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.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Gus Van Sant
Openly gay, he has dealt unflinchingly with homosexual themes in which his characters are more often misfits than role models. As a writer and director, he created My Own Private Idaho (1991) and an adaptation of Tom Robbins' novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993). His mainstream triumph, as director of Good Will Hunting (1997, photo with Matt Damon, below), led to an unusually faithful remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho, a disappointment that met with equal parts curiosity, skepticism, and derision from industry insiders and the public alike.
His next project will star Taylor Lautner (who has had to remind us for the thousandth time that he’s “straight” – funny how that concept just doesn’t stick in our heads) in a movie about illegal underground boxing matches in NYC’s Chinatown in which the participants are buffed male models. Based on a non-fiction article that appeared in New York magazine on February 13, 2011 (Fight Like a Pretty Boy by Alex Morris), it will give Mr. Lautner (abs-featured photo below) an excuse to take off his clothes for “his art” (not his fan base) and Van Sant an excuse to inject heaps of homoerotic subtext in a film for a mainstream audience.
Alrighty then. I give the project my vote, as it seems a perfect match for Van Sant and Lautner, and I hereby cease my bitchy comments about the über-straight Mr. Lautner. Filming is to commence any day now.
I should also note that Gus Van Sant has written one novel, Pink, and published a book of his photography, called 108 Portraits. He has also exhibited original art works (watercolors), made music videos and has released two CD albums on which he sings and plays all instruments.
Below: Van Sant with Sean Penn, star of Milk.
My Own Private Idaho stars Keanu Reeves (Scott) and River Phoenix (Mike) as street hustlers. In this scene drug-addicted Mike, who suffers from narcolepsy, professes his unrequited love to Scott; Phoenix himself expanded Van Sant’s original 3-page scene into an 8-page confessional that clears up the ambiguity of his character's sexual orientation. The film, whose title is derived from the song "Private Idaho" by the B-52s, is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Henry IV plays, with the character of Scott (Keanu Reeves) based on Prince Hal. The plot, which centers on death and betrayal, provides roles of great density, rare offerings for such young actors. River Phoenix received enormous praise for his performance. Tragically, two years after the release of this film, Phoenix collapsed and died of drug-induced heart failure on the sidewalk outside West Hollywood’s Viper Room nightclub, at the age of 23.
"Campfire Confessional" scene from My Own Private Idaho: