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.

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.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Micah Porter

First reported by Cyd Zeigler (co-founder of on September 19, championship track and field/cross-country coach Micah Porter (at right in black shirt) bravely came out to his team of high school athletes. Photo from OutSports.

From Zeigler’s post on

Porter called his team together before practice a week ago and told them he had some news. He let them know that an article about him would be coming out that week, and that the article discussed his being gay and would talk about his partner, Brandan. The news was met with the same silence that stared back at him when he came out to his wife four years earlier. After a few seconds, one of the team leaders – who Porter says could end the season as a conference champion – stood up, shook his hand, told him it didn't matter to him, and asked what that day's practice had in store for them. The rest of the team laced up their shoes and followed suit. "It was a positive moment for me and for them as young men and for us as a young team," Porter said. "After all that worry, it was a non-issue for them."

Full story at:

Photo by Andy Cross for the Denver Post

To say that Coach Porter, who is in his early 40s, is in a complicated situation is understatement. He came out to his team against the advice of the school’s administrators, to whom Porter had revealed his sexual orientation in 2010. At that time Porter had been instructed to steer clear of the locker room and to change into his coaching gear in a private bathroom (Porter also teaches history at the school), a situation that elicited this response from Porter:

"Every day I have to go into a bathroom to change...It's a reminder that I'm a second-class citizen in a school I've given so much to."

From your blogger: Well, OK. This is where I exit my role as reporter and switch to having to make some personal observations. Does Porter even consider that he just might have earned his “second-class” citizen status? When he took this coaching job seventeen years ago, he deceived the school by not telling his employer that he knew he was sexually attracted to men. The school was acting defensively, fully aware of its liability in keeping Porter on its staff. Less liberal students and parents might sue, so keeping Porter out of the locker room was their way of protecting themselves. IMHO Porter should be down on his knees thanking his lucky stars that he is still afforded the opportunity to teach and coach at his West Denver high school. But that’s just me.

Back to the facts.

Porter’s coaching ability and record make him a valuable asset to his school. He is a four-time state champion head coach, was once named state coach of the year, has won twelve county coach-of-the-year honors for his sport and was the county's coach of the year for all sports once. As if that weren’t enough, he has coached 33 athletes to individual state titles. Academically, the cherry on top was that he was named the high school’s Teacher of the Year in 2004. For thirteen years he had been married to another teacher at the same school; together they were the head coaches of the school's cross-country teams.

Naturally, Porter had been tormented by the fact that over the years his sexual feelings for men would not go away. Depressed, he sought help from medications prescribed by his therapists. During the months following his coming out to his wife, the couple told their son and daughter the truth, then separated and divorced. A year later, Porter came out to his school administrators, who supported his continued teaching and coaching duties at their school. The high school’s athletic director, Jerry McWhorter, says, "I've never heard a negative thing about him from anybody...He's well-respected throughout the state as a coach. He gets a lot out of his athletes...I support Micah 150%. I always have and I always will. I don't have a bad word to say about the guy. He's a great coach, he's a great teacher."

More from Zeigler’s post:

...shortly after the divorce, Porter began dating Brandan Rader, a psychology student at the University of Colorado at Denver. The two met when Porter came across a talk by Rader at a nearby school encouraging youth to accept their sexual orientation. Porter asked Rader to lunch, they hit it off, and they have been together since.

That was over two years ago. In that time, they've been seen together around town. A lot. Porter has introduced Rader to parents and friends. Various students live in their neighborhood; some have asked "who was that man" they saw with Porter. Between that and a high-profile divorce in the high school, there are likely few adults in the area who don't know Porter's poorly kept "secret."

The buzz has trickled down to the student body. Porter said his daughter, now a freshman at the University of Denver, was asked by a runner she was dating if her dad was gay. The school's head basketball coach told Porter he was asked by his team about Porter's sexual orientation.

"When people ask, I tell them," Porter said. "My closest friends at school know, and I tell them they can tell whomever they want. It's a major part of who I am as a person, but it's not the defining part. I'm a coach, I'm a teacher, I'm a dad, I'm Brandan's partner.”

