Hanuka is oddly relevant this year

Posted on 29 Dec 2016 at 10:10am
By David Taffet

Donald Antiochus

This time of year, I usually write a “Why I Hate Chanukah” story.

I have a whole list of reasons Hanuka isn’t my favorite holiday starting with: I won’t celebrate a holiday they can’t decide how to spell. Also, Channukah celebrates a battle victory. I prefer holidays like Rosh Hashanah, secular Rosh Hashanah (that’s New Year’s) or Passover, which celebrates freedom from slavery. I love Martin Luther King Day, which honors civil rights.

In 164 B.C., the Maccabbees, a Jewish tribe, fought against Antiochus IV, the Assyrian tyrant who came to power in 175 B.C. and ruled over Judea.

Until Antiochus, the Jews in Judea were allowed to practice their own religion. Antiochus was threatened by people who practiced different religions, so he desecrated the temple in Jerusalem and forbade celebrating the Jewish Sabbath.

Political positions, under Antiochus, were sold to the highest bidder. Unqualified cronies were given high positions. Civil liberties were restricted and the government pillaged and plundered its own people.

Hannukah celebrates 4,000 Maccabbees beating the crap out of an army of 40,000 Assyrians. They won by inventing guerrilla warfare. Really, I prefer some of the other contributions Jews have made to the world, like Windows XP or thumb drives that were both developed in Israel.

But this year, I really like Hanuka. It’s a holiday that warns us what will happen if we allow unqualified people to take leadership jobs and political positions go to the highest bidder and if we allow religious bigotry to be enshrined in government.

But I wasn’t thinking of Donald Trump. Really. I wasn’t.

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Still wanted: Nathan Sykes — the gay interview

Posted on 29 Dec 2016 at 8:40am

 

nathansykes3Boy bander on self-discovery, gay rumors and his sometimes-bromosexual relationship with Tom Daley

Since serenading queer crowds at gay clubs as a teenager, Nathan Sykes has been the subject of prurient curiosity regarding his own sexuality. He’s British, so there’s that. And the whole boy band thing, which began in 2009, when Sykes joined Eurodance group The Wanted, didn’t exactly disband “is he or isn’t he?” rumors.

Now, with his solo debut Unfinished Business is out in the midst of a band hiatus, the giggly 23-year-old opens up about ongoing interest in his sexuality (“I didn’t know I was gay, but OK!”), his sometimes-“bromosexual” relationship with Tom Daley and being “really drunk” at a gay club at 4 a.m.

Dallas Voice: You’re 23, but you sound like you’re 30, and that’s a compliment.  Nathan Sykes: Thank you so much. That’s a marvelous compliment. It’s been part of this journey of self-discovery as an artist, which has been incredible.

What does your journey to self-discovery involve?  Just really figuring out for the first time who I am. I knew who Nathan from The Wanted was, and I lived my life for five years as Nathan from The Wanted. I’d be walking down the street [and people would say], “Oh my god, that’s Nathan from The Wanted!” Then, for the first time, I sat there, especially after the band decided to take a break, and I went, “Who the hell is Nathan Sykes?” And it was for me to figure out who that was, and it was an amazing journey of figuring out who I am as an artist, what music I wanted to create, how I want to be portrayed, how I want to look, how I’d like to come across. And then I was like, “Just be yourself,” and even that was a breakthrough moment. Because when you’re working so hard with four other people, it’s amazing for the first time to focus on being myself.

In so many words, you recently said that after you turned 21, gay men have been less subtle with their thirst for you.  I didn’t mean that in an arrogant way. That’s not a thing at all. I mean, I wish people had thirst for me! That would be amazing. It’s just a massive compliment. I can go out with my friends and have an amazing time, whether that’s at a straight or gay club. We always have an amazing time when I’m with people who are gay, who are just so amazing and so flirty as well, which is fun. So, what I was trying to say is that people don’t see me as a baby anymore; they don’t necessarily see me as the youngest member of a boy band. People are seeing me as an adult now for the first time, which is cool.

