Adam Rippon - The Pumpkin Spice of Gay Celebrities?



Adam Rippon is everywhere, and I wouldn't be surprised if his middle name were "Ubiquitous".  It all began at this year's Winter Olympics where he competed in Men's Figure Skating.  (Prior to 2018 Rippon had a modicum of success upon winning the 2017 Men's US Figure Skating Nationals).  And although he didn't medal in the individual competition (and his two teammates finished ahead of him) he, curiously, received media adulation usually reserved for a medal juggernaut such as swimming icon Michael Phelps


Since the Olympics Rippon has taken the world by storm.  He's been on Dancing with the Stars (which he won); attended the 2018 Academy Awards; was chosen as one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential (with a gushing tribute penned by Cher!)' modeled in the buff for ESPN Magazine's 'Body Issue'; and has made appearances on just about every daytime and late night TV talk show.  Reese Witherspoon and Sally Fields both made a huge fuss about him on social media.


Adam Rippon - Figure Skating Magazine
A year before the media frenzy
Adam rippon - 2018 oscars - getty images
And at the 2018 Oscars wearing, inexplicably, a leather harness


Back in the 1990s Harvey Fierstein was everywhere as the media's go-to person for gay commentary, but that was understandable since in that era there were almost no openly gay celebs to talk to except for Harvey.  That's not the case these days, where it seems there are more openly gay and transgendered personalities in the public eye than there are straight celebrities.  Yet Rippon has managed to monopolize the media's attention.


Harvey fierstein

As a skater Rippon has beautiful, ethereal style, and I applauded him for turning down a meeting with our homophobic vice president at the Winter Olympics.  It's also to his credit that he's openly gay, a decision that may have even hurt him with some of the judges at the Olympics, who seem loathe to acknowledge the participation of gay men in the sport.  However, I'm put off by how self-absorbed he seems, and his need to tell interviewers how fabulous he is. 


Adam rippon and reese witherspoon


The media's gushing over him brings to mind its obsession with the unbearable personalities of reality shows, which celebrate anti-social behavior (I've previously bemoaned the toxic "entertainment" Bravo's Andy Cohen has inflicted upon us with his 'Housewives of' franchise).  And like a reality star, Rippon embraces these vapid personality traits, boasting in interviews of being trashy, slutty and fierce.  GLAAD recently stated that Rippon is someone every LGBTQ teen can look up to.  But is he, really?  While self-confidence and a sunny disposition are wonderful personality traits to possess, it's undermined by boastfulness.  The intoxication in our culture with this type of "celebrity" is what helped put the disgrace we call president in the White House.  But I digress ...


As with pumpkin spice flavoring, does Rippon have to be an ingredient in everything of our pop culture?



Review of "The Cakemaker" - Affection Through Confection

The cakemaker


No, The Cakemaker isn't a documentary about the Colorado cake maker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.  Rather, it's a touching (albeit slow-moving) drama about the life of a Berlin baker, Thomas, after his married Israeli boyfriend, Oren, is killed in a car accident (the actor who plays Oren bears a striking resemblance to Daniel Day- Lewis).  Seeking some sort of solace Thomas goes to Jerusalem where he ends up befriending Oren's widow, Anat, gets a job working for her at her newly opened cafe and draws customers with his delectable baked goods.  Oddly, Anat shows no curiosity about Thomas's background nor does she ask him about his reasons for coming Israel.  Meanwhile Anat's brother isn't thrilled that a German Gentile is working in a kosher establishment.  (There are subtle jabs at Orthodox Judaism as it applies to its strict dietary laws.) 


Thomas the Cakemaker


The cherubic Thomas has a doughy, but surprisingly sexy, physique which, we get to see in a number of scenes when he's showering, lounging in Oren's red Speedo or, in flashbacks, of he and Oren making love.  He's a gentle soul who came to Jerusalem with no sinister agenda in mind.  (An aspect of the movie I liked was having it set in Jerusalem rather than cosmopolitan Tel Aviv.)


Thomas at the pool  The Cakemaker

Although the movie falls into the "gay" genre the story doesn't immerse itself in depictions of gay life.  In fact, considerably more time is devoted to showing his interaction with Anat (which turns romantic) than with Oren.  There are some furtive cruising done at a gymnasium and at a park but Thomas never acts on it.  Touching scenes with Oren's mother suggest that she knew that Oren was gay and seems to intuit it about Thomas as well.  She acts in a caring, motherly fashion towards him but I didn't know if it was because, perhaps, Oren confided in her, or because, sensing Thomas was gay, she liked having him around because it may have brought back memories of her son.  


