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.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

John Barrowman

Entertainer/actor John Barrowman was born to be on the stage. He's a dual citizen of the US and Great Britain, born in 1967 in Scotland but moving with his family to Illinois when he was eight years old. He relocated to San Diego to study performing arts at the United States International University, and as part of an exchange program, he returned to the United Kingdom in 1989 to study Shakespeare for six months. Because of his bi-national background, he alternately speaks with an American and Scottish (with his parents) accent.

Barrowman has scaled the heights of television and stage on both sides of the Atlantic, while forging a successful singing and entertainment career. As well, he has authored two memoirs. Barrowman is hugely popular in Great Britain.

Perhaps his highest public profile comes from his role as Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and its spinoff, Torchwood, in which he plays a lead bisexual character (pan-sexual might be more apt; he has sexual relations with men, women and aliens alike). These two interrelated television shows have aired from 2005 to the present. Torchwood is a BBC science fiction series about a team of alien hunters. The fourth season was aired during the summer of 2011 on the Starz network.

Here is a clip from Season 1: Episode 12 (aired January 2007)
Jack (Barrowman) travels back in time to 1941 and meets his namesake, an American Army Captain named Jack Harkness (in military uniform), the man whose identity he assumed after his death. The song is the 1940 standard, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, sung by Melissa Moore.

Barrowman's partner since 1993 has been Scott Gill. They became civil partners in 2006 and have homes in Cardiff (Wales) and in London.

In a recently published memoir, Barrowman revealed that when he was just beginning his acting career, management sent a gay producer to talk to him. The producer told Barrowman that he should try to pretend to be heterosexual in order to be successful. Barrowman was offended by the incident, and it made him more aware of the importance of his role as a gay public figure: "One of my explicit missions as an entertainer is to work to create a world where no one will ever make a statement like this producer did to me to anyone who's gay.” He has worked tirelessly as an activist for LGBT rights. In June 2010, Barrowman met with England’s Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron as a representative of the LGBT community.

According to his memoir, when the part of Will in Will & Grace came down to a decision between him and Eric McCormack, the producers decided to go with Eric, because John was too "straight-acting." John, who is openly gay, lost the role of a gay character to a straight actor. Nonetheless, it has been no detriment to Barrowman's career.

Here’s a clip of Mr. Barrowman showing his skills as a singer (he has several best-selling CDs as a vocalist). This is a television performance of John singing Maria from West Side Story.

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