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December 2014

"Davy & Stu" - A Scottish Version of "Brokeback Mountain"

DavyandstuRecently my friend Maury shared with me a charming 15-minute film from 2006 titled Davy & Stu.  Taking place in a misty Scottish bog, it shows the playful teasing and longing between two teen boys.  Davy (in the blue jacket) seems well aware of his sexual orientation while the more rough at the edges Stu is struggling with his, but it's obvious he desires Davy's attention.  After they perform somewhat of a mating dance, the film ends with a stunningly beautiful moment when Davy approaches Stu, gently places his hand under his collar, touches his chest, quietly says to him that he smells nice and thanks him for cleaning up for their meeting.  Stu responds by gently nuzzling Davie's neck - and then the camera moves away.  This little gem of a movie, enhanced by the characters' lilting Scottish brogues as well as their beautifully expressive faces, brought to mind Brokeback Mountain which, interestingly, was released just six months before Davy & Stu.


The exquisite closing moment of "Davy & Stu"


To watch this sweet film, double click here.  


Saluting The Kennedy Center Honors' Roster of Gay Inductees

Kennedy center honorsLike the Academy Awards and Tony Awards, a considerable number of gay men have an affinity for the Kennedy Center Honors because of its celebration of personalities in the performing arts.  Since the first awards were handed out in 1978 a steady stream of accomplished gay men have been chosen as honorees.  However, not until 2015 year was a self-proclaimed lesbian awarded the honor - Lily Tomlin.  (But rumored lesbians such as Mary Martin, Claudette Colbert, Katharine Hepburn and Dolly Parton have been honored).  The ceremony takes place in early December, with the President and First Lady in attendance (the exception has been Trump and Melania); the telecast of the event usually airs a few days after Christmas on CBS.  Interestingly, the colors of the award's sash are those of the rainbow flag.  In 2002 DC's Gay Men's Chorus performed as part of the tribute to Elizabeth Taylor.


2014 honoree, Lily Tomlin


23 of the 213 recipients (through 2019) have been gay.  In four of the years there were two gay inductees: 1979, 1986, 1993 and 2010.  (In 1989 Claudette Colbert and Mary Martin were honorees).  The longest stretch in which no gay honorees were named was the five years between 2005-2009 (this drought might be matched next year depending on 2019's announcement).  Conversely, between 1979 and 1988 every year but one (1989) had a gay recipient.   



To be considered, a candidate must be living at the time of their induction.  Of the 23 gay honorees (listed below), eight are still alive.  The first gay honorees were Aaron Copland and Tennessee Williams in 1979.  One glaring oversight was playwright and director Arthur Laurents (who died in 2011 at the age of 93).  Perhaps it was because of his prickly personality?


Bill T. Jones


Aaron Copland (1979) - composer (died in 1990, age 90)

Tennessee Williams (1979) - novelist (died in 1983, age 73)

Leonard Bernstein (1980) - composer/conductor (died in 1990, age 72)

Jerome Robbins (1981) - choreographer (died in 1998, age 79)

Virgil Thomson (1982) - composer (died in 1989, age 92)

Gian Carlo Menotti (1984) - conductor/composer (died in 2007, age 95)

Frederick Loewe (1985) – lyricist (died in 1988, age 86)

Merce Cunningham (1986) - dancer/choreographer (died in 2009, age 90)

Antony Tudor (1986) - ballet choreographer (died in 1987, age 79)

Alwin Nikolais (1987) - dancer/choreographer (died in 1993, age 82)

Alvin Ailey (1988) - dancer/choreographer (died in 1989, age 58)

Stephen Sondheim (1993) - composer/lyricist (born in 1930)

Arthur Mitchell (1993) - dancer/choreographer (died in 2018, age 84)

Edward Albee (1996) - playwright (died in 2016, age 88)

Fred Ebb & John Kander (1998) - lyricists (Ebb died in 2004, age 76; Kander is still alive, born in 1927)

Van Cliburn (2001) - pianist (died in 2013, age 78)

James Levine (2002) - conductor (born in 1943)

Elton John (2004) - singer/composer/pianist (born in 1947)

Bill T Jones (2010) - dancer/choreographer (born in 1952)

Jerry Herman (2010) - lyricist and composer (died in 2019, age 88)

Lily Tomlin (2014) - actress/comedian (born in 1939)

Michael Tilson Thomas (2019) - conductor, pianist and composer (born in 1944)


Michael tilson thomas


Other lesbians worthy of consideration for future induction may include Jodie Foster, Cherry Jones, Melissa Etheridge and Cynthia Nixon. And Johnny Mathis, Terrence McNally, Tommy Tune and Richard Chamberlain are worthy candidates on the gay male side.  



Although not gay themselves, sixteen recipients, all women, have the distinction of being gay icons.  The most recent was Cher, in 2018.  Another icon, Maria Callas, likely would have been honored but she died the year before the first Kennedy Center Honors (at the very young age of 53).



Ella Fitzgerald (1979)

Martha Graham (1979)

Leontyne Price (1980)

Lucille Ball (1986)

Bette Davis (1987)

Katharine Hepburn (1990)

Aretha Franklin (1994)

Judith Jamison (1999)

Angela Lansbury (2000)

Chita Rivera (2002)

Elizabeth Taylor (2002)

Dolly Parton (2006)

Diana Ross (2007)

Barbra Streisand (2008)

Barbara Cook (2011)

Cher (2018)



Chanticleer - Voices of Angels (In Tuxedos)

Chanticleer.christmas2014Chanticleer is an all-male vocal ensemble based in San Francisco.  Best known for its interpretations of Renaissance music, the group also performs a repertoire that includes jazz, gospel and standards.  The group came to my attention in 1992 when I saw a video for their version of Responsorio Desundo de SS Jose from the CD Mexican Baroque.  In addition to this CD I later bought a few others.  Then ten years ago I bought a DVD of their Christmastime performance at the Metropolitan Museum.  It was magnificent.  And this year (2014) I attended their Christmas concert at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan (where Jacquelyn Kennedy Onassis' 1994 funeral was held).






The ensemble is comprised of a dozen male singers who I'd say are between the ages of 30 and 50.  Although they're not officially considered a gay group they certainly send out a gay vibe.  (In this year's concert program  one singer made it known that he's straight.)  The group was formed in 1978, which happens to be the same year the first gay choral group, San Francisco's Gay Men's Chorus, was formed.

"The Land of Misfit Toys" - An Early Gay Anthem?

Misfit.toysThe beloved Christmas special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer made its debut in 1964 when I was in the Second Grade.  For me the highlight was the song, The Land of Misfit Toys.  Without knowing why, I identified with this plaintive, sweet number about outcasts who were banished (through no fault of their own).  This included Herbie, the elf who wanted to be a dentist.  As we all know, Rudolph becomes the Moses of the misfits, persuading Santa to include them in his deliveries around the word alongside the "normal" toys.




Herbie.the.elf.and.rudolphOf course the song's progressive message is for anyone who feels out of place and yearns to be accepted by society (however, not all of us feel that way and actively seek out the Land of Misfit Toys, such as Fire Island, Provincetown or San Francisco).  Years later the Disney TV movie High School Musical had a variation of this song, Stick with the Status Quo.  And Misfit Toys was later performed on a Christmas episode of Glee, known for tackling gay issues.