Ask the Flying Monkey! (January 11, 2010)

Have a question about gay male entertainment? Send it to! (Please include your city and state and/or country.)

Q: I can’t help feeling a little tingle when watching George
Clooney. He seems so gay even though he never played a gay role. It’s the
twinkle in his eyes. His male friends are all dreamy and the women he’s
been attached to seem like they could care less. Is he the big gay secret
in Hollywood, like Rock Hudson was? – Price, West Palm Beach,

George Clooney

A: That little tingle you feel is called “being alive.” That
said, Clooney seems unbelievably straight to me – the kind of man we here in Seattle call a “Seattle
Straight Guy.” That means he’s thoughtful, articulate, fit, liberal as hell, well-dressed
and well-groomed, but thoroughly straight, even as he’s totally cool with gay

If you mistake a Seattle Straight Guy for gay, he usually
says something like, “Hey, man, I’m really flattered, but I don’t date men.” Then
he might laugh and say, completely confident in his masculinity, “Well, there
was that one time in college…!”

Seattle Straight Guys are different from, say, Alabama
Straight Guys in that when you mistake an Alabama Straight Guy for gay, he just
might punch your face in – and then spend the next six months doing everything
he can to convince himself and everyone around him that he’s not really gay.

Yes, I stereotype. But when it comes to tolerance of
gays, there are really are geographic differences in the U.S. (though
it’s mostly urban/rural, not blue state/red state).

Anyway, needless to say, Seattle Straight Guys are
unbelievably hot. Seriously, it’s infuriating. Michael (my partner and the
editor of this site) and I live near Green
Lake (this urban lake
just north of downtown), and I swear: walking around the lake in summer is like
stepping into a Sean Cody video, albeit with slightly more clothing.

But back to Clooney. He has played gay characters, twice –
sort of. He played Stan Marsh’s gay dog Sparky in an episode of South Park
(although the dog had no dialogue, just made barking noises). And when, in
2006, Barbara Walters asked him if he’d play a gay cowboy, he said, "I was
in a rubber suit and I had rubber nipples. I could have played Batman straight,
but I made him gay."

Next page! Paul Newman’s GLBT support. Plus, the daddy/bear of Holmes on Homes.

Q: Did Paul Newman support gay rights? Did he ever play any
LGBT characters? — Lindsey, New Orleans

A: Like Clooney,
Newman was a classic Seattle Straight Guy and was a vocal, outspoken supporter
of GLBT rights, including same-sex marriage. Indeed, the original Butch Cassidy
(and ultimate “cool guy”) was on Nixon’s original “enemies list” for his
support of “radic-lib causes.”

Paul Newman

As for playing gay
characters, well, he played Brick in the movie version of the Tennessee
Williams’ play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
– although the character was famously “de-gayed” for film (making the plot make
pretty much no sense whatsoever). And in the 1970s, he optioned Patricia Nell
Warren’s gay-themed bestseller The Front
and attempted to get a movie version off the ground, with himself
directing and also playing the Olympic coach in love with his younger male star

Also as a director,
there was a bisexual male character (played by The Sound of Music’s Christopher Plummer) in the TV movie version
of the play The Shadow Box that he
directed in 1980, and there was a closeted lesbian in Rachel, Rachel, a movie he directed way back in 1968.

Incidentally, my mom once told me she saw Newman in Sweet Bird of Youth when it played on
Broadway in 1959, but she remembers herself and her companions thinking that Newman
was bland and unexceptional "live." It wasn’t until she saw him in a movie a
few years later that she finally saw his incredible charisma.

Q: What can you tell me about that wonderful Daddy/Bear of a
construction worker Michael Holmes?
I just came across him on HGTV in his show from Canada, Holmes on Homes. Does he bat for our team?
Reid in Florida

Mike Holmes of HGTV’s Holmes on Homes

A: Sorry, he has three kids (including a hottie college-age son,
Mike Jr., who is also featured on Homes and
in Holmes’ new show Holmes Inspection)
and a female partner, Anna.

But this reminds me of a contractor Michael hired a few
years back to build us a fence. I remember getting up one morning and looking
out the window. It was a beautiful summer day, and there he was, shirt stripped
off, his perfect torso glistening with sweat, the waist band of his green and
red boxers clearly visible above his shorts. He knew he’d been hired by a gay
couple, but he looked over at me, still shirtless, and grinned and waved.

As I’m writing about this now, it’s occurring to me that he
was a particular kind of Seattle Straight Guy: the kind who knows he’s smokin’ hot
and enjoys all the attention he receives from addled gay men who try not to
stare even as they walk straight into the breakfast bar.

Next page! The beefcake in Gord Bamford videos, and what’s the deal with Aaron Michael Davies?

Q: I know you’re not always a fan of those "Is he
gay?" questions, but Gord Bamford is challenging me. He’s a Canadian
country artist who’s prominently featured shirtless men in three of his videos
– “Postcards From Pasadena,” “Blame it on that Red Dress,” and even his
Christmas song, “Baseball Glove”. He’s also performed at the Alberta
Rockies Gay Rodeo Association. So is he gay, hiring gay directors,
exploiting the male form to lure in female (and gay male fans) or is it all
(hilariously) unintentional? — Kirk,
Halifax, Nova
Scotia, Canada

Gord Bamford

A: Kirk, questions like yours are part of the reason why I
love my job. As much as we try to scour the entertainment landscape for bits of
gay goodness, there’s only so much minutiae we can unearth by ourselves. Bravo,
man – and keep the observations coming!

