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Final Episode of "Sex & the City" Airs (February 22, 2004)

Sex_in_the_city_last_episode Sex and the City aired Sunday nights on HBO for six seasons and its final episode aired on February 22, 2004.  And despite HBO being in fewer than 25% of U.S. households, it was nonetheless a national event.  (No doubt every HBO household had at least ten friends over that night to watch.)  I didn't become a regular viewer until the show's last three years when I finally subscribed to HBO.  (One aspect of the show I especially liked was the many scenes shot in my West Village neighborhood.)  And like another show about the trials and tribulations of four women with distinctive personalities, NBC's Golden Girls, SATC had a rabid following among gay men.


Sexinthecity_finalepisode Two lines I best remember from this episode involved Miranda (played by Cynthia Nixon).  The first was when her housekeeper, Magda, walked into the bathroom and watched Miranda gently bathing her husband Steve's addled mother (played by Anne Meara).  She put her hand on Miranda's shoulder and said to her "You love" - a beautiful moment.   Later in the episode, Carrie's girls were so upset by how Carrie's fiance Petrosky (played by Mikhail Baryshnikov) was treating her in Paris that when "Big" asked them whether he should pursue her there, Miranda (who despised him) looked at him intently and said "Go get our girl". 




Satc-s06-ep76_lEven before the final episode I found the whole Carrie-Petrosky relationship tedious. (Truth be told, Carrie was my least favorite character.)  Instead, what I found most touching was the relationship between Samantha and Smith.  Another beautiful moment in this episode occurred when Smith surprised Samantha by returning early from a business trip to be with her (she was going through chemo treatment for breast cancer).      


Lesueur_peas Elizabeth_taylor_sexincityTo this day anytime I see someone walking a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the breed of dog Charlotte owned, I say to myself "Elizabeth Taylor", the name she chose for the dog.  Also, every time I see a can of Green Giant Lesueur peas I think of Samantha handing a can of them to a priest she was trying to seduce (for a food drive) and saying "They're Lesueur, they're the BEST". 


Five years later a SATC movie was released during the summer and was a big success.  A sequel came out the following summer but wasn't as well received and grossed less than half of the first (but still more than $150 million worldwide).


Same-Sex Marriage Gets Its Due on "The Simpsons" (February 20, 2005)

Pattybouvier_thesimpsons On the February 20, 2005 episode of The Simpsons (titled "There's Something About Marrying") same-sex marriage was legalized in Springfield as a way to attract tourists.  This results in Marge's sister, Patty Bouvier, coming out and announcing her intention to marry her partner Veronica, a pro golfer.  When Homer learns how much he can earn performing same-sex ceremonies he becomes a minister and marries Patty (which is ironic since Patty, as well as her twin sister Selma, have nothing but contempt for Homer).  Alas, it was later revealed that Veronica was a man.


Having same-sex marriage as a storyline on a mainstream TV show (a favorite with young men) was an important milestone in the fight for legalization of same-sex marriage.  The attendant publicity brought awareness up a few more notches - anathema to the religious right, which frets whenever gay issues gain exposure.      



Samesexmarriage_weddingrings This episode of The Simpsons aired a little more than a year after Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex unions.  And it just so happens that there is a city named Springfield in the state.  However, the show's writers have never indicated in which state their Springfield is located (there are 38 cities, towns and townships named Springfield in the U.S.).



Favoite Quotes from Season 3 of "Downton Abbey" - From a Gay Perspective

Downton_abbey_posterOf course, Downton Abbey has been embraced by viewers of all sexual orientations.  However, the witty repartee and subtle putdowns remind me of the gay social whirl of New York.  And the show's dining scenes, whether upstairs or downstairs, brought back vivid memories of meals during summer weekends at the Pines.  With that said, here are some of my favorite lines from Season 3 - and, no, they weren't all said by Maggie Smith's character!  (Since some are based on my memory, they may not be the exact word-by-word quote).


"Come war and peace, Downton still stands and the Crawley's are still in it!" - Exclaimed somewhat sarcastically by Cora's American mother (Shirley MacLaine) upon her arrival.




