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

Talkin' 'Bout His Generation

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

Talkin' 'Bout His Generation

Article excerpt

Like most of the 25-year-olds we've spoken to, Rufus Wainwright has a mind of his own.

The only son of folksingers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, Rufus Wainwright may claim to have sprung from "a typical gay family: single mother, three sisters, heavy-duty matriarchy," but he's hardly a typical gay 25-year-old. Soon after releasing his debut album on David Geffen's DreamWorks label, the young singer-songwriter has this year found himself compared to his heroes--not

Kurt Cobain or Tupac Shakur but Cole Porter and Noel Coward, men whose refined craftsmanship watts high above the decade's defining realists.

Accordingly, WainWright doesn't think like the archetypal Gen Xer. He's ambitious and romantic--an old-fashioned aesthete who wants to create the operas of tomorrow with the musical intricacy of yesteryear. And because his ideas about gay identity aren't exactly PC, this Montreal-born, Los Angeles-based maestro may disappoint gay-pride zealots despite the fact that he's probably the most overtly gay, overtly talented pop renegade since lcd.lang.

Is he the great gay hope of future cabaret? Or just the latest recipient of mainstream-targeted hype? The Advocate investigates.

When did you notice gayness in yourself?

I remember pining for a brother desperately. I had these odd dreams about finding a little-brother egg in the forest. I think there was a hole in myself that needed to be filled by men in general. I didn't know many. Later I thought about women, but never sexually. It was in a highly romantic context--saving them from burning buildings dressed as a marine. But then the women would turn into chicks with dicks, and I started noticing the men around me.

Right around that time, AIDS came on the scene. How do you feel that's affected you?

For me and my generation, AIDS has fucked up a lot of things. If you're not totally healthy-looking, totally buffed, it's a problem. I came out of the closet when I was 14 and felt discriminated against because I wasn't an athletic type.

This was during my mad sexual awakening--I had to have sex and did for one summer. Then I didn't have sex for five years because I was sure I had AIDS and was going to die, even though I'd had safe sex. I was tested for the first time only very recently, and I was fine.

I've been very tempted to have unsafe sex because things haven't gotten any better or easier. My attitude is to go only with someone whom I really want to be close with and decide to have unsafe sex if we're committed to each other. I think that could be very meaningful, and that's where I'm putting my money. I'm not the type to have a boyfriend for having a boyfriend. I can't do that I have to fall in love all the way.

Is being gay for you more than sex?

I've had sex with straight men--quite a bit, actually. A lot of them are curious about it, like a onetime thing. But I think there's something in being a gay man, although I don't know what it is. I don't think of being gay in those "We have to be proud, happy, and perfect and have day jobs and families" '90s terms. For me, being gay means being one who usually gets the rotten side of the stick but who can handle it a little better, someone who sees life through a slightly different tint. …

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