Despite his concerns, McWhorter said he hasn't heard a word from Porter's athletes about their coach being gay. In fact, he hasn't fielded a single complaint from any staff member or parent in the couple of years Porter has been drifting out of the closet. Not a word.

As time has gone by, and more people know the worst-kept secret in Denver, Porter has loosened up. Lately he has even asked Brandan to attend track meets.

"I wake up every day excited about life and my job and my relationship with Brandan," Porter said. "We bought a house together. We're building a life together. There are parts of my life I hope to repair, but I take better care of myself, I have so much more confidence than I ever have in my life.

"For the first time in a long time, I've had people tell me I look happy. For the first time in a long time, I am."...

From your blogger Terry:
Perhaps the best lesson we can learn from coach Porter’s story is that living a lie will eventually catch up with us. Be the best you can be, face up to the truth and deal with the consequences. It’s our only chance at happiness and a worthwhile life. Let’s wish Porter and his partner the best of success.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Jacque Mapes and Ross Hunter

Note to readers: This is my 400th post! Unbelievable.

Art director, set designer and film producer Jacque* Mapes (1914-2002) and Ross Hunter (1920-1996) were a power couple during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Mapes is best remembered for creating the sets for Singin’ in the Rain (1952), and Hunter for producing many Rock Hudson and Doris Day films. Among Hunter’s first successes was Magnificent Obsession (1954), and his last major hit was Airport (1970), for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Mapes and Hunter were frequently co-producers on the same film projects, thus sharing professional and private lives. Together they produced Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) with Julie Andrews.

*frequently misspelled “Jacques”

Photo at left: Mapes with Jane Powell (1950s)

Mapes and Hunter met at a private Hollywood party during the 1940s. One of them was then Tyrone Powers' male lover, and the other was Errol Flynn's lover. Hunter later recalled, "I remember I was at the top of the stairs, and there stood Jacque. Our eyes met, and we left the party, dumped our famous boyfriends, and we've been together ever since."

Hunter, who died of cancer in 1996, enjoyed a twenty-year career as a Hollywood producer beginning in the 1950s. Born Martin Fuss, Hunter first aspired to become an actor, but never got beyond bit parts in B-movies. The switch to producer exposed his true talent. Mapes, however, began working as an RKO set decorator with the film The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), starring Charles Laughton. After a stint in the Navy during WWII, he returned to Hollywood, this time taking a job at MGM. Mapes and Hunter later enjoyed successful careers as TV producers and were life partners until their deaths.

Ross Hunter:  
"The way life looks in my pictures is the way I want life to be. I don't want to hold a mirror up to life as it is. I just want to show the part which is attractive."

Photo below: Ross Hunter (right) on the set with Rock Hudson (Magnificent Obsession - 1954)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Colby Melvin

Brought up to be a "Southern gentleman," LGBT Rights activist Colby Melvin got a job in the oil and gas industry after graduating from college in Mobile, Alabama. He worked in a major management position while assisting in the recovery efforts following the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill.

However, one of his bosses discovered that Colby was gay, which unfortunately led to corporate bullying. Even so, Colby stood his ground, determined not to hide his sexual orientation. He came out to friends and his family and left the Gulf of Mexico job, immediately shifting his career emphasis to LGBT activism, with special emphasis on marriage equality.

Colby now works as a spokesmodel for Full Frontal Freedom (FFF), a coalition of independent artists and media executives who use their talent and creativity to raise awareness and enhance civil discourse. Colby appeared in an FFF video that was a parody of a One Direction hit, and that “Disclosure” video (at end of post) was one of the most-watched political videos of the 2012 campaign season. For his work on that video Colby received the Human Rights Award for Political Performing Arts from the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club in New York.

