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.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Although he had solid hits with Silver Streak (screenwriter, 1976), Foul Play (director and screenwriter, 1978), Nine to Five (director and screenwriter, 1980), and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (director and screenwriter, 1982 – the film adaptation of the stage musical), he is best remembered for an earlier film for which he wrote the screenplay – Harold and Maude (producer and screenwriter, 1971), which has become a cult classic. It tells the tale of a suicidal young man (Bud Cort) who falls in love with a 79-year-old woman (Ruth Gordon). Higgins wrote the screenplay, which formed the basis for his thesis while he was still a student at UCLA.
After graduating Higgins went to work for a rich man and his wife in Los Angeles as a part-time chauffeur and pool cleaner in exchange for free accommodation. The man was film producer Ed Lewis, and Higgins showed him a draft of Harold and Maude. Lewis took it to Robert Evans at Paramount, where the film project got the green light. Higgins wanted to direct the script himself, but Hal Ashby was hired as director. Ashby and Higgins were highly compatible, and both were pleased with the result of their collaboration, although it was not a great box office success upon its initial release.
Later Higgins (above left) received an offer from Jean-Louis Barrault (right) in Paris to turn Harold and Maude into a play for French actor Madeleine Renaud. Higgins took on the project, working on the French translation with Jean-Claude Carriere, and the play ran for seven years. The film of Harold and Maude continued to run in cinemas around the world, with some fans having seen it over a hundred times. By 1983 the film had turned a profit, twelve years after its original release.
In this clip from the beginning of the film, Harold meets Maude:
Higgins’ last film project was a 1986 television miniseries based on Shirley MacLaine's book, Out on a Limb. Sadly, Higgins died of AIDS-related illness in Beverly Hills, CA, in 1988, at the tender age of forty-seven.
Trivia: When Colin Higgins was having a hot tub and deck built for his backyard, he hired a young carpenter to do it. That carpenter was Harrison Ford.
Queers in History (2009) – Keith Stern
Aggie Song: Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Sunday, October 27, 2013
In 1901 Forster was elected to the elite Cambridge secret society The Apostles, leading to close ties with other members such as John Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey of the Bloomsbury group. After traveling for a year in Italy Forster taught a course at the Working Mens’ College, a part-time commitment he maintained for over twenty years in order to affirm his belief in reducing class barriers. Then four novels appeared in a five year period of creativity: Where Angels Feared to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908) and Howards End (1910). This brilliant body of work, openly critical of Edwardian pieties, secured his fame.
In 1914 Forster completed the first draft of a homosexual novel, Maurice. Realizing that it was not publishable in England after the persecution of Oscar Wilde, he shared the manuscript with only a few friends, including Christopher Isherwood and D. H. Lawrence, who used it as the model for his heterosexual Lady Chatterley's Lover. Forster continued to revise Maurice* until 1960, but it was not published until 1971, after his death the previous year. After completing Maurice, Forster felt that his novel writing was over, as he had exhausted his insights into heterosexual relationships, yet could not publish the works with homosexual themes that affected him personally.
*The film version of Maurice, released by the Ivory-Merchant-Jhabvala team in 1987, was a success and remarkably true to the novel. In Maurice, an upper class man comes to find his true destiny with a working-class boy, the gamekeeper at an estate.
Scholars have long speculated about the reason for Forster’s low productivity after a string that included the aforementioned classics plus A Passage to India (1924), considered by most to be his masterpiece. A Passage to India delivered a sharp critique of British imperialism. Newly revealed papers from Forster, including his sex diary, reveal that his first sexual encounter with a man and the way it compounded his lifelong struggle with homosexuality killed his creative drive. He did not write any novels between 1924 and the time of his death in 1970. Forster lost his virginity to a wounded soldier on an Egyptian beach when he was 38 and later met Bob Buckingham, a married policeman, in 1930. Forster and Buckingham remained lovers until Forster’s death.
