Role models of greatness.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
What was amazing about this instance is what happened after he came out: nothing. His classmates and fellow athletes reacted with rare tolerance and respect for Corey’s difference. He waited a year to discuss his story with the media, because he was afraid the attention would detract from the task at hand: winning games.
Granted, it helped that Johnson was hardly the stereotypical gay teenager. None of his teammates suspected he was gay, so they were surprised at his announcement. Besides football, he had played sports all his life – baseball, basketball, wrestling and lacrosse. It also helped that his teachers, coaches and parents were uniformly supportive. When he came out to his father, he told Corey, “I'm glad you finally made the decision to tell us, and I hope you'll feel a lot better now.”
Johnson told his best friend Sean, who said, “I thought I knew everything about you. And I'm sorry you couldn't tell me this part you've been hiding.” Sean, who broke down in tears, remained his best friend. The few negative reactions came from parents of his fellow athletes, some of whom suggested that the team re-vote for captain. The coach and his teammates would have none of it. His team, the Chieftans, went 25-8 during Johnson's three seasons as middle linebacker.
Johnson has helped other young gay men who love sports feel that there is a place for them on their school teams, and helped straight athletes learn that having a gay teammate is not wrong or bad or weird. It just happens. Corey accomplished plenty on the football field and a whole lot more off it.
Corey spoke at the Millennium March in Washington, DC (late April 2000), and now lives and works in New York City. He is highly involved in gay activism, and for years has reported for Towleroad.com, a gay issues-related web site.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
A Density of Souls
The Snow Garden
Light Before Day
The Moonlit Earth (published a year ago)
They belong to the mystery/thriller genre, and each has gay characters who play prominent roles. His first novel (A Density of Souls) was published when he was just twenty-two years old. After Blind Fall, his novel about a gay marine, was published, Rice received death threats in reaction to his YouTube video about the book, in which he criticized the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Here’s the video that caused all that fuss:
For years Rice wrote a column in The Advocate, and most of them are archived on his literary web site:
He is the son of Anne Rice, author of all those “Vampire” novels and a notable S&M “Beauty” fairy tale trilogy (published in the 1980s under the pseudonym “A.N. Roquelaure”). After the death of her husband, Anne Rice moved to California to be closer to her son, who makes his home in West Hollywood, Los Angeles.
Monday, September 26, 2011
He was still in high school when his first erotic drawings were published. Orejudos was known to friends as Dom, and along with Renslow, his partner from 1950-1991, established Chicago’s gay leather scene. Renslow ran a Chicago-based beefcake photo physique mail order business known as Kris Studio (1950-1979); he also published the male physique magazine, Tomorrow’s Man, and produced bodybuilding competitions. For a long time the two lived in a back room of a Chicago gym owned by Renslow.
In 1958 the couple founded Chicago’s first (and legendary) gay leather bar, Gold Coast, and Orejudos provided erotic murals for the interior. They ventured into gay bath-house territory with Man’s Country Baths, and they founded the International Mr. Leather competition.
Oil painting by Etienne now on display at the Leather Archives & Museum in Chicago.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
James Baldwin (1924-1987):
"I think Americans are terrified of feeling anything, and homophobia is an extreme example of the American terror that's concerned with growing up. I never met a people more infantile in my life. It's a way of controlling people. Nobody really cares who goes to bed with whom...I mean the nation doesn't really care. They care that you should be frightened of the consequences of what you do. As long as you feel guilty about it, the state can rule you. It's a way of exerting control over the country, by terrifying people."
In 1979, when African-American novelist/essayist James Baldwin addressed a forum sponsored by the New York chapter of Black and White Men Together (BWMT-NY), he opened up for the first time about his own homosexual orientation. Speaking with candor, Baldwin claimed that his life-long sexual orientation had never been a secret, but he had not felt it was necessary, "or anybody's business," to affirm it. "Before I was seven years old," he said, "there were already multiple labels on my back, beginning with 'nigger.' By the time I was 14, I went through a kind of nervous breakdown, when I was a Pentecostal youth preacher in Harlem, and by the time I was 17, 1 had survived all those bigoted labels, including 'faggot.' It wasn't, and it isn't, easy." Baldwin mentioned that, while he was gay, he did not necessarily identify with the institutionalized and "ghettoized" homosexual community. Gays, like blacks, he stated, were being used as scapegoats for white society's own fears. He claimed that, by and large, white gays practiced the same racism against black gays. He mentioned that Gore Vidal, the celebrated gay writer, had referred to him as a "jungle bunny."
