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 26, 2013

Tchaikovsky: Tragic Gay Composer

Until recently, Russian musicologists have long denied that composer Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was a gay man. He had a string of relationships with men, back from his student days up until his death. Tchaikovsky had a distinct taste for younger men, and his lovers included poets, musicians, servants and other members of the lower classes. Several sources report that when traveling abroad he sometimes used male prostitutes for sexual gratification.

Tchaikovsky was tormented by his suppressed homosexuality and the constant fear of exposure. Although he married one of his students, his attempt at straight family life was disastrous. Even though they remained married, he and his wife had no children and did not live together. Within two weeks of his wedding Tchaikovsky tried to kill himself, hoping to catch pneumonia by plunging himself into the Moscow River. At the urging of his doctor, he fled to St. Petersburg and never saw his wife again, although he continued to support her. She had several children by other men, giving each infant to an orphanage; she spent her final twenty-one years in a home for the certifiably insane.

All of Tchaikovsky’s successes were musical. He enjoyed world-wide fame, and the czar bestowed honors upon him and even granted him a life-long pension. The most significant of these awards was when Czar Alexander III conferred upon him the Order of St. Vladimir, which conveyed hereditary nobility. Tchaikovsky went on to achieve the greatest degree of popularity ever accorded a Russian composer. In 1891 he even conducted the inaugural concert at New York City’s Carnegie Hall.

Modest, his brother, was also gay. In an exchange of letters between the brothers, Tchaikovsky’s homosexuality is confirmed and openly acknowledged. Tchaikovsky had a nephew nicknamed “Bob” – Vladimir Lvovich Davïdov (1871-1906) – to whom he dedicated the Symphonie Pathétique (1893). The photo at left shows Tchaikovsky seated next to his nephew.

Bob, who was thirty-one years his junior, became Tchaikovsky’s lover from the late 1880s. Tchaikovsky was usually homesick during his musical tours abroad, hating the loneliness of large cities; he always longed to get back home to be with his beloved nephew, whom he called “my idol.” Tchaikovsky made Bob his heir, and his letter to Bob from a hotel room in London in May 1893 shows the nature of their relationship: “I am writing to you with a voluptuous pleasure. The thought that this paper is soon going to be in your hands fills me with joy and brings tears to my eyes.” In another letter Tchaikovsky wrote to his nephew, “If only I could give way to my secret desire, I would leave everything and go home to you.”

In late 1893 Count Stenbok-Fermor wrote a letter addressed to Tsar Alexander III complaining of the attentions the composer was paying the Duke's young nephew. Exposure would have meant public disgrace, loss of civil rights and exile to Siberia for Tchaikovsky and for his fellow former students of the School of Jurisprudence. According to some reports, the letter was intercepted, and a court of honor of the “old boys” of the school required Tchaikovsky to kill himself; Tchaikovsky promised to comply with their demand. A day or two later his “illness” was reported (Tchaikovsky poisoned himself in an act of suicide), and official accounts reported a death from cholera (Tchaikovsky’s relatives later confirmed the account of suicide, also relating that Tsar Alexander III was shown the incriminating letter from Stenbok-Fermor after Tchaikovsky’s death). When he died, at fifty-three, sixty thousand people applied for tickets to his funeral, which was paid for by the Tsar; for only the third time in Russian history, a Tsar ordered a state funeral for a commoner.

There are many theories about the actual cause of Tchaikovsky's death – both natural (cholera) and by suicide (poisoning). Conflicting reports arose within days of his death. Suicide would have been a crushing blemish on the reputations of both Tchaikovsky and his countrymen. Nevertheless, Tchaikovsky was adored in his native Russia, and he was perhaps the best cultural ambassador Russia had ever had.

Thirteen years after Tchaikovsky’s demise, his nephew “Bob” tragically took his own life, as well.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ben Whishaw

Earlier this month it was announced that British actor Ben Whishaw (b. 1980), best-known for playing Q in the recent James Bond film Skyfall, has been chosen to replace Sacha Baron Cohen in the role of Freddie Mercury in Mercury, a film about the rock group Queen. The movie, slated for a 2014 release, will focus on Queen's formative years and the period leading up to the celebrated performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert. Cohen, who had been cast in the role back in 2010, left the much-delayed project over creative differences with surviving members of the band.

Stage, film and television star Whishaw, meanwhile, is currently appearing on stage in London’s West End in a revival of the award-winning play Mojo. Generally regarded as one of the most naturally gifted actors of his generation, when he was cast as the youngest-ever Hamlet at the Old Vic in 2004, one critic said: “This is the kind of evening of which legends are made.” This past spring Whishaw again appeared in a project with Judy Dench, this time in the world premiere of Peter and Alice, a play by John Logan.

In an interview in Out magazine, Ben said that he prefers not to talk about his personal life, because he deplores the scrutiny of celebrity. “I have no understanding why we turn actors into celebrities.”  He added, "For me, it’s important to keep a level of anonymity. As an actor, your job is to persuade people that you’re someone else. So if you’re constantly telling people about yourself, I think you’re shooting yourself in the foot.”

However, in August of this year his representative confirmed that Ben Whishaw had entered into a civil partnership with his lover, Australian composer Mark Bradshaw, in Sydney, Australia, in 2012.  The couple met on the set of Bright Star (2009), a film in which Whishaw portrayed poet John Keats. Bradshaw composed the score for that film, and Ben and Mark have been together ever since.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Kerwin Mathews

Kerwin Mathews (1926-2007) was an American film and television actor best known for action, adventure and fantasy films of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Mathews said that "a kind high school teacher put me in a play, and that changed my life." According to a classmate, he was a "handsome rascal".

After serving in the Army Air Corps during WWII, he entered into a seven year studio contract with Columbia Pictures. Although Mathews said his favorite role was that of Johann Strauss, Jr. in the Disney two-part telefilm biopic The Waltz King (1963), he is perhaps best known for his leading roles in children’s fantasy films such as The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), The Three Worlds of Gulliver (1960) and Jack the Giant Killer (1962). He was convincing, and sometimes brilliant, in playing opposite animated figures. Mathews also acted in a number of horror and science fiction films.

In 1961, he met Tom Nicoll, a British display manager at Harvey Nichols, a luxury department store chain, and Mathews and Nicoll became partners for the next 46 years. When Mathews retired from acting in 1978, they moved to San Francisco, where they ran a clothing and antiques shop. At the age of 81 Mathews died in his sleep in San Francisco and was survived by his partner Nicoll. The City of Janesville, Wisconsin, where Mathews attended high school, subsequently renamed a street adjacent to the school "Kerwin Mathews Court". The renovated building now houses the Janesville Performing Arts Center.