Wayne R. Dynes – Encyclopedia of Homosexuality (1990)
Julie Bolder for The Advocate (2010):
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Christian became progressively submissive to his physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee, who rose steadily in power in the late 1760s. Christian was a chronic masturbator, and this practice often interfered with his duties, since he prioritized it over his job in many instances. He indulged himself so much that the court physicians, Struensee included, were actually worried that he would eventually render himself infertile.
From 1770 to 1772 Struensee was "de facto" regent of the country and introduced reforms that were signed into law by Christian VII. The neglected and lonely Caroline Mathilde drifted into an affair with Struensee, but in 1772 the 23-year-old king's marriage was dissolved, and Struensee was arrested and executed. Under pressure from his mother, Christian himself signed the arrest warrant.
After the divorce, Caroline Mathilde had to give up her two children, one of which, Princess Louise Auguste, was widely believed to be the daughter of Struensee. Portraits of Princess Louise and Struensee bear a remarkable similarity. Caroline died of scarlet fever at age twenty-three.
Christian was only nominally king from 1772 onwards, since he was considered mentally unstable. Until 1784, Denmark was ruled by Christian's stepmother Juliana, his physically disabled half-brother and Danish politician Ove Guldberg. From 1784 onwards, his son Frederik served as Regent, until Christian VII's death in 1808.
Craig Kaczorowski for glbtq.com
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Armstrong first received critical attention for his intimate sharp focus portraits of men, who were either lovers or friends. In the 1990s he began to photograph cityscapes and landscapes in soft focus, to contrast his portraits. Street lights, electric signs and automobiles were reduced to a sensual, mottled blur (collected as All Day Every Day). A series of black/white portraits appeared as The Silver Cord. His most recent art book publication is 615 Jefferson Avenue (2011).
Armstrong’s photographs have been included in numerous group exhibitions here and abroad, in such prestigious venues as the Hamburger Kunsthalle (Germany). A large body of David’s work has appeared in print media: French Vogue, L’Uomo Vogue, Arena Homme+, GQ, Self Service, Another Man and Japanese Vogue, among others. As well, he has contributed to advertising campaigns for a variety of clients, such as Ermenegildo Zegna, René Lezard, Kenneth Cole, Burburry, Puma, and Barbara Bui.
In 1996, Elisabeth Sussman, curator of photographs at the Whitney Museum (NYC), enlisted Armstrong’s help in composing Nan Goldin’s first retrospective. She gained such respect for Armstrong’s eye that she acquired a few of David’s pieces for the Whitney permanent collection. He was subsequently featured in the Whitney 1994 biennial.
David is based in Brooklyn, New York, where his primary subjects remain young boys and men. “It has to do with issues of my own,” he says. “This thing about male youth, this idea that something is fading. I get older and still take pictures of boys that are the age I was when I was first shooting them.”
New York Times interview:
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
At the height of the debate over same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2003, they founded Romentics (romance for men), a company to publish, promote, and sell their books. Inspired by the Harlequin romances that Whittaker's mother and grandmother received by monthly mail order, the couple’s collaborations include titles such as Razor Burn (2005) and Hot Sauce (2005 – Warner Books), books that are filled with heat, passion, obstacles to love and happy endings.
Pomfret, who works on fraud cases for the Securities and Exchange Commission, is from Wellesley. After college, he coached high school football in Massachusetts and Maryland, then went to law school. He practiced law at Ropes & Gray before moving to the SEC. He also wrote fiction and has published short stories in literary magazines. In 2001, he met Whittier, who grew up in Poland, Maine, graduated from the University of North Carolina and came to Boston to join the advertising business. Whittier was the one with the idea to write gay romance stories.
Other collaborations (available at Amazon):
Spare Parts (2004), Nick of Time (2004), Nothing Personal (2005), Surf’n’Turf (2006), E-Male (2009).
Pomfret and Whittier are also the co-authors of the Q-Guide to Wine & Cocktails (2007). The couple met over a vodka tonic and now live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Scott Pomfret also wrote Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic Memoir (2008).