More recently, he admitted, his consciousness had brought him to the point where in his latest novel, Just Above My Head (1979), he was able to write freely about the homosexual relationship of two blacks. His previous works dealt with sex between whites, or between blacks and whites but not between blacks.
During his teenage years in Harlem and Greenwich Village, Baldwin began to recognize his own homosexuality. In 1948, at the tender age of 24, disillusioned by American prejudice against blacks and homosexuals, Baldwin left the United States and departed for Paris, France, with $40 in his pocket. His flight was not just a desire to distance himself from American prejudice. He fled in order to see himself and his writing beyond an African American context and to be read as not "merely a Negro or even a Negro writer". Baldwin noted shortly after he first arrived in France, "I didn't go to Paris. I left New York."
He left the United States also desiring to come to terms with his sexual ambivalence and flee the hopelessness that many young African American men like himself succumbed to in New York. In Paris, Baldwin was soon involved in the cultural radicalism of the Left Bank. His work started to be published in literary anthologies, notably Zero, which had already published essays by Richard Wright, whom Baldwin called "the greatest black writer in the world". Wright and Baldwin became fast friends, and Wright helped Baldwin get published and ultimately secure numerous literary awards.
Baldwin would live as an expatriate in France for most of his later life. Baldwin came to be seen not only as an influential African American writer but also as an influential exile writer. He became a close friend of the singer, pianist, and civil rights activist Nina Simone. Along with Langston Hughes and Lorraine Hansberry, Baldwin helped awaken Simone to the civil rights movement then fomenting. Among Baldwin’a circle of friends were Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Genet, Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan, Rip Torn, Alex Haley, Miles Davis, Martin Luther King, Jr., Margaret Mead, Josephine Baker, Allen Ginsberg and Maya Angelou.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Afterward, he refused to call himself a hero and said that anyone would have done the same. He lived a deeply closeted life, well beneath the radar in San Francisco's gay community. He was involved with a few gay activist causes, but was careful that his sexuality was not revealed.
That all changed when San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen and Harvey Milk disclosed Sipple’s homosexuality in 1975 in an unwitting attempt to show that gay people can do heroic things.
Sipple was a decorated U.S. Marine who was wounded by shrapnel during combat in Vietnam.That he risked his life to save his commander in chief, even though he was not on duty, has added to his legacy. Yesterday, Thursday, September 22, 2011, was celebrated as Billy Sipple Day in San Francisco. For decades Sipple has been honored as a hero – the gay Vietnam vet who saved a president’s life.
At the time, however, the disclosure of Sipple's homosexuality backfired in a big way. Sipple had not yet come out to his family, and his mother disowned him. Sipple filed a $15 million dollar invasion-of-privacy lawsuit (later dismissed) against the newspapers that outed him. His parents were tracked down and ridiculed about their gay son. His brother stated, "There were a lot of times Billy wished he had never saved the president's life, for all the anguish it caused him. He only spoke that way when he was drinking. He said life would have been so much simpler if he hadn't have done it."
Billy’s father and two brothers all worked for GM in Detroit, where they were met with taunts and jeers at the factory. Sipple’s mother was harassed by neighbors, and soon the family became estranged.
Because of the stress brought on by his outing, Sipple began drinking to excess. When he received a delayed note from President Ford thanking Sipple for his “selfless actions,” Billy saw it as an unpleasant reminder of bitterness at being outed and as a too stand-offish form of thanks. His brother said that Billy was upset that there was no invitation to the White House, not even a commendation, just a short note of thanks. The White House had waited for days before publicly thanking Sipple, while staff debated an appropriate response after learning that the heroic Sipple was gay
Sipple was found dead on top of his bed in 1989 with a bottle of bourbon at his side. He had died of pneumonia, but had been dead for 2 weeks when his body was discovered. When his family later collected his effects from his San Francisco residence, they discovered a framed letter from President Ford hanging on the wall. A few days later President Ford sent a note of condolence to the family.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Film and stage director Vincente Minnelli (1903-1986) was born into a family of traveling entertainers. Although his early years were spent on the road learning show business, he settled in Chicago at age sixteen, where he took a job as a window decorator for Marshall Field’s department store. His originality and sharp eye for design details soon led him to the Broadway stage, where he was a successful costume and set designer.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer producer Arthur Freed discovered Minnelli on Broadway and brought him back to Hollywood to design dance numbers for movie musicals.
