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Sir Ian McKellen Fights Back After 'Fruity' Remark From 'Homeland' Star Damian Lewis

LewisSir Ian McKellen, one of the finest British actors of the past several decades, and an openly gay man, was recently the butt of Homeland star Damian Lewis's (right) unpleasant commentary. Lewis mentioned that after getting his start in theater, he was glad to get out early on. Otherwise, he would run the risk of becoming "one of these slightly over-the-top, fruity actors who would have an illustrious career on stage, but wouldn't start getting any kind of film work until I was 50 and then start playing wizards.”

Though McKellen is not mentioned by name, Gandalf the Grey took it upon himself to offer a series of pointed and rather enlightened retorts.

The Independent reports:

The X-Men actor went on to describe Lewis’ statement as “a fair comment”, before adding: “To rebut it: I wouldn't like to have been one of those actors who hit stardom quite early on and expected it to continue and was stuck doing scripts that I didn't particularly like just to keep the income up.

“I've always wanted to get better as an actor. And I have got better. You've only got to see my early work to see that.

“As for a fruity voice? Well, it may be a voice that is trained like an opera singer's voice: to fill a large space. It is unnatural. Actors have to be heard and their voice may therefore develop a sonorous quality that they can't quite get rid of, so you think actors are as pompous as their voice is large. I suppose Damian was thinking of that a little bit, too.”

SiriansmilesMcKellen (right) also took the time to point out the conflicted and deeply closeted position of many gay artists, and attempted to assuage their fears.

“It's true of A-lists all over the world - A-list priests, A-list politicians. What will other people think? Will people still vote for me? Will people come and see me act?

“They're warned by the people who surround them - agents and managers, who have a living to make and are worried that the actor will get pigeonholed.”

“I don't think the audience gives a damn,” he added. “You don't have to be straight to play Gandalf. Anyway, who says that Gandalf isn't gay? I loved it when JK Rowling said that Dumbledore was gay.”

And in his final deconstruction of Lewis's remarks, Sir Ian took a stance on Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws, and made sure to mention the artists whose work he will always regard highly. 

“That's why I can't go to Russia... They couldn't protect me from those laws. Two and a half hours from London! In the land of Tchaikovsky, Diaghilev, Rudolf Nureyev - gay artists whose sexuality informed their work,” he said.

Check out Sir Ian McKellen, now on Broadway in Waiting for Godot and No Man's Land, and soon to be back in theaters as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

'Queer As Folk' Scribe Penning Two New Gay Dramas, Web Series For British TV

The brain behind Britain's now fifteen-year-old Queer as Folk will be pumping out two new shows in 2014, and just like that show, it sounds like it'll be all (or at least partially) about sex. Russell T. Davies has penned Cucumber and Banana, companion shows with interrelated characters that will be accompanied by a supplemental program online called Tofu. The delicious trifecta is named after a scientific study Davies once read which "divided the hard-on into four categories, from soft to hard. One, tofu. Two, peeled banana. Three, banana. And four, cucumber." Sounds promising, right? 

RusselltdaviesThe Hollywood Reporter reports:

Cucumber is eight hour-long episodes for Channel 4 and follows 46-year-old Henry and his long-suffering boyfriend Lance.

Life for Henry and Lance is comfortable and settled. But after the most disastrous date night in history -- involving a death, a threesome, two police cars and the Glee Christmas Album -- Henry's old life shatters, and his new one begins.

On E4, Banana will follow the lives of characters orbiting around Henry in Cucumber, in eight 30-minute episodes.

From young lesbian Scotty's first love to 19-year-old Dean's mysterious family secrets, Banana covers "50 shades of gay, and beyond," Channel 4 said.

Tofu aims to take the experience online with eight factual episodes navigating the landscape of 21st-century sex in its own inimitable way.

The shows, which are still being cast and are set to begin shooting in early 2014, will likely have a great deal of hype surrounding them. Davies is well-known not only for QAF, but also for his work on Doctor Who, a show which has consistently grown in popularity both across the pond and domestically. His collaborators rightly have faith in his ability to deliver on his new shows.

Channel 4 head of drama Piers Wenger said: "No one can look into the heart and soul of modern relationships quite like Russell, and across Channel 4, E4 and online, he paints an unflinching and forensic portrait of how our sex lives affect us all. It might be 15 years since Queer as Folk, but he has made it more than worth the wait."

Out Singer Sia Donating Proceeds From Eminem Collaboration To LA Gay And Lesbian Center: LISTEN

SiaSia, the out Australian belter most famous for her "Titanium" collaboration with David Guetta, has gotten flack recently for appearing on Eminem's new album.

The rapper, whose songs contain homophobic rhetoric including liberal use of the word "faggot", recently told Rolling Stone: "...the real me sitting here right now talking to you has no issues with gay, straight, transgender, at all."

As a response to the criticism of Eminem, Sia has decided to donate proceeds from their collaboration, "Beautiful Pain," to programs benefiting homeless LGBT youth at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center. 

