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Michael Musto

The Good Thing For Gays About Donald Trump

Donald Trump
David Goldman/AP

Also: Elle Fanning's Trans Film is Coming Out! Drag Proprietor is Bashed! 

If I were to literally stick to my title (above), this would be a very short column. In fact, it would be over already and I'd be off typing up an invoice. But let me use a little hyperbole and a lot of imagination and say that there's something quite delightful that's resulting from Donald Trump's Presidency: We've gone activist again! We're angry, we're mobilized and we're taking to the streets in record numbers to shout out our horror!

Under Obama, things had become a little complacent, let's face it. Once we got same-sex marriage in 50 states, a lot of gays started behaving cockily, as if we'd nabbed our place at the table and were ready to sit down and indulge. What's more, between PrEP and meds, many gays wrongly started thinking AIDS was completely over, and happiness was a just a raw genital away.

Sure, we started marching for Gays Against Guns in the wake of last year's Orlando massacre, but one such rally--organized in DC last August--was not exactly overflowing with the amount of people you'd hope to see. We were hopping mad--and sad--but apparently not ready to fully explode yet.

Well, though we were taking baby steps, we are now all fired up again and ready to rock! Awesomely enough, we're informed, we're involved, and we're seizing the opportunity our democracy grants us to voice our outrage. Trump's views on women's rights and immigration were hair-raising enough to get us going. And as he started appointing 'phobe after 'phobe to various key positions, we screamed and Tweeted and made it clear that we were not going to sit still and tolerate a reversal of our human rights. I rejoiced on January 31, when Trump said he wouldn't overturn Obama's ban on antigay discrimination in companies working with the government, but I was shouted down by people yelling, "You're praising him for doing nothing?" Well, yeah, it seemed better than him doing SOMETHING. But now that we live in fear of potential legislature allowing religious people to bash gays, our marching feet are more ready than ever to revolt and make a scene. And when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeatedly referred to a massacre in Atlanta--ostensibly meaning Orlando--it was chilling that the Trump administration doesn't seem to know where the biggest attack on gays in the history of the U.S. happened! So we screamed again!

It's awe-inspiring to see the change in the air as we all re-learn the art of expressing rage. Remember when The Dixie Chicks were crucified in 2003 because Natalie Maines made a casual, biting remark about Bush? It devastated their career for years! Well, in the age of social media, celebrities who generally only care about their next career moves have been politically energized and speak out constantly against Trump's wicked ways. (The brunt of Cher's career these days seems to be doing so, enjoyably enough.) And not just famous folk have become vocal. Everyday people have been electrified, and even those who never got more political than writing "Trump sucks" on Facebook are suddenly willing to take a stand for our lives. This reminds me of the old ACT UP days--starting in 1987--when Ronald Reagan's murderous inactivity surrounding the AIDS epidemic was so galvanizing, we took to the streets with all kinds of activist actions that raised global awareness and made a significant change. I was openly gay and political way before that, but finding a community of like-minded people in ACT UP really ignited my ire, and I came alive with righteous protest against government injustice. At the same time, LGBT culture was on the rise, because anger begets art, so we were blessed with great works like Tony Kushner's 1993 double header Angels in America I and II--a thrilling condemnation of various closets--as well as other projects and personalities that made us prominent and noticed.

The same will happen now. LGBT culture and presence will rise in response to attempts to squash us down, and we will emerge embattled, but incredibly resilient and proud. The current insurgence feels like it has the heat of ACT UP plus the anti-Iraq-war movement plus Occupy Wall Street and everything else combined!

Of course I'd rather we not have to be all activisty and angry at all. I'd be thrilled if Trump had never gotten into office and we could just have nice lives, only fighting when it's called for. But he did, so we're on fire all the time--and that's a good thing! Let's scream till he's impeached, and then we can scream some more when the hideous Mike Pence takes over! If we have to get 10 people impeached before we get someone decent, then fine--let's do it!



