Today being the day of St. Keith Haring (according to my gay-hagiographic calendar BTB, he would be turning 56), I was going to write about “poz” as an identity and reaction to stigma, but being also the day of the first session of Identity Bootcamp over at Milagro (went great, more later), I have opted to look into some queer happenings in some big ideological boxes. “A&E” is the label on this one.
In “Learn to Be Latina”, the production that propels these conversations, the (first) problematic identity is the would-be star’s Lebanese-ness and not her lesbianism, but let’s see what’s been going on where the cultural worlds of the title meet with queerness, shall we?
However comforting the sense that the US is turning into one giant Big Eden where church widows play yenta to men from different ends of the railroad and every Will has his Grace (or rather the other way around, thuck you very much, Carrie Bradshaw), the strides for most are not so unfettered. It is still very rare for an entertainment star to come out – and I will quickly say that we do still need the act of coming out because we as a society haven’t overcome the damages from centuries of malice and wrong thought – for fear of the consequences or in response to pressure and counsel. Of course, the friendly (or forceful) advice is ostensibly to protect their career$.
The dead man tales of Rock Hudson’s soft bottom and the Cary Grant/Randolph Scott marriage of Bachelor Hall are now as well known and no big whoop as the lively affairs of Ricky Martin and the (eye roll) near-divorce of larger-than-life Johnny Weir and sudden victim and purse enthusiast Victor Voronov. But for every Ricky and Johnny that (because, in spite, regardless, and/or ignorant of their sexuality) we love and admire, there are uncountable cases of not so subtle directions back to the closet being given to young performers like my friend Joaquin that have occurred many times before and since.
Hence it’s good to rejoice but not rest as openly gay entertainers (Ellen, Matt Bomer, Neil Patrick Harris,
that guy from the Big Bang Jim Parsons, Frank Ocean, Cazwell, Wanda Sykes, off the top of my head) reach and retain success in the public eye. We need to make sure we SHOW that young (and not so young) personalities don’t have to fear negative repercussions for acknowledging their queerness. (Even if only to make Rupert Everett even more bitter.)
The sad thing about cliches is that they develop for a reason, and as much as we say that we dream of and work towards a world where a public figure’s flavor of sexuality is not remarkable at all, the snickering raised by race to this day is an indication of how far that goal is.