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!

    1. I can only say to Linda and Carmen that being open about being gay is not necessarily discussing one's private sex life. Is Jim Parsons discussing his private sex life when he says he had a male partner? A lot has happened since I wrote this post two and a half years ago and a lot more gay celebrities are open about their identities. Are you offended by that, Linda and Carmen? Is mentioning a gay partner and talking about how they live their lives outside the bedroom, but openly, a problem for you? You may have changed your views in the past year since Anderson Cooper, Sean Hayes, and so many others now casually include their boyfriends or husbands in their conversation with the press. How is this different from a straight celebrity talking about romantic partners or their marriages? I think you conflated graphic sex with romantic, married life as if gay weren't supposed to talk about either at all.

  5. Linda and Carmen are clueless. I love it when someone leads their post with a fake rhetorical question. That's always a sign that the rest of the post is going to be some type of illogical attack. If they were to have a clue about what they think they're lecturing about that would be a fine thing.

  6. As for the subject of this article. Consider the following:

    1) It is considered perfectly okay, even family entertainment, to watch men be paid to bash each others' brains in. Boxing is the most popular version. When I was a kid I grew up watching "Rocky" films. In one of them, one of the boxers was even killed during a fight. But, do you think anyone learned from that? No!

    2) The US is the world's largest arms dealer. Do you think people making love in public, or jacking off, is going to hurt people the way all of our weapons do?

    3) Philosophers have hypothesized that consumerism is driven by sexual repression. If you want people to buy things they don't need and sell their futures (credit cards and other debt) then convince them they really will get a good feeling from pulling out that card.

    4) It has also been very persuasively argued — in terms of the substantive evidence behind it, including by evolutionary psychologists, that violence is substituted for sexual gratification. The old "make love not war" thing isn't a cliché. It's based in reality, like the bonobo vs. chimp behavioral dichotomy. Being the world's largest dealer of arms, do you think it's in the interest of the military industrial complex to let people express themselves sexually? No. Instead, we are calling 5 year olds sex offenders now for playing doctor.

    5) Your argument that public sexual expression is merely a symptom of oppression is vast hyperbole. People express themselves sexually in public constantly. Women in Congress wear bright red suits while the men dress in drab black, brown, and navy. That is sexual expression. Couples hold hands. They kiss. Those Big Red commercials I grew up with, where hetero couples blasted each other for the entire commercial with kisses, were public sexual expression. Yes, it is true that riskier and more anonymous sexual encounters are correlated with the level of social oppression. However, it is not at all true that merely wanting to be freer to express oneself sexually is correlated with those things. More to the point: Just wanting to take off your clothes and enjoy the feeling of the breeze on your body while you jerk off or have some intimate fun with someone has nothing to do with being oppressed.

    6) Consider that it is considered socially acceptable for fat people to stuff doughnuts into their faces in front of anyone, including impressionable children. Research has shown that kids who grow up with fat parents are likely to become fat. They imitate the eating. Why is it okay for 40% of adults to be obese and 20% (and growing) kids to be obese but it's so terrible for people to be naked in public. Sex is exercise, too. Public nudity encourages people to become fitter and to also be more comfortable with their body's shortcomings and with those of others.

    7) Think about how warped it is for everyone to be taught that the human body is inherently corrupt/evil/bad/malignant. An erection is a terrible horrible thing. Ejaculation is the end of the world (unlike gun shows every weekend, right?). People have a very warped sense of right and wrong in contemporary culture. They think fat people with guns watching boxing is so superior to fit naked people being intimate and exercising outdoors.

    8) As for Linda and Carmen's cluelessness... Gay people need to be gay because otherwise we don't exist. Ask yourselves how many rights and privileges are afforded to people who don't exist.

  7. 9) The US is the largest imprisoner of people, per capita, in the world. Obviously, our culture isn't doing so well when it comes to freedom and liberty.

    Busybodies are always looking for new ways to oppress others. When a naked guy was walking on a road in Kansas a fat woman made a big fuss about it (including on the news) and a female politician said it's a horrible outrage that it's not actually illegal in Kansas to be a fit young guy walking naked down a road. She vowed that she would fix that with a new law.

    For some reason, though, she didn't say anything about the giant soda the fat woman was drinking or fat women exposing their unhealthy lifestyles to kids, or in public in general. I'll take a fit exercising person in the nude over an oppressive fat person, personally — or a cheesy politician who can't find better things to do with her time than find new ways to reduce liberty in the name of safety.

    A similarly cheesy politician in Indiana tried to introduce a bill that would bar doctors from providing reproductive services to lesbians. Just because!

    Meanwhile, a Harvard/Northwestern study found that Congress ignores around 90% of the public when it comes to legislation. We get ridiculous pandering like nudity bans and attempts to smear lesbians for wanting to contribute their kids to society, though.