"Oh, you two are dressed for a barbecue." - Sarcastic remark made by Cora's mother to Robert and Matthew who, because of a wardrobe mix-up, arrived for a soiree in their morning suits rather than black tie.  Shortly thereafter, the dowager countess (Maggie Smith) asks a butler for a drink, only to realize it's Sir Robert.

"My beauty, my baby." - Lady Grantham saying goodbye to Sybil, perhaps one of the most beautifully sad moments of the entire season.




"Because if we'd listened to him Sybil might still be alive, but your father and Sir Phillip knew better and now she's dead." - Lady Grantham explaining to the family, with barely concealed contempt, why she needs to write an apology to the family doctor who was very concerned about Sybil's condition but his concern went unheeded. 

"You'll make me untidy" - Mary's demur response to Matthew after she had just finished dressing for dinner and a weary Matthew asked her to join him on the bed.




"Have you changed your pills?" - Matthew's mother to the dowager countess after she surprises her during dinner with an uncharacteristically progressive comment about a woman's role. 

"It seems a pity to miss such a lovely pudding". - The dowager's response to Robert's disrupting the ladies of Downton attending a luncheon at cousin Isobel's home.  He demanded, unsuccessfully, they leave because they were being served by Ethel, who had fallen into prostitution after leaving Downton and bearing a bastard son.




"You have surrounded this house with a miasma of scandal." - The dowager to Matthew's mother Isobel after she employs former Downton maid Ethel who turned to prostitution after being fired and having a child. Also, Mr. Carson's enunciation of the word "prostitute" was priceless because it was said with such contempt.

"Mr. Carson, I am not foul." - After being berated by Carson, who used the word "foul" to describe Thomas' homosexuality, Thomas turns and says this as he's about to leave the room.




"My, my - vile and disgusting? Well now, I will have to hear all about it!" - Mrs. Hughes' response to Thomas when he tells her that the act that got him into trouble was too vile and disgusting for her to hear.

"Oh, I didn't realize you were a fan of Mr. Oscar Wilde" - O'Brien to Bates upon discovering why she was invited to the new home of Bates and Anna (so he could talk to her about the Thomas-Jimmy situation).

"Her ladyship's soap."- Bates whispered this to O'Brien in hopes of persuading her to stop Jimmy's intention to go to the police if Carson gives Thomas a decent reference.




"Criminy, if I screamed blue murder every time a chap at Eton tried to kiss me I'd have been hoarse in a month ..." - Lord Robert to Bates after Bates tells him what happened between Thomas and Jimmy, and how Jimmy and Alfred reacted.

"When you're like me, you have to read the signs best you can, because no one dare to speak out." - Thomas trying to explain to Carson why he thought Jimmy might reciprocate his interest.




"So they say" - Edith's rather dismissive response to her editor's comment about how London society gushed over how lovely Lady Mary looked at her wedding. 

"That's what Sybil would want" - Lady Grantham, Mary and Tom often said this to Robert anytime he was resistant to something they want to do.


I'd love to hear your favorite lines as well.





First Lady Jackie Kennedy Gives Televised Tour of the White House (February 14, 1962)

Jackie_kennedy_whitehouse_tour On Valentine's Day 1962, 32-year-old First Lady Jackie Kennedy gave a televised tour of the White House.  It aired on CBS and NBC (and on ABC a number of days later).  In addition to discussing the renovations and redecorating she was overseeing, the program also served as a lesson in U.S. history as Jackie told anecdotes about a number of the presidents.  This broadcast marked the first time a First Lady had been given TV airtime.  Not surprisingly, the special was very popular and drew an audience of 56 million (back when the US had 140 million fewer people than it does today).  



Jackiekennedy_on_tv My first exposure to the special was in college in 1976 when it was shown on Friday "movie night".  I was so surprised by Jackie's soft voice, peculiar accent and her almost childlike demeanor.  However, there was charm in her youth and the simplicity of her presentation.  And her outfit resembled something First Lady Michelle Obama might wear today (especially the flats).   



Sal_Romano_MadMen This special was incorporated into the storyline of an episode of Mad Men during its second season (in 2008).  It amused me because it showed the show's various female characters entranced by the broadcast - as well as closeted gay character Sal (played by out actor Bryan Batt) who seemed more excited about watching it than his girlfriend!