Full Boston Globe interview by David Mehegan:
Saturday, October 12, 2013
While it might seem far-fetched that a Prussian man would be accepted by the American people as their leader, it must be recalled that without the military leadership of the Prussian Baron von Steuben, our continental army would likely not have prevailed against the British. Benjamin Franklin, while based in Paris, recommended Baron von Steuben to General George Washington, who brought von Steuben to Valley Forge. Von Steuben affected an astonishing turnaround, whipping into shape Washington’s rag-tag band of soldiers.
Prince Henry (childless), Frederick the Great (childless), Alexander Hamilton and Baron von Steuben (never married) all had one thing in common, and that is sexual relations with men. Benjamin Franklin was well aware of Baron von Steuben’s proclivity for young men but did not tell Washington that von Steuben was about to be run out of France for his “immoral” acts, which von Steuben never denied. Fellow countryman Prince Henry was also brazenly open about his sexual interest in young men. Both Prussians had advanced military skills, and Prince Henry led Prussia’s troops so successfully during the Seven Years' War that he never lost a battle. Baron von Steuben never married, but Prince Henry entered into a childless marriage of convenience, as was the custom of high-born homosexuals of the time.
Three of Prince Henry’s affairs with younger men are documented: the 17-year-old French émigré Count of Roche-Aymon, Major Christian Ludwig von Kaphengst (1743-1800) and an actor known as Blainville. It is known that Major Kaphengst exploited the prince's interest in him to lead a dissipated, wasteful life on a Prussian estate. It was also reported that Henry often chose the officers in his regiment for their handsomeness rather than for their military competence.
After the death of his brother Frederick the Great, Henry became an advisor to his nephew, the new King Frederick William II of Prussia (regent 1786-1797), and during the last five years of his life advised his grand nephew, King Frederick William III, who reigned over Prussia from 1797 to 1840.
*Frederick the Great:
*Baron von Steuben:
Keith Stern’s Queers in History (2009)
Wayne R. Dynes’s Encyclopedia of Homosexuality
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
He had worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1980s and played King Lear with that troupe in 1999. He won too many BAFTA awards to count, and he won a Tony Award for Best Actor for his Broadway role as C. S. Lewis in the 1990 production of Shadowlands.
For over twenty years Hawthorne shared his life with screenwriter Trevor Bentham. Although he was an intensely private person, Hawthorn made no secret of his homosexuality. Nonetheless, he deemed it bad manners to "embarrass" people by talking about it. He was thus upset at being "outed" involuntarily in 1995 in the publicity surrounding his Academy Award nomination for the 1994 film, The Madness of King George. The movie was an adaptation of openly gay playwright Alan Bennett’s play, The Madness of George III (1991). Hawthorn had starred in both the British stage and Broadway productions of the play. Bennett insisted that Hawthorne also star in the Broadway staging, refusing to give him up for an actor more familiar to Broadway audiences. Hawthorne attended the Oscar ceremony with his partner Trevor (photo below), who spoke disparagingly about Hawthorne’s outing by the press:
So there you have it.
Hawthorne later spoke openly about being gay in interviews and in his autobiography, Straight Face (2003), which was published two years after his death. Hawthorne became Sir Nigel Hawthorne when he was knighted in 1999. He died from a heart attack in 2001 at age 72. He was survived by his partner, Trevor Bentham. On hearing of Hawthorne's death, Alan Bennett described him as "courteous, grand, a man of the world and superb at what he did...”
Post Apocalyptic Bohemian blog:
Keith Stern: Queers in History (2009)
A 3-minute clip from his star turn in the film "The Madness of King George":
Sunday, October 6, 2013
His talent has made him very rich. The former stock boy is today worth well over 100 million dollars. A private chef tends the kitchen of his Parisian home that sports a knock-out view of the Eiffel Tower. The chubby, long-haired nerdy Jewish kid in glasses has transformed himself into a gym-buffed jet setter who hob-nobs with the rich and famous, all the while collecting serious art (Georges Braque, Andy Warhol, David Hockney). A restless spirit, Jacobs has just announced his departure as the creative director of the iconic French brand Louis Vuitton, a post he held for more than 15 years. During the first decade of Jacob’s tenure with Louis Vuitton, business at the couture house quadrupled. The reason for his departure? To concentrate on his own work. Jacobs sells his products – clothing, perfumes and luxury accessories (notably handbags that sell for thousands of dollars) – from more than 200 stores in 80 countries.