What’s been your best night at a gay club?  There’s been quite a few really, really amazing ones. I think just ending up in G-A-Y in London, drunk at 4 o’clock in the morning, because I’ve got loads of friends who are gay. It’s just fun and nice, and everyone is up for a good time and fun to be around. It doesn’t matter to me what the company is, whether you’re straight or gay, as long as everyone is happy and in a good place and having a good time. I draw off people’s energy, so as long as people are having a good time, I’ll have a good time as well.

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What happened?

Posted on 28 Dec 2016 at 1:48pm

Rusty Feasel walked out of his life and into oblivion nearly two years ago. Arnold Wayne Jones explores what could lead a man to do that

This story is a mystery, but it is not one with a happy ending, or even a satisfying ending; in many ways, it does not have an ending at all.

The mystery began on the morning of March 29, 2015. I awoke as usual for a Sunday. I brushed the sleep from my eyes, placed a kettle of water on the flame and spooned some coffee grounds into my Bodum French press. I texted a friend to set up a get-together for later that day, brushed my teeth and turned on Charles Osgood. While I waited for the water to boil, I grabbed my iPhone to check work email messages. I try to avoid checking messages too much on the weekends, and had managed to resist the urge all day on Saturday. Even still, my in-box was littered with hundreds of emails, the vast majority of them spam. I scanned through quickly just to make sure there was nothing timely that needed attending before Monday morning.

One message caught my attention, even though there was no reason it should. Buried among the missives about horny Russian girls and diet drugs was one from “Shannon.” I had never met Shannon, nor had we even talked, but I vaguely recognized the name. It was from deep in my past.

“I’m contacting you regarding Rusty Feasel,” the email began. “I believe you are the AJ I’ve heard him talk about through the years.”

Rusty was my ex — my first serious boyfriend. Even though we had dated for less than a year, and had broken up nearly 17 years earlier, we had remained close friends throughout the decades. Rusty had been there through all my other relationships, in good and bad times. I knew he still loved me; he told me so frequently. I was, in some ways, “the one that got away” — or rather, that he had let go. Our relationship ended when he walked away from me. He eventually said he regretted that. There was no reason to feel regret, at least from my perspective. We were better as friends than as lovers, and Rusty was one of my most trusted confidantes. There was virtually nothing I couldn’t tell him, or him me … or so I thought. The rest of Shannon’s email hit hard:

“Rusty is missing.”

The shiver that ricochets through you when you read the words that someone you care about is gone is seismic.

That was how the mystery began. But the story starts much, much earlier.

Rusty Feasel with his beloved dog Brutus. Photos by Arnold Wayne Jones

People who are old enough to predate Grindr, Craigslist and cyberstalking will remember the days of the personal classifieds. I was still largely closeted, but looking to start dating, without going to bars. The classifieds were the alternative.

In Dallas Voice, a section was published for a long time called Encounters: “Man seeking man,” “casual encounters,” “missed connections.” (Craigslist may be more technological, but the idioms endure.) I placed an ad.

As with much of dating, there are as many frogs as princes; my experience was no exception. Many dates, usually dinner or evening cocktails at chain restaurants. But when Rusty called my mailbox, he immediately stood out as different.

“This is Ruuusty,” he drawled in a thick, charming Texas accent, like someone out of a B Western. I’d lived in Texas more than five years, but he was the real deal — my first quasi cowboy. No photos back then, just descriptions, voices and meet-ups. He picked a place, a choice that set him apart again: Vern’s, a soul-food restaurant on the edge of Deep Ellum. For lunch, too, not in the evening — a first for me.

Our initial contact wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t love at first sight. He wasn’t exactly what I expected. A paradox: Tall (over 6-foot) and with a lot of meat on his frame, he drove a beat-up pickup truck and wore faded, ripped Levi’s and dusty boots, unpretentiously handsome. But he also had waist-length hair that he tossed around like a girl in a shampoo commercial. His mannerisms seemed at odds with his burly appearance and down-home choice of locales. “How do these pieces fit?” I wondered as I squirmed through our meal, sadly suspicious that everyone was staring at us. Rusty couldn’t have cared less. He seemed comfortable in his own skin.