Near the end of the movie comes a heartrending reveal when Oren's widow, who still isn't aware of the romance between Thomas and Oren, confides in him about what transpired shortly before Oren's accident, a story that devastates Thomas because he learns that Oren's feelings for him were deeper than he imagined.  Little did he know how very close they came to being together in Berlin in a full time relationship.  His restrained emotional reaction upon hearing this account is difficult to watch.


Oren and thomas  the cakemaker

This is the second Israeli film I've seen with a gay theme.  The first was Yossi & Jagger, which I saw in 2002.  It told the story of two Israeli soldiers, stationed in the no-man's land between Israel and Lebanon, who are surreptitious lovers.  This made the affection between them even more affecting.  Death also separates the two but, unlike The Cakemaker, it comes near the end of the movie.




Other movie reviews that may be of interest:  

Call Me By Your Name

In God's Country

Paris 05:59 - Theo & Hugo

Do I Sound Gay?

Stranger by the Lake 




Introducing 'Chill', the Men's Magazine of "Label-Free Living"

Chill magazine


Last month (May 2018) I came across a magazine at my gym that I wasn't familiar with, Chill.  As I thumbed through it, a surfeit of photos showing sexy African American men got my attention.  And while the photo essays gave off a subtle gay vibe, I was uncertain about the publication's intended readership.  Upon further investigation I learned that Chill is a new quarterly published by Here Media, which is also the publisher of Out, The Advocate and Out Traveler.  The publisher's letter described the magazine's audience as men who are "empowered by label-free living".  (An updated version of the DL?)  And when I spoke to Here Media's business development manager and referred to Chill as the gay magazine for black men, he demurred and reiterated the "fluidity" of their orientation.  So I suppose this means we shouldn't expect to find the likes of Billy Porter, Titus Burgess or RuPaul on the cover. 


What makes the publication somewhat different from Out or The Advocate is that every article doesn't have a gay angle.  However, in the premiere issue there was a touching essay about a writer's experience as a gay teen feeling like an outsider in black barbershop culture.  There was also a review of a biography about gay author Alain Locke, an article about the show runner for Giant (which has addressed homophobia in the black community), a photo essay shot by a gay photographer, and an interview with a gay make-up artist from the VH-1 reality series Love & Hip-Hop Miami, who was subjected to gay conversion therapy as a teenager.  And on Chill's website its stories included one about one of the stars of the new FX show Pose, an event in California for gay/bi men of color called  Blatino Oasis, and a thought-provoking essay about the sexual objectification of black men by gay white men.  Interestingly, there was no listing of Chill on Here Media's website.


Finally, since the initial issue contained very little advertising (nine pages out of a total of 64) I'd like to give a shout-out to the few who did appear in the premiere issue: Absolut, Lexus, the pharmaceutical companies Gilead and Napo, and LA's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. 



Black Brazilians

  James brownIII

  Michael stiggers in chill magazine

  Terrell Clark





2018 Oscars - Plodding and Predictable, But Still Enjoyable to Watch

Jimmy kimmel and oscar statue


Since I'm easily entertained I don't bitch and moan about the Oscars telecast since I always find it engaging (and since I record it I fast forward the lame parts of the show and get through it in about three hours rather than four).  I enjoy the spectacle as well as the anticipation of controversial remarks during acceptance speeches.  Furthermore, I enjoy the camera shots of audience reactions, the demeanor of  presenters and their fashion choices.  I've categorized my observations of this year's broadcast into the following categories: Thumbs Up; Thumbs Down; Touching Moments; Gay Moments; Eye Candy; Reaction Shots; and This & That. 




The over-the-top, but stunning, set design (which changed colors throughout the evening)


Reflecting on last year's Best Picture fiasco, Jimmy Kimmel cautioned this year's winners, "When you hear your name called don't get up right away, perhaps give it a minute just to make sure."


Helen Mirren gamely played "Price is Right" model for the jet ski that would be awarded to the person who gave the shortest acceptance speech.


Taraji p henson
Perhaps the night's most provocative look was Taraji P. Henson's, who was in full 'Cookie' mode as she introduced Mary J. Blige.




