News: Michael Stipe, Tel Aviv, Anthony Minghella, China and Tibet

road.jpg China closes off media access, shuts down YouTube, CNN, and Google amid violent crackdown in Tibet. China has also begun parading Tibetan prisoners on military trucks in Lhasa. Dalai Lama threatens to step down

Stiperoad.jpg Michael Stipe comes out? “It was super complicated for me in the ’80s. I was totally open with the band and my family and my friends and certainly the people I was sleeping with. I thought it was pretty obvious. Now I recognize that to have public figures be very open about their sexuality helps some kid somewhere out there.”

road.jpg GLAAD hands out media awards in New York; Barbara Walters, Judy Shepard, Brian Graden and films The Bubble and For the Bible Tells Me So all honored. Who was there?

road.jpg Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella dies at 54: “Minghella’s publicist, Jonathan Rutter, said the filmmaker died at London’s Charing Cross Hospital. He said Minghella was operated on last week for a growth in his neck, ‘and the operation seemed to have gone well. At 5 a.m. today he had a fatal hemorrhage.'”

road.jpg Pennsylvania senate proposes amendment banning gay marriage: “Constitutional amendment legislation failed in the last legislative session but is being considered anew in the current session. During a Senate committee hearing, Maggie Gallagher, President of the National Organization for Marriage, said an amendment to the state constitution would protect against a judge’s ruling that could strike down state law defining marriage as between a man and woman…’It’s not a fantasy that this could happen. It is happening – it’s happened in New Jersey, it’s happened in Connecticut’ Gallagher was speaking to Republican Senator Jane Earll of Erie, skeptical of the need for a constitutional amendment: ‘We are going to hold our constitution hostage to the wackiest judge in some other state. I just think that amending the constitution is a very drastic measure.'”

Janetroad.jpg Janet Jackson opens wide for Black Book.

road.jpg Tel Aviv hoping to attract more gay tourists.

road.jpg Richard I slept in the same bed with French King Phillip II but it wasn’t a gay thing: “It was an accepted political act, nothing sexual about it; just two politicians literally getting into bed together, a bit like a modern-day photo opportunity.”

road.jpg Chad Allen, Janeane Garofalo, Rebecca Gayheart, Soleil Moon Frye, Patrick Muldoon and Brad Rowe team up for gay indie screwball comedy For Better or For Worse: “Frye will play the lesbian minister presiding over the ceremony at the home of one groom’s mother (Ruta Lee). The guests include the jilted ex of one of the grooms and his new beau (Muldoon and Allen), a closeted neighbor (Stanley Kamel), a wallflower sister (Gayheart), a family-man brother (Rowe) and his nanny (Garofalo), who has a bombshell to drop.”

road.jpg Ch-ch-ch-changes. Spot the differences in Ryan Seacrest 2.0.

Aimeroad.jpg Brazil gets another new gay magazine.

road.jpg Hugh Jackman spends more time naked than dressed.

road.jpg Anti-gay graffiti causes stir in Northern California town of Fortuna: “A Fortuna resident noticed anti-homosexual words painted on several mailboxes on her street and filed a police report Thursday. The derogatory words, ‘fag’ and ‘gay,’ made her so irate, it took her more than an hour to stop shaking, she said. The Fortuna Police Department is treating the vandalism as a hate crime because the intent was likely to express hate, FPD Sgt. Jack Bernstein said. ‘It’s concerning for us to have something like this.'”

road.jpg Police officers punished in Austin, Texas after remarks: “Cmdr. Calvin Smith, who has worked for the department for 34 years and supervises the Austin police training academy, told the fellow commander that he was worried about the ‘kind of message’ the potential transfer of a gay female officer would send at the academy, which already had two lesbians working there, according to a disciplinary memo. Cmdr. Larry Oliver was fired for failing to report the comments, even though he later confirmed to investigators that he thought Smith was referring to ‘their being lesbians,’ a disciplinary memo said. He was fired after refusing Acevedo’s offer of a 30-day suspension.”


  1. Michael says

    I’m writing this from China, and I’m using and google constantly every day. Youtube did go down a few days ago. Sometimes websites go down for a bit and come back later. The causes are never easily proven, but we have our suspects. Getting around a firewall is actually pretty trivial I’ve found. TR hasn’t been blocked, thank god.

  2. virgoboy says

    There was a time, long ago, when i would have gone APESHIT for an R.E.M. cover story but, really, they just lost me with MONSTER and that silly What’s the Frequency Kenneth (*UGH*!) song! My tastes in music really has remained constant but, they just need to pack it in…

    And nice to see The Bubble mentioned here. It is a beautiful movie and it is available on DVD so, enjoy it!