Anyway, I asked Bamford’s management, and it turns out that
Bamford is straight: married with three young kids (just like Michael Holmes!).
Bamford did play a rodeo where there were gay cowboys, but it was a “mixed”
event (although he’s cool with fans of all orientations. It sounds like he
might be a Calgary Straight Guy.).

Of course, as you suggest, I don’t think that’s the whole
story. Let’s face it: country music’s prime demographic these days is twenty
and thirtysomething women, and I suspect that’s exactly who these videos are produced for.

Beefcake in Bamford’s music videos

Q: I was wondering what you know about Aaron Michael Davies.
He’s starred in many gay projects like the short film Lloyd Neck, and movies like Between
Love and Goodbye
and I Quit. He’s
played gay in most of his roles and I was wondering if he is gay in real life? — Branden, Pennsylvania

A: You forgot his most famous role to date: Griff in Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild,
replacing Mitch Morris who played the part in the original Another Gay Movie.

As for his sexual orientation, he doesn’t say. “You gotta
leave em wondering,” he said earlier this year.

Which is totally his choice, of course, but it strikes me as
just so 2006.

[Update: Davies has written to tell me that he now identifies as openly gay.]

Aaron Michael Davies

 Next page! Getting Sherlock Homo to the big screen.

Q: Does the new Sherlock
count as a gay film? And if not, how can we get Sherlock Homo to the
big screen? — Ty, Los Angeles, CA

A: In my review of Sherlock

I said that, contrary to all the hype, there was nothing “gay” about the new
movie. Some commenters said I was wrong, that the movie played up the
“bromance” aspect of Holmes and Watson.

Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. in Sherlock Holmes

But I wasn’t disputing that. I was just pointing out that
there’s a difference between “gay subtext,” which doesn’t exist in Sherlock Holmes except in the vaguest kind of way possible, and “slash,” which is when viewers project their own
explicitly gay agenda onto fictional characters.

Frankly, I’m getting kind of tired of viewers turning
absolutely every close male pairing on TV or in the movies into something
“gay.” I know it’s probably an important step on the road to GLBT acceptance,
and it strikes me as a phenomenon that is very unique to this moment in time.
But personally, I like my gay characters to be, you know, gay. Having one
character be fussy and another character jealous because the other is getting
married just doesn’t do it for me, especially when they both have major
opposite sex love interests.

I could be wrong, but I also think this weird gay-slash-projection
thing, which seems to be everywhere
these days, is more of a straight female thing (especially a teen female thing) than a gay or
bisexual male one. But maybe I’m wrong on that.

Let’s find out, shall we?

Q: I recently started watching the UK version of Queer as Folk, and I was wondering if
any of the actors are gay in real life? — Jason, Kansas
City, MO

A: Jason Merrells (who
played Phil), Aidan Gillen (who played Stuart, and also played Tommy in The Wire), Charlie Hunnam (who played
Nathan, and now stars as Jax in Sons of
), and Craig Kelly (who played Vince and now plays Luke on Coronation Street) are all Seattle (or
London?) Straight Guys.

Antony Cotton (who
played Alexander and now plays Sean on Coronation
) is gay.

Truthfully, I’m not
sure about Andy Devine (who played Bernard).

(L to r) Craig Kelly, Aidan Gillen and Charlie Hunnam

Next page! Alexander’s love life in literature, and the problem with screaming monkeys.

Q: Could you recommend any books similar to Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley or Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman. I don’t really mean in genre or themes, more in quality/style/tone of the writing. Also, I recently readThe Persian Boy by Mary Renault which was written from the perspective of Bagoas, a slave and lover of Alexander the Great, but I’m far more interested in Alexander’s relationship with Hephaestion. Are there any books out there that chronicle their relationship in a similar vein? — Maru, Sydney, Australia

A: Regarding “quality” gay writing, I would recommend Christopher Bram, especially Gossip and The Notorious Dr. August: His Real Life and Crimes; The Magician and the Fool by Barth Anderson; As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann; and Turnskin by Nicole Kimberling. I find Alan Hollinghurst (whose Line of Beauty won the Booker Prize) and Jamie O’Neill (who wrote At Swim, Two Boys) to be too dense and/or pretentious for my taste, but others love them, so you should definitely give them a try.

Hephaestion was, of course, Alexander the Great’s body guard, general, and unequivocal soul-mate. And as chance would have it, Mary Renault chronicled that relationship too, in her 1969 novel Fire From Heaven.

A Note from the Monkey: Over the holiday, reader TriplicateGuy sent me a little toy Flying Monkey. Little did I know that it also made “screaming monkey” noises when squeezed. Shortly after it arrived, our cat, Thibodeau, attacked it, causing the doll to squeal loudly and the cat to go scrambling for the opposite side of the house, where he’s stayed pretty much to this day. Hey, we never claimed to have the butchest cat!

Anyway, thanks for the gift, TriplicateGuy! The doll is on a shelf in my office, where the cat will no doubt eye it warily for years to come.

Have a question about gay male entertainment? Send it to! (Please include your city and state and/or country.)