Colby recently announced his engagement to Brandon Brown, and Gabriel Gastelum, who designed and compiled their engagement album (and took the two photos above), said, "I’ve worked a lot with these two and they have become incredible friends. No fancy lights, no magazine or online features, no concepts. Not this time. Just love. Colby and Brandon are fighting hard for their love. It shouldn’t have to be that way. It’s hard to love yourself, let alone someone else, when there are a lot of ignorant people out there who don’t accept you for who you are. Well, you know what? Screw them. Yeah. I said it. It doesn’t matter who you love. Underneath it all, it’s the same love. Colby and Brandon. Thank you so much for letting me capture your love. It was truly special."

You likely do not know that Colby Melvin and his fiancé Brandon Brown have both worked as Andrew Christian underwear models. Colby took that job because it combined his love of politics with his flair for entertainment – a perfect fit (pun intended).

A photo from Colby's modeling days:

Last year Colby starred in Full Frontal Freedom's "Disclosure" political video:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

George Cecil Ives

Englishman George Ives (1867-1950) was the most famous gay activist you’ve never heard of. He formed a secret society for homosexuals called the Order of Chaeronea, named after the battle site where the Sacred Band of Thebes (an army of male lovers) met their annihilation in 338 BC. Members dated letters and other materials from the year of that battle, so that 1950 would be written as C.2288.

Ives believed that since homosexuals were not accepted openly in society, they needed to have a means of underground communication. The Order’s rituals were based on the writings of Walt Whitman, and the society took on issues beyond the realm of homosexuality, making efforts to reform laws affecting STDs, birth control, abortion and other repressive sex related statutes. This was in 1897! The Order, which promoted what Ives referred to as "The Cause," soon attracted members worldwide.

The Order of Chaeronea’s manifesto:

"We believe in the glory of passion.
We believe in the inspiration of emotion.
We believe in the holiness of love."

According to Ives, the Order was to be "A Religion, A Theory of Life and Ideal of Duty", although its purpose was primarily political. Ives stressed that The Order was not to be a means for men to meet other men for sex. It is estimated that, under Ives, the society numbered about 300 participants, the same as the number of soldiers of the Sacred Band of Thebes, but the Order’s secrecy meant that no membership lists were in circulation. The Order of Chaeronea was resurrected in the United States in the late 1990s and today has chapters in South Africa, France and the United Kingdom, as well.

When he was in his mid-twenties, Ives met Oscar Wilde, who was attracted by his youthful good looks. Through Wilde, Ives met Lord Alfred (Bosie) Douglas, with whom he had a brief affair. Although Ives recruited both men to join his "Cause," neither chose to join him. Their acquaintance, however, did provide Ives with an important entry into the Victorian literary scene. Ives figured prominently in the published diaries of Oscar Wilde.

In 1914 Ives became a co-founder of the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, which in 1931 became the British Sexological Society. Ives was the archivist for this society, whose papers are now housed at the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas at Austin.

Ives was also a noted authority on prisons who wrote several books and lectured about English penal methods. A true polymath, Ives thus had multiple careers as a poet, penal reformer, writer and gay rights activist.

Sources: "Queers in History" by Keith Stern and "The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde" by Neil McKenna.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wentworth Miller

Actor Wentworth Miller was in the headlines last month by declaring that he was gay, upon declining an invitation to attend a Russian Film Festival. His refusal was his way of condemning Russia’s anti-gay homosexual propaganda legislation. Now, the sexy 41 year old "Prison Break" star revealed that he attempted suicide as a teenager, unable to come to terms with his sexuality.

All this time I did not report on Miller’s coming out, because I resented his earlier (2007) statements on the matter. Long rumored to be gay, here's what he had to say:

"No, I’m not gay. I know these rumors are out there – I’m cool with the fact that they exist, I mean this is about fantasy," the actor said. "Certain people are going to have certain fantasies, if someone wants to imagine me with a woman, or a man or one of each, that’s cool with me as long as you keep watching the show."

Spineless (the above quote comes from a 2007 interview with the Australian Associated Press), I know. But I think he can now serve as a role model to those who face similar fears, so it’s time I get over myself and cut the guy some slack.