Christopher walken 2018 academy awards
I don't recall what award Christopher Walken presented because I was just hoping he didn't fall because he seemed so frail. Also, with his pants hiked up above his waist he looked like one of the characters from "The Sunshine Boys."


Gael garcia bernal
The intro to the song "Remember Me" was sung by Gael Garcia Bernal and it was pretty painful (I found it more trying than Fergie's jazz rendition of The National Anthem).

Emily blunt
Emily Blunt's dress was somewhat of a matronly affair, what Mary Poppins might wear (perhaps it was intentional since she's playing Mary Poppins in an upcoming movie). The embroidered space on her bodice looked like it was missing a posting of "Today's Dinner Specials".





Eva Marie Saint's comments before giving out the Oscar for Costume Design were touching and, at the age of 93, she was remarkably lucid.  I got a kick out of her calling Alfred Hitchcock, "Fred".  (Earlier in the evening Sam Rockwell called Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Phil Hoffman").

Timothee and armie
Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer look on happily as James Ivory accepted his Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for "Call Me by Your Name."


Frances McDormand's joyous expression when co-star Sam Rockwell of "Three Billboards" won for Best Supporting Actor.


Jordan peele
Jordan Peele's stunned, but happy, reaction after winning Best Original Screenplay for "Get Out".


2018 academy awards
I was smitten by Rachel Shenton, the writer of the documentary short "The Silent Child", which tells the story of a deaf four-year-old.


The performance of the song "Remember Me" (from "Coco") for some reason made me teary-eyed, perhaps because I was thinking of a dear friend who died much too young at the beginning of the year.


Happy at oscar ceremony
Allison Williams watches proudly as her director, Jordan Peele, gives his acceptance speech after winning Best Original Screenplay for "Get Out".




Coco director
Adrian Molina and Darla K. Anderson, the openly gay director and producer of "Coco" (Best Animated Feature), thanked their husband and wife, respectively.


James ivory wins oscar
James Ivory's win for Best Adapted Screenplay for "Call Me By Your Name." And at the


Elio and oliver
One of the clips for "Call Me By Your Name" showed Elio and Oliver passionately kissing. This followed a comment earlier in the evening during Jimmy Kimmel's opening monologue directed at our homophobic vice president: "Hollywood doesn't make movies like "Call Me By Your Name" to make money, we make them to upset Mike Pence".


Daniela vega at oscars
"A Fascinating Woman" won for Best Foreign Film and the movie's star, transgendered Daniela Vega, had a regal bearing as she stood on the stage. Later she introduced the Best Song nominee from "Call Me By Your Name."


This is me from the showman
From the movie "The Showman", nominated song "This Is Me" could be adopted as a gay anthem, like "I Am What I Am" or "Born This Way."



(Your tastes may differ)


Oscar at the oscars
Oscar at the Oscars (Oscar Isaac)


Chadwick boseman
"Black Panther's" Chadwick Boseman


Ansel Elgort ("Baby Driver")


Jordan peele oscar winner
Jordan Peele


Oliver and elio
Armie Hammer





Margot Robie ("I, Tonya")


Sam rockwell 2018 oscars
Sam Rockwell


Sam Rockwell and Common


Lupita Nyongo during the show's black & white newsreel opening


Actor from get out
"Get Out's" Daniel Kaluuya


Leslie manville 2018 oscars
Leslie Manville's look brought to mind the glamour of old Hollywood.


Best Actor nominee Timothee Chalemet


Jennifer Lawrence


Viola davis 2018 oscars
Viola Davis claps along enthusiastically to the rousing performance of "This is Me."


Gleeful director Guillermo del Toro after verifying that his movie had indeed won Best Picture.





Annabella s
At first glance I mistook Annabella Sciora for Tina Fey when she came onto the stage.


Viola davis 2018 oscars
The way she hobbled out to present the night's first award, it appeared Viola Davis was walking off a charley horse!


Mexican actor
I had no idea who two presenters were, so I had to Google their names. Wes Studi, a Cherokee actor, introduced clips from war-themed movies while Eugenio Derbez (pictured), a well-known actor in Mexico, introduced the song "Remember Me" from "Coco."


Mary j blige
And the Oscar for the night's most big-ass earrings goes to ... Mary J. Blige.


Benjamin bratt 2018 oscars
Benjamin Bratt kept his cool despite there being a huge piece of confetti, part of the "Remember Me" number, on his coiff.


