Breaking news: being gay doesn’t make you less horrible

Ever had someone you didn’t really like, but could never put your finger on why?  Some ill-defined, inchoate notion that they weren’t all that nice, even if they’d never done anything you could think of to make you feel that way?  And then they do something horrible, and suddenly you pat yourself on the back for being such a fantastic judge of character?

So it is with me and Rupert Everett.  I remember seeing him on some talk show or another promoting “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” and while the cast was falling over itself to come off as a bunch of totally awesome, charming people who loved each other, I thought he seemed like kind of a jerk.  This is from memory, so I could be completely wrong, but I distinctly recall him telling this story about sending a critic who didn’t like one of his performances a pile of his pubic hair.  (I’m writing from my office computer right now, and I flatly refuse to Google this with any of the search terms that might yield confirmation.)  His cast mates all laughed with riotous glee at his insouciant rakishness, but I thought he kind of sounded like a dick.  Plus he was hanging around Madonna during her insufferable fake-British-accent phase, and that hardly endeared him to me.

But nothing to hang a hat on, so I filed him under “celebrity I don’t really like much, but don’t hate outright.”  Since many famous people seem vaguely awful, he had a lot of company.

Today I am strangely grateful for the clarity he has given me, and can now happily file him under “celebrities I despise.”  Behold:

Gay British actor Rupert Everett is raising eyebrows with recent comments he made about gay parenting.

The star of films like “Shakespeare In Love” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding” told the Sunday Times Magazine that he “can’t think of anything worse than being brought up by two gay dads… Some people might not agree with that. Fine! That’s just my opinion.”

I have several thoughts inresponse to this.  First of all, I really hope he’s not mau-maued into offering some kind of ersatz mea culpa.  He said what he meant, and I feel no need to hear him apologize for it in the near future.  The dude is free to have his opinion.

I am, in turn, free to think he should go sit on a large pine cone.  (An opinion I suspect I share with numerous members of the British military.)

Just because the man is gay doesn’t give his opinion any more legitimacy than anyone else’s.  No doubt there are plenty of same-sex marriage/parenting opponents who would cackle with delight about this, and gesture toward it to say “See, even a gay guy thinks it’s a bad idea.”  Whatever.  If I can’t be bothered to care what James Dobson thinks of my parenting (and the man at least has a doctorate in child development from USC), I don’t see why I should care any more about the opinion of a man who played the foppish Prince of Wales in “The Madness of King George.”

Would one assume that gay people are less likely to make stupid blanket statements about other gay people?  Sure.  But there are schmucks everywhere, plenty of whom are gay.  My son knows I think he’s the most precious thing on the planet, and frankly his opinion is the only one I care about anyhow.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. I fully expect to see this heavily reported in certain media circles as capital “B” Big news, along with a healthy side dish of “why isn’t the mainstream media talking about Rupert Everett?”

    • There’s a really unfortunate dynamic that I see in some of the, ahem, pro-traditional relationships camp:

      Their opposition to homosexuality softens considerably when it conforms to stereotype. The homosexuals who argue for promiscuity and “freaking the normals” are threats but they are threats that are understood and are therefore within acceptable tolerances.

      The homosexuals who want to get married and settle down and play bridge on the weekends and go to book clubs where they can discuss Water for Elephants and trade chicken recipes? That’s an existential threat, right there.

      • “The homosexuals who want to get married and settle down and play bridge on the weekends and go to book clubs where they can discuss Water for Elephants and trade chicken recipes? That’s an existential threat, right there.”

        Well, only because they don’t believe that those gays exist. Those gays are really the former group of gays. They’ve just got a long game going.

      • Very well said.

        I wonder if there is also a tension in the gay community between the two groups.

        How many people are still stuck in the 1970s mode of homosexuality being a transgressive/freaking the normals act.

        There is probably a bit of tension in SF. Pride has become a largely family friendly event. The Folsom Street Fair*, not so much.

        *For those that don’t know, the Folsom Street Fair is the annual leather event. It is still very wild and a kind of freak the normal event.

        • Seen through these breeder eyes, I’ve been watching the gay community evolve since the early 1970s and reached my own conclusions.

          Truth is, I’ve always liked hanging around with LGBT people, coz I’m a freak and I enjoy the company of freaks. Furthermore, the civil rights era was largely over by that point, I never liked the hippies and was going through a strange few years at that point after the military and Oxford. I’d made a few gay friends in the military and my unit leadership had protected them, simply because it was the right thing to do at the time. They were good troops. They deserved no less.

          One of my father’s students turned up in my life when I was still in high school. Jeff and I were best of friends. He was a beautiful man, erudite, a good poet, with an aesthetic sensibility which still affects me to this day. My parents had no idea he was gay. He was moving into Chicago, he stayed at our house while he was finding a place and I helped him move.

          I spent a lot of time at his place, came to know his lover, hung out with them at gay bars and jazz clubs. Didn’t tell my parents, of course. Jeff was a big influence on my life. I thought Jeff was the coolest man I’d ever known. In many ways, he still is.

          Jeff died in 2002. I still grieve for him. It’s hard writing this.

