Everybody else in the building was taking the exhibits at face value. Perhaps that’s what triggered the announcement. We don’t even need to consider rumours about That Star everyone “knows” to be homosexual. “That is the minimal level of representation we should have on television and the correct response would be: ‘What took you so long?’ not ‘We’re so great.’”
Maybe Manilow is a Whovian. Towards the close of our visit, we overheard an elderly couple furiously muttering about the scurrilous rumours concerning his sexuality. It’s none of our business how he goes about his lovemaking. Bits of Hollywood have advanced little further in this area than professional sport has managed. Stubbornly hostile
Such attitudes are surely vanishing. You know, the sort of lies those European nincompoops in the Liberace Museum might spout. The implausibly tiny percentage of leading actors who identify as gay confirms that wariness of homophobia still abounds. There was other circumstantial evidence. A few older actors, now viewed as beyond the teen-heartthrob demographic, are also prepared to admit the truth. The singer married Garry Kief, his partner for some 40 years, at a quiet ceremony in 2014. I don’t think that younger chap in the photograph was just his chauffeur; do you? Ha, ha! The more we swaggered, the sourer the atmosphere became. There is something worth unpicking here. But the dictum that a male romantic lead should be potentially “available” to heterosexual female fans has barely relaxed since the days of Rock Hudson. “I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. Look at the Rolls Royce covered in diamanté. But I won’t, just yet. Even backwaters like Ireland have elected prominent gay politicians. The great man began his career accompanying Bette Midler at a gay bathhouse in New York. You are the greatest wit of the age. Then again, maybe gay people just aren’t drawn to the theatrical professions. Many character actors are proudly open about their gayness. Still, nobody knows anything. If you reacted to the news with an online post detailing sarcastic astonishment then pat yourself firmly on the back. “When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy. The strange and depressing fact is that there are certain areas of show business that remain stubbornly hostile to openness on sexuality. Same-sex marriage is the norm in many western democracies. There was no official confirmation, but news sources frequently identified them as being hitched. Perhaps there were Manilow fans who dismissed the stories about his relationship with Kief as urban slurs. The reaction was so beautiful – strangers commenting: ‘Great for you!’ I’m just so grateful for it.”
I was reminded of a trip a friend and I made to the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas some 20 years ago. Split sides are being sewn up across the nations. If only this were so. So I never did anything,” says Manilow. I should shut up and mind my own dreary business. Barry Manilow has come out as gay. As we were nauseating urban snoots in black jeans – Europeans at that – we naturally assumed the building would be swollen with equally sarcastic jerks eager for ironic chortles. No carnival huckster, he has shown a gift for incorporating old-school Tin-Pan Alley values with a variety of later styles. Ha, ha! Can I have that right? In the interview with People magazine, Barry, now 73, explained that he worried Manilowsters would have trouble accepting the truth. Despite an early, brief marriage to Susan Deixler, he was rarely described as the least likely entertainer to emerge from the closet. Aside from anything else, Barry himself admitted that the information was more or less an open secret. “Just to be clear, we are not expecting any kind of round of applause or pat on the back for that,” Steven Moffat, the show’s executive producer, said last week. (Though I shan’t forgive him that unfortunate collaboration with Kid Creole and the Coconuts.)
But the Liberace story is worth mentioning because it demonstrates that there was once a conservative demographic capable of shutting its ears to the most persuasive evidence. Managers and publicists fear the world has not changed as much as we’d like to pretend. Just two days before last week’s non-revelation, the Daily Express reported that “Barry Manilow [had] been spotted with his husband Garry Kief” leaving a party at the home of music mogul Clive Davis. Full confirmation that we’ve turned a corner came with news that Doctor Who’s next companion would be a gay woman. Barry Manilow, a songwriter of genius, is a very different sort of performer to the late piano hammerer. Can that still be an issue? Should we be surprised that Manilow felt pressure not to speak about his sexuality?