The New York Daily News reported that Miller was a special guest at the Human Rights Campaign Seattle Gala on Saturday, Sept. 7, and during that time he admitted that he had tried to take his own life "more than once," as he struggled to understand that he was gay.

"Growing up I was a target. Speaking the right way, standing the right way...Every day was a test and there were a thousand ways to fail, a thousand ways to betray yourself, to not live up to someone else’s standards of what was accepted, of what was normal...

...The first time I tried to kill myself, I was 15. I waited until my family went away for the weekend and I was alone in the house, and I swallowed a bottle of pills," Miller added. "I don’t remember what happened over the next couple of days, but I’m pretty sure come Monday morning I was on the bus back to school, pretending everything was fine. And when someone asks me if that was a cry for help, I’d say, ’No.’ You only cry for help if you believe there’s help to cry for. And I didn’t need it, I wanted out." (Source: TMZ video interview)

Miller said after he became famous for his role in "Prison Break," he had a number of chances to come out but didn’t, "because when I thought about the possibility about coming out, and about how that might impact me and the career I worked so hard for, I was filled with fear."

His comments about refusing to attend the St. Petersburg International Film Festival:

"As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes," Miller wrote in the letter, posted on GLAAD’s website. "However, as a gay man, I must decline."

"I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government," Miller continued. "The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systemically denied their basic right to live and love openly."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Vladimir Horowitz

UPDATED POST (original version published on Nov. 12, 2011):

Ukranian-born pianist Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989) was a twentieth-century pianist who embodied the grand piano style of the late nineteenth century. His legendary technique and artistry remain a source of inspiration for generations of pianists and listeners.

His solo career began in the Soviet Union, where he quickly established himself as a bravura performer possessed of an astonishing technique. He was allowed to leave Russia in 1925 as part of a mission to propagate Soviet culture abroad. However, he decided not to return and accepted the honorary citizenship of Haiti in 1929, in order to facilitate international travel. In 1945 he became a citizen of the United States.

During his early performing years Horowitz developed a reputation as an eccentric who dressed in lurid, extravagant clothing (mostly in pink and red) and hung out in sailors' bars in port cities, often seen wearing make-up. His homosexual activities fed the gossip and rumor mills.

Kenneth Leedom, who still lives in lower Manhattan, relates that long ago he answered Horowitz’s newspaper ad for a personal assistant and became his lover for five years, although Horowitz was married at the time. Leedom recalls that Horowitz had an uncontrollable temper, often yanking a corner of a tablecloth so that everything on the table crashed to the floor. Emphasis on OFTEN. In spite of frequent tantrums, Leedham said that Horowitz also had a sweet, lovable side. “He really adored me.”

Horowitz's same-sex interests at this time were no secret to his friends. In Berlin, he hired the first of these live-in “personal assistants”, who would accompany him in all his travels, both business and personal. He kept up this practice after his marriage, and his wife tolerated it. In 1933, Horowitz had performed for the first time with legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini, and he soon thereafter married Toscanini's daughter, Wanda. Because of his strong sexual interest in men, friends expected the marriage to last no more than a month. The couple went on to have a daughter, but Horowitz found himself temperamentally unsuited for the role of father.

In 1940, Horowitz began psychoanalytic treatment with Dr. Lawrence Kubie, a psychiatrist who specialized in "curing" homosexuals, especially celebrities. Among Kubie’s other patients were Moss Hart and Tennessee Williams. Horowitz separated from his wife in 1949 after failing to change his sexual orientation and underwent electroshock therapy to cure depression.

Later in life Horowitz was seen in New York City's gay bars and discotheques, where he displayed a more relaxed attitude toward his homosexuality. Eventually reunited with her husband, Wanda learned to tolerate and accept his eccentricities, including his sexual attraction to men.

Horowitz's legacy is preserved through his outstanding recordings. Although Horowitz was a leading interpreter of Liszt, Schumann, and Rachmaninov, he was an insecure performer who often suffered debilitating episodes of stage fright. On many occasions he had to be literally pushed onto the stage. He was a major promoter of music by composers relatively unknown in the United States at the time: Prokofiev, Szymanowski, Scriabin, Kabalevski, Scarlatti and Clementi (example below). As well, he championed American gay composer Samuel Barber.

