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Recapping 2020's Oscar Telecast: Not So Gay

Stage at 2020 oscars


According to Nielsen 62% of the viewers to 2020's Academy Awards telecast were women, so since the Oscars are considered the gay Super Bowl should I infer that the remaining 38% were gay men?  The rating for the telecast dropped 20% from last year (6 million fewer viewers).  Perhaps it was due to the alienation of two viewing groups - those who were upset over the under representation of women and blacks in key awards categories, and those who become tired of the constant harping about this under-representation. 


Besides a dearth of women and blacks in the major awards categories, the same absence seem to apply to those of the LGBTQ persuasion. Unlike the previous three years (when we had Green Mile; Bohemian Rhapsody; The Favourite; Call Me By Your Name; and Moonlight), there were no Best Picture nominations with gay themes.  Furthermore, there weren't a lot of gay "moments" in general during the telecast.  So what gay moments were there?  

  • Janelle Monae shouting out that she's queer
  • Elton John performing and winning Best Original Song
  • A Verizon Wireless commercial with a coming out theme
  • Billy Porter in all his fabulosity  
  • Judy, the movie about Judy Garland, won the Oscar for Best Actress


And now for some highlights/observations:


  • As Janelle Monae made her on-stage entrance at the start of the show, she noticed that the middle button on her blouse had come undone and buttoned it as she sang without giving it a second thought.


Janelle monae's popped button

Janelle monae


  • Mindy Kaling and Kristen Anderson-Lopez stood out in their vibrantly colored gowns in yellow and green.


2020 oscars mindy kaling

 Kristen anderson-lopez at 2020 oscars


  • Bradley Cooper usually attends the event with his mother so I was curious about the fellow sitting next to him, but was unable to find any mention of him in news reports the next day.  It seems the only Bradley Cooper chatter was about him being in the presence of his ex, Renee Zellweger.


Bradley cooper and mystery man at 2020 oscars


  • I chuckled when I saw Diane Keaton's coat because it was similar to a lost glove I spotted on a fence in my neighborhood a few weeks ago.


2020 oscars_diane keaton and keanu reaves

 Lost glove

  • Timothee Chalamet "owned" his offbeat formal wear.


 2020 oscars timothee chalmet


  • Taika Waititi, winner of Best Adapted Screenplay for Jo Jo Rabbit got my Oscar for Sexiest Man On Stage, with Oscar Isaac a close second, and Mahershala Ali third.


2020 oscars taika waititi


  • Disney chairman Bob Iger was in the audience, but may have been upstaged by another attendee, Amazon's Jeff Bezos.  (However, Iger's seat was much farther forward.)


Jeff bezos at 2020 oscars

  Bob iger at 2020 oscars


  • Did anyone else think that female conductor, Eimear Noone, bore a striking resemblance to actress Leslie Mann?


2020 oscars eimar noone conductor

 Leslie mann


  • A touching commercial from Verizon Wireless aired in the middle of the telecast.  It featured a young guy who said that he couldn't talk about his homosexuality face to face with his family, but after moving to New York his mother signed the family up for Group Chat, and now the things they couldn't say to each other in person were a lot easier to say when sent in a text.  He closed his story with, "I've never lived further away from my family, but I've never felt more connected to them."


Verizon wireless gay son


  • It was ironic that the best thing about the movie Rocketman, the performance of the actor who portrayed Elton John (Taron Egerton), was overlooked for an Oscar nomination, yet its bland song won the Oscar for Best Original Song for Elton John and Bernie Taupin.


Elton john and bernie taupin at 2020 oscars


  • Last week I was enthralled by the stunning 50-year-old J-Lo as she performed her physically demanding halftime routine at the Super Bowl, and a week later 82-year old Jane Fonda looked equally stunning as she closed out the ceremonies.  But why did she bring her coat with her - was coat check full?


2020 oscars jane fonda


Now, some final comments ...


  • King & Queen of the prom.


Scarlett johanssen and colin jost


  • Regal ...

Cynthia erivo  2020 oscars


  • Elton must have had a spare pair of eyeglasses.

  Billy porter at 2020 oscars


  • Where have you gone, Dolores Claiborne?


Kathy bates at 2020 oscars


  • The most touching moment of the night was actress Diane Ladd's reaction upon hearing the name of her daughter, Laura Dern, as winner of Best Supporting Actress.


Diane ladd and laura dern



  • Greta Gerwig vied with Mindy Kaling for most exquisite necklace.

  Greta gerwig at 2020 oscars


  • And lastly, as Salma Hayek so amusingly put it, she finally got to hold an Oscar on onstage.