SheWired reports:

Australia native Sia told N.Y. based D.J. and writer Keo Nozari via Twitter that she was under the impression that Eminem’s alter-ego Slim Shady was performance art, and a thing of the past, asserting that she does not believe that Eminem is actually homophobic. But, as AfterEllen pointed out, lyrics off of “Rap God” from The Marshall Mathers LP2 would prove otherwise with hateful sentiments like, “Break a motherf--ker’s table over the back of a couple off faggots and crack it in half,” and “You fags think it’s all a game till I walk a flock of flames off a plank, and tell me what in the f--k are you thinking.”

Sia told Nozari via Twitter, “I guess my only hope at this point is that beautiful pain will do more good than rap god does harm.” She added, “I feel powerless. I thought Slim Shady had been put to bed. Now what’s done is done on my end.”

Sia's contribution to the Lesbian and Gay Center will reportedly help support a 50-bed shelter, GED preparation and job placement, meal, clothing, and medical services, and counseling. 

Listen to "Beautiful Pain," AFTER THE JUMP....

Continue reading "Out Singer Sia Donating Proceeds From Eminem Collaboration To LA Gay And Lesbian Center: LISTEN" »

This Heartwarming Story of Two NYC Artists is the Feel Good Video of the Day: WATCH

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 2.31.47 PM

Carmelo Ferro and Justin Winslow, two NYC designers who met at a 'drink and draw,' fell in love over their mutual love of all things art.

This sweet video documents their relationship's journey, culminating in a stunning mural the two were commissioned to create at a Brooklyn gay bar.


Continue reading "This Heartwarming Story of Two NYC Artists is the Feel Good Video of the Day: WATCH" »

Jaymi Hensley, Member Of British Boy Band Union J, To Marry Boyfriend In 2015

Jaymi Hensley (right), a member of the British foursome Union J, a boyband formed out of Britain's "X Factor" television series, will marry his fiance Olly Marmon in 2015.

HensleyThe two have been together for four years and have had a relatively long engagement: Jaymi popped the question in 2010. As Towleroad previously reported, Jaymi came out in 2012 during the "X Factor" competition. We will have to wait a little longer for the wedding bells, but these two make quite the cute couple!

The Mirror reports:

...if the former X Factor contestant needs any help on his big day he can rely on his bandmates to help him out.

However, the star, who has been dating his man Olly for four years and proposed to him in Rome in 2010, doesn't seem so sure. "They're not my best men - my brother's my best man," he laughed.

Congratulations to Jaymi, Olly, and the bandmates! It is lovely that they are all so supportive.

Union J are releasing their debut album on October 28th.

Check out the video for their single, "Beautiful Life," AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Jaymi Hensley, Member Of British Boy Band Union J, To Marry Boyfriend In 2015" »

Russian Filmmakers Trying To Re-Write History, Make Tchaikovsky Straight

TchaikovskyPeter Tchaikovsky, composer of influential ballets such as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, was almost certainly gay, according to historians. A new article published in The Atlantic Wire details several pieces of evidence, from multiple historians, that the composer very much preferred men. But Russian filmmaker Yuri Arabov, screenwriter of the upcoming 2015 biopic Tchaikovsky, does not believe any of this historical evidence to be accurate. 

“It is far from a fact that Tchaikovsky was a homosexual,” he said to a Russian newspaper. “Only philistines think this, what philistines believe should not be shown in films." Arabov is best known as the screenwriter for the Russian director Alexander Sokurov. Together, the two of them have made films about the lives of Lenin, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito. Arabov called Tchaikovsky a man who “is marked by rumors and suffers greatly from this.” He also said that he would “not sign my name to a film that advertises homosexuality. Not because I don’t have a gay friend, but because this is outside the sphere of art.”

According to the New York Times, this most recent interview by Arabov confirms a fear outlined by British actor Stephen Fry in a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron. In the letter, Fry wrote:

“Any statement, for example, that Tchaikovsky was gay and that his art and life reflects this sexuality and are an inspiration to other gay artists would be punishable by imprisonment.”

ArabovArabov claims that his stance is primarily due to his own personal views, and not due to the country's anti-gay propaganda laws. As it stands, the law is not exactly clear if portraying Tchaikovsky as a homosexual would qualify as pro-gay propaganda. Novertheless, the Times does make note of the fact that "Russia’s culture ministry has stressed that it is interested in patriotic films that will help Russia’s image." The upcoming film's director, Kirill Serebrennikov, is one of the most successful stage and film directors in all of post-Soviet Russia. NYT describes him as a director who "managed both to criticize the government and to secure state financing."

"'The true story of the tragic love and death of the brilliant Russian composer,' in which he runs into his first love at a ball only to find that she is married. When she finally leaves her husband, the composer dies of cholera with her at his side."

Let this go on record as one of the many instances of filmmakers taking creative liberties with history in order to make historical figures appear straight to audiences. 


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