In 1986, Ronald Reagan awarded Horowitz the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States. Three years later he died of a heart attack.

Note: I remember stumbling upon his grave quite by accident in Milan, Italy, about ten years ago. I was looking for the family crypt of Arturo Toscanini in the enormous Cimitero Monumentale. When peering through the metal gates of the crypt, I noticed the gilded carved letters that indicated Horowitz was buried in the tomb of his father in law, alongside wife Wanda and daughter Sonia.

Horowitz was a great promoter of the piano sonatas of Muzio Clementi (1752-1832), at a time when Clementi was considered passé. Here Horowitz performs a movement from Clementi’s Op. 25, No. 5:

Friday, September 6, 2013

Moss Hart

American playwright and theatre director/producer Moss Hart (1904-1961) considered George S. Kaufman his greatest collaborator. Among the hit comedies they wrote together were You Can’t Take It With You (1936 – Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Oscar for Best Picture) and The Man Who Came To Dinner (1939). Hart also wrote a best-selling autobiography called Act One (1959), about which George S. Kaufman said, “I’m very pleased for Moss that Act One is on the best seller list. I simply feel that it should be under fiction instead of non-fiction.” Kaufman knew what he was talking about.

Hart’s wife Kitty Carlisle (1910-2007) was committed to protecting her husband’s secrets. A socialite, opera singer, stage and film actress and cabaret performer, she was married to Hart for the last fifteen years of his life, and their union produced two children. Although Hart died in 1961 of a heart attack at age 57, she lived for another 46 years, never remarrying. In Steven Bach’s biography of Hart, Dazzler: The Life and Times of Moss Hart (2001), the author revealed that throughout his marriage Hart was a closeted bisexual. Miss Carlisle made no public comment about the contents of the book, but until her death she continued Hart’s own attempt to heterosexualize his life story, despite his physical relationships with literary agent Lester Sweyd. MGM screenwriter Charles Lederer and many of the homosexuals mentioned in Hart’s autobiography. In a 1939 letter written by Hart to Dore Schary (later president of MGM Studios), he wrote the damning words, “We shall once again lay in each other’s arms and taste the sweetness of sin – I love you very much.”

After his death Carlisle sealed Hart’s diaries and prevented access to materials that contained evidence of his sexuality. Nevertheless, Hart’s name cropped up on lists of bisexuals by Yamaguchi Fletcher, Adrien Saks and others.

Suffering from writer’s block, manic depression and numerous nervous breakdowns, Hart developed an addiction to psychoanalysis. His therapist, Lawrence Kubie, strongly disapproved of Hart’s gay alliances and pushed him into eventually adopting an entirely heterosexual lifestyle. Kubie was known for “conversion therapy” that resulted in redirecting gay or bisexual patients to heterosexual lives. Kubie saw Hart twice a day and conducted shock therapy once a week. As a result, at age 42, Hart married Kitty Carlisle, an act that greatly surprised most of his friends and associates. After getting married, Hart ended his friendships with many "out" gay men, but Arthur Laurents reported his embarrassment at the wedding reception at Hart’s house in Bucks County, PA, when Hart suggested that the men take all their clothes off when there were no women around. Following a performance by Kitty Carlisle at Bucks County Playhouse in 1948, Hart proudly presented his infant son to the audience, declaring, "Now they won't be able to say I'm gay anymore."

Although a tortured man psychologically, Hart enjoyed tremendous professional success. He directed huge Broadway hits such as My Fair Lady (1956 – Tony Award for Best Director) and Camelot (1960). During the latter production, actor Robert Goulet maintained that Hart behaved in a “notably flirtatious manner” toward him; others involved in Camelot confirmed this. Hart’s screenplays included major successes such as A Star Is Born (1954) and Gentlemen’s Agreement (1947).

