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June 2012

LOGO Cable Network Debuts (June 30, 2005)

Logonetwork Hoping to ride the wave created by popular gay-themed shows such as Will & GraceQueer Eye for the Straight Guy and Queer as Folk, MTV Networks created a cable channel devoted to programming of interest to gay men and lesbians.  Named LOGO (for some inscrutable reason), it debuted on June 30, 2005.  The network is probably best known for the series Noah's Arc (below), which was somewhat like a black/Hispanic version of Queer as Folk.  Airing for for just two seasons in 2005 and 2006, there was controversy when it was cancelled since it was the fledgling net's highest rated program.





In the summer of 2007 the network received attention when it organized and televised a debate/roundtable discussion (in conjunction with the Human Rights Campaign and CNN) between six of the Democratic nominees for president.  Not surprisingly, no Republicans accepted LOGO's invitation for a similar discussion.


Presidential debate on logo 


On its current schedule, RuPaul, still milking his Super Model persona from the early 1990s, hosts RuPaul's Drag Race, RuPaul's Drag U and All-Stars.  Drag Race aired its 100th episode in March 2016. (Despite how some entertainment sites gush over the popularity of the show, Drag Race's audience is relatively small compared to popular shows on other cable networks.  Some of LOGO's programs wouldn't be out of place on Bravo, with shows such as The A-List: New York/Dallas; 1 Girl 5 Gays; and The Setup Squad.  Unfortunately, many of these shows depict their gay subjects in a rather unflattering light.  (Of course, the same can be said with how reality shows on other networks depict cast members.)    




Despite the ubiquity of gay culture in the 21st century, LOGO hasn't been picked up by a lot of cable systems.  Presently, it's available in less than half of the nation's TV households (43% as of July 2016).  Because of its limited distribution, LOGO's most popular show, Drag Race doesn't attract nearly the audience that one might expect (in other words, RuPaul is a big fish in a very small pond.)  This is a crucial point because in order for a cable network to be considered viable by national advertisers it usually needs to be available in at least 75% of the U.S.  Another challenge for LOGO is the fact that shows with LGBT characters have proliferated on mainstream networks, so its unique positioning has been somewhat lost.







Rupert Everett Plays His First Gay Movie Role in "Another Country" (June 29, 1984)

Rupert_everett_another_countryThe romantic drama Another Country opened in theaters on June 29, 1984 and was the first of four movies in which gay actor Rupert Everett, then 25 years old, played a gay character.  The other films were Robert Altman's Pret-a-Porter from 1994; 1997's smash My Best Friend's Wedding starring Julia Roberts; and 2001's bomb with Madonna, The Next Best Thing.  It was thought that his performance in Wedding might get him an Oscar nomination but it was not to be; however, he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award (he lost to Burt Reynolds who was in Boogie Nights).  The snub left him somewhat bitter and he claimed that he wasn't nominated because he was openly gay and that made Hollywood nervous.  




Rupert_everett_hysteriaEverett has also appeared in a number of other well regarded movies in which his character's sexual orientation was assumed to be heterosexual, such as The Madness of King George (1994); Shakespeare in Love (1998); An Ideal Husband (1999); and The Importance of Being Earnest (2001).  In the past seven years the 53-year-old Everett's career has been somewhat fallow but he does have a role in this year's indie film Hysteria in which he plays the bearded, somewhat eccentric inventor of the vibrator (pictured).      


Crunch_fitness_logoFor a few years in the early 2000's Everett used to work out at Crunch, the gym I belong to in the West Village.  He had a sexy, willowy physique and often wore a ski hat on his head.  Probably only gay members recognized him, if even them.  It was only after I saw him a number of times that it dawned on me that it was him.        

TIME Magazine Reports on "AIDS Hysteria" (June 27, 1983)

Despite the grim title of TIME Magazine's cover story which hit newsstands on June 27, 1983, the tone of the article wasn't all doom and gloom.  Although knowledge about the AIDS virus was minimal at this early stage the article reassured readers that the U.S. medical establishment would surely come up with a cure in the not too distant future.  It turned out to be a very naive assumption.




In the summer of 1983 only two years had passed since the first few cases of AIDS were diagnosed and the number infected was still relatively low.  However, in the gay community, especially in New York and San Francisco, a quiet feeling of dread was building.  (I remember how practically any illness would cause panic among my friends.)


Stop_aids_get_testedIt would be another two years before the number of cases took off. Deaths then climbed steadily in each of the next 10 years until a class of drugs known as protease inhibitors was introduced. These drugs were the first effective treatment in keeping the AIDS virus at bay in many of those infected.  However, some 20 years later a cure has yet to be found.







Landmark Supreme Court Decision Strikes Down Sodomy Laws (June 26, 2003)

Lawrence_v_texas On June 26, 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas' same-sex sodomy law was unconstitutional. The landmark Lawrence v Texas ruling was decided by a 6-3 vote, with Justices Scalia, Thomas and Chief Justice Rehnquist the dissenting votes.  (Pictured are John Geddes Lawrence, far right, with fellow plaintiff Tyron Power.  Both have died since the decision.)  The ruling voided the remaining sodomy laws in twelve other states as well (including Florida and Michigan). This decision came 42 years after Illinois became the first state to strike down its sodomy law.