 Selma and oscar 2020 oscars




Favorite Christmas Songs From A Gay Baby Boomer's Point of View


Merry gay christmas


A few days ago I came across a post on Billboard.com titled 15 LGBTQ Songs for a Holiday Kiki.  It was a fun read, and there were even a few songs I knew, but for the most part it was created with young gays in mind.  And to be honest, from my silver-haired perspective, most of the songs didn't have a very Christmas-y vibe and were often tacky or a bit sleazy.  This inspired me to draw up my own list, reflecting the sensibility of a Gay Baby Boomer.  My selections range across eras, from the mid-1940s all the way to the 21st century; some of the artists are gay, others are gay icons of my generation.  The songs are a mix of standards and musical styles, with a twist of camp thrown in.  Here they are, in no particular order ...


MERRY CHRISTMAS, DARLING - The Carpenters (1970)

I was in 8th grade when this song was released, and like many gay boys of my generation I fell in love with Karen Carpenter's voice.  In the course of four months at the end of 1970 the Carpenters released Close to You, We've Only Just Begun and then this beauty.  To this day I still find myself replaying the end of the song, with its beautiful layering of voices.  Category: Icon


The carpenters at christmas



JOY TO THE WORLD - Joan Sutherland (1965)

Soprano Sutherland's bombastic delivery suits this grand song like a red-velvet glove.  Julie Andrews also has a beautiful, more delicate rendition of this song.  Category: Icon (of Opera Queens). 


Joan sutherland joy to the world



JINGLE BELLS - Jim Nabors (1970)

Nabors' hearty baritone gives this lightweight chestnut a unique (and amusing) power. Category:  Gay performer (RIP)


Jim nabors christmas album



STEP INTO CHRISTMAS - Elton John (1974)

This is the only rocker on my list.  Category: Gay performer


Elton john step into christmas



MY FAVORITE THINGS - The Supremes (1965)

A nice use of sleigh bells in the background.  Category: Icons


The supremes christmas album




This song is from the movie Meet Me In St. Louis.  Another classic Judy Christmas memory is the Christmas telecast of her eponymous variety series from 1963-64.  Category: Icon


Judy garland - have yourself a merry little christmas



LAST CHRISTMAS - Wham! (1986)

A beautiful, adult-oriented classic.  Sadly, 2017 was the first Christmas season without George Michael, who died last Christmas (no pun intended).  And while the song is very pretty, its accompanying video is awful (as most '80s videos are); still, it's been viewed more than 300 million times.  Category: Gay performer (RIP)





JOY TO THE WORLD - Whitney Houston (1996)

This version is from the movie The Preacher's Wife, which starred Houston.  Category: Icon (RIP)


Whitney joy to the world



SANTA BABY - Madonna (1987)

While Eartha Kitt's version from the early 1950s is certainly a hoot, Madonna's has a processed smoothness along with her Betty Boop voice.  Category: Fading Icon





HAPPY HOLIDAY - Peggy Lee (1960)

This has Miss Peggy Lee's signature cool jazz styling.  Category: Camp


Peggy lee christmas



CHRISTMASTIME IS HERE - Billy Porter (2001)

Porter appeared on this benefit CD twelve years before he won the Tony for Best Actor for his performance in the musical Kinky Boots.  (Unfortunately, I could find no YouTube link.)  Category: Gay performer


Broadway cares - home for the holidays cd



WE NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMAS - Cast from Glee (2010)

This is upbeat, fun version from the TV show, Glee, first appeared in the Broadway production of Mame, starring Angela Lansbury, in 1966.  And Lucille Ball played Mame in the 1974 movie (the 1958 movie with Rosalind Russell, titled Auntie Mame, wasn't a musical).  Category: Iconic TV series


Lucille ball as mame



THE CHRISTMAS SONG - Donna Summer (1994)

This is a beautiful version, especially the plaintive piano ending, which brings to mind the beginning of Summer's Last DanceCategory: Vilified Icon


Donna summer - the christmas song



MERRY CHRISTMAS ALL - Denise Montana & the Salsoul Orchestra (1976)

This selection has a very chill vibe - very urban gay.  Category: Tom Ford


Salsoul christmas jollies



WINTER WONDERLAND - The Andrew Sisters w/Guy Lombardo & Orchestra (1946)

This version was featured in The Polar Express, and played in the vast emptiness of the North Pole gift operation, which gave off a reverb-effect sound quality, which is different from its original version.  Category: Camp


Andrew sister - winter wonderland




This performance aired during the 1993 PBS holiday special, Christmas in Vienna (other years featured Natalie Cole and Kiri Te Kanawa).  Ross looks exquisite.  This is a great song made even better by her breathless delivery.  Category: Icon