According to his biographer, Emanuel Levy (Hollywood's Dark Dreamer*), Minnelli lived as an openly gay man in New York prior to his arrival in Hollywood. He comported himself among the Dorothy Parker/Gershwin brothers crowd, and no one in those circles cared that he was gay. Unfortunately, Hollywood was another story, so he was pressured back into the closet when he moved to the west coast. He made the decision to repress his homosexuality by living as a bisexual.
Early on, sometime in the 1920s, Minelli became an effete, a dandy, a snob. He modeled himself after the flamboyant British painter James McNeill Whistler; he became sophisticated and self-consciously cultured, all of which came across when he met Judy Garland, who was the polar opposite. By the way, there was documented bisexual activity in Garland’s career, as well, but it was not a major part of her life.
During filming of "The Pirate", Garland accused Minnelli of being in love with Gene Kelly, her costar, and favoring him over her. She threatened her husband with suicide when she caught him in compromising positions with men (in particular their gardener). However, during her marriage to Minelli she slept with Frank Sinatra and other men, as well; fidelity was not a cornerstone of this union.
He worked on several films, including “Strike up the Band” (1940) and “Babes on Broadway” (1941) with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, before he was given the directorship of an all-Black musical called “Cabin in the Sky” (1943). The stylish and inventive “Cabin in the Sky” was a success, and the window dresser from Chicago was now a Hollywood director.
In young adulthood Lester (his given name) was pathologically shy and suffered from a stammer. He had a penchant for trying on his mother’s clothes, which likely came in handy when he worked as a window dresser.
In his 1956 film version of Robert Anderson’s exploration of masculinity and homophobia, “Tea and Sympathy,” Minnelli worked around the restrictions of the Motion Picture Association of America's production code to recreate the play’s ambiguities without ever using the word “homosexual.” The film is about a sensitive boy of 17 whose lack of interest in the manly pursuits of sports and girls labels him “sister-boy” at the college he is attending. The head-master’s wife sees the student’s suffering at the hands of his school mates (and her husband) and tries to help him find himself. Trivia: Actor John Kerr starred as the misfit student in both the stage production, for which he won a Tony Award, and film version of this play. Kerr went on to portray Lt. Cable in the 1958 film version of “South Pacific.” Really.
Minnelli received an Oscar nomination as Best Director for “An American in Paris” (1951) and later won the Best Director Oscar for “Gigi” (1958). The Minnelli family is unique in having father, mother and child who all won Academy Award Oscars, not to mention mother and daughter who both married gay men. Minnelli was awarded France’s highest civilian honor, the Commander Nationale of the Legion of Honor, only weeks before his death in 1986.
Photographed here with daughter Liza Minelli. Their resemblance is astonishing.
*Emanuel Levy's biography of Vincente Minelli was published in 2009:
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Hersch began recording his own records and composing music. Although Hersch plays in a number of different jazz instrumental combinations, he also performs as a solo pianist and accompanist to singers and instrumentalists. In 2006 he was invited by club owner Lorraine Gordon to perform the first-ever solo piano booking at the legendary Village Vanguard jazz club in New York City.
In 1986 Hersch was diagnosed with HIV. Since then, he has campaigned and performed for several AIDS-related charities and causes. Along with Gary Burton (vibes), Dave Koz (sax) and Andy Bey (singer/pianist), Hersch is one of the few openly gay jazz musicians performing today.
For first timers who are distracted by Hersch’s quirky keyboard mannerisms, turn your monitor off and just have a listen to this solo piano performance. Simply beyond brilliant.
Aria by Fred Hersch
Every time I perform a Fred Hersch piece in public, there are always fresh converts to his compositions. This video below explains why. Superb, original and accessible.