  3. crispy says

    I can’t believe that Michael Stipe story is making so much buzz today. He came out like ages ago. I’m pretty sure he threw the first brick at Stonewall.

  4. anon says

    R.E.M. has long been pretentious and Stipe annoyingly closeted (he dated women don’t forget, then came out as bi). However, “What’s the Frequency Kenneth” was actually about a real incident involving a stalker that tried to attack Dan Rather (the CBS News anchor in the 80’s). The stalker would use that phrase as his calling card.

  5. Zeke says

    I used to party with Michael Stipe at Ole Miss back in the day, when the boys would come over from Georgia. It’s true that he was out to everyone who knew him personally but he was never officially out to the public.

    I agree with his statement that it makes a difference when public figures come out. It helps others to accept their sexuality; be they children, adolescents or adults.

    I’m glad that Michael has taken this step and hope that other public figures will come to a place where they also feel comfortable coming out publicly, at their own pace and at the time, place, degree and method of their choosing; just as Mr. Stipe did.

  6. hzh says

    Stipe never publicly came out? I’m sure I read about him confirming that he is gay a few years ago, does he need to put a placard around his neck proclaiming his gayness in public so other people would know?

  7. says

    Well, I was certainly glad that Anthony Minghella had transferred his talents, such as they were, to the Opera Stage so that I would never have to sit through another of his bloated literary adaptations. THE ENGLISH PATIENT and COLD MOUNTAIN are chunks of time that I will never ever get back. Rest in peace, and all that.

  8. Cadence says

    GLAAD gave Barbara Walters an award? The same Barbara Walters who thinks that if a preschool aged boy wants to dress up as a princess during playtime he must be gay, and that the parents should be concerned, and seek doctor’s advice on what to do. The same one who gets giddy at the idea of a man having an affair with another man, but doesn’t have the same reaction to a man having an affair with a woman. This is who gets a GLAAD award?

  9. Michael Bedwell says

    The US should boycott the Chinese Olympics. Won’t happen, like a lot of things that should, but….

    The latest SAAD Awards reinforce how retarded and politically bankrupt the Coorssucking group is. The “Boston Legal” episode they honored was good for being anti-DADT but stated that the Democratic Presidential candidates supported DADT when NONE of them did!

    GLAAD cofounder Vito Russo is spinning in his grave over MTV being given an award in his name while they still market and make money from hate crime promoting performers like Beenie Man. And Anderson Coward should stop getting any LGBT awards until he has the balls to publicly come out.

    Anthony Minghella made one of the best films about a gay man of all time. Not just because it was a great story, magnificently told and acted; not just because it showed Damon’s luscious naked ass and Jude Law’s Monty, but also because the film was NOT about Damon’s character being gay. The final scene, with the actors off camera, is one of the most brilliantly conceived and heart breaking in cinema.

  10. crispy says

    Zeke, I believe you are mistaken. Michael Stipe gave an interview to TIME magazine in 2001 in which he called himself “queer” and said he was in a relationship with a man. I’m sure one could make an argument for “queer” vs “gay,” but it sure sounds like coming out.

    In earlier interviews, including an article for Details in the mid-90s, he refused to call himself gay, bisexual, or straight. He once famously said “Labels are for canned food.” But he did say numerous times that he had been in relationships with men.

    He’s been officially out for, like, ever.

  11. says

    Yes, THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY introduced us all to the glories of Jude Law, but it also reinforces more gayness-as-misery cliches than any film I can think of. It makes BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN look like THE BIRDCAGE, and makes Patricia Highsmith’s sharp and sprightly novel into a two and a half hour Guilt Trip For Fags Who Kill The Thing They Love. Bogus drivel.

  12. Zeke says

    HZH and CRISPY, I’m just going on what Mr. Stipe himself had to say in the Spin magazine article. It seems that he was under the impression that he hadn’t fully come out publicly and that he now feels it’s the right time and the right thing for him to do.

    I can’t really speak to all of the nuances that might surround what is and isn’t considered coming out or what degree of outedness anyone “owes” anyone else. I was just responding to what Michael expressed in his interview and showing my support to him and others who take what ever next step they are ready to take.

  13. anon says

    Stipe is whitewashing his own history. He had public “girlfriends” throughout the 80’s. Admittedly, being out at the time was way radical, but he should own up to it.

  14. peterparker says

    I’ve told this story before here on towleroad, but I’m going to tell it again.

