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

The Gay Race Card

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

The Gay Race Card

Article excerpt


specimens as Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine, Elizabeth

Taylor and Larry Fortensky, Laurence Olivier and Danny

Kaye--but nothing beats the bizarre pairing CBS offered us

late the other night: Tom Snyder and Little Richard. For

many of us who fumed teen in the early '60s, Little Richard

was our starter queen, the first flamboyant gay figure of our

lives. He may not have been open, but he was open all night.

Richard was my hero because he didn't seem to give a

damn and I felt he was of my generation. Liberace was also

around, but he was already a favorite of old ladies. Little

Richard was funky (only we didn't call

it that then), and he was a rocker. "Rhythm and

blues and gospel had a baby," he likes to say, "and

they named it rock and roll." Little Richard was a

founding father of the

bastard, but you'd be

hard-pressed to find a

stranger father figure, except

maybe for Michael Jackson.

Tom Snyder is, of course, a genuine father

figure. Silver-maned, jacketed and tied, filled

with cozy reminiscences of his early days in

broadcasting--I keep wondering when they're

going to bring him his slippers

and his pipe.

You would think that a character like

Little Richard, a person who even

at his height of success was always somewhat on the

fringe, would strike a character like Tom Snyder as just a

little too lavender for serious consideration. Even though

Tom has always been pretty evenhanded and

nonjudgmental when it comes to gay guests, his positive

giddiness over Little Richard was the kind of unexpected

bonus you get for staying up late for no reason. He was

full of questions, some of them standard stuff that allowed

Richard to tell his time-honored stories about how he taught the

Beatles and the Stones to shriek and wail.

But Tom dug a little deeper as well.

Politically, Little Richard has always

been something of a worry. He never

really declared himself until, in the

aftermath of a bad auto accident some

years ago, he became born-again and

took to bellowing on religious TV shows

things like "If God can cure an old

home-a-setual like me, he can

cure you too!"

Fortunately, the

cure did not involve a makeover. …

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