Mathews opposite Nadia Sanders in OSS117:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tom Daley

Nineteen-year-old British diver Tom Daley (born May 21, 1994) won the bronze medal for Great Britain in the individual competition at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games held in London. Shortly thereafter he took a role in a British television diving reality TV show, Splash! He made his debut in the show's premiere as a mentor to the celebrity competitors taking part. The show was a ratings success, with an average audience of 5.6 million viewers, and has been renewed for 2014.

On December 2, 2013, Daley released a YouTube video announcing that he has been in a personal relationship with another man since spring of this year. He said, "I still fancy girls, but at the moment I've never been happier.” The video reveals that, while his mother and close friends have been supportive after he revealed his bisexuality, some members of his extended family reacted with “mixed” results.

The man he is dating is Oscar-winning gay rights activist Dustin Lance Black (see sidebar), who is twenty years older than Daley. The two celebrities met at the Kids' Choice Awards in Los Angeles last March and hit it off straight away. Since then Tom has been joining Dustin on trips abroad to Paris, Barcelona and Miami. Dustin’s work as a high-profile gay activist gave Tom the courage to come out by posting his YouTube video yesterday. Apparently the couple think nothing of their age difference and don't care what anyone else might think of it.

Daley has won medals in international diving competitions since 2007. He was just twelve years old when he won a silver medal in synchronized diving at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, and awards have piled up ever since. However, his participation in competitive diving during most of 2013 has been restricted because of elbow and triceps injuries. Currently Mr. Daley is training for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games that will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Charles XII, King of Sweden

Charles (Swedish: Karl XII) was a dashing, handsome* 15-year-old when he became king of Sweden in 1697. During the next 20 years he brought Sweden to its pinnacle of prestige and power through his brilliant military campaigning and victories.

The Great Northern War, as it was called, dominated his life, and he was called “Alexander of the North” by his admirers. He devastated the armies of Denmark, Russia and Poland. In the Battle of Holowczyn, for instance, despite being outnumbered over three to one against the Russian army, Charles pulled out a victory. Other than his military acumen, he was known for two things, his abstinence from alcohol – and a similar abstinence from women.

Charles was also brave to the point of folly. He led his men into battle believing that his example would spur on his men to follow his example. Unfortunately, he was killed on the battlefield at Fredriksheld by a bullet to the head, directly above his right ear. He was 36 years old at the time. Without his leadership, Sweden’s involvement with the Great Northern War ultimately ended in defeat three years after his death.

While his admirers explained away his lack of interest in women by saying he was “married to the military,” Charles had a robust sexual taste for military men. Two of his lovers were military leaders from his army – General Behnsköld and General Stenbock (Count Magnus Gustafsson Stenbock). He also had a serious affair with Prince Maximillian of Württemberg, a younger admirer who had volunteered to serve in his army at the age of 14. Charles called him his “Little Prince” after Maximilian was wounded at age 19 trying to protect Charles from bullets. As well, Charles was involved in a relationship with the much older Swedish field marshal Count Axel Wachtmeister, who had been a close friend of his father.

Voltaire so admired Charles that he wrote a biography in 1731, thirteen years after Charles was killed on the battlefield in 1718, and Samuel Johnson praised Charles in his poem "The Vanity of Human Wishes" (1749).

The Gay Book of Days (1987) – Martin Greif
Queers in History (2009) – Keith Stern
Jonathan to Gide: The Homosexual in History (1964) – Noel Garde

*Speaking of dashing and handsome Swedish men, 34-year-old bachelor Prince Carl Philip was involved in a crash last week when a bus rear-ended his Porsche. He has a taste for fast cars and knows how to fill out a royal uniform. He is shown here with his sister Madeleine while attending the recent wedding of their sister Princess Victoria.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

François Le Metel de Boisrobert

French lawyer, playwright, poet, courtier of Cardinal Richelieu and audacious, irreligious cleric, Boisrobert (1592-1662) was a founding member of the French Academy (Académie française). While Richelieu is given credit for establishing the French Academy, it was in fact Boisrobert who suggested to Richelieu the plan of that august institution whose forty governing members are referred to as “the immortals”. Boisrobert was one of its earliest and most active members.

He was also never far from scandal, and his blatant homosexual proclivities resulted in his being banished from courts and high society time and again, but never for long. His wit, humor and gifts as a  raconteur made him a favorite of both Cardinal Richelieu and Pope Urban VIII.

Although not high born, he became quite wealthy and gained access to the court of King Louis XIII, easily insinuating himself into the circles of noble women, whom he flattered and entertained. His sexual dalliances with the handsome male pages and servants of those in high places earned him the moniker “the Mayor of Sodom.” A contemporary remarked that, “He could have given the Greeks lessons in how to make love.” As a token of his favor, Richelieu conferred the title of canon at Rouen on Boisrobert, but this title of respectability did nothing to change his lifestyle, which was marked by the practice of feminine pursuits of gossip, sartorial excesses, entertainment, literature and art. His innate charm enabled him to play the role of courtier with skill and audacity.



Encyclopedia of Homosexuality (Dynes, 1990)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Napoleon Bonaparte

French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was the first French monarch in a thousand years to bear the title of emperor. So much has been written about his influence on history that I will not attempt a summary. However, I will bring up Napoleon’s being compared to Adolf Hitler by historians Pieter Geyl and Claude Ribbe and the response by David G. Chandler, a historian of Napoleonic warfare: "Nothing could be more degrading to the former [Napoleon] and more flattering to the latter [Hitler].”

An 1805 portrait of Napoleon by Andrea Appiani:

In Frank Richardson’s Napoleon: Bisexual Emperor (1973), the author, a British medical doctor, points out that Napoleon always surrounded himself with inordinately handsome young men, most of whom were given extraordinary military promotions.

Evangeline Bruce, whose biography is titled Napoleon and Josephine: An Improbable Marriage (1995), refers to a note written by the emperor during his exile on St. Helena, an island a thousand miles off the shore of Africa. Bruce relates that Napoleon confided that whenever he met a handsome man, his admiration was felt “first in the loins and then another place I will leave unnamed.” Bruce’s volume also explores the gradual reversal of roles in the marriage between Napoleon and Josephine. 

Keith Stern (Queers in History, 2009) mentions that Napoleon was particularly inclined toward same-sex love with his fellow soldiers, and that many of his aides were notoriously effeminate. General Duroc, who served as Grand Marshal of the palace, was widely rumored to be the emperor’s lover. As well, Gaspard Gourgaud*, one of Napoleon’s aides/lovers, jealously guarded access to his master.

