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Just say 'mo.

It's time for the rear-end review. Oh, sorry, must have read the memo wrong. Year-end. Maybe that e-mail was from somebody at Unzipped Monthly. A sad concept to begin with, only being unzipped monthly. And certainly one that would make no sense in reviewing what went on in this watershed year for queer folk. You can get unzipped all you want in Texas, even in the privacy of your own bedroom--and not just in Texas, but everyplace else American as well. You can even get married in Massachusetts, sort of, at least until somebody says you can't, and if that's too balmy for you, Ontario is even colder and will charge you less, once you convert your U.S. dollars to the lovingly named Canadian loonie.

In entertainment, we're everywhere this year. In the Broadway theater, there are gay baseball players and Peter Allen and Boy George and probably a prancing leopard or two in The Lion King, all vying for your attention.

On TV you can watch real queer guys--well, one brand of real queer guys--on network television, as well as the usual passel of straight actors, gay actors, and terrifyingly closeted gay actors playing queer guys all over the tube.

TV was also the breeding ground for one of the biggest controversies of the year: a movie about the Reagan family and administration, in which no one was depicted as gay. What was the problem, then? Remarks made in the script by the lead character (no, not her--her husband) about gay people were considered so inflammatory (and, ultimately, fictional) that CBS drop-kicked the whole project over to queer and folksy Showtime.

This may be a first, and it may be an indicator of just how far we've come. Members of the religious right, who hate us from the get-go, actually seemed scared that their father figure, President Gipper, was being depicted as a man insensitive to the problems of AIDS sufferers. In three hours' worth of dialogue--presumably, Ronnie was given more than one line in the script, although he was rarely trusted with too much more at Warner Bros.--the Right found one utterance of Reagan's too much to beat'.

On AIDS, he was fictionally quoted as saying "They that live in sin shall die in sin," something wholly typical of a period when a lot of people were saying that disease was the wages of sin. (Totally unrelated, but note how many times George W. Bush mentions sin when the topic of gay marriage comes up). The Right wasn't concerned that the dialogue was fictional--the script is obviously loaded with words the writer is putting in Reagan's mouth. The Right was concerned that people's sensibilities would be offended by such a sweeping lack of concern voiced by their leader.

This is almost landmark. There was a time when no one could conceivably care less about what was said concerning gay people. We didn't matter. We had no supporters in the culture. We had no political clout--a point the closeted Republican powerbroker Roy Cohn makes in Angels in America, another of the year's gayest achievements. "Homosexuals are men who know nobody and who nobody knows," Cohn tells the doctor who has just diagnosed him with AIDS. "Who have zero clout. Does that sound like me, Henry?"

Back in Reagan's heyday the only gay person anyone figured they knew was maybe a hairdresser or, unfortunately in the case of many Catholics, a priest they were a little afraid of. There was no Barney Frank, there was no Ellen DeGeneres, and the only queer eye anybody had was hidden behind sunglasses. The idea that a debate about a man's "alleged insensitivity to gay people could rage at the highest levels of public consciousness was beyond laughable.

This isn't as sexy as two hunks finding each other on a dating show (even it" James Brolin is playing Reagan). But it's something to be noted in this pretty notable year.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:news from a blond
Author:Vilanch, Bruce
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Jan 20, 2004
Words:658
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