          Those are pearls that were his eyes;
          Nothing of him that doth fade,
          But doth suffer a sea-change
          Into something rich and strange.

          It was a different world, then. I wouldn’t want to return to it, not for love or money. If the gay subculture of the 1970s was rich and strange, parts of American black culture and identity also emerged from centuries of oppression. Frederick Douglass once said Slavery does away with fathers, as it does away with families. Slavery has no use for either fathers or families, and its laws do not recognize their existence in the social arrangements of the plantation.. I cannot speak to what I haven’t seen, but if the gay community can now get married and settle down, the demimonde of gay culture didn’t allow for any sense of normalcy. The social arrangements of the world never allowed for the idea that Heather Has Two Mommies and parts of that world are still scandalised by it.

          • I sort of witnessed this transition.

            The big fall event at my undergrad alma mater was called the “Homo Hop”

            It started sometime in the 1970s by one of the school’s first male and openly gay students. The original idea was that it was a night you were supposed to be able to go all out with your sexuality without intoxicants.

            The event was shutdown by administration during my sophomore year because we managed to overflow every local emergency room and need every ambulance because of drug and alcohol issues.

            I think my generation (I was born in 1980) grew up more inhibited than the Boomers in many ways. The AIDS crisis and Just Say No made us all (regardless of sexuality) much more aware and restrained.

            Things change, often but not always for the better. Gay Rights have made huge strides since the 1970s but society has also gotten much more conservative in very strange ways.

            *Then again, there is always The Group by Mary McCarthy. Even when I was at school, the “4-year plan” was common joke about students who would experiment with homosexuality for their undergrad years and then go back to very conventional heterosexuality. A friend of mine attended an all-female college and told me about a classmate of hers. Said classmate spent four-years of undergrad as a militant lesbian but quickly upon graduation became engaged to the most conventional of guys, the kind with a job on Wall Street, and the kind of couple you see in the NY Times Wedding Announcements.

            I am not sure what to make of this. I understand the concept of sexuality being fluid but these sort of immediate and extreme 180s still blow my mind.

            Then again, I was so dorky that I had no romantic life until post-college and am still very much a late bloomer in many ways. Considering that everyday, I seem to see a new announcement of engagement, marriage, pregnancy, or birth, I don’t feel so great. This tends to make me view things like an “alien anthropologist” as some of my friends semi-endearingly call it.

  2. “Just because the man is gay doesn’t give his opinion any more legitimacy than anyone else’s.”

    No, I believe his opinion has more legitimacy because he’s a celebrity.

  3. That old dipsomaniac Brendan Behan once said, extending the old Hollywood adage “There’s no such thing as bad publicity — except your own obituary.” The only charitable interpretation of his remark might be to extend it in like manner to read “[I] can’t think of anything worse than being brought up by two gay dads — like me.”

  4. There’s a long (multi-DVD) documentary about Monty Python called Almost the Truth, which comes as close as anything I’ve seen to showing who they are as people. Mostly, it’s not so bad:

    Michael Palin — a normal, happy, very nice man
    Eric Idle — neglected, almost abandoned child who still constantly needs to prove himself
    Terry Jones — takes himself a bit too seriously, probably because of underlying insecurity
    Graham Chapman — doesn’t appear in person, of course, but seems to have been a tortured soul (closeted gay, secret alcoholic)
    Terry Gilliam — the outsider, both as the only American and the one whose greatest successes came elsewhere

    And, unfortunately,

    John Cleese — incredible dick

    • I am:

      1) Glad to learn that Michael Palin is a normal, happy, very nice man. He’s always been my favorite, and I’m chuffed that he’s as pleasant in real life as I would have hoped.

      2) Super-bummed to learn that about Cleese.

    • Mike, I saw a chunk of that doc when they showed it on one cable channel or another, and re: Graham, ‘alcoholic’ wasn’t really ‘secret’ at all was it? It seemed very well-known to everyone who knew him at all.

      Although in Britain at that time (or even now) it might be difficult for some to distinguish ‘alcoholic’ from ‘guy who likes his drink’.

      But Graham got DTs when he stopped, and would forget lines etc, so I think people knew it was serious.

      • One of them tells a story about when he personally found out. The two of them tok a train out to some remore location. On the way he noticed Chapman take a bottle of booze out of his briefcase, take a swig, and put it back. He thought that was a bit odd, but wasn’t too concerned until they arrived, and he asked if he could have a snort too. It turned out that Chapman had emptied the bottle. Also the other bottle.

    • After watching all of Palin’s great travel docs its hard to not to like him and believe he is a nice guy.

  5. Given his particular phrasing (“…can’t think of anything worse…”), I see two very fun memes that could come out of this:

    1.) A list of all the horrible things that Rupert thinks are preferable to being raised by two dads (e.g., “Given the choice between 100 years of Nazi rule or being raised by two dads, Rupert chooses the Nazis. Every time!” -or- “Given the choice between Miller Lite and being raised by two dads, Rupert chooses Miller Lite. Every time!”)
    2.) Along those same lines, a list of all the horrible things that Rupert is functionally incapable of thinking of. (e.g., “Hey Rupert, did you really mean you think being raised by two dads is worse than being trampled by elephants?” “What? What’s an elephant? Trampled? Huh? The only things I ever thought involved sprinkles and/or blow jobs.”)