Lyric Piece by Fred Hersch (Gramercy Trio)
The Gramercy Trio (violinist Sharan Leventhal, pianist Randall Hodgkinson, cellist Jonathan Miller) play “Lyric Piece” by Fred Hersch. The work was written for the Gramercy Trio in 2004. This video recording was made in concert at the Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory on May 31, 2008.
Link to Part II: www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMUvqGzRUDk
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Perkins was a veteran of stage, screen and TV, even earning an Oscar nomination for Friendly Persuasion, but he lived in utter fear that Confidential magazine would out him, as it did with Tab Hunter, one of his early lovers. Perkins had two sons with Berenson, but he died of AIDS in 1992 at age sixty; according to the Los Angeles Times obituary, Perkins did not acknowledge that he had the disease until he released a statement shortly before his death, even though the National Enquirer had broken the story two years earlier.
His performance as Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s film Psycho is unforgettable, but his career went into decline soon afterward. Perkins was known to frequent gay porn stores and gay movie houses in Times Square, NYC, where he watched men have sex in the stairwells.
For over a decade Perkins lived in a platonic relationship with photographer Helen Merrell, a dominating force of a woman fourteen years his senior. Merrell went on to become an influential theatrical agent and philanthropist.
In the late 1950s, Perkins released three pop song albums, but a career as a singer never materialized, although he did have several successful singing roles in Broadway musicals. Perkins also worked as a stage actor. In 1958, he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor for his performance in the Broadway play Look Homeward, Angel. During this time he also starred in Green Mansions (1959) with Audrey Hepburn and the college comedy Tall Story (1960) with Jane Fonda.
His widow, Berry Berenson, was tragically killed while aboard American Airlines flight 11 as it crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
In a role that forever defined him: Perkins (as Norman Bates) with Janet Leigh in Hitchcock's masterpiece PSYCHO:
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
As if Dwork were not already skipping down the sidewalk, today the Pentagon will formally repeal the ban on gays in uniform, a policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” that has been in place for almost eighteen years. Troops may for the first time reveal publically that they’re gay, without fear of official retribution. Enlistees who declare their sexual orientation to military recruiters or troops discharged under the ban who wish to reenlist will be eligible to join up if they are qualified. The Defense Department says it will have zero tolerance for anti-gay behavior within the military.
Unlike many men of his generation, Missouri native Melvin Dwork was never shy about his homosexuality. In his unfinished memoir, he recounts how he was thrown out of the Navy during World War II, after love letters he was exchanging with another hospital corpsman were intercepted. Dwork was horrified by the Navy’s reaction. “I was put into a brig ward until I was reassigned to a psychiatric ward for evaluation,” he recalled. “I was treated like a felon or murderer.”
After being discharged, he returned to New York and the Parsons School of Design, where he had been studying before being drafted. Mr. Dwork began work as an interior designer in 1956 and continues to work today, while well into his eighties. He has created distinguished interiors for both commercial and residential customers. Dwork was named one of Architectural Digest’s top 100 designers in 1990 and again in 2002. His clientele is decidedly A-list, such as film director Milos Forman.
This 1979 photograph shows an interior done for acclaimed soprano Anna Moffo and her husband Robert Sarnoff, a former RCA board chairman. Commercial clients include such power houses as Aetna Life Insurance and Shearson Lehman Hutton. His design projects have been published in Architectural Digest, Interior Design Magazine, The New York Times, House & Garden, Town & Country and Elle Decor.
John Butler (1918-1993), a celebrated ballet choreographer, was Mr. Dwork’s partner from 1961 to 1973. He was “the love of my life,” Mr. Dwork writes in the unpublished memoir he has been working on for several years. Dwork established The John Butler Foundation in 1997 to preserve and promote Butler’s legacy as a choreographer. Dwork currently serves as the foundation’s chairman. For years Butler choreographed world premiere operas for gay composer Gian Carlo Menotti. Dwork and Butler’s extensive knowledge of art and design led to associations with prominent painters, sculptors, musicians and writers, such as Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, Alban Berg and Ezra Pound. Butler created choreography for famed dancers such as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova.
The first draft of his memoir focuses on his experiences as a gay man in postwar New York and Fire Island Pines in the 1960s, where one summer he shared a house with two other design stars – Halston and Donghia – before building his own house there in 1967. Dwork was a senior associate of the Burge-Donghia design firm in the 1960s.