The work of these researchers gives new meaning to the phrase, “Not tonight, Josephine.”

Note: For those of us who live in the U.S., we should recall Napoleon’s fire sale known as the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, in which President Thomas Jefferson accepted Napoleon’s offer to sell over 825,000** square miles of land for 60 million Francs (11.2 million dollars). This equated to less than eight cents a square mile – quite a sweet deal for the United States.

*Thanks to the alert blog reader who corrected my spelling of the name "Gourgaud."
** Thanks to another alert reader who corrected these numbers.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Clifton Webb

Born in Indianapolis as Webb Parmelee Hollenbeck, Clifton Webb (1889-1966) was an unlikely movie star. He began his career as a professional ballroom dancer at age nineteen, and by 1924 he was appearing on Broadway, eventually working his way into a few roles in silent films. During the 1930s Webb was under contract to MGM, but was little used. He continued to work mostly as a stage actor, notably in operettas, musical reviews and Noel Coward’s comedies Blithe Spirit and Present Laughter.

It was not until he was fifty-five years old that he had a chance at movie stardom. Webb found himself cast by Otto Preminger as columnist Waldo Lydecker in Laura (1944), over the objections of Darryl F. Zanuck, the head of 20th Century Fox. The film was a huge success, and Webb received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. A scant two years later he received his second Oscar nomination for his role in The Razor’s Edge (1946).

According to Scotty Bowers (Full Service, 2012), Webb was “obsessively proper, correct and well-mannered...polite to the point of being irritating.” Webb lived with his overbearing mother Mabelle his entire life. “Even though she knew he was gay, she would never discuss the fact with anyone. He took his mother everywhere: to movie sets, dinner parties, and even on vacation. They were inseparable.” Bowers writes that “Cliff was so outlandishly camp that he advertised his sexuality to all and sundry merely by walking into a room.” When asked if he were gay by director Jean Negulesco in 1952, Webb drew himself to full height and replied, “Devout, my boy, devout.”

Webb played the cantankerous and snide babysitter Lynn Belvedere in the huge hit comedy film Sitting Pretty (1948), for which he received yet another Academy Award nomination, this time for Best Actor. He appeared in two sequels as Mr. Belvedere, a role that was not far off from his personal life.

According to Jerry Frebowitz, “Clifton’s public social life...was legendary, as the star and his omnipresent mother Mabelle threw lavish Hollywood parties. He was inseparable from Mabelle, who called her son “Little Webb” his entire life. He lived with his mother until she died at age ninety-one in 1960. When she passed, Webb withdrew into relative seclusion, causing his good friend, noted playwright Noel Coward, to remark, as only he could, ‘It must be difficult to be orphaned at seventy.’ ” Clifton was not able to recover from his mother’s death, and when he died six years later, he was buried next to her in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. Their graves remain a popular tourist destination in star-obsessed Hollywood.

Clifton Webb (in tub) with Dana Andrews in Laura (1944):

Webb appeared in twenty films after his success in Laura. His only film role after his mother’s death was Satan Never Sleeps (1962), in which he played Father Bovard, a self-sacrificing priest. Webb continued to mourn the loss of his mother until his own death from a heart attack in 1966.


Jerry Frebowitz at

Scotty Bowers – Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood (2012)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Darren Young

In a TMZ video interview released on August 15, 2013, WWE wrestler Darren Young (b. 1983) publicly discussed his homosexuality. Thus Young became the first WWE star wrestler ever to come out while still signed to a major promotion. WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) wrestlers Pat Patterson, Chris Kanyon & Orlando Jordan had come out as gay or bisexual after leaving the company or retiring. Darren Young (real name Fredrick Douglas Rosser III) has been in a relationship with his partner Nick Villa for more than two years. The couple resides in Miami.

Nick Villa (left) with “Fred” Rosser, aka Darren Young:

Photo by Jeffery Salter

Later that day WWE released a statement in support of Rosser for being open about his sexuality, and various fellow wrestlers tweeted their support for him. Young also discussed having to overcome his childhood stuttering issues. To the wrestler’s astonishment and relief, he was greeted with open arms by not only the organization's management and fans, but also by his colleagues in the ring.

"They all embraced me, and that was just shocking to me. I truly love them," said Rosser. "It was such a relief. I'm not hiding anymore, and I'm living the dream."

Fred and his partner Nick later appeared as talk show guests on Ellen:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Marsden Hartley

The American painter, poet, and essayist known as Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) was born Edmund Hartley in Lewiston, Maine. After studying at the Cleveland School of Art, he won a scholarship to further his education in New York City, where he became one of the first American artists to paint in the modernist style of Picasso, Paul Klee and Kandinsky. He launched his public career as an artist under the name Marsden Hartley (Marsden was his step-mother's maiden name). Through modern art promoter Alfred Stieglitz (noted photographer and husband of Georgia O’Keeffe), Hartley was given his first one-person show at Stieglitz’s noted 291 gallery, and Hartley gained immediate entrée into New York's avant-garde world.

Hartley went to Paris in 1912 and was welcomed into the influential artistic sphere of Gertrude Stein. While in Paris he was introduced to the abstract art of Franz Marc and Vassily Kandinsky. A year later Hartley settled in Berlin, where he fell in love with a German lieutenant, Karl von Freyburg. Tragically, his lover was killed in battle on October 7, 1914. Grief stricken, Hartley created some of his finest paintings to memorialize their relationship.

Portrait of a German Officer (1915):


He returned to New York in 1915, and by the fall of 1916 Hartley was sharing a house in Provincetown, Massachusetts, with Charles Demuth, another modernist artist. Demuth was one of the earliest American artists to reveal a gay identity through explicit yet positive depictions of homosexual desire. Demuth was also well acquainted with the gay scene of New York, where Hartley became friends with lesbian writer Djuna Barnes.

Hartley returned to Europe in 1921 and pursued his literary bent. He soon published Twenty-Five Poems, a book issued by Robert McAlmon's Contact Publishing Company in Paris. The Great Depression forced Hartley to return to the United States, but a Guggenheim fellowship allowed him to spend 1932 in Mexico, where he became a close friend of Hart Crane, who was also in Mexico on a Guggenheim fellowship. On his return voyage to the U.S., Crane was severely beaten after making sexual advances to a male crew member. Crane subsequently jumped overboard off the coast of Florida, and when Hartley learned of his suicide, he painted Eight Bells Folly (1933, below), a surrealist tribute to Crane.

