Magazine article Out

Editor's Letter

Magazine article Out

Editor's Letter

Article excerpt

'There weren't many gay role models when I was growing up, but we did have Mr. Humphries. A fey... ... limp-wristed sales assistant on the TV comedy Are You Being Served? whose "I'm free" catchphrase epitomized homosexuality for a generation, he was about as good as it got in 1970s Britain. Yet when John Inman, the man who played him, died in March, I found myself unexpectedly moved. Clearly the mincing pansy had spoken to me more deeply than I'd cared to realize, perhaps because his virtues were more subtle than the innuendo and slapstick suggested. He was not, for instance, a marginal figure in the show's fictional department store, and was as often the architect of the jokes as he was the object. Nor do I ever recall him being unhappy, ostracized, or suppressed. In fact, Mr. Humphries was mercifully free of furtiveness or secrecy, although he never went as far as calling himself gay, he couldn't have made it any plainer had he wanted to.

Thirty years separates Mr. Humphries from his spiritual descendant, Jack McFarland of Will Sr Grace, but judging from the diffidence with which some men and women still treat their sexuality you might wonder what, if anything, has changed. The good news is that the vast majority of men and women who made our inaugural Power 50 list-from bruisers and bullies like David Geffen and Andrew Sullivan to pussycats like Ellen-have attained their positions of power and influence without feeling the need to hide their sexuality to do so. The bad news is that a couple of glaring exceptions stand out as worthy of mention. They are the out-but-not-really-out brigade-habitués of a glass closet-whose misplaced coyness does more to excuse homophobia than erase it. To quote Barney Frank (page 58), "I remind people I'm gay. And by doing that, I'm saying, 'Don't make me an exception-rather, drop the prejudice.' "

Just what is it about being gay that makes cowards of otherwise fearless men and women? …

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