That was a lesson I would take not just from that encounter, but from our relationship.

It all started slowly, but snowballed; he moved in within three months; in less than a year, we would separate, and it would be another full year before we talked again. But when we did, we connected profoundly. He was a standup guy, the kind who wouldn’t just keep your secret, but offer to move the body. He bred Rottweilers, to whom he was devoted. He’d help you repair your roof or cook you a pot of pho. For years, he was my dog-sitter, a duty he studiously performed with no more payment than an occasional bottle of Bombay Sapphire.

Despite no post-high-school degree, Rusty’s intelligence was formidable. He read voraciously, and composed long emails — screeds, really — against the right wing morons, but also the namby-pamby liberals. His mind was as active and curious as a cat’s. Arguing with him was a form of exercise.

Rusty had his demons. He often told me he didn’t have a stable, satisfying relationship since we broke up. He was often strapped financially. He would hibernate from society for weeks on end, barely answering his phone or emails. I cared for him as much as I cared for anyone, but he erected barriers. He felt strongly, but kept much inside.

I just had no idea how much.

Rusty on Joe Pool Lake, in happier times. Photos by Arnold Wayne Jones

“Rusty is missing,” Shannon’s email read, “and by missing I mean he left a note and now no one can find him. His mother is desperately trying to find out any information as to his well-being. If you know anything, please contact me as soon as possible.”

I called Shannon immediately.

The story was mysterious and dark.

“When’s the last time you heard from Rusty?” Shannon inquired. I knew immediately.

“Valentine’s Day,” I said. “I wished him a happy Valentine’s Day. He said ‘Same to you.’” I suppose I should have known something was wrong then — Rusty was not a sentimentalist, but rather the kind who would bah-humbug meaningless celebrations and artificial social holiday norms; even “happy birthday” could elicit a scoff.

Six weeks, I realized. I hadn’t heard from Rusty in six weeks.

Shannon explained that the last time anyone last heard from Rusty was about two weeks earlier. He was expected to his mom’s house for dinner, and never showed up. She called; he didn’t answer. Eventually, she visited the East Dallas duplex he rented. What she found astonished her.

Rusty was missing, and most of his furniture was gone. His neighbors, whom Shannon described in less-than-glowing terms, claimed that he left a note with them, the door unlocked, and drove off. The note was allegedly cryptic; I never saw it, but the gist was he was in debt and wanted to disappear, and asked someone to look after his dogs. The neighbors, apparently, gave them away or sold them; they took or sold most of his belongings. They claimed not to know any more. They showed Rusty’s mother the note.

She was suspicious. Why just disappear?

“She talked to [the police investigators] assigned to the case this morning and they are searching for his cars, phone records — the usual routine,” Shannon informed me. There wasn’t much to go on, they said. It was not a high priority case.

His email accounts were closed. His bank account not accessed for weeks. No calls placed on his cell phone. He was a ghost. There was almost no evidence he had even been in our lives.

A few days later, while watching Fox4 News, I saw a brief “police blotter” piece — “If anyone has seen this man” kind of thing. It used his first name, John (Russell was his middle name), so few people who even heard the piece would know who it was. They underestimated his weight by at least 25 lbs. The photo used was old, grainy and a poor likeness. I never saw anything else on him covered in the media. I emailed Shannon some months later, and asked if there was any news. “No,” was the expected answer.

That’s the last I heard from Shannon. That’s the last I knew for sure about Rusty.

How could this have happened?

We all know the legend of Kitty Genovese — the New York City woman in the 1960s who, allegedly, was brutally attacked for the better part of an hour, her screams heard by dozens of neighbors, who did nothing. The current scholarship says the story is vastly exaggerated, but its legacy remains. Accurate or not, the truth is, those experiences occur more often than they don’t. We are all surrounded by people who are suffering, and who tell us they are suffering in coded messages we are either too ignorant, or too dense, to parse.

Rusty was one of those signalers. You couldn’t know Rusty for very long and not realize he was unhappy and even anti-social. But what can friends do?