Personal note from your blogger: One of the first professional stage productions I ever saw was a revival of Hart's Light Up the Sky.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Michael Kaiser

Michael Kaiser (b. 1953), president of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, married his long-term partner John Roberts (at right in photo by Margot Shulman), an economist, on August 31, 2013.

The wedding took place at the Kennedy Center with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiating. The ceremony marked the first time a Supreme Court justice had married a same sex couple. Justice Ginsburg, 80 years old and a long-time friend of Kaiser, is an opera enthusiast and frequent patron of the Kennedy Center. The recent Supreme Court rulings about same sex marriage did not influence the wedding between Kaiser and Roberts, because it has been legal for same sex residents of the District of Columbia to marry since 2009.

Kaiser’s expertise in arts management has earned him international renown from his work with American Ballet Theatre, the Royal Opera House, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Kansas City Ballet. A native of New York City, he early on aspired to be an opera singer but soon realized his deficiency in that field. He instead went on to earn degrees in economics and management and in 1981 founded Kaiser Associates, a strategic planning company with elite clients such as IBM and General Motors. He changed fields in 1985 when he became general manager of the Kansas City Ballet, an arts institution that was on the brink of bankruptcy at the time. During his six years at the helm, the ballet company experienced a complete turnaround, able to pay off its debt and attract larger audiences as a result of Kaiser’s programming initiatives and management skills. In 1988 his family suffered a personal crisis resulting in Kaiser’s donating a kidney to his sister, Susan.

In 1991 Kaiser became executive director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, also in dire straights, and achieved similar success. An even greater challenge came in 1995, when Kaiser became executive director of American Ballet Theatre, then sinking under $5.5 million in accumulated debt. Once again, Kaiser worked a near miracle, and within three years all of the debt was retired, while reaching larger audiences and expanding the company’s educational initiatives. During that time the Chicago Tribune dubbed Kaiser the “Turnaround King.”

His greatest challenge and most spectacular results began in 1998 with his leadership of the Royal Opera House in London, home to both the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera. Burdened with a projected $30 million deficit while in the middle of a major renovation, the institution was in crisis artistically, with an acrimonious board of directors, a tarnished reputation and openly critical patrons. Michael Kaiser came to the rescue, and then some. Within two years, the deficit was somehow paid off, the new building paid for and opened, and an endowment fund established to protect the security of the Royal Opera House's future. Kaiser’s success was nothing short of miraculous.

Michael Kaiser photographed by Nancy Ellison:

But he was just getting warmed up. In 2001 Kaiser was named president of the Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington DC, a position he holds to this day. While the Kennedy Center was financially stable, Kaiser set about enhancing its status as our nation’s center for the performing arts. His first theatrical festivals (notably six musicals by Stephen Sondheim) set box office records. He negotiated long-term associations between the Kennedy Center and Russian and English ballet, opera and drama companies. He organized international festivals that brought many arts organizations and performers to American audiences for the first time. He pumped new life into the Kennedy Center’s jazz music and family-oriented programming while increasing its annual education budget to $25 million, more than any other arts organization. Kaiser created the Kennedy Center Arts Management Institute, which provides advanced training for young arts administrators, as well as a mentoring service for national ethnic arts groups. As well, Kaiser established a fellows program that allows student and practicing arts managers to experience the day-to-day workings of the center’s marketing, fund raising, programming and operations functions.

In 2009 Kaiser launched Arts in Crisis: A Kennedy Center Initiative that provides cost-free arts management consultation for non-profit 501-c-3 performing arts organizations across the nation. Later that year he became a weekly blogger for the Huffington Post. As well, Kaiser serves as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. He is the author of five books, three of them related to arts management. Among many awards and recognitions, Michael Kaiser was named Washingtonian of the Year in 2004, became the first American to receive China’s Award for Cultural Exchange (2005) and was the recipient of the Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Award by the Arab American Institute Foundation (2009).

Let’s wish Mr. Kaiser as much success in his recent marriage as in his professional endeavors.