His current apartment was photographed for the September 2007 issue of Architectural Digest. “I am very proud of that,” he said. He is also working on a furniture collection with a major manufacturer. “I don’t think I will ever retire completely,” he said. “Most of my friends now are half my age,” Mr. Dwork states.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Harris is openly gay, announcing it in 2006 by saying, "I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest..." Harris, age 38, is a prominent and popular actor, singer and magician (!). His career has skyrocketed since coming out.
With his partner David Burtka (photo below), with whom Harris was been in a relationship since 2004, the men are raising fraternal twins, born October 12, 2010, via a surrogate mother. Black and white photo of Harris from Rolling Stone magazine.
This spring Harris hosted the 2011 Tony Awards. I was dumbstruck by how clever this opening number was. If we need proof that we've come a long way as homosexuals, consider that a national TV audience witnessed an openly gay entertainer poking fun at the fact that gays dominate the world of theatre arts -- and he has the audience in his pocket.
We, as gay men, should pay dues to this man for bringing long-overdue respectability to homosexuals. He is a child actor who did not grow up to have a career ruined by drugs; he has not been in and out of rehab; he and his long-time partner are raising children in a loving home setting. His career continues to skyrocket after coming out publicly. I can find not one instance of a disparaging word being uttered against him by anyone -- straight or gay. The icing on the cake was the fact that he had a birthday three days after hosting the awards (born June 15, 1973).
We're not worthy.
We owe this man -- big time.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Feehily said that while he did not intend on getting married right away, he is happy to know he could form a civil partnership in Britain with the recent passing of the Civil Partnership Act. The musicians say that when the time is right, they will look into having a civil partnership ceremony. Mark and Kevin, who now works as a photographer, got engaged on 28 January 2010, and Feehily confirmed the news via Twitter. Asked about his future plans with McDaid, Feehily replied, "We're best friends, we live together and we're going to get married soon. I can't wait, but we haven't finalized the date." Kevin did the still photography for Westlife’s album “Gravity,” their eleventh studio album.
Mark sings lead at the beginning of this Westlife video of “Smile,” before Shane takes over. Incidentally, the music for “Smile” was written by Charlie Chaplin for his 1936 film “Modern Times.” Lyrics were added in 1954 by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons. Recordings of this perennial favorite have been made by Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson (apparently his all-time favorite song), Michael Bublé, Lyle Lovett and scores of others.
In this acoustic video of their early super #1 hit (1999), Flying Without Wings, Westlife’s Mark Feehily takes over lead vocals from Shane at the 53 second mark. Note: don’t get your hopes up about Shane – he is married to his childhood sweetheart and became the father of his third child in January, 2010. In fact, all the other members of Westlife are married straight men.
From a 2004 tribute album to Frank Sinatra:
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Lord Louis was a great grandson of Queen Victoria and the uncle of Prince Philip (consort of Queen Elizabeth II). Mountbatten was also a promiscuous bisexual who was famously rumored to have had an affair with Edward VIII (who was Prince of Wales at the time) when he accompanied him on his Empire tours (see photo above). Another “close friend” was an Irish student whom he met at Cambridge – James Jeremiah Victor Fitzwilliam Murphy - who was known by the name of Peter Murphy, a leading Cambridge homosexual with strong left wing leanings. He became Mountbatten's close and constant companion, and Mountbatten supported him with an annual allowance of 600 pounds until Murphy's death in 1966. The well-known homosexual Noel Coward was also included among Lord Louis’s close circle of friends.
Between affairs Lord Louis became Admiral of the Fleet (British Royal Navy), the last Viceroy of India, the Earl Mountbatten of Burma and the first Governor-General of an independent India. A former favorite of Winston Churchill, after 1948 Churchill never spoke to him again over Mountbatten’s role in the independence of Pakistan and India. On August 15, 1947, on Mauntbatten's watch, Britain relinquished its Indian Empire. Churchill’s infamous bigoted quote about Indians: “They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.” As Supreme Allied Commander for Southeast Asia during WW II, Mountbatten's war service culminated in the recapture of Burma from the Japanese.