During the middle years of the Depression Hartley supported himself in New York by participating in the Public Works of Art Project. He struck up a friendship with the Francis Mason family in Nova Scotia, and he was to live with them in a Canadian fishing community for several intervals during the rest of his life. Hartley returned to Maine in 1937, after declaring that he wanted to become "the painter of Maine" and depict American life at a local level. This aligned Hartley with the Regionalism movement, a group of artists who attempted to represent a distinctly American art.

Madawaska, Acadian Light-Heavy, Third Arrangement, 1940

He continued to paint in Maine, primarily scenes around Lovell and the Corea coast, until his death in Ellsworth in 1943.

Hartley's work belongs to an American current of expressionism in which he was a pivotal figure. During his lifetime, however, his shifts of style and the relative immaturity of the American art world prevented his receiving full recognition. This neglect augmented a loneliness that his shyness about his homosexuality induced. However, a full-scale 1980 retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York cemented his reputation.

The portrait below captures artist Marsden Hartley mourning the death of another man whom Hartley admired. A shadowy man haunting the background of this 1942 photographic portrait taken by photographer George Platt Lynes alludes to the loves of Hartley’s life that were lost and unspoken.


Wayne Dynes: Encyclopedia of Homosexuality (1990)


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lee Hoiby

Composer Lee Hoiby (1926-2011) was best known for his operas and songs, although he originally sought a career as a concert pianist. After studying composition with Gian Carlo Menotti he made a career change, going on to make a significant contribution to American music. His vocal repertoire is favored by singers everywhere, especially his art songs, which are championed by such luminaries as Leontyne Price and Frederica von Stade. Many of the texts were selected by his partner, Mark Shulgasser.

Hoiby’s musical style and language were old fashioned. Critics wrote that much of his music could have been written a hundred years previously. When he encountered atonal music for the first time, Hoiby reacted with revulsion. “If music doesn’t have melody and harmony and rhythm as I understand it,” he said, “I’m not interested. A lot of that stuff sounds like wallpaper to me.”

For the most part Hoiby eschewed dissonance and rejected compositional “fads” such a serialism, minimalism and eclecticism. Over a span of sixty plus years of composing music, his style remained consistent and has now come full circle, in that today’s young composers are writing music that is in step with Hoiby’s lifetime output. 

Hoiby wrote only to please himself. He was not part of the musical establishment, instead keeping his distance. In a 2010 profile by Zachary Woolfe, Hoiby stated, “All I did was compose. I never went anywhere, I didn’t know anybody. I never went to any parties. I never met anybody. I’m basically not interested in social life, I guess.”

While composing his best known opera Summer and Smoke (1971), a musical setting of the play by Tennessee Williams, Hoiby had a breakdown that led him to a search for spiritual fulfillment. He joined a New Age group that was also attended by his future partner Mark Shulgasser, a writer and astrologist. “He’s the Jewish intellectual I’ve always wanted,” Mr. Hoiby said.

To mark its tenth anniversary in 2006, Minnesota-based male chorus Cantus commissioned Hoiby to set to music a letter written by Pfc. Jesse Givens, who was killed in Iraq in 2003. Addressed to his pregnant wife, unborn son and six-year-old stepson, it was to be opened only in the event of his death. The closing lines are "Go outside and look at the stars and count them. Don't forget to smile."

Last Letter Home performed by the Cornell University Glee Club:

Hoiby photographed with CANTUS male chorus performers at the premiere of Last Letter Home.

Hoiby died on April 8, 2011, at the age of eighty-five, and he was actively composing at the time of his death. He was survived by Mr. Shulgasser, who shared a home with Hoiby in a remote location in the Catskills.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Michael Huffington

Republican politician, LGBT activist, philanthropist, business executive and film producer Michael Huffington (b. 1947 in Dallas, Texas) was born rich. His father, Roy Huffington, was founder of the natural gas exploration company, Huffco, and Michael served as the company’s vice chairman from 1976 to 1990. He married Greek-born socialite Arianna Stassinopoulis (of Huffington Post fame) in 1986, but by 1998 he was a divorced man with two daughters who had revealed that he was bisexual.

In a Time magazine article by John Cloud (December 1998), it was revealed that openly gay financial guru Andrew Tobias, an old Harvard chum, said he was the first person Huffington told about his sexuality, forty years ago. In an Advocate interview (2006), Huffington stressed that he is bisexual, not gay. He claimed that on the Kinsey scale (from 0 as totally straight to 6 as totally gay), he is a 4.

According to a 1998 Esquire magazine profile by David Brock, Huffington said he began dating men in the 1970s while working at his family’s energy company in Houston, but suffered guilt and depression over the relationships. An affair with one man lasted about a year, but Huffington also continued to date women. At one point he made a private vow to stop sleeping with men. The profile makes the distinction that Huffington is homosexual, but not “gay”. Brock wrote, "Gay means so much more, carries so much cultural baggage, and he's not that. The word gay just doesn't describe him. It really doesn't.”

In a 2008 New Yorker profile of Arianna, we learned that before their marriage Michael Huffington informed her about his interest in men. “In my Houston town house I sat down with her and told her that I had dated women and men so that she would be aware of it.”   

During the 1990s Michael won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served one term as a Republican from California. By just 1.7 percent of the vote he lost his subsequent bid for the U.S. Senate when Californians re-elected Dianne Feinstein. In the 2003 California recall election, Michael endorsed Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger instead of his ex-wife, Arianna Huffington, who was an opposing candidate. Although she withdrew before the election, her name remained on the ballot.

Since his coming out as bisexual, Michael has worked with various organizations such as GLAAD, GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign, the Log Cabin Republicans, the Point Foundation and other groups to help educate Americans about gay, lesbian and bisexual people. Earlier this year Huffington was a signatory to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage during the Hollingsworth v. Perry case.

Huffington's philanthropic activities and commitments are varied and worldwide. A partial list of those organizations that he has supported financially and on which he has served on the Board of Directors include: the Aspen Institute (Aspen, Colorado), the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (NYC), the Culver Educational Foundation (Culver, Indiana), Georgetown University (Washington, DC), the Greek Orthodox Archdioceses of America (NYC), the Music Center of Los Angeles, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NYC), the Salzburg Seminar (Salzburg, Austria) and the University of California at Santa Barbara.

From 1991 to 2000 he was the co-owner of Crest Films Limited, a full-service film production company known for its Emmy-winning commercials, documentaries, and adventure films as well as its work on behalf of non-profit organizations. He produced or executive produced many award-winning films, including For the Bible Tells Me So, an insightful non-fiction film which was shortlisted for the 2008 Academy Award nominations for best documentary. Some of his other credits include Bi the Way, Dissolution, American Primitive, Grassroots and Father vs. Son. Huffington is also a producer of The Geography Club, a gay/bisexual-themed film that opens in limited release on November 15, 2013.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Colin Higgins

Openly gay film director, actor, producer and screenwriter Colin Higgins (1941-1988) was born in New Caledonia, a French island nation east of Australia, although most of his formative years were spent in Australia and California. His father was an American, and his mother Australian. After earning a bachelor's degree in English from Stanford University, he went to UCLA, where he received an M.F.A. in screenwriting.

