A note on gay Pride — in and out of the community

I had an annoying conversation this morning.

A publicist for a troupe we (let’s put it this way) “recently profiled” called to ask for a change online to the story: Seems like we referred in the headline to the person we interviewed as “gay.” She wanted it removed.

“I’m sorry — is that not true?” I asked.

“No, it’s true. He’s gay.  He would just prefer you not mention it.”

The conversation continued like this for a long time.

Now, I’m happy to correct errors, especially ones caused by us. But this person was pitched to me as the “gay head of this troupe,” and I assigned the story accordingly. If he had not been gay … well, let’s just say the troupe was not on my radar enough such that I would have been all that interested in the story without a hook, an angle. That was his.

Part of the mission of this newspaper is to draw our readers (many of whom are straight) to what’s going on in and by the gay community. Sometimes it’s homophobes attacking us and our rights. Sometimes it’s our allies who embrace us for who we are and treat up as equals. Sometimes it’s just celebrities who have an interesting perspective on their gay fans. Sometimes it’s openly gay people who are victimized by bigots, or leaders who step up to improve the lot of the community.

But a lot of the time, it’s just ordinary gay folks doing something out in the world we think people might want to know about. A trans woman who continues to be a personal trainer. A musician who wants to save the Great American Songbook. An auto mechanic who runs a garage and offers his gay clientele a friendly environment. An actor who steals the show in a national tour of a terrible musical. A museum curator who brings his unique perspective to a major art museum. Maybe being gay doesn’t directly affect what they do too much. But maybe it does. And it’s good to have a sense of pride knowing the vast landscape of opportunities out there — and that being openly gay, bi or trans is not a hindrance to success.

So when someone who is gay — and claims to be out — asks me to hide that fact … well, it angers me. You don’t need to do an interview with me. You don’t need to discuss your sexuality if you do agree to the interview. You don’t even need to be gay for me to write about you. But don’t come to me with the pitch that our readers might be interested in reading about you and then leap back in the closet. Because there are a lot of people out there proud to be called gay. I’m one of them.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘This is what we get for voting for a clown’: Reykjavik mayor opens gay Pride in drag

Reykjavik Mayor Jon Gnarr, left, dressed in drag for the opening ceremonies of his city’s Pride festival.

I am sure that most people would agree that there’s a lot of funny business going on in politics. But when it comes to Reykjavik, Iceland, it’s not the kind of political funny business you might think.

In June, the citizens of Reykjavik elected top comedian Jon Gnarr as mayor. Gnarr ran for office on a platform that promised free towels at swimming pools and a new polar bear for the Reykjavik zoo. His Best Party won the council elections after promising transparency in government and used campaign videos of the candidates singing along to Tina Turner’s “Simply The Best.”

Gnarr had promised that, as mayor, he would appear at the city’s Pride festival. And this week, he made good on that promise: appearing in drag at the opening ceremonies. His blond drag persona told the crowd the mayor could not attend himself because “he’s busy, even though he promised to be here.”

Gnarr added: “What might he be up to? Maybe he is visiting Moomin Valley [the fictional setting of a series of Finnish children's stories that feature a family of white hippopotamus-like trolls]. This is what we get for voting for a clown in elections.”

Iceland, by the way, became the first country with an openly gay head of state last year when Joanna Sigurdardottir became prime minister.

Go to BBC to read more.

—  admin