Mountbatten forged a close bond with his grand nephew Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, who was deeply affected by his murder in 1979. Mountbatten had a strong influence on Prince Charles, who declared that things would never be the same after the loss of his mentor. Lord Louis was known as “Dickie” to family and close friends, which was unusual, considering that Richard was not among his given names. Oh, I nearly forgot. "Dickie" was widely known in the military as "Mountbottom." I'm not making this up.
Mountbatten’s indiscretions paled in comparison to his elder brother George, who inherited the title Marquis of Milford Haven on the death of their father. George was also a promiscuous bisexual who was married to another bisexual: Nadeja, Countess of Torby, who was a niece of Czar Nicholas II.
George Mountbatten's claim to infamy was his vast collection of pornography, which he lavished money on, lovingly binding it into volumes emblazoned with the family crest. Some of the pornography consisted of photos of aristocrats having intercourse with their servants, but far more disturbing were the pictures of family orgies in which children were involved in active sexual participation and bestiality. On George's death the collection was inherited by his son, so part of it is it still in the hands of the Mountbatten descendants, although the bulk of it was donated to the British Museum. Don't expect to see it on display.
*When WWI bred increasing anti-German sentiment in Britain, astute observers noted that the Kaiser was Queen Victoria’s grandson and King George V’s first cousin. In recognition of the delicacy of the position, George V changed the name of his royal house from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor, after the castle. At the same time, he also took the modern step of adopting Windsor as a surname for his family.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Cook joined Apple in 1998 overseeing computer manufacturing and was later promoted to chief of worldwide sales and head of the Macintosh division. Cook made his mark early on by fixing Apple's storied manufacturing inefficiencies. He also kept the company on track as Apple's interim leader during Steve Jobs' 2004 two-month medical leave and during his six-month leave in 2009. His steady hand kept iPhone 4 and iPad development on track, grew Macintosh sales and strongly rallied the stock value. As Apple’s CEO, Cook has been running day to day operations since Jobs's most recent medical leave began in January, deferring strategic decisions and other CEO prerogatives to Jobs. Apple's growth and stellar financial performance have continued unabated under his watch.
Cook is known to be a "fitness nut," in the gym by 5 am, often on the hiking trail and even more often on his bike. After Cook was profiled as a "lifelong bachelor" and "intensely private," many wondered if he might be gay. That is indeed the case, and Cook's sexual orientation has been the topic of at least some discussion within the company. One tech executive who has spoken to multiple Apple management veterans about Cook was told executives would support Cook if he publicly acknowledged his orientation, and even would encourage him to do so as he steps up his leadership role. If that happens, Cook would be by far the most powerful openly gay executive in the tech industry.
The media has danced around this subject. Felix Salmon wrote: "Keeping Cook’s sexual orientation a secret is no longer an option, so the press shouldn’t treat it as though it’s something to be avoided at all costs. There’s no ethical dilemma when it comes to reporting on Cook’s sexuality; rather, the ethical dilemma comes in not reporting it, thereby perpetuating the idea that there’s some kind of stigma associated with being gay. While stigma does still exist in much of society, it’s not the job of the press to perpetuate it. Quite the opposite."
In this video, Randy is introduced by Steve Jobs and goes on to introduce video editing using the new iMovie 11 software. He demonstrates step-by-step video editing to create a movie trailer.
Here’s a video of Steve talking about his creation TRISM.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
He kept his tormented sexuality a secret from most everyone he knew – making discreet trips to Ogunquit, Maine, where gay men could have trysts without being noticed, then to Fire Island, which was a well-known gay getaway. He had a taste for S&M homosexual activity. Little was published about his homosexual affairs, and he was fiercely determined to keep that aspect of himself under wraps. In 1940 he had his first regular male lover, who was a fellow actor. In 1949 he was arrested on 42nd Street in New York for soliciting, but his film studio intervened to ensure that the charge was dropped without publicity.
Montgomery (Monty) Clift’s mother, “Sunny,” was herself the child of southern aristocrats, but had been given up for adoption. She married a rich stock broker and spent her life treating Monty and his twin sister to the privileged life she never had. As young children, the Clift twins were taken on tours of Europe and tutored at home, but more than anything, they were victims of a severely controlling and manipulative mother.