Although he had solid hits with Silver Streak (screenwriter, 1976), Foul Play (director and screenwriter, 1978), Nine to Five (director and screenwriter, 1980), and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (director and screenwriter, 1982 – the film adaptation of the stage musical), he is best remembered for an earlier film for which he wrote the screenplay – Harold and Maude (producer and screenwriter, 1971), which has become a cult classic. It tells the tale of a suicidal young man (Bud Cort) who falls in love with a 79-year-old woman (Ruth Gordon). Higgins wrote the screenplay, which formed the basis for his thesis while he was still a student at UCLA.

After graduating Higgins went to work for a rich man and his wife in Los Angeles as a part-time chauffeur and pool cleaner in exchange for free accommodation. The man was film producer Ed Lewis, and Higgins showed him a draft of Harold and Maude. Lewis took it to Robert Evans at Paramount, where the film project got the green light. Higgins wanted to direct the script himself, but Hal Ashby was hired as director. Ashby and Higgins were highly compatible, and both were pleased with the result of their collaboration, although it was not a great box office success upon its initial release.

Later Higgins (above left) received an offer from Jean-Louis Barrault (right) in Paris to turn Harold and Maude into a play for French actor Madeleine Renaud. Higgins took on the project, working on the French translation with Jean-Claude Carriere, and the play ran for seven years. The film of Harold and Maude continued to run in cinemas around the world, with some fans having seen it over a hundred times. By 1983 the film had turned a profit, twelve years after its original release.

In this clip from the beginning of the film, Harold meets Maude:

Higgins’ last film project was a 1986 television miniseries based on Shirley MacLaine's book, Out on a Limb. Sadly, Higgins died of AIDS-related illness in Beverly Hills, CA, in 1988, at the tender age of forty-seven.

Trivia: When Colin Higgins was having a hot tub and deck built for his backyard, he hired a young carpenter to do it. That carpenter was Harrison Ford. 

Queers in History (2009) – Keith Stern


Aggie Song: Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

Sunday, October 27, 2013

E. M. Forster

Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970) was an English writer of novels, short stories and essays. After his father died before he was two years old, Forster was raised by female relatives who were affiliated with a stern evangelical sect. At the age of ten, a great aunt left him an inheritance that afforded him a private education while allowing himself to attempt a career as a writer. Forster detested public school, but found King's College, Cambridge, almost a paradise by contrast, with its strongly homoerotic atmosphere among students and faculty.

In 1901 Forster was elected to the elite Cambridge secret society The Apostles, leading to close ties with other members such as John Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey of the Bloomsbury group. After traveling for a year in Italy Forster taught a course at the Working Mens’ College, a part-time commitment he maintained for over twenty years in order to affirm his belief in reducing class barriers. Then four novels appeared in a five year period of creativity: Where Angels Feared to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908) and Howards End (1910). This brilliant body of work, openly critical of Edwardian pieties, secured his fame.

In 1914 Forster completed the first draft of a homosexual novel, Maurice. Realizing that it was not publishable in England after the persecution of Oscar Wilde, he shared the manuscript with only a few friends, including Christopher Isherwood and D. H. Lawrence, who used it as the model for his heterosexual Lady Chatterley's Lover. Forster continued to revise Maurice* until 1960, but it was not published until 1971, after his death the previous year. After completing Maurice, Forster felt that his novel writing was over, as he had exhausted his insights into heterosexual relationships, yet could not publish the works with homosexual themes that affected him personally.

*The film version of Maurice, released by the Ivory-Merchant-Jhabvala team in 1987, was a success and remarkably true to the novel. In Maurice, an upper class man comes to find his true destiny with a working-class boy, the gamekeeper at an estate.

Scholars have long speculated about the reason for Forster’s low productivity after a string that included the aforementioned classics plus A Passage to India (1924), considered by most to be his masterpiece. A Passage to India delivered a sharp critique of British imperialism. Newly revealed papers from Forster, including his sex diary, reveal that his first sexual encounter with a man and the way it compounded his lifelong struggle with homosexuality killed his creative drive. He did not write any novels between 1924 and the time of his death in 1970. Forster lost his virginity to a wounded soldier on an Egyptian beach when he was 38 and later met Bob Buckingham, a married policeman, in 1930. Forster and Buckingham remained lovers until Forster’s death.

After 1924 Forster published only essays and reviews. The broadcasts of his essays on the BBC during the early years of the Second World War (published in Two Cheers for Democracy) delivered to the British people some of the most important writing of the mid-twentieth century, according to Adrian Barlow, a Forster scholar. In 1946 Forster accepted an offer to become an honorary fellow at King's College Cambridge, where he lived for the rest of his life. Although Forster struggled to reconcile the heterosexual English middle-class themes of his famous works with the reality of his affairs with working-class men, he went on to become an influential President of the National Council for Civil Liberties and a committed advocate of free speech.


Wayne R. Dynes – Encyclopedia of Homosexuality (1990)

Julie Bolder for The Advocate (2010):

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Christian VII

Born in Copenhagen, Christian VII (1749-1808) became King of Denmark and Norway and Duke of Schleswig and Holstein upon his father’s death, just a few weeks shy of Christian’s seventeenth birthday. Soon after his marriage at age seventeen to his 15-year-old cousin Caroline Mathilde (the sister of British King George III), Christian abandoned his conjugal duties and indulged in various debaucheries, notably sex with young men. He publicly declared that he could not love Caroline Mathilde, because it was "unfashionable to love one's wife."

Christian became progressively submissive to his physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee, who rose steadily in power in the late 1760s. Christian was a chronic masturbator, and this practice often interfered with his duties, since he prioritized it over his job in many instances. He indulged himself so much that the court physicians, Struensee included, were actually worried that he would eventually render himself infertile.

From 1770 to 1772 Struensee was "de facto" regent of the country and introduced reforms that were signed into law by Christian VII. The neglected and lonely Caroline Mathilde drifted into an affair with Struensee, but in 1772 the 23-year-old king's marriage was dissolved, and Struensee was arrested and executed. Under pressure from his mother, Christian himself signed the arrest warrant.

After the divorce, Caroline Mathilde had to give up her two children, one of which, Princess Louise Auguste, was widely believed to be the daughter of Struensee. Portraits of Princess Louise and Struensee bear a remarkable similarity. Caroline died of scarlet fever at age twenty-three.   

