “No more musicals!” Based on the Broadway show (in turn based on the John Waters movie) that unseats Baltimore segregation with rollicking spirit, its candy-colored but socially conscious ebullience got a mostly favorable response from critics, though some pointed out the pitfalls of live TV. And it followed the mashup The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do The Time Warp Again (with a shimmying Laverne Cox as the sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania) for a one-two punch that made us wonder if Angels in America Live—or even Boys in the Band Live—might not be far behind. The New York Times said that Rocky Horror had lost quite a bit of its subversive magic, which isn’t surprising; even the original midnight movie has the audacity to come off endearingly quaint rather than flat-out frightening these days. But as a camp classic, it still needs to be produced, the way straights can have their…well, don’t say Rodgers & Hammerstein shows, because there’s nary a gay who doesn’t have fancy thoughts about those too!

In other potential future ideas, Laverne and Harvey duetting on “Bosom Buddies” from Mame would be a jolt for the masses, and of course Rosie O’Donnell (who was the gym teacher in Hairspray Live!) should somehow pop up in there as well.

Lady Gaga led an L.A. rally in the wake of Orlando, while Nick Jonas got flack for appearing at the NYC rally—though naturally, there should be room for everyone, as long as diversity is achieved within the time limit. Similarly, there was some controversy when Matt Bomer was cast as a trans female sex worker in movie, Anything, but again, there shouldn’t be limits on who can play what, as long as transgender men and women get the chance to play all kinds of roles, just like cis actors do.

Trans continued to be visible in March, when filmmaker Andy Wachowski came out as Lilly Wachowski, transgender like sister Lana.

Also in the movies, 2015’s Carol didn’t get a Best Picture Oscar nomination. (Not tragic enough?). But Moonlight—directed by Barry Jenkins, based on a Jenkins screenplay developed from Tarell Alvin McCraney’s story—seems to be aiming to blast last year’s shortage of African American Oscar nominees with a coming of age story that has gotten raves and Golden Globe nominations.

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Channing Tatum’s sailor number in the old-Hollywood romp Hail, Caesar! had homoerotic touches that popped sensitive eyeballs out of heads, while in the animated Sausage Party, a lesbian taco voiced by Salma Hayek makes a move on a glamour bun played by Kristen Wiig. The bun spurs her advances in favor of a very phallic hot dog, but then…oh, wait till you see the food orgy.

Sulu (John Cho) in Star Trek Beyond was beamed out as gay, apparently in a nod to the original Sulu, George Takei. And in the entertaining Tallulah—full of quirky people, some more flawed than others—John Benjamin Hickey plays Allison Janney’s ex-husband who came out and settled down with a guy played by Zachary Quinto, as Janney seethes with rage.

Bridget Jones’s Baby had a few gay and lesbian bits here and there, none of them that enlightened. And there were other lesbian bits in art films, star vehicles, instant cult flicks, and some obscure indies that it’s possible no one will see but more critics. But there they were!

From Modern Family to The Real O’Neals, TV kept presenting visibility, and in the personal realm, Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza told The Advocate, “I fall in love with girls and guys. I can’t help it.” No word on Grumpy cat.

Meanwhile, movie/TV/concert/everything star Bette Midler announced that she’s coming to Broadway this spring in a revival of Hello, Dolly! and people started hoping there would be tickets available on the actual staircase. (Even gayer, Bette is appearing in Freak Show, based on James St. James’ award winning novel.)

And somehow, things kept coming back to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, whose creator/costar Richard O’Brien had been quoted saying trans people can’t become women. Hmm. Maybe he meant that some of them already are?

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