Between the Lines

Queer as what?

Richard Burnett
I was looking forward to the American remake of Queer As Folk - especially since the British sequel was so wretched - until I heard het (and unfortunately Canadian) actor Chris Potter, who plays the gay Dr. David Cameron character, tell MSNBC how he felt about kissing other men in front of the cameras and crew: “Soon as they say cut, you spit,” Potter quipped. “You want to go to a strip bar or touch the makeup girls. You feel dirty. It’s a tough job.” He feels dirty? Sounds like Potter doth protest a bit too much. Too bad there wasn’t a casting couch when Showtime picked up the tab for Queer As Folk.

As for our boy Potter, I hope the homophobe never gets another decent job in Tinseltown (though all those publicly-closeted stars, not to mention their gay managers and agents, really couldn’t give a shit).

Canadian Press, meanwhile, recently wrote up the high-profile series, also subject of fawning cover stories in both The Advocate and Out magazines, and which is being filmed at Toronto’s Dufferin Gate studios through March with directors John Greyson, John L’Ecuyer and David Wellington (don’t get jealous - Further Tales of the City was filmed in Montreal just last summer).

“The new, North American version of Queer as Folk has more of everything: more nude scenes, more same-sex couplings, more four-letter words,” CP reported Nov 26. “In tone and texture, it’s completely different, an ambitious attempt to tell the story in a more realistic frame. It will not run seven hours but 22. The location is supposed to be Pittsburgh [Pittsburgh?], but Toronto landmarks can be spotted.”

The kicker, Potter told The Advocate (Nov 21), “My wife said I went from kicking ass to licking ass.”
If you’re still interested in checking out Potter as Dr. Dave, the Queer as Folk remake airs Monday nights on Showtime (it began Jan 22). Or you could rent the original.

If you thought The Advocate’s coverage of queer issues the last few months was in decline — well, you’re not alone. But the mag’s blitz of glitz finally gave way to its excellent 2000 Year in Review double issue (Jan 16) with the very cute (and apparently very short) coverboy Jason Gould (the son of you-know-who). Gould gave good interview, unlike Babs back in 1999 when The Advocate Editor-in-Chief Judy Weider faxed her questions to La Streisand, who then faxed back her cushy answers. But that’s another story.

“I always felt unattractive, actually,” Jason explains when asked whether he feels attractive. “I used to walk around practically covering my face. In high school I was so self-conscious. I thought I was hideous, and sometimes I still do. It’s funny - until recently I always took it personally when someone wasn’t attracted to me. I thought, Oh, God, I must be hideous. But what I learned is that whether someone is attracted to me has nothing to do with me. It has to do with them and what they are attracted to. And you can’t really do anything about that. I mean, we all want everyone to be attracted to us. I want everyone to be attracted to me, but they’re not. I’m as insecure as or more than the next guy.”

While The Advocate has pulled up its pants, the U.K.-based Axiom can’t decide whether it wants to be about bad-ass homosexuals or just plain ole bad. It starts with their “It’s a lifestyle thing” cover subhed, right down to their Dec 2000/Jan 2001 issue’s God-awful interview with - oh, is he hip again? - Lionel Fucking Ritchie. Proof, once again, that dykes and fags are becoming as boring as bloody straight folks (at least you can still spot a dyke). A must-avoid magazine, especially at $8.50 a pop, plus taxes.

I also recently picked picked up O - The Oprah Magazine for the first time because Her Highness interviews one of my all-time favourite entertainers, The Divine Miss M, Better Midler, in a divine nine-page spread (January 2001). “Beneath that over-the-top presence is a down-to-earth homebody, crusader, wise woman, and funny girl,” the subhed reads. “Oprah goes heart-to-heart with the very human Miss M.”

I was thrilled until I realized the only tip of the hat to Bette’s gay core-fanbase was buried in the intro, where Oprah waxes, “Fans still rave nostalgically about her 1970s performances in the surreal atmosphere of Manhatten’s Continental Baths (a gay male scene where she earned the nickname Bathhouse Betty and where Barry Manilow was her accompanist).”

And that’s it.
A gay male scene? The surreal atmosphere of the Continental Baths?

It wasn’t surreal, Oprah, it was a fucking sauna, fer Chrissakes, with fucking dick everywhere you looked. And don’t get me started on Barry.

Sadly, Oprah, with her New Age pop psychology, missed a golden opportunity to welcome Gay America into the family fold. But, instead, as she repeatedly does on TV, gays and lesbians are relegated to back seats, if they’re even visible at all.

I think the best mainstream coverage of gay issues comes not from newsmagazines but a 33-year-old rock’n’roll glossy, Rolling Stone, owned by one of richest fags in the world, Jann Wanner. It bears repeating that RS was the first major North American publication to assign in-depth investigative features on AIDS, notably 1985’s outstanding ‘The Plague Years’ series which won numerous national newspaper awards. The mag has since published year-in, year-out, lengthy features on gay rights, queer teens, gay dorms, ongoing series on the Boy Scouts and — before Chicago scientists concluded in January 1999 that HIV/AIDS originated from West African chimps infected with SIV — came to the same conclusion two years earlier in a widely-hailed investigative piece.

Now I’ve just finished reading “Coming Out On Fraternity Row” in RS’s special college issue (Oct 26). “For the past two years [University of Nebraska junior Ryan] Grigsby had been living a double life. He hit on girls at greek mixers - even making out with a few to prove he was straight - but alone, he secretly cruised AOL’s local gay chat room,” journalist Katherine Marsh writes. “The few times he arranged to go out with one of the guys he met there, he had to lie to his brothers about where he was going and who he was with.”
It’s a bittersweet story, as most coming out stories usually are, but what gives this story its power is the RS audience, made up in large part of young male adults, many still studying in university. Not even California-based gay-youth mag XY has that kind of reach or impact. All I can say is, thank God Grigsby had access to an online chat room, even if it was AOL.

(And for those of you out of the loop, the wife of cyberspace mogul and America OnLine CEO Steve Case last October donated $8.35 million US to Westminster Academy, a division of the Rev. D. James Kennedy’s rabidly anti-gay Coral Ridge Ministries, which claims homos can be “cured.” Boston’s The Guide magazine (Jan 2001) reports gay customers have “made up 30 per cent of AOL’s membership” which topped 25 million members last year.)

Finally, the 2000 editorial of the year was published by The Globe and Mail (Dec 6), headlined “The Case for Gay Marriage.”

“Despite all the changes [marriage] has gone through over the years,” Canada’s newspaper of record concluded, “the essence of marriage remains what it has always been: commitment. When people make a lifelong commitment to each other within the institution of marriage, they create a secure environment in which they can express their love and find support through life’s trials. [Many gay and lesbian couples across Canada] are willing to make that commitment. Why on earth should they be denied?”

Happy New Year!

Richard Burnett's syndicated queer-issues column Three Dollar Bill can be read locally in Hour magazine and The Ottawa X Press, and on the web at