    I went to college in Athens, GA at the beginning of, and during, R.E.M.’s heyday (in other words, 1986-1991). At that time the gay community in Athens was well aware that Stipe was gay. Everyone knew some guy that Michael had either dated or slept with. And Stipe himself would show up regularly at Pete Bucks’s wife’s club, the 40 Watt, for the club’s weekly ‘Disco Night’, a event populated primarily by gay guys and lesbians. During those evenings Michael would dance with all the boys while wearing heavy eyeliner and eye shadow (something *not* done by guys in the deep south). Stipe’s sexual orientation was the worst-kept secret in Athens, GA. The only people who thought he was straight were the frat boys, and I think even a few of them were suspicious.

    It was during this time that Stipe agreed to an interview with The Advocate. It was (and is) band policy that one other band member be present whenever someone from R.E.M. is interviewed. During the interview the journalist from The Advocate asked Stipe about fame. His reply touched on how difficult it is to be famous and still retain a personal life. He stated that he got asked all sorts of personal questions, and that he had decided he would simply refuse to answer certain questions. The interviewer asked for an example. Stipe said that in a previous interview a journalist had told him she’d heard a report that, because he is an environmentalist, he didn’t own a refrigerator. Stipe said the question was too personal, so he refused to answer it. In the VERY NEXT question the interviewer touched on R.E.M. lyrics which might be construed as homoerotic and asked Stipe if he was queer. Stipe had the perfect out: he could have simply said the question was too personal. Instead, he flatly denied being gay OR bisexual. His exact phrasing went something along the lines of: “There was a time when I thought I might be, but no, I’m not.” I might add that this interview occurred during the years of Bush Sr., during the dark days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Stipe was a major player in rock-n-roll, adored by millions of straight guys everywhere. The simple act of honestly telling the interviewer that he was queer could have changed hearts and minds. It could have made life easier for queer guys. But Stipe was a coward. He punted. Hell, he lied.

    At some point in the interview, Mike Mills, the other band member who was present, piped up and stated “Look, I believe I’m about as liberal as a person could be, but even I don’t want to see two guys kissing.”

    I’m glad R.E.M. has been reduced to a nostalgia act. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving bunch.

  15. Paul R says

    Everyone has known about Stipe for years. The only reason he’s “coming out” (again) is because REM has a new album out and no one really cares, so he has to get press in other ways.

    Viewed in that light, this move makes me respect him less, not more. And as a multimillionaire pop star with a base of independent-minded fans who wouldn’t have cared, he should have come out in the 90s, if not earlier. Recall that REM started getting famous is 1983.

  16. Michael Bedwell says

    Bogus drivel summarizes your description of the “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” Roscoe. Did you actually see the film or did you just sit nude on the DVD with your stinky ass and intuit its content and intent; trying to shove its unique roundness into the square hole of pseudo-intellectual gay film pundits who never saw a gay film they couldn’t dismiss as inherently and purposely antigay? Many said the same thing about Brokeback.

    Minghella created a fascinating, contradictory character study that is not bad simply because it is different from the novel. Some would say that cult-fave Highsmith only created a charming but ultimately petty, predictable, cliched sociopath. In any case, her Ripley was only “homoerotic” while Minghella’s Ripley is explicit and not remotely miserable because he’s gay [or bi or pansexual]. His misery, such as it is, comes from class and success and even identity envy and the emotional conflicts he experiences from his efforts to still his self-loathing for not being those things he so wants to be—and, NO, we don’t mean “straight.” Highsmith had him planning a key character’s murder well-in-advance. How original! Not! In the film, it is a shocking spontaneous act of rage against a vile narcissist after being mocked and rejected. Conversely, a second murder of yet another narcissist who looks down on him is simply to cover up his involvement in the first and during the final murder he actually weeps during the murder because he has to kill a loving innocent simply for survival.

    But don’t believe me…..

    “If marrying a fractured psyche to a broken heart is like drinking on an empty stomach, Tom Ripley is one drunk bastard, his fraudulently lush life an attempt to acquire real love. Minghella takes Highsmith’s already-gloomy novel through an allegorical looking glass in which a persona is a work of art, and a single self will never do. It’s that rare movie with a sense of timeliness that is eternal, and a protagonist whose soul-crushed angst, even at its most fatal, speaks to the little boy/girl lost in everyone. Minghella avoids the coyness of the novel, charging his film not only with eroticism but with the evident ebbing and flowing of its protagonist’s gay desire. Tom’s only constants in his ever-evolving self-machinations are loneliness and the desire to make it go away. Among the many extraordinarily assembled sequences by Walter Murch, a dizzying one has Tom ping-ponging between his two selves, one leaving messages for the other. From there on, the hairs on your neck don’t sit back down.” – Wesley Morris, SF Examiner