At the age of 13, Monty appeared on Broadway and took stage roles in New York for over a decade before beginning to appear in films. By the time he was in his late teens, he’d acted on Broadway with Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontaine and Tallulah Bankhead. He earned excellent theatrical reviews and soon attracted the interest of numerous lovelorn actresses. While working in New York in the early 1940s, he met a former jazz singer and heiress to the Reynolds Tobacco fortune, Libby Holman. At 38 years old she developed an obsession with the 21 year old actor, financing a play for him. His relationship with bisexual Holman was likely the last heterosexual relationship of his life and caused him further anguish over his sexuality.
Montgomery Clift brought a new vitality and depth to his film roles. He was a talented, devastatingly handsome actor. When Elizabeth Taylor first saw him on the set of "A Place in the Sun," she said he took her breath away (see photo above and at end of post). Soon enough she fell in love with him, but her feelings were not reciprocated. He inspired Marlon Brando and James Dean, who emulated his naturalistic acting style. The characters Monty played on screen were lost, confused souls, a new, post-war image of the American male. Off-screen, he led a tortured life. His addiction to pills and alcohol and his complicated sexual identity have been widely publicized. Analytical books and documentaries place blame for Clift's psychological problems on his repressed homosexuality.
By the early 1950s he was exclusively homosexual, though he continued to maintain a number of close friendships with theater women. His movie debut was “Red River” (1948) with John Wayne, but his second film that year, “The Search,” is the one that brought real attention to his talent, and an Academy Award Nomination ensued (see clip below). He received further Academy Award Nominations for “A Place in the Sun” (1951), “From Here to Eternity” (1953) and “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961), but never won.
A 1956 tragic car accident, in which he drove into a telephone pole after leaving a dinner at Elizabeth Taylor’s home, severely damaged his facial features, and plastic surgery could not fully restore use of his facial muscles. This limited his range of expression and hurt his self-esteem. Subsequently, Clift took mostly unglamourous roles, only worsening his damaged public image.
A lawsuit with Universal Pictures and growing addictions forced him into a four-year retirement in 1962. In his final years, Clift plunged more deeply into drug and alcohol abuse and wild sexual behavior. He was considered unreliable by studio bosses. Sadly, by the time his companion Lorenzo James found him dead of a heart attack at their home in 1966, he was virtually unemployable. He was 45 years old.
Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor (1951): A Place in the Sun
The Search (1948) In Post-War Berlin, Clift, who portrays an American private, helps a lost Czech boy, a survivor of Auschwitz, find his mother. In this scene, Clift (almost too handsome to watch) shows his finely honed acting chops. He won his first Academy Award nomination for this film.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Power was liked and admired by men and women alike. His group of gay friends included director George Cukor and actors Clifton Webb, Lon McCallister (and his lover William Eythe), Cary Grant, Reginald Gardner, Van Johnson and bi-sexual billionaire Howard Hughes. Books and articles written about Power relate that the great gay love of Power's life was a lowly technician at 20th Century Fox, with whom he had a sexual and romantic relationship that lasted for decades.
With the advent of World War II, Power enlisted in the Marines and fought in the South Pacific, after which he negotiated a new contract with Fox. By 1946 he and Annabella had grown apart, and their marriage was over. He took a six week trip to South America with his on-again off-again male companion, gay actor Cesar Romero. Upon his return, he entered into a tempestuous relationship with Lana Turner, who was then the queen of MGM and between husbands. They made a striking couple, but Tyrone could see that life with Lana would be tempestuous and, instead, married Latin starlet Linda Christian, with whom he fathered two daughters before the marriage ended in the mid-fifties.
Reports of same sex relations continued. British comedian and actor Bob Monkhouse related in his 1994 autobiography Crying with Laughter that he had rejected sexual advances from Power. The fashion critic Mr. Blackwell had romantic moments in Power’s dressing room, as detailed in his 1995 autobiography From Rags to Bitches. In his book, Errol Flynn: The Untold Story, author Charles Higham reports that Power had a sexual relationship with Errol Flynn. According to William J. Mann, in his book Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969, Power was involved in numerous same sex relationships. In his book, The Evening Crowd at Kirmser's: A Gay Life in the 1940s, Ricardo J. Brown confirms that Tyrone Power and Tallulah Bankhead were among thespians and movie stars who were bisexual. In Oops, I Lost My Sense of Humor, Lois M. Santalo writes that "many stars of the silver screen, dating back to Tyrone Power," had been gay or bisexual. In Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon's (both of Sydney University) Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History: From World War II to the Present Day, Power is listed among the "Top box office stars who were gay or bisexual". Your blogger has recently expanded this list of references for all those comments left by those who say I have no evidence, that I'm just repeating rumor. Read this post carefully -- I'm not saying Power was gay; I'm saying he was bisexual, engaging in sexual relations with both men and women.
