Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Express Lane

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Express Lane

Article excerpt

BELOVED FOR RUFFLING ROBIN WILLIAMS'S FEATHERS in The Birdcage and for voicing mouthy meerkat Timon in The Lion King, the Tony- and Emmy-winning Nathan Lane is about to tackle the role of Estragon in Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett's seminal masterwork, which opens April 30 at Studio 54 on Broadway. However, one of Lane's most famous roles is that of out actor. The 53-year-old tells us why he will never be a politician and reveals the real story behind his rumored rendezvous with Ricky Martin.

It's been 10 years since you came out officially in The Advocate. So how've you been? [Laughs] I've been fine! Everything's good. Ten years ago, huh? How time flies.

How do you view that milestone in retrospect? Well, it wasn't really a milestone for me. It was just something that felt right for me to do at that time. Even if people cynically look at you and say, "Oh, yeah, we already knew; there's no news here," it's still worth doing, especially for the young folks out there who are looking for a role model or examples of someone who is successful and openly gay.

When you did come out, some in the gay community criticized you for not doing so sooner. Now that you're on the other side of the door, have you ever found yourself growing impatient with or resentful of those you know to still be in the closet? It's such a personal thing, and I don't think it does anybody any good to out people or force them out of the closet. Now, there are times when the press goes easier on or is more forgiving of someone, and I say, "How come he got a free pass?" But ultimately, I don't feel resentful.

Are there days you wish you'd remained sexually ambiguous in your professional life? [Laughs] Yeah, and maintain the air of mystery surrounding Nathan Lane? The sexual ambiguity of Nathan Lane--an enigma wrapped in a conundrum? No. It so doesn't matter. And if it does matter, you don't want to work with those people anyway. Look, if you're at all involved in musical theater, you're always slightly tainted.

Young gay actors must come to you seeking guidance and wisdom on the coming-out process. Me? Yes, I'm like the homosexual Oracle of Delphi. They all come to ask my advice! …

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