Not enough, as it turned out. Despite my efforts, and the efforts of other friends (including, certainly, Shannon and his mother), Rusty was in a dark place emotionally, and we were ill-equipped to deal with it. And, as it happens, ill-equipped to deal with the aftermath in our own lives.

I saw Rusty three times after his disappearance. At least I thought I did. Once, I was in Deep Ellum and saw him walking down the street. I ran out of the restaurant I was in, chased him a few feet, turned him around and said, “Rusty! Where have you been? We’ve been worried sick!”

“I’m fine,” he replied with a blank stare, turned and walked away.

Then I woke up.

The dream was vivid — amazingly real. It took me several hours the next day to convince myself it didn’t happen. A similar dream occurred several months later, where I saw him sitting in the corridor at NorthPark Center. He was friendlier this time, but no more forthcoming. And it was a fantasy, anyway. So was the third dream. (My friend Lila asked her friend who identified as a psychic to look for evidence of Rusty’s psychic energy; none was detected, Lila told me.)

But the images lingered. I imagined a number of scenarios: Rusty took off to Mexico, or Wyoming, to reinvent himself and start life over anew — new identity, a complete break with the past. Or he met with foul play, his car broken down by the side of the road, a stranger offering to help and killing him. Another possibility — which I sadly considered as likely as any — was that he drove into a remote forest as deep as he could, drank as much gin as his body could handle, and wandered into an unused lake or bog: No trace, no explanation, no closure.

But there was one thing I knew, almost instantly that morning I first learned he was missing. Whatever the truth, I would never see him again. That’s what he wanted. It was the one thing he could control.

No matter what happened to Rusty, I doubt I will ever know for sure. Which, in many ways, is the worst thing about his disappearance — not the loss of his presence, or even the possible loss of his life, but how my friendship failed to sustain him. There’s almost nothing I wouldn’t have done for Rusty… except that I didn’t do what I needed to, and he either didn’t know that, or didn’t feel it would make a difference. Depression, isolation, desperation — these are real things, and we have friends to help us through them. I wasn’t there for him, simple as that. It’s almost a form of survivor’s guilt: How could I ignore the signs and allow such troubles to go unaddressed.

Six weeks. I hadn’t communicated with him for six weeks. One of my dearest friends. One of the most loyal people I know, and one who hurt most profoundly. And for six weeks, I did nothing. And 15 years of friendship were gone, just like that.

Maybe, if he’s still alive, Rusty could read this, and reconnect with those he left behind. But I doubt it. Depression has a way of consuming you. And all the rest of us can do is hope for the best.

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Emeli Sande — the gay interview

Posted on 28 Dec 2016 at 8:39am

emelisande20161Hello, it’s… Emeli Sandé, this generation’s only performer able to rival Adele as a powerhouse, tear-jerking force of nature.

The Scottish vocalist (born, funny enough, Adele Emily Sandé) is back for your pillow-sopping nights with her much-anticipated Long Live the Angels, a rumination on new versions of events, particularly the dissolving of a decade-long relationship that ended in divorce in 2014. Among the best albums of 2016, Sandé’s triumphant catharsis pushes through the pain with spirited, choir-lifted credos of faith and love-led empowerment.

In this revealing interview with Sandé, the 29-year-old opened up about the gay fans who helped her realize she needed a break, discovering President Obama’s daughters listen to her music and how Mariah Carey helped her feel less alone.

Dallas Voice: It’s been nearly five years since you released your debut, Our Version of Events. Why the wait?  Emeli Sande: I was just going through such a personal and spiritual growth. I mean, we spent so long promoting Our Version of Events, and it was amazing, touring, but I found it almost impossible to get back to ground zero and write music. I needed a timeout. I also was going through stuff myself that I needed to understand before I could put it in music and feel steady enough to go out there and give it to other people. So, it was a combination of both. I feel like for two years I just needed that time to dedicate to making this music.