Although Tyrone was only in his early forties, he was beginning to look older than his years. The busy Hollywood social life, the smoking, drinking, all night parties and other excesses were beginning to take their toll. He ignored the signs that he might have a weak heart like his father and continued to live as he always had. While filming Solomon and Sheba (1958), he did his own stunts and worked outside in the grueling sun, often in heavy armor. One afternoon on the set in Spain, during a dueling scene with George Sanders involving heavy swords, Tyrone collapsed. He'd suffered a massive heart attack and died before anything could be done. He was 44 years old.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
After hopping an oil tanker to Europe and cycling through France and Spain, Cadmus and French settled on the island of Majorca (1931-1933), where Cadmus painted two of his best-known early works, YMCA Locker Room and the Bicyclists (later bought by Cole Porter). After his return to New York in 1933, Cadmus became the center of a circle of gay artists including his brother-in-law, Lincoln Kirstein (who helped found the American School of Ballet), Pavel Tchelitchew, and photographer George Platt Lynes (for whom Cadmus frequently modeled). At the time, he worked for the Public Works of Art Project, which was later incorporated into the WPA. This experience was to help shape his style for the rest of his long career. Nearly illustrative, his paintings remained linked to a realist style found in many WPA works of the 1930s.
In 1934, Cadmus' painting, The Fleet's In, depicted the pleasures of uniformed sailors; it was removed from an exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington because of complaints by Navy officials (the Corcoran also infamously removed Robert Mapplethorpe's pictures in the 1980s). This "disreputable drunken brawl" came from "the sordid, depraved imagination of someone who has no conception of actual conditions in our service", fumed Secretary of Navy Claude Swanson. Like a stealth cruiser, The Fleet was kept from public view until 1981 and is now temporarily displayed at the Navy Art Gallery in Washington, DC. The tight, butt and crotch clinging clothing on the soldiers leaves little to the imagination (click to enlarge).
In 1937 Cadmus’s lover Jared left him to marry a mutual friend, Margaret Hoening. The three of them remained close friends, however, and worked together on a number of photography projects. Throughout the late 1930s Cadmus continued to shock. Murals commissioned for a post office were rejected as "unsuitable for a public building", and in 1939 he once again depicted drunken sailors, causing “Sailors and Floozies” to be removed from the Golden Gate International Exhibition in San Francisco. A mural hung in 1939 in a Richmond, VA, post office depicted an event important in the state's history, The Rescue of Capt. John Smith by Pocahontas; while it contains an image of Pocahontas with a bared breast, and the bare buttocks of a male Indian, Cadmus was ordered to retouch the prominent and suggestive crotch area of another male Indian figure (figure below; click to enlarge).
Despite the stream of rejections and controversies, the 1930s and 1940s were Cadmus' most successful years. Professionally, he was at his peak, and his social life was an endless whirl of glamorous Manhattan parties with friends, including W.H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, Edith Sitwell, George Platt Lynes, and E.M. Forster. In the post-war 1940s he had been involved with artist George Tooker but the relationship was over by 1949. Cadmus once again found love in 1964 when he met Jon Andersson, a singer and actor who became his partner for the next 35 years.
The Bath (center)
Stone Blossom: A Conversation Piece (1939)
Cadmus was a slow, meticulous worker who favored the complicated, time-consuming medium of egg tempera. He finished an average of only two paintings a year. He was more prolific in other media, including drawing, printmaking and photography. Although Cadmus stopped painting toward the end of his life, he continued to draw at his home in Weston, Connecticut, particularly portraits and figure studies of his partner Jon Andersson. Paul Cadmus died in his home in Weston in 1999, just five days short of his 95th birthday.