Cher + Bette Midler + Elton John = WOW! (February 12, 1975)

Cher_1975_tvspecial Now this is what a TV special is supposed to be like!  On February 12, 1975, a Wednesday night, CBS pulled off quite a coup when Cher hosted a gala telecast with Bette Midler and Elton John as her guests (comedian Flip Wilson too) - three fledgling superstars, all of them gay icons, together on network TV.  They were all about the same age - Midler was just 29, Cher 28 and Elton was one month from turning 28.  Cher, however, was clearly the veteran as she'd been in the public eye since she and Sonny married and had a #1 song with I Got You Babe ten years earlier. Among the performances, Cher sang Bennie & the Jets with Elton and did a "Trashy Ladies Medley" with the Divine Miss M.  But perhaps the highlight was their medley of Motown hits (e.g. Proud Mary, Ain't No Mountain High Enough) shown in the following clip:   





This special was one of the highlights of my senior year in high school.  According to Nielsen the special got a 29.5 household rating/49 share and 40 million tuned in.  (Get Christie Love! was one of the shows that aired opposite it.)   


Jerry & George Mistaken as Gay Couple on "Seinfeld" (February 11, 1993)

Jerry_and_george So many episodes of Seinfeld can be considered "classic", but the episode that aired on Feb. 11, 1993 is a classic among classics.  A young woman overhears Jerry and George at the coffee shop, and from their banter she thinks they're a gay couple.  Later, her assumption appears correct when she visits Jerry to interview him for the NYU student newspaper and finds George there as well - bickering with Jerry like a married couple.  The episode was the source of the catch phrase, "Not that there's anything wrong with that".  It was spoken throughout the episode after every vehement denial by Jerry or George.  (They said it so their friends wouldn't think they were homophobic.)


Seinfeld_gay_episode Just as things appeared to have been "straightened" out (Jerry and the reporter ended up going on a date), George tried to use his mistaken orientation as a way to break up with a woman he was dating.  As is usually the case with George, his plan backfired - Jerry lost the girl, George couldn't shake his and more hilarity ensued.  And, of course, the last line of the episode (this time spoken by Kramer) was ...


Seinfeld_season4 Unfortunately, the clip I wanted to include can't be shared.  However, you can find the episode in the Season 4 DVD (which includes the classic "Bubble Boy" and "The Contest" episodes.)



First Issue of "Entertainment Weekly" Published (February 8, 1990)

Kdlang_entertainmentwkly Entertainmentwkly_gayteens Probably because of the industries it covers, Entertainment Weekly has regularly covered gay issues, trends and personalities.  For example, in its first year it began an end-of-year feature (coinciding with World AIDS Day) listing those in the entertainment industry who had died of AIDS during the year.  It has run cover stories on gay icons such as Madonna (five of them) and Cher and has published numerous articles with a gay slant, e.g. "Gay Men & Straight Women: Why Hollywood Just Loves Them"; "Gays vs. Dr. Laura"; and "Gay Teens on TV". 


EW's current managing editor, Jess Cagle, is openly gay as is one of its columnists, Mark Harris (playwright Tony Kushner's partner).  I've been a subscriber since the first issue (cover date of 2/16/90), which featured kd lang on the cover (she wasn't out at the time).


Over the years EW has given us classic covers of special interest to its gay readers such as Madonna hitchhiking nude (1992); buff Ryan Reynolds showing off his six-pack (2009); our Sex in the City gal pals (2010); and Modern Family's gay daddys Cameron and Mitchell (2010).









And then there's Jake Gyllenhaal in a soaked shirt (2004); Brokeback Mountain (2007); an absolutely adorable one with Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattison from Twilight (2010); and sexy Ricky Martin (2000).










Now that EW is entering its adult years let's hope that it continues to maintain the youthful zest of its adolescent and teen years!  

Beyonce Sings National Anthem at Super Bowl (February 1, 2004)

Beyonce_at_superbowlXXXVIII Since Super Bowl XXXVIII (Feb. 1, 2004) was being played in her hometown of Houston, 23-year-old Beyonce Knowles was invited to sing the National Anthem.  Not surprisingly, she looked beautiful and did a faaabulous job (I rank it up there with Cher's and Jennifer Hudson's renditions). 


