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, August 13, 2011

James Duke Mason

Founder of Trailblazer Campaign

I was reminded of this young man when I read yesterday that his mother had been awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This 19-year-old guy has credentials. Actor/activist James Duke Mason (b. April 27, 1992) is the son of singer Belinda Carlisle (Go-Gos) and Morgan Mason (a politico turned film producer/agent), and the grandson of the great actor James Mason*, for whom he is named. In May 2011, James was included in's “Hot 100" list. In April 2010, The Advocate listed Mason as one of the most influential young LGBT Americans in its "Forty Under 40" issue. In March 2011 he was voted into's list of the top 50 gay/bisexual male celebrities in the world.

Instead of making headlines for disorderly behavior and drug arrests like many teens from show business families, Mason has loftier goals. “I’m going to use my voice and power as a human being to change history, even if it’s in a small way,” says Mason.

In April 2011 he founded the Trailblazer Campaign, a YouTube project designed to encourage LGBT entertainers to come out of the closet. Among the first batch of entertainers to take the bait are up and coming actor Nicholas Downs, from the movie, "Is It Just Me?", and Mike C. Manning, from MTV's The Real World, DC.

James Duke Mason (above left) with mom Belinda Carlisle and a friend.

James came out at 14, worked as a congressional page, filmed PSAs for marriage equality, has written civic-minded op-eds for Frontiers magazine and was the first openly gay student body president at his international high school on France’s Côte d’Azur. “For me, it’s about knowing every day that I’m doing my part to encourage other young gay people to be proud of who they are,” he says.

Mason participated in a roundtable discussion of LGBT youth on Dr. Phil’s TV show. He has completed work on his first film, What Happens Next (2011), which was screened to acclaim at recent gay/lesbian film festivals in Philadelphia and Miami. Mason, who resides in California, is currently pursuing a college degree in political science.

*You'll remember James Mason for his starring role opposite Judy Garland in "A Star Is Born." You likely don't know that James Mason, his wife Pamela and famed director Joseph Mankiewicz were involved in a three-way affair that was the talk of Hollywood in the 1950s.

Although embedding is not allowed for this video, you can click this link to watch an 8-minute interview between young James and his mother, Belinda Carlisle (Go-Gos!). It is astonishing in its honesty. They speak about what suspicions she had that her son might be gay and how his father had a difficult time dealing with it at first. My favorite part is when James relates that his father told Nancy Reagan that, when he showed affection for his son (hugging, touching) in public, others mistakenly assumed he was not a relative, but a “sugar-daddy” to the young man. Note: Mason's father served in Ronald Reagan’s State Department.

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