Saturday, March 9, 2013

Public Sex, Gay Marriage, and the Cast of Frasier

The cast of Frasier. Which actors are gay, open or otherwise?
About 15 years ago, my partner and I were at a dinner party. Most of the guests were gay. There was an argument about public sex. Quite a few people were advocating for the right of gay people to have sex in toilets, bars, bathhouses, and even in the street in broad daylight. My partner and I were among the faction saying no one, straight or gay, has a constitutional right to fuck anywhere they want. This was long before same-sex marriage seemed like a tangible reality.

Now that we can get married in 10 states, I wonder if the tearoom trade has significantly decreased. The reason we had sex in backrooms, toilets, and bathhouses, was that our coupling was seen as shameful by the public at large and therefore driven underground. One of the strongest arguments against gay rights was that we were all compulsive sex addicts with no morals or sense of family. Now that we can have families, is the unbridled world of backroom bars vanishing? Rawhide, the leather bar in Chelsea, is closing--though it is moving to the East Side. Will it still be as raunchy in a world that accepts and even condones gay marriage?

Another telling incident marking the shift in gay culture occurred recently. In a Facebook thread on the Pope's controversial resignation, there were comments about who should play the pontiff in a supposed TV-movie. Someone suggested John Mahoney, the father from Frasier. Another comment said that would ironic to have an openly gay actor portraying an (alleged) closeted gay head of a virulently anti-gay worldwide religion. This set me off a bit. As far as I know, Mahoney has never publicly acknowledged being gay--not even now after the series has long been cancelled. I remember there used to be jokes about how gay the set of Frasier was since series regulars Mahoney, David Hyde Pierce, Dan Butler, and Edward Hibbert were all of the brotherhood. While Butler bravely made no secret of his identity, even doing an autobiographical one-man Off-Bway show, Pierce did not come out until after Frasier bit the dust and he could concentrate on doing theater. He subsequently won a Tony for Curtains.

What annoyed me was that Mahoney still is not publicly open and if more public figures like himself who are not perceived as stereotypically gay, the more we will be seen as just like the guys and gals next door and therefore, not some weird exotic bird to be kept on a game preserve, but equals who deserve all the rights of straight people including to get married. I posted on the FB feed that Mahoney was not truly out of the closet and therefore the casting would only be ironic to a small circle of those in the know. Another person posted that Mahoney has never made a secret of his gayness nor has he advertised it. It's just a fact of life and no big deal. The poster added Mahoney was a classy gent.

The post set me off further. The post seemed to equate homosexuality with an embarrassing secret not fit for public discussion--something to be hidden and not "advertised." I responded with the following: "It is a big deal. The more public people who are open and frank about their gay sexuality--particularly actors who are not perceived as stereotypically gay, "regular" guys--the less prejudice, bullying, and laws that keep us from getting married. Do Neil Patrick Harris, David Hyde Pierce, Nathan Lane, Sean Hayes, Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Ellen DeGeneris lack "class" because they talk about being gay? Do straight celebrities lack "class" when they talk about their significant others in interviews?"


  1. I just read your post. after all that has happened in the last few weeks, are you still taking the same stand?

  2. I think it's still important for gay people to be as open as possible about their identities.

  3. Why do gays feel the need to openly display their bedroom to the public? Why do you have a problem with someone that may be gay doesn't discuss their personal life? So you feel that all gay people should start all conversations with "hello my name is _____ and I'm gay". So ridiculous

  4. I agree with Linda Diaz. Why is it so important for people to know about one's private life. That sounds like a form of needing attention! I love John Mahoney, the classy part for John means: I don't have to discuss my private sex life, whether it's with a man or a woman!