How would you describe the process of writing these songs while going through something as difficult as your divorce?  I was always writing; this kind of feels like real diary entries. With every song, it was almost like I was sponging up my life. I find it a lot easier to express emotions through music, so I was acting like I was fine, but the music was all telling the truth in what I was feeling internally. It was all kind of me writing my emotions as I felt them, or if I’d do sessions, whatever I was going through at that time in my life, it just kind of came out.

Do you get emotional singing these deeply personal songs?  Not really. I feel quite empowered when I sing them just because it gives me an honesty on stage. Obviously, I hope they’re entertaining and they make people feel great, but it was really my truth. So, when I’m on stage it feels like I’m connecting with the audience and just kind of sharing myself fully. So, seriously enough, I kind of feel quite strong when I sing them. I feel liberated to tell the truth on stage.

Tell me how your connection with your gay fans has evolved since releasing your debut album.  During every show, I can feel my gay fans out there, and there’s a real kind of depth and understanding. I remember I was doing a show at KOKO in London, and it was around the time everything was going so fast, and I got a couple of notes from fans. A gay couple wrote, “Are you OK? If you want to come hang out with us, you can come on holiday with us.” I just thought it was so nice that they recognized — I must’ve been exhausted at that point, and I think they could see that. I really appreciated that letter from them. And I just appreciated all the different stories. I just love that I can also empower them through the music.

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DNCE’s Joe Jonas — the gay interview

Posted on 27 Dec 2016 at 8:39am

 

HyperFocal: 0Why is Joe Jonas talking about whips and leather?

Apart from recalling his experience with both, the answer is simply, because he can. Because the former baby-faced JoBro is all-man now — from his 5 o’clock shadow to his steel physique, which he’s not been shy about showing off.

While making the promotional rounds for his debut as lead singer of Los Angeles-formed collective DNCE, the newly liberated 27-year-old hasn’t merely shifted away from the much-publicized “purity ring” of his youth, taking on a kinky array of topics including porn, boners and penis size — he’s erased its very existence.

Like younger brother Nick, middle sibling Joe wasn’t done destroying any traces of his Disney halo when he freewheeled through our recent talk. Read on as he chats about his fondness for S&M, gay fans who send him pics of their privates and preferring an “older, mature” man play his hypothetical onscreen lover.

Dallas Voice: It’s been surprising to hear you talk so salaciously while promoting this album. But then again, I keep forgetting you’re not 17 anymore.  Joe Jonas: A lot of people do!

What about your current professional life differs from your career as a Jonas Brother?   The biggest difference is the writing. I’m proud of the stuff I did with my brothers, but you grow up and go through a lot of different things, so you may be talking about something very innocent — a first kiss, taking somebody out for the first time — when you’re that age. But cut to when you’re 27, and you’re going through things that are a bit more mature, sexually or what not, and that’s what you’re gonna write about.

A song from your new album, “Be Mean,” is essentially about S&M. Tell me about your decision to be so sexually liberated in your music.  Some people say, “We finally can talk about these kinds of things, and we want to go wild and crazy,” but really, it’s just stuff we’re going through. I feel like I’m free in my life to speak about it, and yeah, everyone should try a little bit of something new in the bedroom. It’s definitely fun when you bring some whips and leather and whatever you may be into — a little bit of S&M — into the bedroom. I wrote it about me and someone I was getting wild with, and maybe [we] busted some outfits out — you know, you get a little crazy. It’s a fun song, and I hope people can have fun with it and learn from it.

What do you want them to learn?  Well… I would love for them to learn that it’s good to try new things.

Maybe you should teach them, Joe.  I’ll do a handbook.

Have your brother, Nick, write the foreword.  Exactly. I expect you to be one of the reviewers.

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George Michael, pop superstar, dies at 53 in Oxfordshire home

Posted on 25 Dec 2016 at 10:10pm

george-michael-net-worth-600x422The legendary pop star and gay icon, who launched his career with Wham! in the 1980s and continued his success as a solo performer, passed away peacefully at his home in Goring, Oxfordshire on Christmas Day. Michael’s manager, Michael Lippman, says the cause of death was heart failure, as reported by AP.