However, Beyonce's performance has been long forgotten by most because this was the Super Bowl that witnessed the infamous Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake "wardrobe malfunction" (which, ten years later, still reverberates).  I may have been one of the few persons watching the game who missed this incident as I was in the kitchen washing dishes.  However, I did see Beyonce make Houston proud.   




Beyonce_superbowl2Happily, nine years later Beyonce received a lot more attention when she was chosen to provide the halftime entertainment at Super Bowl XLVII and wowed viewers with her Victoria's Secret meets dominatrix outfit.

Reviewing the Year in Gay History: 2013



Jan 1 - The first same-sex marriages take place in Maryland.

Jan 13 - At the Golden Globes, Jodie Foster sorta/kinda comes out while accepting a lifetime achievement award.




Jan 15 - 80-year old actor/singer Jim Nabors, most famous for playing the title role in the 1960's CBS sitcom, Gomer Pyle, marries his partner of 38 years in Seattle.

Jan 21 - In his inaugural address, President Obama makes a reference to Stonewall and is the first president to mention gay rights in an inaugural address.




Feb 3 - Hungarian-born, gay porn superstar Arpad Miklos is found dead in his Manhattan apartment, apparently the victim of a suicide.  He was just 45 years old.




Feb 20 - In a new TV commercial for the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, a woman reading at the beach informs a man, whom she thinks is flirting with her, that her husband is at the bar getting her a drink.  The fellow then replies that his husband is at the bar as well!




Feb 24 - The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles appears very briefly during the opening of tonight's Academy Awards telecast, joining host Seth MacFarlane in a song called I Saw Your Boobs

Feb 25 - Gay divorce is the cover story of this week's issue of New York Magazine (cover date 3/4).




March 6 - Mexico's Supreme Court rules that anti-gay expressions like 'maricon' are not protected under the constitution's Freedom of Expression.

March 15 - In a blow to the Republican party's anti-gay platform, Republican senator Rob Portman of Ohio reverses his stand against same-sex marriage in support of his gay son.

April 6 - Liza Minnelli makes a guest appearance as herself on tonight's episode of Smash.




April 17 - New Zealand becomes the 13th nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

April 29 - NBA veteran Jason Collins becomes the first active player of one of the Big Four sports leagues to come out.  He did it in an interview in Sports Illustrated, which hit newsstands today.




May 2 - Rhode Island becomes the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

May 7 - Less than a week after Rhode Island, Delaware's governor signs into law legislation legalizing same-sex marriage there. 

May 7 - Famed club DJ and music producer, Peter Rauhofer, dies from a brain tumor at the age of 48.




May 10 - Despite sporting the Ryan Murphy pedigree, his NBC sitcom about gay parenting, The New Normal, is cancelled after one season.

May 14 - Minnesota becomes the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage.  56 million Americans, or 18% of the US population, now live in states that allow gay couples to marry.

May 17 - Michael Musto, the Village Voice's iconic entertainment and gossip columnist, is let go by the paper after nearly 30 years.




May 18 - France becomes the 14th nation to legalize same-sex marriage.  With a population of 65 million, it passed South Africa as the most populous country where same-sex couples can marry.

May 18 - On Saturday Night Live, a parody TV commercial airs for "Zanax for Gay Summer Weddings", formulated for heterosexuals attending gay weddings who feel insecure because of how perfect they are.




May 23 - The Boy Scouts of America vote to allow openly gay youths as members, while continuing its policy of excluding openly gay adult leaders. 

May 26 - The TV movie, Behind the Candelabra, airs on HBO.  It looks at the relationship of Liberace (played by Michael Douglas) and his much younger lover, Scott Thorson (played by Matt Damon).

June 3 - The Fosters, a drama about a lesbian couple raising their family of inter-racial children, debuts on ABC Family.

June 20  - Exodus International, a ministry that claimed people could change their sexual orientiation from homosexual to heterosexual through reparative therapy, announces it will shut down after 37 years of operation.  Its president also issues a profuse apology.




June 26 - In two landmark decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court overturns DOMA and also upholds an earlier Circuit court ruling that invalidated Prop 8 in California, thus restoring same-sex marriage in the nation's most populous state.

