Gay History – November 9th: Rock Hudson’s Beard, The Rose, and SNL’s First Gay Cast Member
1955 – Rock Hudson marries his agent’s secretary to squelch rumors about his sexual orientation. Rumours which were unknown to Phyllis Gates who became Hudson’s wife. That is of course until Phyllis had hired private eye Fred Otash who then in turn secretly taped Rock’s and Phyllis’ personal conversations.
On January 21, 1958, Rock Hudson’s wife confronted him, demanding to know if he was gay and grilling the actor about a Rorschach test he had taken. “You told me you saw thousands of butterflies and also snakes,” she said “[A therapist] told me in my analysis that butterflies mean femininity and snakes represent that male penis. I’m not condemning you, but it seems that as long as you recognize your problem, you would want to do something about it.” She also complained about “your great speed with me, sexually. Are you that fast with boys?”
“Well, it’s a physical conjunction [sic],” replied Rock, then 32. “Boys don’t fit. So, this is why it lasts longer.”
Added Phyllis: “Everyone knows that you were picking up boys off the street shortly after we were married and have continued to do so, thinking that being married would cover up for you.”
“I have never picked up any boys on the street,” Rock insisted. “I have never picked up any boys in a bar, never. I have never picked up any boys, other than to give them a ride.”
Well we all know how this story ends.
1979 – Bette Midler’s first movie, The Rose, opens in theaters and leads to an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for the Divine Miss M.
The Rose is the story of a self-destructive 1960s rock star who struggles to cope with the constant pressures of her career and the demands of her ruthless business manager.
The story is loosely based on the life of singer Janis Joplin. Originally titled Pearl, after Joplin’s nickname, and the title of her last album, it was fictionalized after her family declined to allow the producers the rights to her story.
Bette performed the soundtrack album for the film, and the title track became one of her biggest hit singles.
1985 – Openly gay Terry Sweeney joined the cast of Saturday Night Live.
Sweeney’s run on the show came at a time when there were few openly gay characters or actors on television. For roughly 27 years, there were no other openly gay cast members on SNL, until Kate McKinnon (a former cast member of Logo’s The Big Gay Sketch Show) was added to the cast in April 2012.