Christian was only nominally king from 1772 onwards, since he was considered mentally unstable. Until 1784, Denmark was ruled by Christian's stepmother Juliana, his physically disabled half-brother and Danish politician Ove Guldberg. From 1784 onwards, his son Frederik served as Regent, until Christian VII's death in 1808.


Craig Kaczorowski for


Sunday, October 20, 2013

David Armstrong

Photographer David Armstrong (at right, portrait by Deidre Schoo) was born in 1954 in Massachusetts and studied painting at the Boston Museum School and Cooper Union (NYC). He soon switched to photography and earned a B.F.A. from Tufts University in 1988.

Armstrong first received critical attention for his intimate sharp focus portraits of men, who were either lovers or friends. In the 1990s he began to photograph cityscapes and landscapes in soft focus,  to contrast his portraits. Street lights, electric signs and automobiles were reduced to a sensual, mottled blur (collected as All Day Every Day). A series of black/white portraits appeared as The Silver Cord. His most recent art book publication is 615 Jefferson Avenue (2011).

Armstrong’s photographs have been included in numerous group exhibitions here and abroad, in such prestigious venues as the Hamburger Kunsthalle (Germany). A large body of David’s work has appeared in print media: French Vogue, L’Uomo Vogue, Arena Homme+, GQ, Self Service, Another Man and Japanese Vogue, among others.  As well, he has contributed to advertising campaigns for a variety of clients, such as Ermenegildo Zegna, René Lezard, Kenneth Cole, Burburry, Puma, and Barbara Bui.

In 1996, Elisabeth Sussman, curator of photographs at the Whitney Museum (NYC), enlisted Armstrong’s help in composing Nan Goldin’s first retrospective. She gained such respect for Armstrong’s eye that she acquired a few of David’s pieces for the Whitney permanent collection. He was subsequently featured in the Whitney 1994 biennial.

David is based in Brooklyn, New York, where his primary subjects remain young boys and men. “It has to do with issues of my own,” he says. “This thing about male youth, this idea that something is fading. I get older and still take pictures of boys that are the age I was when I was first shooting them.”


New York Times interview:


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Scott Pomfret & Scott Whittier

Two men, both named Scott, met at a Boston gay bar in 2001 and entered into a romantic relationship. Two years later they decided that there must be a market among gay men for romantic stories such as their own, so attorney Scott Pomfret (now 44, in black t-shirt) and advertising copywriter Scott A. Whittier (38) decided to try their hand at writing romantic fiction.

At the height of the debate over same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2003, they founded Romentics (romance for men), a company to publish, promote, and sell their books. Inspired by the Harlequin romances that Whittaker's mother and grandmother received by monthly mail order, the couple’s collaborations include titles such as Razor Burn (2005) and Hot Sauce (2005 – Warner Books), books that are filled with heat, passion, obstacles to love and happy endings.

Pomfret, who works on fraud cases for the Securities and Exchange Commission, is from Wellesley. After college, he coached high school football in Massachusetts and Maryland, then went to law school. He practiced law at Ropes & Gray before moving to the SEC. He also wrote fiction and has published short stories in literary magazines. In 2001, he met Whittier, who grew up in Poland, Maine, graduated from the University of North Carolina and came to Boston to join the advertising business. Whittier was the one with the idea to write gay romance stories.

Other collaborations (available at Amazon):
Spare Parts (2004), Nick of Time (2004), Nothing Personal (2005), Surf’n’Turf (2006), E-Male (2009).

Pomfret and Whittier are also the co-authors of the Q-Guide to Wine & Cocktails (2007). The couple met over a vodka tonic and now live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Scott Pomfret also wrote Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic Memoir (2008).

Full Boston Globe interview by David Mehegan:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Nigel Hawthorne

Englishman Nigel Hawthorne (1929-2001) was a sensitive and intelligent actor whose work captivated the public during the 1980s when he appeared in the BBC television comedy series Yes, Minister and its sequel, Yes, Prime Minister. His star turn in the movie The Madness of King George (1994) brought him world-wide attention and spectacularly displayed his talent for dramatic roles. Hawthorne’s acting career spanned more than fifty years, but he struggled for recognition for the first thirty years, until he appeared in the popular Yes, Minister TV series, by which time he was more than 50 years old.

He had worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1980s and played King Lear with that troupe in 1999. He won too many BAFTA awards to count, and he won a Tony Award for Best Actor for his Broadway role as C. S. Lewis in the 1990 production of Shadowlands.

For over twenty years Hawthorne shared his life with screenwriter Trevor Bentham. Although he was an intensely private person, Hawthorn made no secret of his homosexuality. Nonetheless, he deemed it bad manners to "embarrass" people by talking about it. He was thus upset at being "outed" involuntarily in 1995 in the publicity surrounding his Academy Award nomination for the 1994 film, The Madness of King George. The movie was an adaptation of openly gay playwright Alan Bennett’s play, The Madness of George III (1991). Hawthorn had starred in both the British stage and Broadway productions of the play. Bennett insisted that Hawthorne also star in the Broadway staging, refusing to give him up for an actor more familiar to Broadway audiences. Hawthorne attended the Oscar ceremony with his partner Trevor (photo below), who spoke disparagingly about Hawthorne’s outing by the press:

“We have never made a secret of it, and you news people haven’t been that bothered, because he is not Tom Cruise, and he is not Robert Redford. He is a dear, sweet, kind man, hard-working and conscientious, and people respect that. We don’t go screaming around in leather trousers and go to gay bars. We are not interested in that, not remotely. We are two middle-aged people living totally ordinary, conservative, boring lives. We don’t party, we don’t riot, and we don’t have wild times. We are not those kind of people.”

So there you have it.

Hawthorne later spoke openly about being gay in interviews and in his autobiography, Straight Face (2003), which was published two years after his death. Hawthorne became Sir Nigel Hawthorne when he was knighted in 1999. He died from a heart attack in 2001 at age 72. He was survived by his partner, Trevor Bentham. On hearing of Hawthorne's death, Alan Bennett described him as "courteous, grand, a man of the world and superb at what he did...”


Post Apocalyptic Bohemian blog:

Keith Stern: Queers in History (2009)


A 3-minute clip from his star turn in the film "The Madness of King George":

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Marc Jacobs

New York born fashion designer Marc Jacobs (b. 1963) loves the spotlight. He’s not just a famous designer, he’s a celebrity whose personal life fills the gossip columns, and he likes it that way. When he gets a new tattoo, enters or exits rehab, takes up with another ex-prostitute or ex-porn-star boyfriend, the paparazzi are there in force. Jacobs (photo at right by Ed Kavishe) eats it up. His New York office is adorned by a framed cartoon of a woman selling her soul to the devil for tickets to a Marc Jacobs runway show.

