Ah, LGBT Pride – that sun-dappled, magical month when dance clubs grow wheels and rove about the city dropping go-go boys like dandruff, LGBT-aligned politicians become local heroes, and rainbows make more touchdowns than Jerry Rice. (Yes, I had to look that up.)
As we take to the streets to celebrate the diversity, strength and impressive midriffs of our community, I wanted to take a moment to share some of the LGBT entertainment that makes me proud to be gay. You know – the kind of show or artist or movie where, when it’s brought up in casual mixed conversation, you can’t WAIT to tell everyone that there’s a gay person behind it.
It’s an odd list, and it’s probably one that no one other than me would come up with. But that’s what makes each of us a uniquely beautiful snowflake, right? I’d love to hear what talented artists, public figures and entertainments make you proud to raise your rainbow flag.
(In no particular order)
The Kids in the Hall
Sure, only one of the Kids is actually gay (Scott Thompson), but you’d never know it from all the cross-dressing, genderf*cking, insanely gay antics that these Canadian firebrands got up to. I remember watching Kids in high school and finally realizing that there were other people out there who saw the world the same way I did. Their show was groundbreaking comedy television, and we were in on the joke from the beginning.
Rupaul’s Drag Race
The reality competition to end all reality competitions, this subversive glitterbomb turns the genre on its head while basking in its spotlight. While the catfights and catwalks are center stage, it’s Rupaul himself that truly reigns. That Mr. Charles has built himself a legitimate empire out of wigs and sequins is a beautiful miracle in and of itself. But it’s the fact that he has blossomed into such a captivating force for positive change that really astounds me. Sure, hunty can still throw as much shade as Mama June at sunset – but his overarching message of love, acceptance, and self-actualization is stronger than his eyelash glue.
The B-52s, Gossip, Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre, Rob Halpert, Bob Mould, Scissor Sisters, Grizzly Bear, Tegan and Sara
Gay rockers: F*ck yeah. I love dance music as much as the next lady, but what these folks do is amazing to me.
I’d include him in the above list, but the greatest rock and roll singer of all time deserves his own mention. It’s such a tragedy that he didn’t allow himself to fully break free outside of his music, but every time I hear his voice I am inspired.
I may have given up on Glee years ago, but I have not given up on Chris Colfer. Smart, articulate, and amazingly talented, this young man is an excellent emissary for the new generation of gay Hollywood. He writes, he acts, he sings, and he stands up for people and causes he believes in. And I’ll never forget his “Le Jazz Hot”, his scenes between Kurt Hummel and his father Burt, or the look of first love in Kurt’s eyes when he first laid them on his very own “Teenage Dream” Blaine. Chris, stay awesome.
Scream, Child’s Play, Final Destination, Hellraiser, American Horror Story, True Blood, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Hannibal
These are just a few of my favorite horror movies and shows. And every one of them was written by a gay man.
It’s beyond awesome that Todd Haynes – one of the most provocative, original, and insanely talented film artists of our time – has been openly and proudly gay since the beginning of his career. And it’s even awesomer that he has used his marvelously keen worldview to explore the “gay experience” through so many different lenses (Poison, Velvet Goldmine, Far from Heaven). As usual, I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
John Cameron Mitchell’s singular vision of sexuality, gender identity, and the transformative power of performance exploded on both stage and screen like nothing that had come before it. Moving, hilarious, profane, beautiful, and fierce as all get-out.
Neil Patrick Harris
First off, I’m just happy to see any child actor make it do adulthood with their spinal fluid intact. That’s what makes NPH so massively impressive: he’s not just a survivor; he’s completely reinvented himself as a nimble, multitalented, demographic-shattering entertainer. And in the process he has helped to pull gays into the mainstream like no celebrity before him.
This guy makes me happy every time I see him. Sure, over-the-top, flamboyant television personalities like Mathews have been around forever (Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly, to name a few), but they always danced around their sexuality. Ross is a big ol’ sissy who’s not the least bit ashamed of it, and neither am I.
It’s just a stunning film, and it covers all the basics of being gay today: love, activism, loss, community, homophobia, hope, and James Franco.
The Daily Show and The Colbert Report
I seriously have no idea if anyone behind either of these blisteringly brilliant news commentaries is gay. But the fact that day in and day out these men and women deconstruct anti-gay rhetoric in a way that is both intelligent and unspeakably hilarious does immeasurable good for us. Hell – I’m just happy to be talked about!
Henry’s not gay, but he gets us. Rollins has been an outspoken ally since way before it was fashionable, or even acceptable – he has said that punk is all about subverting the dominant paradigm, and that being gay is therefore pretty much one of the punkest things there is. He’s a true ally, and I gain strength and pride from his willingness to identify with me as an outsider. (Note: the fact that I have always had a crush on him has nothing to do with his inclusion in this list.)
He’s smart, he’s handsome, he’s prone to giggle fits, and he loves his mother. He never hid that he was gay (not in New York, anyway), and he handled his public coming-out with grace and integrity.
Seriously, there’s hardly a day that goes by that I don’t miss this show. Sure, it had its rough spots – but for the most part this unabashedly queer celebration of family and the hard-won American dream was television dramedy at its finest, and I think it broke real barriers in primetime. Can someone please put Judith Light and Vanessa Williams in another show together?!