Supremecourt_building This ruling reversed the Court's infamous 1986 decision upholding Georgia's sodomy law (Bowers v Hardwick). Many legal scholars consider Lawrence v Texas one of the Court's most important rulings. Once same-sex relations were made legal it opened the way for making same-sex marriage possible - and the state of Massachusetts followed suit the following year.



Kylie Minogue Gets Her First Top-40 Hit in the USA (June 26, 1988)

Kylie_i_should_be_so_luckyKylie Minogue was already a teen TV star in Australia when she hit the music scene in 1988 at the age of 20.  Her first top-40 hit in the US, the bouncy I Should Be So Lucky, entered the Billboard Hot 100 the week of June 26, 1988.  It wasn't a big hit, peaking at #28.  However, her next song, a dance friendly cover of Little Eva's Locomotion, made it to #3 and would be her biggest US hit.  But then, as her career took off internationally, she more or less disappeared from the radio airwaves on our shores. 


Kylie_costumeKylie_glamUnlike her fellow Aussies, Olivia Newton John and Helen Reddy, Kylie never attained their level of mainstream success here.  (The reason is more a commentary on her record label.)  However, as her music became more dance oriented she developed a gay following.  (And her videos certainly have gay men in mind.)  Unlike the more hard-driving styles of Madonna or Lady Gaga, Kylie's is fizzier and more Europop.  Although her live shows aren't as outrageous as theirs, nor do her songs spark controversy, they're still catchy, high energy confections with great hooks.   


Kylie2Her biggest worldwide smash came in 2002 with Can't Get You Out of My Head.  It topped the charts around the world except in the US where it peaked at #7.  I learned about Kylie's oeuvre in 2002 when I was on vacation in Australia, where I bought a double CD of her greatest hits.  I now have nearly 50 of her songs on my Ipod.  Here are eleven of my favorites:

  • Aphrodite (2010)
  • All the Lovers (2010)
  • I Believe in You (2005)
  • Slow (2004)
  • Can't Get it Out of My Head (2002)
  • Love at First Sight (2002)
  • Spinning Around (2002)
  • Light Years (2000)
  • Especially for You (1989)
  • I Should Be So Lucky (1988)
  • It's No Secret (1988)



Gay Writer-Activist Larry Kramer Born (June 25, 1935)

Larrykramer_closeup Say the name Larry Kramer and many of us (hopefully) can easily rattle off some of his accomplishments: the novel Faggots; the movie Women in Love; organizing GMHC; founder of ACT UP; the AIDS drama The Normal Heart.  He was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut on June 25, 1935.  It seems fitting that the Stonewall uprising occurred right around the time of his birthday (in the year he turned 34) and that Gay Pride Week events take place around it every year. 



Like the late Arthur Laurents, who died in 2011, Kramer has a reputation for being "difficult".  He was ousted from GMHC; he railed at his alma mater Yale University for turning down his offer to fund a chair in Gay Studies; and he fumed at Barbra Streisand for not following through on her plans to make The Normal Heart into a movie.  He's alienated many with his in-your-face style (the personification of an e-mail typed entirely in caps) - but where would we be without this squeaky wheel?  Knowing of his temperament it was a bit of a surprise that he was so gracious upon accepting the Tony Award in 2012 for The Normal Heart as Best Revival of a Play.  




For more than 30 years years Kramer had been laboring on a semi-fictional work about US history (reportedly 4,000 pages in length) titled The American People.  In it he shines a lavender light on our nation's history, e.g. discussing various historical figures he claims were gay (i.e., George Washington, Abraham Lincoln).  Volume One (which goes through the 1950s) was finally published in 2015 to mixed reviews.  And five years later he published The American People: Vol. 2: The Brutality of Fact: A Novel.




Bottom line, ruffling feathers (or boas) for speaking his mind, Larry Kramer's passion and commitment to gay men has been invaluable in bettering our lives.  (After years of poor health, Kramer died on May 27, 2020, one month before his 85th birthday.)






"The Lost Language of Cranes" Airs on PBS (June 24, 1992)

David_leavittLost_language_of_cranes_novelAuthor David Leavitt (pictured) was only 25 when his novel The Lost Language of Cranes was published in 1986.  Six years later it aired on PBS on the evening of June 24.  (Cranes was produced by the BBC and first aired in the UK in 1991.)  It tells the story of a young man, Philip, who comes out to his parents and later learns that his father is a closeted homosexual.  Although the novel is set in New York City, the movie, perhaps because it was produced by the BBC, takes place in London.  When it aired in the US a number of scenes showing frontal nudity were edited out. 


Lost_language_of_cranesI wasn't familiar with the novel so it wasn't until I watched the PBS telecast that I learned that the "cranes" weren't the birds but rather mechanical ones at seaports that lift cargo in and out of ships.  (However, this is never fully developed to show how it tied into the story.)  An interesting subplot concerns Philips boyfriend who is the adopted son of a gay couple, which seemed quite progressive for the early 1990's.  (One of the father's was played by openly gay director John Schlesinger.)


