Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Actor Luke Macfarlane

Canadian actor Luke Macfarlane (b. 1980), best known for his portrayal of a gay man on ABC’s TV series Brothers & Sisters, is out in real life. The actor, in the role of Scotty Wandell on the drama, went public with his sexual orientation in 2008 in a newspaper interview in which he revealed that his family and friends were all aware of his sexual orientation.

He said, “There is this desire in L.A. to wonder about who you are, and what’s been blaring for me for the last three years is how I can be most authentic to myself, so this is the first time I am speaking about (my sexual orientation) in this way.”

In a May 2008 episode of Brothers & Sisters (photo and video clip below), McFarlane’s character wed his gay lover, Kevin Walker (played by straight Welsh actor Matthew Rhys), and he hoped the plot would help viewers overcome anti-gay prejudices.

Macfarlane adds, “We’re saying that this can be part of the cultural fabric now, because it was two series regulars, two people whom you invited into your home and saw every week.” The popular and highly praised Brothers & Sisters television series (2006-2011) won four GLAAD Media Awards for Outstanding Drama Series. Veteran actress Sally Field, who headed the ensemble cast, won a Primetime Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her portrayal as the matriarch of the Walker family.

Macfarlane, also a classical cellist and trumpeter, was the lead singer and songwriter for the band Fellow Nameless, which produced an underground album.

As well, Luke has enjoyed both stage and film careers since 2003. Although he appeared in the acclaimed 2011 Broadway premiere of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, he has been most active in television productions. Since 2014 he has made prominent appearances in The Night Shift (NBC), Killjoys (SyFy) and Mercy Street (PBS), as well as eight Hallmark Channel movies.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman

Photo credit: U.S. Department of State

When Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman died on January 10, 2020, at age 79 without an heir, a letter was opened that revealed his hand-picked successor. The transition of power to his cousin, Haitham bin Tariq, who has two sons and two daughters, was peaceful -- and so far, that peace has held. 

Sultan Qaboos lived as a homosexual, with elegant, somewhat effete young men (displaying Rolex watches and other luxury items) populating his palaces. He was also known to have a male English lover. Qaboos had been educated in England and even served in the British Army. Although everyone in the Middle East knew of his homosexual proclivities, the Sultan never came out.

With support from the British he seized power from his father in a 1970 coup to become an absolute monarch who ruled by royal decree. The press was muzzled, and all media was censored before publication or broadcast, so nothing of the sultan’s homosexual activity was ever revealed to the public. In Oman, homosexual acts were punishable by up to three years of imprisonment, and Qaboos did nothing to create a more progressive environment for gays. Even so, there is a dynamic underground gay scene in Oman, but the police turn a blind eye to it. So to this day, Turkey is the only predominantly Muslim country in the Middle East where homosexuality is not outlawed. 

Yet Sultan Qaboos enjoyed a reputation as an “enlightened” despot. Quite naturally he received good press in England and at home, where even the “live” news broadcasts were pre-recorded for purposes of censorship. Not a single unflattering comment or photo was allowed to be made public.

The sultan presented an image of a Renaissance Man – he played the flute, built an opera house (above) and maintained a full symphony orchestra that included female musicians (although they wore hijabs); all 120 members are Omani nationals.

He was partial to the pipe organ and had a large German-built instrument installed in the opera house in 2011. One of the stops is labeled “Flûte Qaboos” in honor of his flute playing ability. 


Over the course of a 50-year reign, he ended Oman’s international isolation, raised standards of living, increased business development, abolished slavery, granted freedom of religion and quelled a rebellion. He paved roads, built an airport, schools and hospitals, established a telecommunications network and spread electrification throughout the country. For a brief three years (1976-79) Sultan Qaboos was married to his first cousin, who later remarried. Their union produced no heirs.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of his rule, the sultan built this grand mosque, one of the largest in the Middle East.

Now that Sultan Qaboos is dead, there remains only one other Middle Eastern royal known to engage in homosexual activity, the bisexual Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktum of neighboring Dubai. But that deserves a separate blog post. Stay tuned.

San Cassimally
Royal Foibles (blog)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

George Platt Lynes

George Platt Lynes - self portrait 1940s

c. 1952

The American fashion and commercial photographer George Platt Lynes (1907-1955) discreetly produced a large body of homoerotic images that he kept for himself or distributed to a carefully selected circle of friends. For many years after his death, it was thought that he had destroyed all his prints and negatives of male nudes, but it turns out that most of them had found their way into the archives of the Kinsey Institute (Indiana), which now possesses the largest collection of male nudes by Lynes to be found anywhere. 

During the 1930s, Lynes was commissioned as a fashion photographer for magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. After relocating from NYC to Los Angeles, he became Hollywood’s acclaimed celebrity portraitist. During this time he was also pursuing a personal body of black and white photographs of male nudes and homoerotic images that he kept private, fearing they would harm his reputation and business in a homophobic society. While his earlier nudes depicted idealized youthful bodies, such as a young Yul Brynner, he moved towards a rougher and more sexualized aesthetic in his later work. As a pioneer in masculine erotic photography, George Platt Lynes also helped forge Dr. Alfred Kinsey’s research on homosexuality.

Bill Miller (1953) by George Platt Lynes

Lynes was born in 1907 in East Orange, New Jersey, but a life-changing event came with his relocation to Paris in 1925, a move meant to prepare him for college. While in Paris he forged friendships among the artistic elite and was never seen without his camera. Once again stateside, he opened a photographic studio in NYC and began a private series of photographs that interpreted characters and stories from Greek mythology, but it was portraiture that brought financial stability. Today he is best known for his portraits of artists such as W.H. Auden, Jean Cocteau, Colette, Aldous Huxley, Igor Stravinsky and Thomas Mann. After he moved to Hollywood in 1946, he photographed Katharine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell, Gloria Swanson, and Orson Welles. In 1948 he moved back to NYC, where he remained until his early death from lung cancer in 1955.

Gordon Hansen (1954)

Robert McVoy by George Platt Lynes