Having sold more than 100 million albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades, Michael became one of the world’s biggest-selling artists.

On Twitter, his former Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley said he was “heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend.”

The pop superstar split from Texas art dealer Kenny Goss in 2009 after 13 years.

The loss of Michael continues a year of grief in the music industry, with David Bowie, Prince and Glenn Frey among those dying before age 70.

 

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Cocktail Friday: Christmas Party Edition

Posted on 23 Dec 2016 at 1:35pm

Museum of Moving Image Presents: Martin Scorsese - An Exhibition - Opening ReceptionInstead of an open bar, or spending your time mixing everyone a specific cocktail, a punch is an easy way to lubricate your Christmas party and provide a center for conversation as well, as you can with this amaretto/cranberry cider.

3 parts Disaronno amaretto

2 parts apple cider

1 part lemon juice

1 part pomegranate juice

1 part cranberries

3 parts prosecco

Making it: Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl and stir lightly; garnish with rosemary springs or other greenery and cranberries.

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My favorite photo of the year

Posted on 23 Dec 2016 at 1:09pm

george-and-michelleAs we were putting together our Year in Review issue for next week, I came across my favorite photo of the year.

Dallas Voice Managing Editor Tammye Nash and I attended the Dallas Police memorial at the Meyerson Symphony Center the week five officers were killed. Former President and first lady George and Laura Bush sat between the Obamas and the Bidens on the stage. From our front and center balcony seat, we had a clear view of the stage and Tammye captured this moment of genuine friendship between George Bush and Michelle Obama as well as the reaction by the president and the former first lady to their spouses.

The expression on the first lady’s face as she reacts to a quip by the former president reminds us how much we’ll miss her and just why we love her. And now that the Obamas are going out of office, one thing I will look forward to seeing is how the Obamas and Bushes are going to team up on important issues.

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Two great reasons to get over to Fort Worth over the holidays

Posted on 23 Dec 2016 at 12:10pm

 

bellows

The Fisherman, George Bellows, courtesy Amon Carter Museum

The Monet exhibit continues at the Kimball Museum through Jan. 29.

If you love Monet, this is an opportunity to see paintings including rarely exhibited works from private collections and both pieces of Luncheon on the Grass that are reunited after 100 years apart.

Here are his first haystacks, his first use of dots and dashes, the origin of Monet’s style that became known as Impressionism.

Just up the street from the Kimball, the Amon Carter Museum has acquired a landmark painting by acclaimed 20th-century artist George Bellows (1882–1925). The Fisherman (1917) is the first painting by Bellows to enter the collection; the museum already holds a set of 230 lithographs by the artist. The painting is on view beginning December 21 alongside a lithograph of Bellows’ iconic A Stag at Sharkey’s (1909).

“This is one of the museum’s most significant acquisitions in the last 10 years,” said Andrew J. Walker, executive director of the Amon Carter. “Bellows is perhaps most famous for his gritty depictions of early 20th-century New York urban life, but he was equally adept at depicting the powerful force of the American landscape. This fascinating painting adds invaluable depth to our collection and will surely become a visitor favorite.”

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Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence — the gay interview

Posted on 23 Dec 2016 at 9:33am

 

df10950_rv2Take it from Chris Pratt, who recently experienced being shipped off to a new world: The future is full of promise for the queer population.

“If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community and you’re really good at plumbing, then you know, they’ll send you, I’m sure,” quips one of the hottest actors on earth regarding whether the hibernating pod people aboard the Starship Avalon in his latest action-adventure, Passengers, are of varied sexual orientations.

“Anyone who’s valuable to the homestead company and who would be worth money to the homestead company would go,” the 37-year-old Guardians of the Galaxy star continues, speaking from the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, “so that would include all people from all — the whole spectrum, anyone who could essentially provide a service that’s an old-world service.”

Imagine a world of gay plumbers who aren’t defined by their sexuality but by their ability to unclog toilets. Or one in which Chris Pratt, as Jim Preston, and his Passengers co-star Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Aurora Lane, aren’t contemplating anyone’s sexuality. Perhaps sexuality will be but a footnote among the more important qualities that characterize persona, even as Jim prematurely wakes up 90 years ahead of schedule.