Diana ross - christmas in vienna



KISSING BY THE MISTLETOE - Aretha Franklin (1962)

A fun song from the very early years before Aretha's rise to Queen of Soul-dom (she was 20).  Category: Icon


Mistletoe - gay kiss



THE MAN WITH THE BAG - Kay Starr (1953)

No, she's not talking about condoms (or perhaps she is and I was too dim to catch the secondary meaning).  This song has a great, upbeat Big Band-ish tempo.  Category: Camp


Kay starr The-Man-With-The-Bag



PAT-A-PAN - David Archuleta (2009)

The adorable Archuleta stole the hearts of girls, their moms and gay boys when he competed on American Idol in 2006 at the age of 16, ultimately finishing second.  (He officially came out in 2021.)  Category: Cute as a Bug


David archuleta - pat a pan



And not one of these selections included the song with the lyric, "Don we now our gay apparel"!


Here are links to a few more Christmas-themed posts:

The Hunks of TV's Cheesy Christmas Movies

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

What Makes the Yuletide Gay

K-Mart's Charmingly Risque Christmas Ad

Bette Midler Stars in Christmas-Themed Holiday Ad



Song Lyrics That Used the Word 'Gay' Before Its Meaning Changed




If a song has the word 'gay' in its lyrics chances are it came from an earlier era, most likely before Stonewall and the beginning of the gay liberation movement (but there are exceptions).  Such songs use the word to describe a mood of happiness or lightheartedness.  When people hear these lyrics today some smile, others giggle, but traditionalists are often annoyed that the word has lost its innocent meaning.  (Occasionally a misguided soul tries to change 'gay' to 'happy' or 'fun' but then relents when his/her attempt is discovered and ridiculed in the media.)  For this post I've found eighteen songs that use the word the old-school way, and here they are ...



This was a top-10 tune for R&B singer Sam Cooke in 1962.


Let me tell you about a place

Somewhere up-a New York way

Where the people are so gay

Twistin' the night away





This was one of the biggest hits of the 1950s, by the Platters.


Oh yes, I'm the great pretender

Just laughing and gay like a clown





Like The Great Pretender, this was another big hit from 1956.  Originally performed by Frankie Lymon & the Teenager, it was also a top 10 hit for Diana Ross 25 years later.


Why do birds sing so gay?

And lovers await the break of day?

Why do they fall in love?





From the 1945 movie State Fair, it won Rogers & Hammerstein an Oscar for Best Original Song.


But I feel so gay

In a melancholy way

That it might as well be spring





A jazz classic written in the 1930s by gay composer and lyricist Billy Strayhorn (who also wrote Take the 'A' Train).


I use to visit all the very gay places

Those come what may places

Where one relaxes on the axis of the wheel of life

To get the feel of life

From jazz and cocktails





This maudlin pop song by Gilbert O'Sullivan topped the charts in the summer of 1972. 


To think that only yesterday

I was cheerful, bright and gay





Written by Bob Dylan in 1997, long after the word 'gay' had its transformation.


I'm strummin' on my gay guitar

Smoking a cheap cigar





A somewhat generic New-Age song in the style of Enya or Sarah Mclachlan that was a hit for Loreena McKennitt.


We've been rambling all the night

And some of the day

Now returning back again

We bring a garland gay





This is an Australian nursery rhyme.  The kookaburra is a large bird found in Australia and New Guinea that has a loud call that resembles human laughter.


Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,

Merry, merry king of the bush is he

Laugh kookaburra, laugh, kookaburra

How gay your life must be!




Here's another children's song, this one from 1949.  The composers, Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins, would write Frosty the Snowman the following year (but with no use of the word "gay").  Peter Cottontail was released as a single by Gene Autry and it went to #5 on Billboard's Hot 100!  


Bringin' every girl & boy

A basketful of Easter joy

Things to make your Easter

Bright & gay




From West Side Story, this song has a gay pedigree as its lyricist was Stephen Sondheim.


I feel pretty, oh so pretty

I feel pretty and witty and gay

And I pity

Any girl who isn't me today





This comes From Leonard Bernstein's operetta Candide, composed in the 1950s.


Glitter and be gay

That's the part I play 

Here I am in Paris, France

Forced to bend my soul


And later in the song ...


Enough! Enough!

I'll take their diamond necklace

And show my noble stuff

And being gay and reckless





Al Jarreau provided vocals for this jazz-infused theme song for ABC's detective comedy from the late 1980s.  It starred Cybil Shepherd and, in his breakout role, Bruce Willis.