    “Watching ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ is like drinking a chilled vodka martini on the deck of a sinking ship, amused by A) the plumpness of the olive, B) the excellent proportion of vodka to vermouth and C) the screaming passengers. The latter is so piquant because one is aware that one’s helicopter is about to remove one, whisk one away. Such a document of joy in the misery of others hasn’t been released upon us in years. Come, it says, enter the world of the sociopathic killer and enjoy. Tom isn’t just gay; he’s a lot more things, a lot more complex. The movie utterly, expertly avoids categorization. ‘Murder mystery’ would be a complete misnomer, as would be ‘thriller’ because it’s neither mysterious nor thrilling; rather, it’s a drama of transfiguration. It watches a pilgrim’s progress from nothingness to somethingness over a variety of bodies, a litany of deceptions, a staircase of lies. And it makes you like it. It’s ‘David Copperfield’ starring a sociopathic narcissist. Damn us all to hell, we root for him!” – Washington Post

    “A flood of adjectives bursts onto the screen at the start of Anthony Minghella’s glittering new thriller, considering ways to describe Tom Ripley before settling on ‘talented’ as le mot juste. This is only a minuscule show of ingenuity, but it’s also a promise that the film will keep. ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ offers diabolically smart surprises wherever you care to look. … hypnotic, sensually charged…. Mr. Minghella, who wrote and directed ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ with acute attention to every nuance, significantly broadens what Ms. Highsmith had in mind. As played by Matt Damon with a fine, tricky mix of obsequiousness and ruthlessness, the nicer new Ripley is in no danger of losing his sting.” – Janet Maslin, NY Times

    “The movie is an intelligent a thriller as you’ll see this year. It is also insidious in the way it leads us to identify with Tom Ripley.” – Roger Ebert.

    “expertly — and perversely – poised” – SF Chronicle

    “A slick, twisty, top-of-the-line crime thriller with gorgeously sensual textures and a screenful of wickedly faceted performances.” – Boston Globe

  17. Drew says

    I study the Middle East and spent some time in Israel this summer. I can’t wait to go back.

    Tel Aviv is really a great gay destination, on par with many European cities. There’s always something going on, the weather is great, the beaches are never far away, and Israelis are incredibly hot.

  18. Brad says

    OK, two Ryan Seacrest posts in one week is enough to last me through 2009.
    He’s at the top of the list of people I would not walk across the street to piss on, if they were on fire.
    Normally your filter is spot on, Andy, but this is one topic that needs to be removed.

  19. Daniel says

    re: Minghella. I liked his films, and intuited that he really cared for the projects and made them thoughtfully. I’ll miss his talent. But I also think his young age (54) at the time of his death is a great motivator that we don’t have a ton of time on this earth to waste, so we need to create the lives the way now, not later. Minghella achieved great things artistically and commercially in a very limited amount of time. That’s impressive to me & my condolences to his grieving family.

    Re: Stipe. Driver 8, take a break. Look at all the young twinks America is giving adoration to on “American Idol” or how welcoming the Bravo line-up is towards queer-friendly programming & then calculate the lack of merit in Stipe’s announcement. It’s amusing Stipe thinks his sex life NOW will influence adolescents. Stipe coming out now is almost goofy. Remember when Nathan Lane finally came out, too? In a post-Matthew Shepperd world, Stipe’s “outing” now is either redundant or insipid.

  20. says

    So Michael. Of course I’ve seen Minghella’s bloated guiltfest THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY. I’m not in the habit of writing about films I haven’t seen.

    The shocking spontaneous act of rage you mention is in fact in Highsmith’s novel, as well as in the film. At no time, in any of the novels, does Tom Ripley premeditate a murder. Can you cite an example? Have you ever read Patricia Highsmith’s novel, or were you too busy masturbating over Jude and Matt to bother?

    I’m not one of those loons who demand absolute fidelity to a film’s source material. Minghella had the right to do with the novel as he saw fit. What he saw fit is a big bloated over-produced beautifully photographed Guilt Trip For Sad Homos Caught In Traps Of Their Own Devising.

    Fine, opinions are going to differ. You like it and find it a valuable film. I think it is a dreadful over-produced horror, with some pictures of hot boys.

    I do love it when people take me to task for having my own point of view by quoting movie reviewers, the old Safety In Numbers dodge. If Roger Ebert liked it, it must be a masterpiece like CRASH and MILLION DOLLAR BABY and DARK CITY, right?

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