In 2010 he was ranked as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time magazine, and in 2012 Out magazine declared him one of the “50 most powerful gay men and women in America.” France named him a “Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres,” an award whose purpose is “the recognition of significant contributions to the arts, literature, or the propagation of these fields.”
At a talk at Manhattan’s 92Y earlier this year, Jacobs confessed, “I love attention. Maybe my desire for attention is a little too out of control, but I’m very honest.”
And very rich.
In a New Yorker magazine feature in 2008, Jacobs told interviewer Ariel Levy, “I love frogs...this sort of fairy-tale frog that became a prince, and the chameleon who changes colors with his environment. ‘Zelig’ is my favorite film. I understand that. I can hang out in a sports bar with a bunch of straight guys and say ‘Go, Knicks’ and I can run around in the art scene and I can also be at the Met ball and be Mr. Fashion Designer with Anna Wintour. I can go wherever I want; I can be whatever I choose.” This, in the end, is Marc Jacobs’s superpower: “I can change colors – for my own amusement and, perhaps, the entertainment of others...That’s what I think everyone should aspire to in life – shamelessness.”
Full New Yorker magazine feature (2008):
While Duffy describes Jacobs as someone who is very insecure about his designing talent, it’s not reflected in the global end product. Jacobs just continues to chain-smoke his way from the runway to the bank. He seems to have an endless supply of ideas for ways to make money. In February of this year he was named the new creative director for Diet Coke. In honor of the brand's 30th anniversary, Jacobs will spend one year giving the brand a "stylish and light-hearted" make-over. Really.
Here Jacobs unveils his newly buffed physique on a balcony in Paris.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Because he resembled Astaire physically, Pan sometimes doubled for him. A lifelong friend of Astaire, Pan’s greatest fame came from the nine 1930s musicals he choreographed for RKO-Radio Pictures, each of them starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: Flying Down to Rio, The Gay Divorcée, Roberta, Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, Swing Time, Shall We Dance?, Carefree and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle. Astaire has been quoted as saying, “He (Pan) was the only person I ever saw who could dance like I did.''
Hal Borne, Astaire's arranger and rehearsal pianist, said, ''Hermes was terribly instrumental in everything that Fred did. He was really Fred's alter ego. His ideas for choreography were exactly what Fred wanted.'' In 1988, Pan recounted his collaboration with Astaire. While the choreographer was shaping the ensemble numbers, Astaire started working out his dances with Miss Rogers. Then, the two men would refine them together, and Pan would then introduce them to Miss Rogers. Finally, ''Fred and Ginger would rehearse and perform them.'' Laughing, he recalled, ''With Fred I was Ginger, and with Ginger I was Fred.''
Pan was also a deeply closeted gay man who had trouble squaring his sexual desires with his Roman Catholic faith and a disapproving mother. He eventually entered into a relationship with dancer Gino Malerba, as revealed in John Franceschina’s biography, Hermes Pan: The Man Who Danced with Fred Astaire. Like many gay men of the era, he seldom appeared in public with male partners, and he never lived with Malerba. However, Pan was a frequent escort of Rita Hayworth.
Over the course of his career, Pan went on to choreograph some fifty musicals. He earned an Oscar in 1937 for Damsel in Distress, starring Fred Astaire and Joan Fontaine. This was the first ever Oscar for choreography (then called Dance Direction), and Pan got a raise and bought a brand new yellow Buick convertible to reward himself. He also appeared on screen with Betty Grable (photo at top of post and video below) and Rita Hayworth. Pan won an Emmy in 1961 for Astaire Time: An Evening With Fred Astaire, as well as a Joffrey Ballet citation in 1986.
Pan died at his Beverly Hills home in September, 1990, at age 79.
Footlight Serenade (1942)
Betty Grable and Hermes Pan: Land on Your Feet
Band of Thebes
Peter B. Flint