June 30 - In honor of Gay Pride Day and the legalization of gay marriage in Washington state, the Seattle Mariners become the first Major League Baseball team to fly the rainbow flag at a game.




June 30 - Russian president, Vladimir Putin, signs into law legislation that bans gay "propaganda".

July 1 - This week's issue of the New Yorker celebrates week's Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage by showing Bert & Ernie on its cover snuggling in front of the TV.  

July 11 - Orange is the New Black, a drama set in a women's prison, debuts on Netflix.




July 17 - With Queen Elizabeth giving her royal stamp of approval to Parliament's legislation, England legalizes same-sex marriage.

July 28 - Just four months into his papacy, Pope Francis makes a surprisingly compassionate comment about gay priests, saying that "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" It is also notable that he uses the term "gay" rather than "homosexual".




Aug 2 - Secretary of State John Kerry announces that effectively immediately the US will treat visa applications of married same-sex couples in the same manner as opposite-sex spouses. 

Aug 11 - Chelsea's popular bar Splash closes after nearly 22 years, unable to staunch the flow of patrons to bars and clubs in Hell's Kitchen. 

Aug 28 - The Internal Revenue Service announces that all same-sex couples who are legally married will be recognized as such for federal tax purposes, even if the state where they live doesn't recognize their union.

Sept 2 - In her fifth attempt, 64-year-old lesbian swimmer, Diana Nyad, successfully swims for 53 hours between Havana, Cuba and Key West - without a shark cage.

Sept 22 - For the third time in the past four years openly gay actor Jim Parsons wins the Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Sitcom for his portrayal of lovable science nerd Sheldon on CBS's The Big Bang Theory.

Sept 26 - In its 11th season, CBS's hit sitcom Two and a Half Men replaces its "half man" with the lesbian daughter of one of the Two Men.




Oct 3 - For the first time since co-starring on Will & Grace seven years earlier, Sean Hayes returns to NBC in the sitcom Sean Saves the World, playing a gay man raising his teen daughter.  

Oct 21 - The first gay marriages take place in New Jersey, the 14th state to legalize them.

Oct 25 - The lesbian drama, and winner of the Palme de Or at Cannes, Blue is the Warmest Color, opens in US theaters.  Much attention is given to the NC-17-rated movie's explicit 7-minute sex scene.




Nov 5 - Openly gay Washington state senator Ed Murray is elected mayor of Seattle and delivers his acceptance speech with his husband at his side. 

Nov 20 - Illinois joins 15 other states and DC in legalizing same-sex marriage.

Nov 22 - The movie Philomena opens.  It tells the true story of Philomena Lee, who searched for her son Michael 50 years after she game him up for adoption.  In the course of her search she discovers that he was gay and died of AIDS.

Dec 10 - India's Supreme Court declares homosexual sex illegal, reversing a ruling four years ago that had struck down the ban.  

Dec 19 - To absolutely no one's surprise, figure skating great Brian Boitano, who won a gold medal for the US at the 1988 Winter Olympics, finally came out.  This came two months after he turned 50.




Dec 19 - New Mexico's Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, the sixth state to legalize it in 2013 and seventeenth state overall (and DC).


 To read about LGBT milestones from other years, double click here.

Barry Manilow Sings "National Anthem" at Super Bowl (January 22, 1984)

Young_barry_manilow Female vocalists asked to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl have outnumbered male vocalists by 2:1.  This select group of male singers includes Barry Manilow, who was given the honor in 1984 at Super Bowl XVIII - the same Super Bowl made memorable for airing Apple's famous "1984" TV commercial that introduced the company's new Macintosh computer.  (Beyonce's singing of the Anthem in 2004 was similarly overshadowed - by the scandalous "Nipplegate" incident during halftime.) 


(Unfortunately, the clip of BM's performance that used to be in this space is no longer available.)


In addition to Manilow, other male singers who've sung the Star Spangled Banner include Neil Diamond; Billy Joel (twice); Aaron Neville (once solo, once w/Aretha Franklin); Harry Connick, Jr.; and Garth Brooks.  Other divas have included Cher; Diana Ross; Whitney Houston; Mariah Carey; Jennifer Hudson - and Luther Vandross (in 1997).