“Hopefully we’re well into the future where none of these things are even a conversation anymore, where they’ve gone from issues to conversation to hopefully being forgotten about, and everybody is treated equally,” says Lawrence, 26. “So, yes. Of course I would assume there’d be diversity.”

Chris Pratt and director Morten Tyldum on the set of ‘Passengers.’

Naturally, director Morten Tyldum shares that sentiment. Not only does he have a gay stepdaughter, the filmmaker was behind the camera for the Oscar-winning Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as gay computer scientist and famed WWII codebreaker Alan Turing.

“I think, very shortly, it will become a non-issue,” Tyldum says. “As Chris said: If he’s a good plumber, he would be on the ship. Nobody would care if he’s gay, straight, whatever.”

That, he notes, was his approach to 2014’s Imitation Game, which was controversial for its absence of gay sex scenes. In an interview with Variety in 2015, the director explained why his Turing wasn’t romantically or sexually engaged with another man: “It was not because we were afraid it would offend anybody,” he said at the time. “If I … had this thing about a straight character, I would never have a sex scene to prove that he’s heterosexual. If I have a gay character in a movie, I need to have a sex scene in it just to prove that he’s gay?”

In Passengers, Pratt and Lawrence do go at it. But Tyldum, who admits sex scenes in films are “very complicated,” explains this sexy scene is necessary for character development.

“The sex scene in Passengers is there because it’s a relationship — it’s between the two main characters – and there’s a sex moment because it’s about these two characters,” he says. “I think to have a sex scene it needs to have a story moment, going from the two strangers to becoming a couple.”

Jim (CHRIS PRATT) and Aurora (JENNIFER LAWRENCE) walk thru the Hibernation Bay on date night in Columbia Pictures' PASSENGERSThe difference, the director points out, is that “to have a sex scene in Imitation Game would be to sort of prove that Alan Turing is gay,” which, like the hypothetical gay pod people, would minimize more qualifying human attributes.

For Counterpart, an upcoming espionage-themed thriller Tyldum shot for Starz, the filmmaker reveals one of the leads is gay “for no other reason than that person is gay.”

“It’s not made an issue,” he adds. “He just happens to be gay.”

Conversations with his stepdaughter led to him underplaying the gay character’s sexuality both in Imitation Game and Counterpart. The sex in Passengers, on the other hand, builds upon Pratt and Lawrence’s chemistry. Hypothetically, could a movie this blockbuster-sized involve two queer lovers in space?

“I think that that will come sooner than we think,” he says. “But there’s always going to be the challenge that the more an audience can identify with the character — there’s a bigger group of heterosexuals than gay people, but I think we’ll be seeing more and more.”

Meanwhile, you decide if Passengers benefits from a hetero sex scene and — bonus! — two shots of Pratt’s bare bottom. Lawrence relishes the fact that “we could just keep diving in” – no, she wasn’t exactly talking about sexy time with Pratt. She was referring to the “original script.”

“It’s really rare that you get to be so intimate with filmmaking,” she says, not meaning “intimate” in the way most of us do when we refer to Chris Pratt. “It’s normally an ensemble. I’ve never worked with so few actors before. I was very excited to be stuck in space in Atlanta with them.”

Shot on a 1,000-foot-tall, four-story concourse adorned with eight miles of LED lights, Pratt likens the confined set to a stage play, and says, “It did feel more intimate than anything I’ve ever done.”

What other celebrity would they be keen on sharing such close quarters with?

“Oprah! Beyoncé!” Lawrence blurts. “No, I’d get jealous of Beyoncé after a while and, like, probably rip her hair out.”

Pratt, on the other end, wants “someone really funny.”

“Well, my wife [Anna Faris] is famous, so I’m gonna say, of course my wife. I would take my wife. But I would try to do someone really funny, maybe like George Carlin.”

Unless, of course, you know any famous gay plumbers.

— Chris Azzopardi

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