Previous Oscar recaps:













75 Reasons Not to Skip TV Commercials


Fast forwarding


Despite the fact that I work in advertising, being able to skip through TV commercials is one of the most awesome advances in TV viewing technology.  However, sometimes while fast-forwarding through a commercial pod I catch a glimpse of a male image that gets my attention for a split second and demands I stop and hit "rewind" (and then "pause" and "replay").  For example ...  



Ll flooring


Daisy sour cream



Jp morgan chase tv ad march 2023



Fooman chu


OZEMPIC (2022) Ozempic ad


Gillette on demand
Zeitgayst direct TV






Zeitgayst apple ad



Zeitgayst tv ad nivea for men



Just for Men Control Shampoo



Progressive insurance - scott



Klondike guy 2016
Sexy liquid plumr guy







(featuring Pittsburgh Steelers' Cam Heyward)

Cameron heyward - upmc healthcare



Summers eve commercial



Volvo ad with bearded man



(Featuring Soccer/Futbol Superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo)




Water polo - tylenol ad



Ford automobiles



Ebay christmas ad



(Featuring Actor Josh Duhamel)

Taco bell - josh duhamel




  Subaru ad



Selsun blue shower guy



  Bleu chanel2

Bleu chanel



Wal-mart 2018



Discover Card



Spectrum cable TV ad



Listerine ready tabs



Mercedes - A Class



Marriott bonvoy






Buick tv ad



 Degree tv add

Degree tv ad



Att wireless tv ad



Dentek sleep guards






Cheez it
Starbucks Nitro



Xfinity tv ad



Weathertech xmas



 Versace eros tv ad







Deon cole _old spice



Arm and hammer laundry detergent



Tide purclean
Mazda ad



Invisalign2 (2)



Sodastream commercial






Walmart tv commercial


Delta showerheads


Mavyret hepc mrf



Toyota sales event



Sensodyne tv ad
Dexcom g6



Geico ad with dj khaled



Hershey kisses first kiss
Epclusa hepatitis drug



Jake from state farm_food delivery



Lexus Christmas 2020



Tv ad for




Mcdonalds mcrib


Torian easterling nyc health department
SLEEP NUMBER MATTRESS CO. (Featuring Dallas Cowboy Quarterback Dak Prescott)
Dallas cowboy qb
Hand and stone




Aarp 2






Beard trimmer





Spectrum cable




Tide commercial




Zeitgayst lexus gay ad



Tv ad for dupixent



Freedom debt relief

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



"Call Me By Your Name" - Aesthetically Pleasing, But Lacking Sizzle



Since the early part of 2017 I had been eagerly anticipating the release of the movie Call Me By Your Name, which received rapturous reviews as it traveled the film festival circuit.  At long last it opened in New York in late November, but after all of the rhapsodic buzz it generated, I found the movie somewhat of a disappointment.  Although the Italian-set film was beautiful to watch, it felt sanitized (in fact, screenwriter James Ivory, who would win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, groused about its lack of nudity).  And unlike director Luca Guadagnino's  over-the-top, operatic I Am Love from 2009, this effort was more languid, sapping it of carnal fervor.


The reason for my disappointment was largely due to what I felt was a lack of chemistry between Elio and Oliver; their connection didn't ring true.  Furthermore, I didn't get a gay vibe from Oliver.  In my mind he came across as a player whose motivation was deflowering Elio, who served as a conquest.  (In fact, Oliver's demeanor, and even his appearance, somewhat reminded me of Mad Men's Don Draper.)  And Oliver didn't seem like a 24-year-old grad student, but, rather, more like the real age of the actor who portrayed him, 31-year-old Armie Hammer.  (Perhaps this was why he was overlooked for an Oscar nomination.)




Nor did I detect much in the way of sexual tension between Elio and Oliver, which was in stark contrast to the smoldering relationship between Johnny and Gheorghe, the two main characters, in God's Own Country, which opened a few months before Call Me By Your Name.  It was also critically acclaimed, but without the buzz of Name (however, in the UK it won the British Independent Film Award for Best Picture).  And the $375,000 it made in its four-month run in the US was less than what Name grossed in its first weekend ($400,000 in just four theaters).


God's own country - confrontation


With Call Me set in 1983 it had me thinking about the devastating early years of the AIDS crisis in the US (which was never mentioned in the movie).  I pondered how it might impact Elio's and Oliver's lives in a few years.  With Elio being new to gay sex would he be cautious and fearful?  Once Oliver was married would he be living life on the DL and risk the health of his wife? 


The highlight of the movie came during the closing credits as Elio is shown weeping silently as he gazes into the flames of the fireplace in the home of his parents.  His tears came after Oliver phoned him with the news of his engagement to his girlfriend.  Enhancing this tender scene was the gently captivating song Gates of Gideon by Sufjan Stevens.  This scene brought to mind the closing minutes of Michael Clayton, which showed George Clooney's character sitting in the back of a taxi going through Manhattan after his dramatic take down of Tilda Swinton's murderous corporate attorney (but no tears were shed). 


Elio crying - call me by your name


Finally, in what may have been a first, three other gay-themed movies were out at the same time as Call Me By Your Name: God's Own Country, BPM, and Tom of Finland.  And although none of these movies was ever in more than 20 theaters, nonetheless, it seemed like an embarrassment of riches. (However, in April the movie Love, Simon was released in more than 2,400 theaters, selling more tickets in its first two weeks than Call Me By Your Name did in its entire run.) 


Love simon

A Salute to the Hunks of TV's Cheesy Christmas-Themed Movies

Christmas wish - aaron odonnell

Whenever I take a trip back home to Pittsburgh to visit my mom, we spend a good amount of time watching TV.  During this year's Thanksgiving visit (2017) there was, as there always is, a surfeit of cheesy, formulaic Christmas-themed movies on The Hallmark Channel, Lifetime and Icon, all with heterosexual romance as their main themes.  But despite their mind-dulling plots and cliched twists and turns, the hunky male leads held my attention - and not once did I implore Mom to change the channel.  While watching I amused myself by fantasizing that the big reveal at the end of each movie would involve the hunk coming out to his lady friend rather than proposing to her. 


Hallmark-christmas-movies-all i want or christma


Here are some of the best "knights in shining armor" I feasted my eyes upon. (Please note that, with one exception, bare chested photos of them are not from their Christmas movies.)


AARON O'DONNELL (32 y.o., 6'1"/born in Ohio)

O'Donnell, a former Ford model, has four holiday movies to his credit: With Love, Christmas (2017); My Christmas Love (2016); 12 Gifts of Christmas (2015); and A Prince for Christmas (2015).  However, he may be most famous for his role as a plumber in TV ads for Liquid Plumr




Aaron o'connell - liquid plumbr ad
Liquid Plumr ad


Model aaron odonnell
A photo from O'Donnell's modeling days, not from the movie


STERLING SULIEMAN (34 y.o., 5'11"/born in Hawaii)

Perhaps best known for his roles in The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, in 2015's The Christmas Wish (on Lifetime) Sulieman portrayed Wesley, director of an agency that places foster children, which is across town from his father's architectural firm, notorious for razing neighborhoods to make way for glitzy Trump-like towers. 


Sterling sulieman - the christmas gift


Sterling sulieman

 Sterling-sulieman-open shirt



RICK FOX (49 y.o., 6'7"/ born in Canada)

A former member of the Boston Celtics and LA Lakers over thirteen seasons, Fox appeared in a supporting role to Sterling Suleilman in The Christmas Wish as the publisher of an alternative newspaper.


Rick fox



ROB MAYES (34 y.o. /born in Ohio)

A child model, Mayes starred in Love for Christmas (2012, on Ion), where he played a naval officer returning home to California, where he bumps into his former high school crush (in real life he briefly attended the US Naval Academy).  The flame is rekindled but she takes a job in New York as a Broadway director, something she avoided telling him until the last minute (at the party following the big Christmas pageant she oversaw).  After she moves he decides to find her (at the urging of his precious 10-year-old niece) and finds her on top of the Empire State Building where he proposes. 




Rob mayes


Rob mayes


DAVID ALPAY (38 y.o., 5'10"/Canadian)

He's starred in three holiday movies.  In The Mistletoe Inn (2017) he plays Zeke, a romance novelist; in Sleigh Bells Ring (2016) he plays Alex, and old flame of the organizer of their town's Christmas parade; and in Ice Sculpture Christmas (2015) he plays David, who enters his friend, a chef, into an ice sculpting contest that pits her against her boss.  Her friendship with David blossoms into romance.


David alpay - sleigh bells ring

  David alpay ice sculpting

David alpay - younger days
In younger days



CARLOS PENAVEGA (29 y.o., 5'6"/born in Missouri)

PenaVega's last name was simply Pena until his marriage to Alexa Vega.  After graduating from the Boston Conservatory, he rose to fame on Nickelodeon, then in November 2015 he competed on Dancing With the Stars and in 2016 he played Kenickie in Fox's production of Grease Live!  And this holiday season he starred in An Enchanted Christmas on The Hallmark Channel where he played the role of Ricardo, a salsa instructor. 


Carlos-penavega-enchanted christmas



Carlos penavega - dancing with the stars
Dancing With the Stars


LEA COCO (41 y.o., 6'2"/born in Louisiana)

Not to be confused with Lea Delaria or Lee Iacocca, Coco is a journeyman actor with no real TV franchise under his belt.  In The Sweetest Christmas (2017, Hallmark Channel), he plays the role of Nick, old boyfriend of Kylie, who owns a pizzeria.  Kylie asks to use his oven when hers malfunctions the day before the American Gingerbread competition.



 Lea coco actor



RYAN PAEVEY (34 y.o., 6'/born in southern California)

Similar to Aaron O'Donnell, Paevey jumped from modeling to acting and is best known for various roles on General Hospital (starting in January 2014).  During the 2016 Christmas season he co-starred in the Hallmark Channel's Unleashing Mr. Darcy, in which he played an arrogant judge at a dog show.  (Yes, it's considered a holiday movie.)


Ryan paevey - unleashing mr. darcy



DANIEL LISSING (37 y.o., 5'11"/Australian)

Lissing appeared with Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman in the shortlived ABC drama Last Resort in 2012-13.  In 2016's A December Bride, he had the role of Seth, who was responsible for introducing Layla's ex-fiance to his bride-to-be, who is Layla's cousin.  Layla can't find a date to the wedding and Seth offers to go with her.




Daniel lissing australian


Daniel lessing in tank top


JESSE HUTCH (37 y.o., 6'0"/Canadian)

Hutch is a Hallmark Channel favorite; he reminds me of a TV version of Channing Tatum.  Growing up in the Canadian Rockies he has a reputation for doing his own stunts (and his bio says that he always had an attraction to action and adrenaline).  He has three Hallmark holiday movies to his credit, where had the roles of Cole in Snowmance (2017); Connor in Becoming Santa (2015); and Brady in Let It Snow (2013).  As you'll see he's the only actor on this list who bared his chest in one of his movies.


Jesse hutch - let it snow movie
"Let It Snow!"


Jesse hutch in snowmance


Jesse hutch becoming santa
"Becoming Santa"



CHRIS CARMACK (38 y.o., 6'1"/born in Washington, DC)

Carmack may be best known for his role as closeted country singer Will Lexington on the ABC drama Nashville.  Before that role he starred in two 2012 Christmas-themed movies, All About Christmas Eve and A Christmas Wedding Date.


"A Christmas Wedding Date"


Chris carmack - all about christmas eve
"All About Christmas Eve"


TRAVIS MILNE (32 y.o., 6'2"/Canadian)

Shortly after his six-year stint on ABC's Rookie Blue came to an end, Milne starred as a workaholic single dad who falls for his personal shopper in A Gift-Wrapped Christmas (2015)


Travis milne - a gift wrapped christmas



BRENNAN ELLIOTT (43 y.o./Canadian)

Yet, one more Canadian!  His most high profile performances were on Lifetime's medical drama Strong Medicine for four seasons and the USA Movie Flight 93 before starring in A Christmas Melody (featuring Mariah Carey) in 2015 and Love You Like Christmas in 2016.


Brennan elliott - a christmas melody


Brennan elliott all of my heart


Brennan elliott driving


I had the makings of my very own Hallmark movie during my trip to Pittsburgh.  I took Amtrak there and my seatmate, who boarded in Philly was a young, friendly, talkative attorney who was also visiting his mom in Pittsburgh.  We chatted non-stop for three hours; from our conversation I surmised that he was single but I couldn't tell if we played on the same team.  However, once off the train we quickly parted, going our separate ways, he taking Uber, me Lyft.  If this story followed the arc of the holiday movies we would have a chance encounter a number of weeks, months or years later.  Alas, it was not to be.




Finally, fast forward a few years to Lifetime and its holiday movie, Twinkle all the Way, in which one of the two sons of Leslie Ann Warren's characters not only was gay, but married as well.  Yes!  And the final kiss of the movie is between husband and husband.  And during the summer of 2020 it was announced that Hallmark Channel was planning to air at least one Christmas move with a gay romance at its center.


