Gay night in America: The Tony Awards

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Billy Porter in Kinky Boots

Sunday was the gayest night of the year — no, not the Ryan Seacrest-Tom Cruise-John Travolta pool party, but the Tony Awards. Doubt me? Here’s the proof:

• Out actor Neil Patrick Harris was the host (for the fourth time). He performed, as we have come to expect, several musical numbers, including one about stage actors moving to TV with fellow gay sitcom star Andrew Rannells (as well as Smash‘s Meg Hilty and Laura Benanti).

• The list of presenters and performers seemed to be culled from a mix of Grindr profiles and diva wish lists. It started with Zachary Quinto, and also included onstage appearances by Rannells, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, David Hyde Pierce, Alan Cumming, Jane Lynch, Sigourney Weaver, Cyndi Lauper, Patti LuPone and Bernadette Peters. (My favorite subtext event? That LuPone presented the second-to-last award for revival of a musical and her longtime rival Peters presented the last award, best musical).

• The winners were just as gay. The major nominees all have some gay content on cross-dressing, from the man-dressed-as-a-woman villain in Matilda to the big winners of the evening, the musical Kinky Boots (about drag queens, including wins for out actor Billy Porter, pictured, choreographer Jerry Mitchell and producer Hal Luftig, which won a leading six awards) and the play The Nance (about a gay burlesque performer, with three). Best play author Christopher Durang, winning his first Tony, thanked his partner of 25 years. Featured actor in a musical winner Gabriel Ebert thanked “Scott,” which sounds pretty gay to me, though who knows? And controversial AIDS Larry Kramer won the Isabella Stevenson Humanitarian Award. (More on the winners after the jump.)

• The musical performances and acceptance speeches? Queer, queer, queer. We got to see numbers from Kinky Boots, Bring It On! (which has a trans character), Cinderella (written by gay scribe Douglas Carter Beane with campy attitude), Pippin (with lots of hot men in tights), Matilda‘s Bertie Carvel and Jane Lynch as Miss Hannigan in Annie. The “in memoriam” tribute was set to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” which of course is the name of her gay outreach program. Even the straight folks thanks lots of gay folks: Featured actor in a play winner Courtney B. Vance gave a shout-out to his director, George C. Wolfe, and featured actress in a play repeat winner Judith Light and actor in play winner Tracy Letts both named their shows’ gay playwrights. (Nearly all of the play winners, in fact, were written by gay men. Go figure.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

In Star Trek Into Darkness, opening today, the crew might as well have rechristened the Enterprise the U.S.S. Kitchen Sink; certainly that’s what they filmmakers have thrown into this, the second film in the reboot of a series rebooted so much, it might have been designed in a cowboy footwear store.

One of the fun things about a reboot is that you get to experience old things as new. This incarnation of the series — which follows a “new” timeline of the original crew — makes ample references to iconic items from the original: There are references to Klingons, tribbles, Dr. Carol Marcus, Khan, photon torpedoes, “the needs of the many” and the Enterprise’s famous “five-year mission.”

It also, sometimes, makes the film unintentionally comic, as recycled lines (especially Dr. McCoy’s penchant for homespun aphorism) sound suddenly cliched. There’s also the problem that the ad campaign promises that “nothing can prepare us” for what happens, though of course, it’s easy to prepare: Just watch Star Trek II.

Another downside is that the screenwriters (here and in Star Trek) have seemed more interested in reinventing most of the characters for their own uses, and sacrificing what we have come to love about them. The most awkward fit of these is the relationship between Kirk (Chris Pine, pictured right — who is, sadly, shirtless only once) and Spock (Zachary Quinto, pictured left). The original actors, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, invented the ultimate bromance, two men who occasionally argued but were never disrespectful of the other. Here, they snipe like cats in a bag. And the plot changes focus so much, it’s difficult to tell the good guys from the villains.

Still, such quibbles aside, director J.J. Abrams has concocted a rip-roaring sci-fi action picture with great special effects (the 3-D is well used) and a touching, keenly played performance by Quinto. It’s hard when you’re supposed to be the only emotionless character on screen to show the heart of a picture, but Quinto does it. And, considering his all-out brawl with the bad guy (Benedict Cumberbatch) on the streets of San Francisco, it’s to his credit that the audience experiences it as a duel, not as a gay-bashing.

In wide release.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Mr. Spock is gay… sort of (Zachary Quinto comes out)

I pride myself on pretty good gaydar, so I was slightly surprised today when I heard Zachary Quinto — who played Syler on the cult TV show Heroes (which I didn’t like) and was cast as Mr. Spock in the Star Trek reboot last year — has officially come out as gay.

I know quite a few gay men who will be excited by this news.

Quinto’s next onscreen roll is the lead in Margin Call, a drama about the economic meltdown, due out Friday. Good timing.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones