But back in the day (meaning, like, 10 years ago) the pickin’s were mighty slim. Oh sure, you had Ellen, Waylon Smithers, Billy Crystal on Soap, and whatever Will Truman was supposed to be. But if you wanted to learn what it means to be gay, you had a limited palette from which to choose.
We poked our heads into a homosexual pool party in Los Angeles this weekend to ask young gays who they looked up to during their formative years. Although our respondents were all fairly young, many of them had a tricky time pinpointing childhood gay icons. Click through below for some highlights.
All photos by Matt Baume.
Ryan: “I would have loved to have had a gay role model. I scoured the Internet for it. Everyone was allegedly gay or died of AIDS.”
When we asked, Kurt answered immediately: “River Phoenix.” You have seen My Own Private Idaho, right?
Yamil: “Bugs Bunny. The amount of times that Bugs Bunny dresses in drag, I didn’t really think about it when I was a kid, but Bugs Bunny has always been my favorite cartoon character of all time. He was who he was.”
Below, prepare to waste 15 minutes of your day watching a cartoon rabbit tart herself up.
“Madonna,” Kanon said without hesitation.
Okay, so who was yours? Ours was Hugo Weaving in Priscilla, God help us.
There were none in teh 50’s and 60’s living in the midwest and on a farm. Unless you count Paul Lynde, Charles Nelson Riley, et al on television – – who were total stereotypes and not what one would call positive role models.
Ah to be young. Life ripe with sex and opportunities. Every day an adventure. Tho I wonder if these young men really understand the concept of a role model. A person who serves as an example, whose behavior is emulated by others? Madonna? Really? Ew! Gross!…. Growing up I had the Village People, Bette Midler and Sylvester. Do women count? Ellen for the girls and Anderson Cooper for the boys I guess. A role model doesn’t have to be gender specific, but as we gay folk have next to none who are out there, perhaps we can be each others role model. I have had many friends in our community to whom I looked up to. Is fame a necessary requirement? I feel we should think outside the box on this issue.
PRINCE OF SNARKNESS aka DIVKID
Learning about the British 60s famous gangsters and antiheroes the Kray twins, initially by seeing a movie on TV staring Spandau Ballet (ask your mom) brothers in the title role.
They taught me that gay men (one was gay; the other, bisexual — at least in prison) could also be respected and feared and kick ass and therefore could do anything and be anything and couldn’t be narrowly defined by a one-size-fits-all definition.
I hasten to add that I in no way approve of their tactics or methods. The suits were impeccable though.
Scott Thompson from Kids In The Hall
@Tom: I love Scott. Every one of his Buddy Cole monologues had me rolling on the floor. He and the Chicken Lady are some of the most funny moments in time.
Role model: Dr. Smith of Lost in Space. I loved calling my jock brother a babbling oaf (amongst the many other names that would roll off Dr. Smith’s lips referring to the robot). Sexually, when I was lucky enough to have the house to myself on Saturday mornings I loved to j/o in front of the tv to reruns of Bomba, the jungle boy (Johnny Sheffield). He had a butt to kill for and I always wanted him to sit on my face.
A role model is someone to look up to, not just identify as gay. Most of these people are not even close to being role models. I think these gay characters were/are great, but they are not role models.
@marc sfe: I was thinking the same thing. But kind dreamed that Ricky Nelson was though.
probably Tim Curry , specifically as Dr. Frank N.Furter
what stuck me the most as a kid about him in that role was his confidence, he was weird, scary,strong, cool and gay.
That film had a lot to do with changing my ideas of social norms.
Aaron Fricke. He sued the school district to take a male date to his high school prom, and he won. And this was WAYYYYYY back in the 1980s.
Alas, as a child of the 60’s and 70’s there were no gay role models. I didn’t know anyone who was gay at all. I’m reminded of the Anita Bryant crusade against gays which was big in the news back then.
Growing up, tv wise I looked up to Buffy, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She wasn’t gay, of course. But she was a heroic figure that always tried to do the right thing. She was flawed, and the viewer saw character growth from the beginning of the series to the end. She was kind of an outsider, so that made her more relatable. Also the show featured gay characters, like Willow and Tara.
Mine was Dolly Parton as an actress. Almost all of her roles were as a woman that was not afraid to use all her talents (brains, body, personality) to get what she wanted. She also was not affraid to stand her ground and watch out for others. As far as gay role models, my first exposure to gay characters was in Police Academy. They were portrayed so negatively during this time that it was truly scary. I wanted no part of it.
Growing up, I had crushes on the two oldest of “My Three Sons” and on the Beaver’s big brother, but I didn’t have a gay hero/role model until after I came out and first saw Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter in RHPS when it first came out in 1972.
There was someone who was living a self-defined life! When I came out I tried to question all the things I’d been told were “normal”, and Frankie helped me to “Don’t Dream It, BE It!”
Bill Paxton from Near Dark.
Might not be a “gay” icon, but considering pretty much everyone listed so far has been mad fucking whack, I’m fine going with Severen.
@Jonty Coppersmith: I concur. I did however have one bit of good fortune – my best friend’s neighbor, just a few years older than us, was openly gay at a time when no one else in our school was. And he didn’t fit any particular stereotype, either – was just unapologetically himself. He dropped out of school, and headed for California. Wrote me a few letters about the gay scene in L.A. that gave me hope of something better outside my rural environment.
Apart from that, I’d have to say Harvey Fierstein, for Torch Song Trilogy. It’s not that I wanted to emulate everything about him, but I have in fact used lines from that show on various people in my life who weren’t giving me the love and respect I deserve.
Role models?! There are none! Is QUEERTY that clueless?
Comments are closed.