Gay kiss_ twinkle all the way_lifetime movie
Husbands kiss in "Twinkle All the Way"




LGBTQ News Highlights of 2017

 2017 on black bacground


February 28 - Moonlight wins the Oscar for Best Picture, the first movie with a gay-theme to do so.

Moonlight movie


April 20 - A revival of Hello, Dolly! opens on Broadway, starring Bette Midler. (Who would go on to win the Tony for best Actress.)


Bette midler hello dolly


May 24 - Taiwan becomes the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage

June 14 - 38-year-old Leo Varadkar is named Ireland's first openly gay prime minister.


Leo varadkar irish prime minister


July 26 - 13 months after the Pentagon approved transgender persons serving in the US military, President Trump, without consulting the Pentagon, tweeted that they would be banned.

September 12 - Edie Windsor, the lead plaintiff in the 2013 US Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor, which successfully overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and was considered a landmark legal victory for the same-sex marriage movement in the United States., dies at the age of 88.




September 27 - The CDC releases a letter saying that persons who are HIV-positive who take their medications daily "and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the HIV virus to an HIV-negative partner."

September  28 - The ground-breaking sitcom Will & Grace returns to NBC eleven years after its eight-season run ended.

October 30 - After years of being coy about his sexual orientation, actor Kevin Spacey comes out in response to allegations made by Anthony Rapp of sexual misconduct by Spacey when Rapp was 14 (in 1987).  Earlier in the year Spacey had hosted the year's Tony Awards.


Kevin spacey 2017 tony awards


November 7 - Lesbian Jenny Durkan is elected as Seattle's second LGBT mayor, succeeding gay mayor Ed Murray who stepped down six months earlier after multiple accusations of sexual abuse of minors.


Jenny durkan


November 14 - Australians vote in favor of same-sex marriage in an online poll in which 80% of voters participated.


To read highlights from previous years, click here.

"God's Own Country" - Farm Boy Meets His Prince Charming

God's own country title card


The film, God's Own Country, is a slow-burn gay romance set on a farm in England's Yorkshire countryside where a disabled farmer's son, Johnny, is burdened with deadening chores.  To give him some relief a young migrant farm worker from Romania, Gheorghe, is hired.  Johnny is closeted and sullen; Gheorghe, polite and exuding a gentle nature, slowly connects with Johnny, a young man whose emotional life has been stunted from a lack of physical affection.  Gheorghe, by contrast, seems heaven sent (case in point, he nurtures an orphan lamb, cuddling him inside his jacket).  This is a deeply touching movie, with a number of heartwarming scenes between Johnny and Gheorghe as Johnny slowly warms to Gheorghe's tenderness (in contrast to his furtive, drunken hookups in a bathroom stall at the local pub).


God's own country - gheorge with lamb


Watching this film, scenes from three movies popped into my head: 1) A rough-sex scene (augmented by spit) between Johnny and Gheorghe easily brought to mind Brokeback Mountain; then later in the movie, after Gheorghe abruptly quits the farm, Johnny comes across a few articles of his clothing which he smells longingly; 2) Like The Taming of the Shrew, Gheorge breaks Johnny after he taunts him with the epithet "gypsy", pinning him to the ground and establishing his dominance (pictured below); and 3) Calling to mind An Officer and a Gentleman, Johnny, full of remorse after being caught in the pub men's bathroom boffing a stranger, comes to get Gheorghe back from the potato-processing plant he stormed off to.


God's own country - confrontation 


If the movie has a flaw it's the portrayal of Gheorghe as a person who is flawless - a knight in shining armor.  He's hardly your typical migrant worker.  Yet, the movie ends with us knowing very little about him, leaving me wondering why a fellow who spoke fluent English (his mother taught English) and was somewhat of a Martha Stewart around the farm (e.g., after skinning a dead baby lamb he fashioned a little wool jacket that he put on an orphaned lamb), didn't aspire to something beyond farming.  However, despite these reservations, I still highly recommend the movie.


God's own country - johnny and gheorghe

 God's own country - johnny

 God's own country - gheorghe


God's own country  hands touching


Here are a number of other past movie reviews:

Call Me By Your Name

Paris 5:59: Theo & Hugo

Stranger by the Lake


Do I Sound Gay?