Some walk by night, some fly by day

Nothing could change you, set and sure of the way

Charming and bright, laughing and gay

I'm just a stranger, love the blues and the Braves





A composition by Rodgers & Hammerstein, it was written for the 1945 movie State Fair, it won the Oscar for Best Original Song.


But I feel so gay, in a melancholy way

That it might as well be spring


It might as well be spring



Sung by Amy Adams' character in the 2007 Disney movie Enchanted, this is the most recent example of a song tapping the word 'gay' for its earlier meaning.


And you’ll trill a cheery tune in the tub

As we scrub a stubborn mildew stain

Lug a hairball from the shower drain

To the gay refrain

Of a happy working song





This was the first cartoon to air in primetime.


When you're with the Flintstones

Have a yabba dabba-do time

A dabba-do time

We'll have a gay old time!





A song by Rodgers & Hart Rodgers written for the 1930 show Simple Simon, the song was cut.  On Bette Midler's 1990 album Some People's Lives, one of the tracks is this song, but, curiously, her version changed the lyric, excising "gay" for "light my way".


When I was mean to him he didn't say go away now

You see I was his queen to him

Who's gonna make me gay now?





Although the word 'gay' didn't mean 'LGBT gay', this holiday chestnut was first sung by gay icon Judy Garland in the 1944 movie Meet Me in St. Louis.


Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let the yuletide be gay

From now on our troubles will be miles away





This is likely the best-known song on this list, largely because it's been around since the late 19th century.


Don we now our gay apparel

Fa la la la la la, la la la!

Troll the ancient Yuletide carol

Fa la la la la, la la la la!




Finally, one of the readers of this post was inspired to post a video on YouTube with a medley of 34 songs, including most of those listed above.






Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney's First Movie Together (December 3, 1937)

Thoroughbreds.dont.cryAfter Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the next most popular movie pairing of the 1930s and 1940s was Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.  Between 1937 and 1943 they appeared in eight movies together.  The first of these, Thoroughbreds Don't Cry, opened in theaters on December 3, 1937.  At the time Judy was 15 and Mickey 17.  (This was two years before The Wizard of Oz.) 


Strikeuptheband2Probably their most popular movies were Babes in Arms (1939); Strike Up the Band (1940); Babes on Broadway (1942); and Girl Crazy (1943).  (Available in a boxed set on Amazon.)  All contained delightful, over-the-top-musical numbers that could very well have been the inspiration behind Disney's wildly popular High School Musical franchise.


Judy.mickeyWhat's always struck me about these movies was the comportment of their characters.  Their interaction with each other and the other teens was what you might expect from adults in regards to being polite and in their formal introductions ("Miss Jones I'd like to introduce you to Mr. Miller.")  I realized that back then movies were used as a way to teach social skills to the masses.  Fast-forward to the present and the exact opposite is happening on TV as reality shows instruct viewers in how to be anti-social as a way to gain fame.


Besides their eight movies together, they also appeared in two other movies that weren't traditional Mickey and Judy movies; they appeared in just a few scenes together: Thousands Cheer (1943) and Words and Music (1948).


Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall: A Performance for the Ages (April 23, 1961)




Forgive some of our gay elders if they look askance when the younger generation gushes about seeing the likes of Cher, Barbra or Madonna in concert.  This may be because, in their minds, they saw the concert, i.e., Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall.  This wildly acclaimed performance took place on Sunday, April 23, 1961.  And although she was a showbiz veteran, at the time of the concert Judy was still only 38 years old (just four years older than Marilyn Monroe).


Judy's career had been somewhat fallow since the mid-1950s when she appeared in A Star is Born in 1954.  She and her managers decided 1961 would be the year for a comeback.  After all, she still had quite a reservoir of goodwill from fans to tap into - and she was saddled with debt.  Her Carnegie Hall concert was part of a larger tour that went on during April and May.  (In addition to the concert tour, she also landed a small, but pivotal, role in the movie Judgment at Nuremberg, for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.)  In May she returned to Carnegie Hall for another sold-out performance, and then in July she performed at the Forest Hills Tennis Club in Queens.   




Judy's live concert album won five Grammy Awards and was the nation's #1 album for 13 weeks.  The following year she starred with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in an acclaimed TV special.  Due to its ratings success CBS decided to give Judy her own variety show the following year.  Unfortunately, it lasted just one season, largely because it had the misfortune of being scheduled opposite Bonanza.  Still, Judy was back!




45 years later out singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, who wasn't even born until 1973, gave the very same concert at Carnegie Hall on two nights.  He seemed to have much fun as Judy did - and the audience was almost as adoring - but the reviews weren't nearly as glowing.  Here, below, is his version of Judy's San Francisco.  






Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin Star in Acclaimed TV Special (February 25, 1962)

Judygarland_franksinatra_deanmartinThe acclaimed Judy Garland special, "Once in a Lifetime", aired on February 25, 1962.  Her guests were Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.  (What a sight to see Sinatra sing while puffing away on a cigarette!)  The show was a prelude to Judy's regularly scheduled Sunday variety show on CBS that began in the fall of 1963.  (However, it had the misfortune of being scheduled opposite Bonanza on NBC and would last just one season.)




Judy Garland & Liza Minnelli Perform Together for 1st Time (November 17, 1963)

Judy_liza Judy Garland starred in a variety show during the 1963-64 season that aired Sundays on CBS.  On tonight's November 17 telecast one of her guests was her very own daughter, 17-year old Liza Minnelli.  This was the first time they performed together professionally and they sang Together, Bob White and The Best is Yet to Come.




Judy_liza_christmas_showThe telecast aired five days before the assassination of President Kennedy.  A month later Liza also appeared on Judy's Christmas show (airdate: December 22) and performed a dance number with her "beau" (as Judy referred to him) Tracy.  The following year, also in November, mother and daughter performed at the London Palladium.


Happily, a number of DVDs of Judy's show are available, including one titled Judy Garland: Duets, which includes some of the numbers she sang with Liza.

"The Wizard of Oz" Makes Its TV Debut (November 3, 1956)

Wizard_of_oz CBS aired the Wizard of Oz on TV for the first time on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 3, 1956.  Unlike the theatrical release, which magically switched from black and white to color when Dorothy opened the door of her house after it landed in Oz, the TV telecast was shown totally in b/w.  Three years later the broadcast of the movie became a cherished annual event (when it began airing on Sunday).  In 1999 the movie was acquired by Turner Entertainment where it has aired on its various cable networks ever since. 


Wizardofoz_tornado Although I was well acquainted with the plot, during every viewing I held out hope that Dorothy might make it to the storm cellar in time.  And while many other little boys with gay leanings may have been fascinated by the ruby slippers I found myself enthralled by the tornado and hoped that one day one would strike my neighborhood (perhaps its phallic shape also had a subliminal effect).  Thus began my fascination with meteorology, which almost lead me to get a degree in it (instead I switched my major to Advertising upon determining I wasn't cut out for countless courses in Physics).   





Another beloved movie classic from 1939, Gone With the Wind, wouldn't air on network TV until 1976.

Barbra Streisand Appears on Judy Garland's Variety Show (October 6, 1963)

Barbra_and_judy The Judy Garland Show debuted on September 29, 1963 as part of CBS' Sunday night schedule and aired for just one season.  For the show's second telecast, which aired on October 6, Judy had as one of her guests 21-year-old Barbra Streisand, a singer taking the entertainment world by storm.  This would be the only time the two shared a stage together.  Babs' appearance was four months before she made her Broadway debut in Funny Girl




Barbra_judy_ethel In a classic TV moment, Barbra and Judy sang a stunning duet of Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy and another with the theme "Hooray for Love".  Barbra also sang Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered.  Later in the show they were joined by legendary Broadway belter Ethel Merman.  This telecast was truly every queen's wet dream.






Why Do Gay Men Embrace "The Wizard of Oz"?

Wizard_of_oz_posterChildren are captivated by The Wizard of Oz, and not just those destined to be gay - although it does hold a special place in the hearts of many gay men.  But from research I've done on the subject I've learned that it took a while before gay men embraced the movie, and it was largely due to their idolization of the movie's supremely talented, and ultimately tormented, Judy Garland.


Germany_invades_polandIt's ironic that this flight of fantasy opened in theaters on August 25, 1939, one week before Germany invaded Poland, setting the stage for the grim reality of World War II.  Another irony is that WWII brought together so many men in close quarters for the first time - and it's where many, based on first person accounts, had their first homosexual experiences.


So what gives The Wizard of Oz its gay sensibility?  The following items I've listed are based on today's sensibilities, but they had no such resonance when the movie first appeared. 

  • Dorothy's ruby slippers
  • Glinda the Good Witch's arrival in her bubble
  • The fashionable floorlength shearling coats worn by the storm troopers guarding the Wicked Witch's castle
  • The Enchanted Forest, which is what Fire Island's Meat Rack is sometimes referred to
  • Dorothy's non-traditional family of the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion
  • Oz, a metaphor for New York City? (the skyline suggests it)  
  • Judy!!!


Theres_no_place_like_homeInterestingly, despite all of the above, Judy's mantra of "there's no place like home" doesn't ring true for many gays because it's likely that their hometown is the place they chose to escape.