    • I toyed with the notion of including thoughts along the lines of your first point. Being raised by two dads is worse than:

      Having your toenails pulled out with pliers
      Being slowly digested over a thousand years by the sarlacc
      Being dropped into downtown Tehran with an “Up with America!” t-shirt stapled to your chest
      Being forced to watch a 72-hour “Real Housewives” marathon a la that one scene in “A Clockwork Orange”
      Having to endure an hour in the excruciating company of one Rupert Everett

      Thank you for giving me an excuse

      • Maybe Everett was thinking of the show My Two Dads, and was picturing a childhood inundated by “I’m not comfortable with”, “That’s what I’m saying”, and “Not so much”.

  6. Yeah he’s an obnoxious sort of sod, especially since he’s coming from the kooky left wing fringe with all the “I don’t wanna be normal, I wanna be illegal” schtick fantasizing about some brave new world beyond what is normal if only we homos would resist the siren song of ordinary happyness and push forward with being subversive. Etch. Maybe life’s fun if you’re illegal and also wealthy and famous but for most people being illegal ain’t sunshine.

  7. “sit on a large pine cone”
    What kind of insult is that? That is the …hmmm i wonder how i could describe what kind of insult that is. Is there a good word for how bad an insult that is…umm…i’ll go with lame.

      • After a long conversation, my friends and I decided that a “razor blade hand job” might be the single worst phrase in the English language. I don’t know if there is any possible interpretation of that which is not horrible. We even came up with a quite interesting and alluring take on “alligator hand job”. But “razor blade hand job”? Nope. Nothing good comes of that. So, yea, feel free to use that one if it fits.

        And, yes, such conversations are how I spent my Sunday. It is a good thing Tod got out when he did.

        And, Russell, please feel entirely free to edit/censor/delete this comment. I don’t know what the limit on Heej references.

  8. Well, to be fair (and he didn’t star in “Shakespeare in Love”, he was an uncredited Christopher Marlowe; he did star in the film version of Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband” which was good even if it did have Minnie Driver cluttering up the set), he does say it’s “just my opinion”. He’s not calling for the government to ban gay adoption or gay parenthood.

    That’s an improvement over much of the recent commentary, isn’t it?

    • That’s an improvement over much of the recent commentary, isn’t it?

      I suppose, in a way similar to how scabies is better than herpes in the long run, you’re probably right.

      (And the “Shakespeare in Love” credit belongs to HuffPo, not me.)

      • I understand your feelings but he is just offering his own personal opinion, and at least according to the HuffPo article he’s not making a comment on whether gay parents are good for kids. I think he hedged his weeds around pretty well, so they wouldn’t spill out into other people’s gardens.

        (And I know: I just wanted an excuse to drag in An Ideal Husband

        • I think you’re reading his comments quite charitably. (Which, of course, you’re quite entitled to do.) I think he’s an unspeakable ass. Vive la différence.

  9. “First of all, I really hope he’s not mau-maued into offering some kind of ersatz mea culpa. He said what he meant, and I feel no need to hear him apologize for it in the near future. ”

    I doubt it. As I recall, he previously stated that coming out was terrible for his acting career and he subsequently urged other closeted actors to not come out.

    As North alluded to, Everett appears to subscribe to a particular conception of homosexuality and is unwilling to accept that others would have different priorities.

    I’m less concerned by Everett thinking what he does – or the religious right appropriating what he says – than I am about the message that gays like him send to gay youths. I don’t think a 14-year old is reading up on Rupert Everett’s latest rants, but there are other similar messages that they will pick up from others. And it’s not a good thing for someone coming to grips with their sexuality to think that they are forced to take on a new identity simply because they are gay. There are teens who want everything their friends want – a job, marriage, a family – and the only fundamental difference is a matter of who they are attracted to.

    For another gay person to tell them that what they want out of life is illegitimate – particularly given that small slice of identity that is their sexuality is already called illegitimate by others – is simply reprehensible.

  10. There is no such thing as homophobia. We are not “afraid” of homosexuals. What is so hard to understand about language. For the record for all the “illiterati” out there – Phóbos, meaning “fear” or “morbid fear” renders homophobia as the fear of homosexuals. English is my third language and yet I am able to grasp this.

    The proper term is anti-homosexual. On Rupert Everett’s point. I agree with him, nature and nurture testify that being raised by homosexuals is something to be avoided. Thank you Rupert, you are now in my good books. He is not the only vacuous celeb to have banged that bell – even Paris Hilton, who is “loooved…..” by lesbians and homosexuals had just stated what we – straight – people think. Homosexual lifestyles are conducive to an early grave through AIDS. Go Paris for once you used your brains.

    • Homosexual lifestyles are conducive to an early grave through AIDS

      Actually, lesbians’ lifestyles are less likely to result inAIDS than straight people’s lifestyles. Maybe you ought to think that through a little bit more.

Comments are closed.