I’ve run across several articles recently that prove that I am not, in fact, alone in my thinking, mostly in regards to being vocal about being gay. Or bi. Or trans. Or just somehow perceived as different than the majority. At least there are a few people who are talking about these things now. I am always reminded of Dan Savage’s take on America: that we’re always the first to compliment ourselves about being the land of the free and the home of the brave but are always dead last with the actual freedom and the bravery.
The first of these articles is a little piece on Michael Urie in FrontiersLA. Urie is bringing the terrific one-man show Buyer and Cellar to Los Angeles after a tremendous run off-Broadway. In this piece, Urie says,
“When I first started Ugly Betty in 2006, things were very different. I was encouraged to stay in the closet. This was before Neil Patrick Harris had come out. Even though I was playing an openly gay character, we thought we might want to keep the mystery of what I do behind closed doors. But, for me, coming out has only aided my career. It might not be good for everyone, but I have gotten to play so many wonderful roles.”
I find it so disheartening that today an actor would legitimately have to think about coming out because it could possibly damage his career. And, while I 100% get it, I also think that in 2014 you absolutely must say “No, I’m not lying about who I am so that I can be on a TV show.”
No one says you have to lead with it, for God’s sakes, but if someone’s askin,’ I’m tellin.’
Good interview. Michael Urie: Funny Girl Meets Funny Guy in Buyer and Cellar.
[As an aside, I was thinking, “What would noneofyourdamnbusiness-year-old me tell 25-year-old me about the benefits of coming out and working in or around “the business?” If I was 25 years old today, it’s a different answer than when I was actually 25 years old.]
The next piece serves to validate my assumption here (Kit and Van and Cal and Thom and … Cassandra?) that we have barely moved the needle in the entertainment industry in terms of LGBT acceptance in the last three decades.
There has been some press in the U.S. recently about London-based singer Matt Fishel and his terrifically poppy single “Radio Friendly Pop Song,” which tells the artist’s side of my anecdote about “you can’t be gay on the radio.” Hell, I don’t even know that Fishel was even born when that happened to me.
But it’s still happening. Only now, alleges Fishel, artists are being told not to sing about same sex attraction. (Oh, you know it happens every damn day.) Fishel’s song — and his entire canon, actually — is devilishly clever. Steve Grand is doing a lot of the same envelope-pushing stateside.
Here’s the HuffPo article and an embed of Fishel’s video. The Music Industry Doesnt Want You To Hear These Songs Because They Arent Radio-Friendly.
OutSports’ Cyd Zeigler wrote a great piece on Michael Sam and his acceptance of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY’s. He calls 2014 “the year of Michael Sam” and, in many ways, I agree with him.
If you truly want to make progress on acceptance in this country, I think you do have to have a sports breakthrough. A baseball or basketball breakthrough is okay, but a football breakthrough, well, that’s where the rubber meets the road. If we can change the dialogue in football — with strong allies such as Brendan Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe leading the initial drive and a well-spoken, humble and talented out player like Michael Sam taking the first watch; things will start changing. Still, says Zeigler,
Everything isn’t suddenly better in sports for gay men like Michael. There is still a wall around conversations and banter. There are still those in sports who oppose men like Michael simply because he’s gay. Two hours before Michael accepted that award on stage, an athlete refused an interview by me because I simply wanted to talk about gay men in his sport. There is still a long way to go. We must do better.
He’s absolutely right about that. Read the whole thing: Michael Sams Courageous Tears Were Real, and So Were Yours | Cyd Zeigler.
Finally, a fiendishly good essay on /Bent from Kit Williamson about how, his words, “fucking hard it is” to crowdfund a web series. In this case, the second season of his show, EastSiders. Alert readers will know that already because I have written a lot about this series over the last year or so.
And one of the reasons I have done so is that I believe that Kit’s series is one of those projects that does move the acceptance needle a bit. Thus, I find it important. Also, it’s damn good storytelling. It’s good storytelling because it is raw and real and allows all of humanity’s flaws to be shown, just like in this piece.
I was so stressed out that I broke out in hives all over my body. I gained ten pounds. My health took a nosedive and I contracted a gum infection— I didn’t even know people got gum infections. I crashed my car. Twice. But through it all I did my best to present an image of success and ease, both on social media and in real life. I think, in part, I was afraid that people would take me less seriously if they knew just how fucking hard it all was. It sounds oxymoronic until you consider that I live in LA, land of a million web series, where the majority of people you meet are looking for any opportunity to dismiss you as unworthy of their attention. But I’m confident enough now in what I’m doing to admit that I sacrificed a lot, I rarely slept, I lived in squalor and I regularly forgot to feed my cat.
Keep a weather eye out for Williamson. He’s the stuff, I guarantee you that.