Thursday, March 11, 2010

Today in Gay History


Born March 11: John Barrowman

clipped from Band of Thebes

Uncomfortably straddling the border of irony and stupidity is this true anecdote: The gay and straight producers of Will & Grace rejected finalist John Barrowman, who's gay, to play the gay character Will Truman, because they said he was too straight, and instead they hired Eric McCormick who is straight but acted "gayer." Our loss. Barrowman, who is Scottish, has a perfect American accent because his family moved to Illinois when he was nine. However he kept his Scots pride, which was not always appreciated in the Land of Lincoln: He arrived to pick up his prom date and she dumped him on the spot because he was wearing a kilt.

After losing Will & Grace, he went back to London and was cast in Dr. Who and its spinoff Torchwood, both hugely successful. A frequent star of West End musicals, Barrowman has also released four solo cds, including an album of Cole Porter songs and his 2007 hit, Another Side, in which he cheeses up mid-tempo hits from Carly Simon, Cyndi Lauper, Chicago, Elton John, Eric Carmen, The Police, and, yes, Air Supply accompanied by a full orchestra. Last year he followed it up with a cd called Music Music Music featuring covers of Both Sides Now, I Made It Through the Rain, Uptown Girl, I Am What I Am, and a duet with also out Daniel Boys of I Know Him So Well. (Clip below, both in pink shirts.) Like Celine, Barrowman delivers what the midcounty ladies swoon to. Perhaps more of an entertainer than an artist, he is wildly popular throughout the U.K., where he substitute hosts the morning chat shows and had more than one thousand people queue up in Cardiff for him to sign copies of his autobiography, Anything Goes.

Gorgeous yes, but no dunce. He frequently speaks on behalf of gay organizations, hosted London's pride in 2007, kisses his partner in public, and doesn't mince words about anti-gay discrimination and double standards. He said, "Why would I want a 'marriage' from a belief system that hates me?" He and his statistically improbable partner [equally handsome, above left] of sixteen years, Scott Gill, signed the civil register in December 2006. OK! magazine covered the small, private ceremony rapturously. Barrowman wore a kilt.