If you need any more proof that Trump sucks, the beloved Mark Zschiesche--A.K.A. Yvonne Lame, proprietor of the Lips chain of drag restaurants--was gay bashed in San Diego (where there's a Lips) last week. "I blame Trump," said a sobbing, bruised Mark in a video that went viral, "and those who support him." Some people on Facebook wanted more elaboration on that, so I reached out to Mark/Yvonne, who explained: "After the assault, I was injured and emotional. I reached for the only weapon I had--my cellphone. In my video, I lashed out at a climate that we all find ourselves in today of increasing hate and intolerance for women, the disabled, people of different skin colors and religions and sexualities, but in the end, we are all American. Trump supporters have reached out in private with support and well wishes, and it is not them that I hold responsible. My anger remains with an intolerant and less than pretty time and those that have gone along with and carried out the rhetoric of a mis-leader who has made it vogue to hate."



No wonder a friend of mine just ran off to Europe! Of course it was to cover the Berlin International Film festival, but still! His report to me had some interesting LGBT touches. To wit: "Remember the movie About Ray, with Elle Fanning as a transgender teen, going from female to male? Susan Sarandon was her wisecracking feminist grandmother. The downbeat reviews came out and Harvey Weinstein pulled the plug and it never opened. Well, now it's called Three Generations and it opens in May, and no one is mentioning the old title or troubled history." I guess they feel that now's a good time to cash in on trans mania--especially after they re-edit the film!

Continued my friend, "Also, you mentioned to me that the great Cherry Jones has run around saying she basically can't get a job. Well, she got one. She's one of the seven-actor ensemble in Sally Potter's The Party as a lesbian with a ditzy preggers lover (Emily Mortimer). I liked it, especially because it's funny and 71 minutes."


At Le Poisson Rouge, I caught Cruel Intentions--a work-in-progress musical version of the 1999 movie about decadent teens manipulating people a la a miniature Les Liaisons Dangereuses, this time with '90s hits studding the plot. Perhaps the most fascinating development has two same-sex shenanigans carried out, one of them done to boy band songs. And Jenn Harris is a scream as the uptight lady who sings "No Scrubs" on finding out that her daughter is dating a black guy.

Off-Broadway, Wallace Shawn's Evening at the Talk House has Matthew Broderick as a playwright (not his first time in such a role; remember It's Only A Play?) who celebrates the 10th anniversary of his Midnight in a Clearing With Moon and Stars with some very chatty peers in the title establishment. This is an excuse for some conversations about the dark side of human nature (and, sort of, "extreme vetting") and ruminations on self-worth and relevance, as well as a chance to get a few name actors together and toss a macabre twist into the mix.


Fashion Week brought out some kicky fun and celebrities, the prevalent theme being sparkly escapism, appropriately enough. Georgine's show trotted out a lively assortment leather and sparkles, as I sat in the glittering front row with legendary model Pat Cleveland (who told me her daughter is having a blast in the fashion biz) and dandy Patrick McDonald, with whom I commiserated over the absence of the late, great photog Bill Cunningham.

Outerwear designer to the stars Adrienne Landau did a brilliant presentation called LANDAULAND, with the help of party goddess Susanne Bartsch. It consisted of glamorous tableau featuring Chinese and Indian-style brocades and including a bride on a (fake) horse and trans diva Amanda Lepore prancing about a faux playground with some kids as she laughingly told me, "I couldn't get a babysitter!" (Amanda also informed me that her memoir, Doll Parts, is finally coming out on April 19. Yes, she's due!)

Christian Cowan scored with a "Free Caitlyn Jenner" jacket, and also with a silver gown and tiara for model Paris Hilton, who looked like she was sporting the world's largest paillettes. And The Blonds--beautiful duo David and Phillipe Blond--triumphed with a dazzling show of fake fur, baubles, bangles and beads. After walking, each model would stop by a large column and pose, creating various gorgeous images throughout the room. The crowd--including Adam Lambert--smiled until they practically burst.

Related | Paris Hilton & Caitlyn Jenner at Christian Cowan's Glittery NYFW Debut

I celebrated another blond when I went to the legendary Stonewall Tavern, where the World Famous Bob was having her going away party. (The glam burlesque performer is moving to Austin). Seen there were Basil Twist, Chris "Go Go" Harder, Julie Atlas Muz, Dirty Martini, Glenn Marla and Cate Blanchett. You heard me--THAT Cate Blanchett. It turns out the Oscar winner was scoping out the place because tonight, she's doing a benefit there for the Newtown Action Alliance, an anti-gun-violence group founded after the Newtown, Connecticut shootings. Cate will be surrounded by a bevy of gussied-up drag queens at the event. Take that, Donald Trump.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Michael Musto