His talent has made him very rich. The former stock boy is today worth well over 100 million dollars. A private chef tends the kitchen of his Parisian home that sports a knock-out view of the Eiffel Tower. The chubby, long-haired nerdy Jewish kid in glasses has transformed himself into a gym-buffed jet setter who hob-nobs with the rich and famous, all the while collecting serious art (Georges Braque, Andy Warhol, David Hockney). A restless spirit, Jacobs has just announced his departure as the creative director of the iconic French brand Louis Vuitton, a post he held for more than 15 years. During the first decade of Jacob’s tenure with Louis Vuitton, business at the couture house quadrupled. The reason for his departure? To concentrate on his own work. Jacobs sells his products – clothing, perfumes and luxury accessories (notably handbags that sell for thousands of dollars) – from more than 200 stores in 80 countries.

In 2010 he was ranked as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time magazine, and in 2012 Out magazine declared him one of the “50 most powerful gay men and women in America.” France named him a “Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres,” an award whose purpose is “the recognition of significant contributions to the arts, literature, or the propagation of these fields.”

In 1989 Jacobs posed for Vanity Fair magazine wearing nothing but his signature motorcycle boots and a yellow sheet. He topped that in 2006 when he posed with long-time business partner Robert Duffy in the buff for Protect Your Largest Organ T-shirts, sold to benefit skin cancer. That same year he designed ballet costumes for Amoveo, with music by Philip Glass, which debuted at the Opéra Garnier in Paris. In 2007 he posed nude on the cover of Out, the gay monthly magazine. In 2009 Jacobs dressed Muppets diva Miss Piggy in a custom stone-studded, black taffeta evening gown for her appearance at Macy’s Glamorama party. To promote his new men’s fragrance, Bang (“I like the sexual innuendo of it,” Jacobs said - photo above) he again posed nude, this time with his naked thighs splayed around an enormous bottle of the scent.

At a talk at Manhattan’s 92Y earlier this year, Jacobs confessed, “I love attention. Maybe my desire for attention is a little too out of control, but I’m very honest.”

And very rich.

In a New Yorker magazine feature in 2008, Jacobs told interviewer Ariel Levy, “I love frogs...this sort of fairy-tale frog that became a prince, and the chameleon who changes colors with his environment. ‘Zelig’ is my favorite film. I understand that. I can hang out in a sports bar with a bunch of straight guys and say ‘Go, Knicks’ and I can run around in the art scene and I can also be at the Met ball and be Mr. Fashion Designer with Anna Wintour. I can go wherever I want; I can be whatever I choose.” This, in the end, is Marc Jacobs’s superpower: “I can change colors – for my own amusement and, perhaps, the entertainment of others...That’s what I think everyone should aspire to in life – shamelessness.”

Full New Yorker magazine feature (2008):

While Duffy describes Jacobs as someone who is very insecure about his designing talent, it’s not reflected in the global end product. Jacobs just continues to chain-smoke his way from the runway to the bank. He seems to have an endless supply of ideas for ways to make money. In February of this year he was named the new creative director for Diet Coke. In honor of the brand's 30th anniversary, Jacobs will spend one year giving the brand a "stylish and light-hearted" make-over. Really.

Here Jacobs unveils his newly buffed physique on a balcony in Paris.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hermes Pan

Born to a family of Greek immigrants in Memphis, TN, choreographer Hermes Panagiotopoulos (1910-1990) began his career as a teenager performing in New York City, where he got jobs in speakeasies and on Broadway as a chorus boy. Abbreviating his surname to a more manageable single syllable, Hermes Pan headed to Hollywood and found himself working on the dance sequences for the Fred Astaire film Flying Down to Rio. Pan was 23 years old.

Because he resembled Astaire physically, Pan sometimes doubled for him. A lifelong friend of Astaire, Pan’s greatest fame came from the nine 1930s musicals he choreographed for RKO-Radio Pictures, each of them starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: Flying Down to Rio, The Gay Divorcée, Roberta, Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, Swing Time, Shall We Dance?, Carefree and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle.  Astaire has been quoted as saying, “He (Pan) was the only person I ever saw who could dance like I did.''

Hal Borne, Astaire's arranger and rehearsal pianist, said, ''Hermes was terribly instrumental in everything that Fred did. He was really Fred's alter ego. His ideas for choreography were exactly what Fred wanted.'' In 1988, Pan recounted his collaboration with Astaire. While the choreographer was shaping the ensemble numbers, Astaire started working out his dances with Miss Rogers. Then, the two men would refine them together, and Pan would then introduce them to Miss Rogers. Finally, ''Fred and Ginger would rehearse and perform them.'' Laughing, he recalled, ''With Fred I was Ginger, and with Ginger I was Fred.''

Pan was also a deeply closeted gay man who had trouble squaring his sexual desires with his Roman Catholic faith and a disapproving mother. He eventually entered into a relationship with dancer Gino Malerba, as revealed in John Franceschina’s biography, Hermes Pan: The Man Who Danced with Fred Astaire. Like many gay men of the era, he seldom appeared in public with male partners, and he never lived with Malerba. However, Pan was a frequent escort of Rita Hayworth.

Over the course of his career, Pan went on to choreograph some fifty musicals. He earned an Oscar in 1937 for Damsel in Distress, starring Fred Astaire and Joan Fontaine. This was the first ever Oscar for choreography (then called Dance Direction), and Pan got a raise and bought a brand new yellow Buick convertible to reward himself. He also appeared on screen with Betty Grable (photo at top of post and video below) and Rita Hayworth. Pan won an Emmy in 1961 for Astaire Time: An Evening With Fred Astaire, as well as a Joffrey Ballet citation in 1986.

Pan died at his Beverly Hills home in September, 1990, at age 79.

Footlight Serenade (1942)
Betty Grable and Hermes Pan: Land on Your Feet


Band of Thebes

Peter B. Flint

Monday, September 30, 2013

Jay Bell

Gay romance novelist Jay Bell (b. 1977) won the 25th annual Lambda Literary Award in Gay Romance for his novel Kamikaze Boys (Kindle and other e-book formats). His German-born husband Andeas is an artist and industrial designer who provides the cover art for Jay’s novels (example below), and at present the couple resides in Germany.

Most gay romance novels are little more than same-sex soap opera scripts (the great majority of them written by women*), but Mr. Bell has the literary chops to deliver full-fleshed characters in plots that engage the reader. Most of us can relate to many of the situations in Bell’s books, and the first three of his “Four Seasons” quartet of novels take a set of characters through more than a thousand pages of adventurous, bumpy romance.

