As 2014 came to a close Chris Hughes, millionaire owner of the New Republic (and a co-founder of Facebook), generated a torrent of bad press when he announced significant changes at the revered political publication (made with a digital future in mind). This resulted in mass staff resignations and recriminations. Hughes is just one of many accomplished LGBT personalities knocked off their pedestal, at least temporarily, by their words, actions or overbearing personality. Perhaps because we view openly-gay persons who are in the public eye as an inspiration, it stings more when they stumble than when straight movers and shakers slip up. What follows is a list of others who have trip, stumbled and fallen ...
TARNISHED BY THEIR WORDS ...
- Don Lemon - CNN anchor who the Columbia Journalism Review chose as the worst journalist in 2014 because of his many on-air gaffes and “cringe-worthy blunders.”
Richard Chamberlain - In a 2010 interview in the Advocate the actor, now 80, advised gay leading-type actors to stay in the closet.
- Michelle Shocked - The folk singer made somewhat incoherent anti-gay remarks during a 2013 concert at a San Francisco coffee house. Once claiming to be a lesbian, she became a born-again Christian, which began her conversion to homophobe.
- Quentin Crisp - A British writer and gadabout, Crisp wasn't supportive of gay rights and claimed that being gay was a disease. Perhaps it was a generational thing. He died in 1999 one month shy of his 91st birthday.
- John Galliano - His drunken, anti-Semitic tirade in a Paris bar in 2011 got him canned from his position as fashion director at Christian Dior.
- Karl Lagerfeld - The German fashion designer spoke out against same-sex marriage as well as men raising children (but has no problem with lesbians raising kids).
- Sam Adams - Former mayor of Portland, Oregon, he became embroiled in controversy when it was revealed he had a relationship with an underage man (17-year-old Beau Breedlove, 24 years his junior). Eyes rolled when Adams claimed the two waited until Breedlove turned 18 to have sex.
TARNISHED BY THEIR ACTIONS ...
- Elton John - Having done so much fund-raising for AIDS charities, it came as a shock when it was reported that he performed at Rush Limbaugh's 2010 wedding and was paid $1 million for his apostasy. Then two years later at the Golden Globes he was ridiculed for his petulant response after losing to Madonna for Best Song in a Movie. An even earlier controversy had him performing with homophobic Eminem at the 2001 Grammys.
- Boy George - He was arrested for keeping a male escort imprisoned in his London flat in 2007; ended up spending 15 months in jail.
- Andrew Sullivan - An early proponent of gay marriage when he was editor of the New Republic, he sullied his reputation in 2001 when it was disclosed that, despite the fact he was HIV+, he searched chat rooms seeking partners for barebacking.
- George Michael - The gifted singer/songwriter was arrested for public indecency at a public bathroom in Beverly Hills in 1998 and then in 2006 an escapade at a London cruising spot was publicized (the fellow he tricked with reported that Michael was a great kisser). Two years later he was busted in a public toilet in London for possession of crack. And on another occasion he was found passed out in his car.
- Jodie Foster - Until last year, when she kinda-sorta came out during the Golden Globes, Foster was a lightning rod for anger because of her refusal to come out publicly (to a lesser degree this was the case with Anderson Cooper as well). Adding fuel to the fire was her continued friendship with Hollywood pariah Mel Gibson.
- Richard Hatch - After the gay nudist won the first season of Survivor in 2000 he spent the first decade of the new century in and out of prison for tax evasion. In the midst of all of this he appeared on a number of other reality shows and made an embarrassing cameo in 2006's Another Gay Movie.
- Aaron Hicklin - Editor-in-chief of Out Magazine, he fired his editorial staff in the spring of 2012 with the intention of hiring them back as freelancers with no benefits or full-time salaries.
- Christine Quinn - This New York City politician angered many New Yorkers when she supported the overturning of term limits when Michael Bloomberg wanted to run for a third term as mayor. She was also criticized for not fighting harder to save St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village. (Voters got even when she finished a distant third in the Democratic primary for mayor in 2013 - and hasn't been heard from since.)
- Paula Poundstone - In 2001 the comedian made headlines after she was arrested for child endangerment involving her three adoptive and two foster children.
- Barney Frank - In the late 1980s the Massachusetts congressman had a relationship with a male prostitute who later, unbeknownst to Frank, was running an escort service out of his DC townhouse. He also fixed 33 of the man's parking tickets. This resulted in Frank being called before the House Ethics Committee where he was officially reprimanded but escaped censure.
TARNISHED BY THEIR TOXIC PERSONALITY ...
- Larry Kramer - His caustic personality alienates many (e.g., it got him exiled from GMHC, which he had helped found), but it's something he wears as a badge of honor.
- Michael Lucas - Outspoken porn impresario who has alienated many with his strong political opinions in support of Israel, PrEP AIDS treatment and right-wing nut job Ann Coulter.
- Rupert Everett - British actor who claims he would have had a more successful career if he had remained closeted. Also had negative things to say about gay men raising children. Bitter because he believes he's been ignored by Hollywood, the fact is he worked a lot in the 1990s. It was his 2000 flop with Madonna, The Next Best Thing, that may have derailed his career. (Perhaps Downton Abbey can cast him as a love interest for villainous Thomas?) An article last summer on Queerty had the headline, "Self-Hating Gay Rupert Everett as Bitter as Ever."
- Rosie O'Donnell - First there was a nasty breach of contract lawsuit in 2003 between her and the publisher of her magazine Rosie (formerly McCall's); the judge in the case awarded no damages to either party. Then in 2006 she had an idiotic dispute with Donald Trump. Although she's entertaining and has a good heart, O'Donnell is like two bulls in a china shop.
- Perez Hilton - Although his blog is very popular, his obnoxious personality has regularly gotten him into hot water (e.g., he was roughed up by will.i.am outside a Toronto nightclub in in 2009). It's said that any celebrity who's friendly with Hilton is doing so to protect himself/herself from his rumor-mongering. However, over the past few years he's mellowed, perhaps because he's now raising a child.