Thursday, June 26, 2008

So What If Somebody's Gay?

I don't know if actor Tyrone Power (pictured) was gay, but I remember all the controversy that happened when Hector Arce came out with a biography that claimed he was either gay or bi. As I've said on previous posts, an author had better have some sort of substantiation, some interviews with those in the know, or else the whole thing backfires. My take on Power was that he was essentially a homosexual man who knew that if he didn't have relationships with women to quell any rumors of his frequent homoerotic activities, he could kiss his Hollywood career good-bye.

His daughter, who wasn't even born until after he died, insists that Power wasn't gay. I mean, come on. How the hell would she know one way or another? Does she really think gay men aren't capable of fathering children? (Even after the Jim McGreevey scandal I can't believe how this nonsense persists.) Power's fans give evidence of all his relationships with women -- he dated this one and that one -- and how that allegedly proves he was straight.

Jeez. A few months ago The Advocate ran a story about a military man who'd been married for years and had five children and came out of the closet as a gay man after one of his sons came out.

What really bugs me is the always-homophobic notion that a certain individual couldn't possibly be gay because:

1.) they were married and/or had children.

2.) They dated members of the opposite sex.

3.) They were, like, nice people and just couldn't be "one of those," as we're all so nasty and "kinky" and immoral.

4.) They didn't conform to any of the stereotypes of gay people.

And so on.

Just this week Gay City News ran an interview with Katharine Hepburn's niece, who refutes the assertions by two biographers I respect that both she and supposed "lover" Spencer Tracy were gay or bi. She particularly snickers at the suggestion that macho Tracy could be gay. Then of course, we get the usual disclaimer. "I'm all for anybody being whatever they want to be" or words to that effect. Sure. As long as it's not a member of your family or someone you otherwise respect. Bullshit.

Why did Gay City News give space to this homophobe -- and on the eve of Gay Pride Sunday no less?

Sure, I'm all in favor of accuracy -- as I've said you can't just claim someone was gay because you feel like it -- but when will people get over this whole notion that it's something shocking and shameful?

So what if somebody's gay?


Ksen said...

Erm, you may want to revise this sentence: "His daughter, who died before he was even born, insists that Power wasn't gay."

That aside, the issue with Katharine Hepburn is not to much sexuality as gender. Her childhood history of gender disphoria (what else would you call it when a biologically female child spends years answering to 'Jimmy'?), and the later refusal to comply with female gender norms got her tagged as queer, and because people don't really want to think about what flavour of queer it was , it transformed into gay. Sort of like gay via gender expression.
All that aside, she and Tracy DID spend their lives together, just like Isherwood and Bachardy, and THAT'S what matters in the end.

Bill Samuels said...

Oops. The trouble with posting when you're sleepy .. the sentence has been revised to what I really meant. Thanks for pointing it out. (Hopefully it would have hit me sooner or later).

I think recent biographers have pointed out that Hepburn and Tracy did not really spend their lives together a la Isherwood and Bachardy, at least not if the latter couple lived together and had a sexual and romantic relationship. It sounds more as if Hepburn and Tracy were just good friends who tried to understand each other and bolstered each other in their closets.

Not all people who don't conform to gender norms or expectations are gay, but some of them are, of course.

My point is, if Hepburn were a lesbian, what would it matter?

Thanks for your comment.