*It's always a dead giveaway. No man would describe the color of his shirt as "champagne."

Bell’s fans are eagerly awaiting the final installment of this quartet of gay romance novels. Something Like Summer, Something Like Autumn and Something Like Winter are soon to be followed by Something Like Spring (estimated publication date early 2014).

From Jay Bell’s AMAZON page:

Jay Bell never gave much thought to Germany until he met a handsome foreign exchange student. At that moment, beer and pretzels became the most important thing in the world. After moving to Germany and getting married, Jay found himself desperate to communicate the feelings of alienation, adventure, and love that surrounded this decision, and has been putting pen to paper ever since.

Jay met his partner at a Lawrence, Kansas, bar’s “gay night.” Three months later, Andreas’ student visa expired, so he returned to Germany. Jay wrote him a “Dear John” letter expressing his chagrin that their affair was over, but Andreas misunderstood, thinking that Jay meant “over for the summer.” At the onset of the fall semester, Andreas reappeared, having decided to pursue his masters degree in industrial design at the University of Kansas (KU). Such misunderstandings are the foundation of Jay’s novels, with the volume turned up. Way up.

Once Andreas completed his degree, the couple moved to Germany. At first the plan was to live there for three years, but that eventually turned into more than ten. Their return to the U.S. is delayed until immigration legislation is passed that will allow full recognition of their same-sex marriage. Unable to work in a country where he didn’t have fluency in German, Jay began to write. When no publisher expressed interest in Something Like Summer, Jay decided to self-publish (, and legions of fans have enjoyed the output of his writings. Sales have been so successful that Jay can support himself from royalties alone, and he states that e-book format sales far outstrip receipts from print editions.

Jay relates that writing down a story is the easy part – dreaming up the characters and plots is far more difficult and time consuming. He says the people who buy his books are a “breathtaking mix of teenagers, middle-aged people and senior citizens from all walks of life and every hue of sexuality.”

“Luckily,” Bell says, “I’m extremely immature, so my inner adult rarely gets in the way.” He continues, “I’ve always been the sort of person who goes to desperate lengths in the name of love. My characters, like me, might be aware of the mistakes they are about to make, but they also weigh the odds and decide it might be worth it to get what they want. Whether that’s creepy or charming depends on what the intended target thinks. It’s probably for the best that I’m safely married now.”

Something Like Autumn cover art by Jay's husband Andreas:

The film version of Something Like Summer is scheduled for a 2014 release from Blue Seraph Productions, with Carlos Pedraza and J. T. Tepnapa, the creative team behind the gay indie hit, Judas Kiss, writing and directing. The film has still to be cast and Bell says, “I’d honestly prefer they find young talent that’s relatively unknown.” Bell says when he sees a picture of the fashion model, Bruno Santos (below), he thinks, “Hey! You remind me a little of that Tim guy in my head!” Bell says he hand-picked Kevin R. Free to narrate the audio version of Something Like Summer because Kevin’s voice had the youth and humor he felt was needed to bring Ben to life.

Bruno Santos, reminiscent of Tim:

Source: Jay Bell interview by Dick Smart
Complete interview:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hubert Lyautey

Serving in Morocco during the early days of WWI, Frenchman Hubert Lyautey (1854-1934) was recalled to Paris during the last month of 1916 to become War Minister under Aristide Briand’s government. He soon became convinced that the planned offensive by French, British and Russian troops against the German Western Front would be a massive mistake. Powerless to stop the disastrous campaign, he resigned his office just three months into the job, returning to Morocco, where he was able to pursue his interest in handsome young men, especially those under his own command.

In Keith Stern’s “Queers in History,” he writes, “The flamboyant Lyautey made no secret of his admiration for young men. In fact, he went so far as to claim that he could not work with men unless he had sex with them first.” French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau noted that Lyautey was "an admirable, courageous man, who has always had balls between his legs – even when they weren’t his own."

Though Lyautey preferred handsome young officers as companions, he never promoted their careers unfairly and was thus able to maintain the loyalty of the soldiers under his command. They suppressed any criticisms about his sexual orientation in appreciation of his abilities as a soldier, administrator, and leader. In 1921 General Lyautey was made Marshal of France, the highest rank in the French army, and in May 1931, his image graced the cover of Time magazine, which honored him as an “empire builder” for his work in northern Africa. At the time Lyautey was considered France’s greatest colonial soldier.

A statue of Lyautrey in Casablanca, which he had helped develop into a seaport:

In “Heroes of Empire: Five Charismatic Men and the Conquest of Africa,” Edward Berenson’s chapter on Lyautey in Morocco points out that the army “was one of the best places for gay men to remain discreet; there a homosexual could spend his life in the company of young soldiers while exhibiting the virility and honor seemingly inherent in a military career.”

As a youth, the only women in Lyautey’s life were his mother and sisters, with whom he was close. To escape a young woman who wanted desperately to marry him, he fled to Indochina in 1894, stating that he was personally incompatible with the institution of marriage. While in Indochina he served as chief of staff to General Gallieni, who shared Lyautey’s sexual proclivities. When Gallieni was made military commander of Madagascar in 1897, Lyautey followed him.

Lyautey wrote admiringly of the naked male body and penned homoerotic prose about the Islamic, Greek and Ceylonese youths he encountered during his military career. He liked to dress up in Arab garb and favored Persian carpets, luxurious silks and porcelain as decorations for his offices – even his tents.

In one of his diary entries (1886), Lyautey wrote: “...this sub-lieutenant, who pleases me so much and came from ten p.m. to two a.m. to warm up my thirty-year-old self with his hot and rich sap...what a young, vigorous and generous nature! I regret his departure.”

Well, there you have it.

Nevertheless, Lyautey did finally marry at age fifty-five; however, this union with Inès de Bourgoing, the daughter of the squire of Napoleon III, produced no children. His marriage was described as a companionate union, rather than one of love or lust. Writer Douglas Porch (“The Conquest of Morocco” 1982) relates that Lyautey married primarily to have someone to manage his social calendar.

Upon his death at age 79 in 1934, Lyautey’s body was interred in his native Nancy before being moved to Rabat, at the request of the Sultan of Morocco. As evidence of the esteem in which he was held by the people of France, in 1961 Lyautey’s body was transferred to the Dôme des Invalides in Paris, near the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte. Lyautey’s elaborate tomb bears inscriptions in Arabic and French. Tellingly, the remains of Lyautey’s wife were buried in Thorey-Lyautey, in northeastern France.