Hollywood's Long History of Straightwashing Bio Pics

Almost as soon as it was announced that J. Edgar Hoover would be getting a new biopic, speculation has been rife over how his relationship with Clyde Tolson would be portrayed.

Although there's no definitive proof either way, it's widely assumed that Hoover, long-term director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Tolson, his assistant director, were lovers. Director Clint Eastwood sparked concern that Hoover's story would be “straightwashed” when he told The Wall Street Journal that the script “didn't quite go down [the] road” of addressing rumors of Hoover's being closeted and a cross-dresser. (Eastwood later confirmed with The Hollywood Reporter that he included a scene showing Hoover wearing his mother's dress.)

Meanwhile, out J. Edgar screenwriter Dustin Lance Black assured AfterElton that Hoover and Tolson would not be “de-gayed,” saying “To think that somehow you’re going to make a movie about somebody like J. Edgar and
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30 Greatest Gay Actors #12: Sir Ian McKellen

Long considered to be one of the greatest British stage actors of all time and arguably the finest Shakespearean actor of his generation, Sir Ian McKellen has received a Tony Award and two Academy Award nominations. Over the course of his distinguished career on the British stage, he has also received the prestigious Olivier Award five times, and in 1981 received the Tony Award for his portrayal of Mozart’s nemesis Salieri in the Broadway production of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. Although he is certainly not the first gay British subject to be knighted by his monarch, he is nonetheless the first to receive the honour after making a public acknowledgement of his homosexuality.

In 1988, McKellen took a brave personal step when he was being interviewed on BBC radio by conservative host Peregrine Worsthorne. While McKellen had quietly lived a gay life for many years, he

came out during the course
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Ask the Flying Monkey! Can/Should a Boy be a Disney Princess? Does "De-Gaying" Movies Work?

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This week! We explore whether Disney lets little boys become Disney princesses – and if that's okay! We answer whether a guy should tell his 13-year-old brother to stop saying "That's so gay." And we ask: "Does de-gaying a movie ever work?"

Have a question about gay male entertainment? Contact me here (and be sure and include your city and state and/or country!)

Q: One of my cousins has a five-year-old grandson who is totally obsessed with Disney princesses and all things of a feminine nature. His parents are working on being accepting of him, but his grandmother, who has a gay son and a gay cousin (me), is totally accepting of him. Disney World has something called The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (gotta love that name), which is a salon that transforms little girls into the Disney princess of their choice. They also have something called The Pirates League, where
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Breaking Dawn: James Whale – Ideal for Bella and Edward

Bella and Edward in love: Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight Bill Condon to Direct Breaking Dawn Bill Condon, who will be guiding Twilight Saga leads Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner in Breaking Dawn, is best known for the three feature films he directed in the last twelve years. Gods and Monsters (1998), was a fictionalized account (based on Christopher Bram’s novel Father of Frankenstein) of the twilight of director James Whale’s life. Additionally, Condon wrote and directed the Alfred Kinsey biopic Kinsey (2004), starring Liam Neeson, and the musical Dreamgirls (2006), starring Beyoncé. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, James Whale (right), the subject of Condon’s Gods and Monsters, would have been an ideal choice [...]
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Ask the Flying Monkey! (January 11, 2010)

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Have a question about gay male entertainment? Send it to! (Please include your city and state and/or country.)

Q: I can't help feeling a little tingle when watching George Clooney. He seems so gay even though he never played a gay role. It's the twinkle in his eyes. His male friends are all dreamy and the women he's been attached to seem like they could care less. Is he the big gay secret in Hollywood, like Rock Hudson was? – Price, West Palm Beach, Fl

George Clooney

A: That little tingle you feel is called “being alive.” That said, Clooney seems unbelievably straight to me – the kind of man we here in Seattle call a “Seattle Straight Guy.” That means he’s thoughtful, articulate, fit, liberal as hell, well-dressed and well-groomed, but thoroughly straight, even as he’s totally cool with gay people.

If you mistake a Seattle Straight Guy for gay,
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Film review: 'Gods and Monsters'

Film review: 'Gods and Monsters'
Bill Condon's superb "Gods and Monsters" and star Ian McKellen -- playing "Bride of Frankenstein" director James Whale as an elegant but forgotten genius -- should ride some of the best reviews of the year to lucrative limited-release business and almost certain awards consideration.

In the same league as "Heavenly Creatures" and "Ed Wood", the literate, challenging Lions Gate Films-distributed drama is based on Christopher Bram's novel "Father of Frankenstein". Although there are some deliciously comic moments and marvelously witty lines, even the presence of Brendan Fraser won't sell this unrated but cinematically polished gem to the masses.

It's ironic, because unlike Ed Wood, Whale achieved immortality of a kind in his own lifetime. The English-born director came to Hollywood at the dawn of the talkies and made "Frankenstein" with Boris Karloff, as well as "The Invisible Man" and "Showboat". While most of his films were made in one decade, Whale settled in Pacific Palisades, Calif., had a reputation for being openly gay and eventually drowned in his own pool in 1957.

Certainly some liberties with the truth have been taken. But the storytelling is so focused on the richly imagined characters that one is thoroughly, wonderfully oblivious, trapped and spellbound by McKellen's feats of acting magic. Much credit also goes to Fraser, playing an ex-Marine gardener who befriends the ailing Whale, leading to an intense relationship that mirrors the filmmaker's own extraordinary horror classics.

The title refers to scientists and their creations, directors and their films, fathers and their sons, old queens and their young lovers. Alas, Whale is suffering from numerous physical-psychological maladies after a stroke and breakup with a longtime companion (David Dukes). Indeed, he fears he's losing his mind as memories of his poor youth and glamorous moviemaking days come to him unbidden.

While we know he lusts after quiet, gentle Clayton Boone (Fraser), the big lug doesn't have a clue, although he's nervous when artist Whale asks him to be a model. Clearly shaken by his experiences as a soldier and starting out a lot like his employer, the heterosexual Boone is seduced by Whale's fame, although his bar buddies, including Lolita Davidovich as an unencouraging ex-lover, laugh at "Bride of Frankenstein" on TV.

Propelled by Carter Burwell's excellent score, with a little help from Franz Waxman, the film dreamily moves between Whale's memories -- he fought in World War I and tells Boone a particularly ghoulish story -- and his sheltered life in a stately residence. The erudite but stunningly beautiful film cannily intertwines themes of defying nature, dawning intelligence and regeneration, with Whale's worsening madness leading him to want the unthinkable from Boone.

Along with McKellen's tour de force and Fraser's best work to date, "Gods" boasts an outstanding performance by Lynn Redgrave as Whale's stern but devoted housekeeper. From the sensual and subtle widescreen cinematography and sets to the great makeup and costumes, including recreations of the "Bride" laboratory set, the film is an all-around triumph.


Lions Gate Films

Showtime and Flashpoint present

In association with BBC Films

A Regent Entertainment production

In association with Gregg Fienberg

Writer-director: Bill Condon

Producers: Paul Colichman, Gregg Fienberg, Mark R. Harris

Executive producers: Clive Barker, Stepen P. Jarchow, David Forrest, Beau Rogers

Director of photography: Stephen M. Katz

Production designer: Richard Sherman

Editor: Virginia Katz

Costume designer: Bruce Finlayson

Music: Carter Burwell



James Whale: Ian McKellen

Clayton Boone: Brendan Fraser

Hanna: Lynn Redgrave

Betty: Lolita Davidovich

Harry: Kevin J. O'Connor

David Lewis: David Dukes

Running time -- 105 minutes

No MPAA rating

See also

Credited With | External Sites