Lost_language_of_cranes_pbsBefore Cranes there had been TV movies in which either a child or a parent dealt with his/her homosexuality, but this was the first to have a parent and a child both coming to terms with their homosexual nature.  As the movie ends life for father and son appears to hold promise but the wife/mother is left with perhaps the greatest challenges.  (One line of dialogue I remember most vividly was spoken by Philips exasperated mother in response to her husband's revelation and the fact that her son is also gay.  She says "My life's the punch line of some stupid joke.")      



Gay Icon, Judy Garland, Dies at the Age of 47 (June 22, 1969)

Judy.beautyshotThe 1960s began with the death of the tormented Marilyn Monroe and it ended with the death of another embattled star, Judy Garland.  She died in her apartment in London on June 22, 1969 at the age of 47.  Like Monroe, the cause of death was determined to be from an accidental overdose of sleeping pills.  Sadly, much of Judy's adult life was a series of mental breakdowns and career triumphs with serious financial difficulties regularly lurking in the background.  Her tragic end arrived much too soon.




Older_judy_garlandYounger_judy_garlandGay men (at least the older generation) seem to be drawn to Garland not only by her tremendous singing and acting abilities but by her struggles with pills, booze and weight fluctuations.  And while there's no indication that she specifically acknowledged her gay fan base (she exclaimed that she adored everyone in her audience) it's interesting to note that her father as well as her second and fourth husbands, Vincente Minnelli and Mark Herron, were all gay.  (And then there was daughter Liza's gay hubbies Peter Allen and David Gest.) 


Judy's body was returned to the U.S. and her funeral was held in New York on June 27.  Legend has it that despair over her death was the spark that ignited the Stonewall riot in Greenwich Village the night of her funeral.  However, such stories have largely been disputed, with some saying that the basis for it was a snide remark made by a homophobic newspaper reporter. 




Here's a marvelous (or, as Judy pronounced it, "maaah-velous") moment of levity to remember Judy by from an animated 1964 interview  with Jack Paar:





An AIDS Memorial Sits in Hudson River Park




Lately there's been a lot of fuss made over the AIDS Memorial Park planned for the triangle of land across the street from the shuttered St. Vincent's Hospital.  Curiously, its developers and supporters (including celebrities such as Susan Sarandon and John Cameron Mitchell) talk as if it will be the first one in the City.  However, there's been an AIDS memorial in New York since 2008.  It's part of Hudson River Park, and is situated near the Bank St. entrance at Pier 49.


It's a low-slung bench/wall of dark-gray granite two feet high and 42-feet in length.  On it is carved a verse from a Swedish folksong that reads: "I can sail without wind, I can row without oars, but I cannot part from my friend without tears."  The memorial also incorporates a small lawn, a gently curving walkway that extends out over the river (pictured, below), and more than one hundred wooden pilings from the old pier that poke out of the water.




I attended the memorial's dedication on the rainy Sunday following Thanksgiving in 2008.  Openly gay, and HIV-positive, New York State Senator Tom Duane attended, NY1 cable news reported on the event, and an article about it appeared in the New York Times the following day ("A Quiet Place to Remember Lost Friends").  Its understated beauty offers a lovely place for contemplation and remembrance (especially at sunset).  Although the new memorial park will certainly receive more visitors due to its location, let's not overlook this small gem of a memorial sitting along the Hudson.    










Newsweek Runs Cover Story About Lesbians (June 21, 1993)


The issue of Newsweek that was on newsstands the week of June 15, 1993 (June 21 cover date) was titled: "Lesbians, Coming Out Strong:  What Are the Limits of Tolerance?"  Featuring a lesbian couple on the cover (Catherine Angiel, and Ashley Herrin), the article largely contrasted stereotypical "butch" lesbians with more feminine "lipstick" lesbians, who were more likely to go undetected by the general population.  In the eyes of many gay readers, the story served mostly as a primer for straight society on the world of lesbians.




Twenty years later Catherine Angiel (the woman on the cover with the short hair) owns a high-end jewelry shop in New York's Greenwich Village called catherine Angiel (formerly known as Gallery Eclectic).  She and Herrin split a number of years after they appeared on the magazine's cover, and no information is available about Herrin's whereabouts. (By coincidence, for two years in the early 1990s I lived in an apartment in the building above the store.)



43 Greenwich Avenue


Three years later Newsweek would publish another cover story about lesbians that reported on the trend of them having children and raising families (rocker Melissa Etheridge and her partner Julie Cypher were the cover subjects this time).


Here are other ZeitGAYst posts about gay themed cover stories in Newsweek you may find of interest:

Newsweek Publishes "Growing Up Gay" Cover Story (January 6, 1985)

Newsweek Cover Story Explains AIDS to General Public (April 11, 1983)

Newsweek Puts a Human Face on AIDS (August 2, 1983)