Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Summer 2003

Warren Allen Smith

Gossip from Across the Pond

by Warren Allen Smith

Alan Cumming, Scotland’s gift to Yankee showbiz, is available, guys! According to Rush & Molloy in the Daily News, he has split with theater director Nick Philippo, and the two live apart, although remaining as partners in The Art Party, their theater company.

When Cumming started at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, he met his future professional partner (Forbes Masson) and his wife (Hilary Lyons, whom he divorced after eight years of marriage). His career has grown to the point that he is a superstar, both in Hollywood and on Broadway.

In a recent Village Voice column by fellow freethinker Michael Musto, Cumming laughs about how he wore no underwear during a stunt rehearsal for the movie, X-2: X-Men United, in which he plays Nightcrawler and which scored the fourth-biggest opening ever with an estimated $85.9 million. He then found four grown men, on their knees, getting cameras ready for a back shot, “staring and poking at my behind. I think to myself that I have never had so many gentlemen this concerned with that area of my body.” In 1998-9, when he starred on Broadway in Cabaret, many more than four in my row alone were staring at that part of his body.

Cumming currently is working on a TV show, Mr and Mr Nash, which he has described as “a sort of gay Hart to Hart. I’m the mischievous one who gets into all the scrapes.”

In my Celebrities in Hell (Barricade Books), I quote his telling an Interview reporter that as a youth he was forced to attend church, but now “I’m completely atheist. I don’t hold any beliefs about God and stuff. And I can’t do the church thing.”

The Crimson Letter: Harvard, Homosexuality and the Shaping of American Culture (St Martin’s Press, 2003) tells how the university shaped the future of a number of eminent American gay and/or bisexual freethinkers, including conductor, pianist and composer Leonard Bernstein; novelist Frank O’Hara; architect Philip Johnson; the bisexual sexologist Alfred Kinsey; philosopher, poet, and novelist George Santayana, and others. The author, Douglass Shand-Tucci, points out that, until the twentieth century, Boston was the intellectual capital, the place for intellectual excitement, a city where the Bohemian lifestyle flourished. Harvard’s use of Socratic tutorials such as those at Oxford and Cambridge encouraged close teacher-student relations, and Shand-Tucci cites examples of how gays collaborated and formed friendships at a time in which homosexuality was considered a crime. Bernstein had an affair with Dimitri Mitropoulos in Boston and, later in New York, with Aaron Copland, eventually marrying and having children. The book contains other interesting titbits.

Hairspray, still the hottest ticket on Broadway, was the big winner when the Drama Desk gave out its annual awards. Harvey Fierstein, its star in drag, was the big winner. In Celebrities in Hell, Fierstein is quoted as having said on Uncensored, a public broadcasting system, that he was both a cultural Jew and an atheist.

The British author DH. Lawrence is buried in Westminster Abbey, right? No, years after the novelist’s death, his wife, Frieda, had his remains disinterred from a grave in Vence, France, cremated, and returned to San Cristobal, New Mexico. In the 1920s, the couple had spent fifteen months on 160 wooded acres there that had been given by his patron, Mabel Dodge Luhan, in exchange for the original manuscript of Sons and Lovers. Lawrence once had described the New Mexico site thus: “Ah! It was beauty, beauty absolute, at any hour of the day.”

Visitors to the area would agree, for the area thirteen miles north of Taos is a perfect hiding place for a person known as believing that industrial culture dehumanizes. The village of San Cristobal is off the main road and now, as then, has few facilities. He would have traveled nearby to Taos, seeing the Pueblo people who were skilled in making drums, moccasins and leatherwork items. He would have found their spicy food a joy, would have watched dancers at powwows and would have walked to and around the foothills of his ranch.

Frieda is said to have feared that some of his admirers might find his “cremains” and scatter them across the ranch, so a shrine was built in which his ashes were mixed in with concrete used to build the memorial.

My own Who’s Who in Hell (Barricade, 2000) quotes Lawrence’s telling biographer Richard Aldington: “I believe the nearest I have come to perfect love was with a young coal miner when I was about sixteen.” Aldington added: “I should say Lawrence was about 85% hetero and 15% homo.” Frieda was aware, refusing to allow a farmer’s boy, William Henry, into their house. Biographer Brenda Maddox, however, thought that Lawrence was deeply attracted to men but was repelled by homosexuals.

Lawrence’s love life is now becoming further uncemented. Playwright Larry Kramer, a freethinking humanist like Lawrence, has been talking and writing about how Women in Love had a chapter in which Rupert and Gerald are lovers, one that was not published. In a recent DVD release of Women in Love (MGM Home Video) and Women in Love, and Other Dramatic Writings (Grove Press), Kramer researches Lawrence in detail, finding he had many attachments to men.

The New York Times now includes photos and stories of people getting married. The May 4 issue included a photo of non-believer Tony Kushner, 46, marrying Mark Harris, 39. The author of Angels in America and the editor-at-large for Entertainment Weekly affirmed their partnership at a restaurant, Gabriel’s, before 150 guests who included film director Mike Nichols; television host Diane Sawyer; actresses Linda Emond and Kathleen Chalfant; director George C. Wolfe; and playwright and non-believer Larry Kramer.

Dan Savage, the non-believer and sex-advice columnist, is so infuriated by Republican Senator Rick Santorum’s equating homosexuality with polygamy and incest that he is searching for a new connotation for “santorum”. The sticky fecal stuff after anal intercourse, for example, could be described: “To my embarrassment, there on the sheet was some ugly santorum.” Savage thinks the name of the senator from Pennsylvania needs to become part of the English language, and he is asking for other suggestions to make sure Santorum is not soon forgotten.

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Created : Sunday, 2003-07-27 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
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