Tag Archives: acting

Gay History Month – Forgotten Gay Heroes: Out Actor and Hollywood AIDS Warrior Tom Villard (1953 – 1994)

Tom Villard was an up and coming Hollywood star. He was featured in situation comedies, episodic TV series, and had leading roles in lower and mid-range budgeted features. At the peak of his career Villard was given featured supporting roles in big-budget studio fare, such as Clint Eastwood’s Heartbreak Ridge, and My Girl (with Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis). .

But then fate dealt him a most unkind blow, he contracted AIDS and with it the onset of Kaposi Sarcom and developing lesions on his face and at the end of his nose. In Hollywood the most superficial of cities, in an industry that celebrates style over substance, a place where plastic surgery is required to be “beautiful” Villard, rather than hiding away and changing his name and living out the rest of his years anonymously, took his struggle to the public.

Tom Villard became one of the few actors in Hollywood in the early 1990s who chose to be open about his homosexuality, and the challenge of living with HIV and AIDS. In February 1994, Villard made an unprecedented appearance on Entertainment Tonight, acknowledging to “…more than 13 million viewers that he was gay, that he had AIDS, and that he needed some help.”

“I felt like I could do something by saying that I am not a feces-eating-pederast-sex-crazed somebody who has invoked God’s wrath. It turned everything upside down on its ear.” – Tom Villard

According to a POZ magazine profile in December of that year Villard said, “An awful lot of people suddenly wouldn’t let me in the door for auditions. I started speaking a couple of months ago about living with AIDS and having hope,” he said. “It feels a little more useful than things (I’ve done) in the past.” He went on to explain that since his appearance on E.T., a whole other group of people had come forward to welcome him. Bill Melamed, Villard’s manager added: “ “I am particularly proud of him. The reality is, acting is a lousy business. There wasn’t a choice here whether he could have hidden it. Plenty of people have KS, but it’s on their feet. He made a decision that was courageous in any walk of life, but it doesn’t surprise me. He has one of the most open spirits.”.

One of his final roles was playing a Bajoran monk on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

On November 14, 1994, Tom Villard died at the age of 40 of AIDS related pneumonia  He was survived by his parents, Ron and Diane Villard, twin brothers Timothy and Terry, sister Susan, and his partner Scott Chambliss.

As a tribute to him, a non-profit foundation was created by his partner Chambliss, close friend Karen Kaye, and his friend and chiropractor Cheryl Revkin. The Tom Villard Foundation was a Silver Lake community-based effort which engaged local businesses to provide free goods and services for community members living with AIDS. The beneficiaries were the client base of the former Silver Lake AIDS support organization, Being Alive. The Tom Villard Foundation no longer exists. Being Alive is now headquartered in West Hollywood

Tom Villard’s bravery and courage during those dark days as he faced unbeatable odds makes him a true hero. 

Below: Tom Villard on the 1980’s game show Body lanuage

Viggio Mortensen Hits Back At Criticism Over Playing Gay Role

Viggio Mortensen Hits Back At Criticism Over Playing Gay Role: ‘You’re Assuming I’m Completely Straight’

Actor Viggio Mortensen has responded to criticism over the fact that he will be playing a gay role in his upcoming self-directed film Falling.

Weighing in the the getting very tired debate around straight actors playing gay roles, Mortensen said of his critics that they are “assuming that I’m completely straight”, and “frankly none of your business.”

Mortensen, best known for his work on the  The Lord of the Rings films, said” “Look, these are the times we’re living in, and I think it’s healthy that those issues are brought up.

“The short answer is that I didn’t think it was a problem. And people then ask me, ‘Well what about Terry Chen, who plays my husband in the film, is he a homosexual?’ And the answer is I don’t know, and I would never have the temerity to ask someone if they were, during the casting process.”

Mortensen also talked about the film and the gay role/straight actor issue in Attitude magazine, adding: “And how do you know what my life is? You’re assuming that I’m completely straight. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. And it’s frankly none of your business.

“I want my movie to work, and I want the character of John to be effective. So if I didn’t think it was a good idea I wouldn’t do it.”

The argument of “gay actor/gay role is a slippery slope and came about after some trans actresses got miffed that male actors were taking the very few trans roles that are out there. But the whole gay/actor gay role mantra is problematic especially if taken further and evolves into straight actor/straight role. Straight roles outnumber gay roles over 100 to 1.

Gay actors. Be careful what you wish for.

And remember its called ‘acting” for a reason.

Guy Pearce: It’s “Dangerous” to Demand Gay/Trans Roles Only Go To Gay/Trans Actors

Priscilla’s Guy Pearce: It’s “Dangerous” to Demand Gay/Trans Roles Only Go To Gay/Trans Actors

“I do think it’s dangerous, personally. I feel, like, in any of this sort of stuff you have to take each situation… We copped a bit of flak at the time [when I played a drag queen alongside fellow straight actors Hugo Weaving and Terence Stamp in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert], ‘Why are there three straight actors playing three gay roles?’ It’s a difficult subject to get into.

I think resilience is going out the window, which is a shame. People love to be offended, which is a really offensive thing to say. Somebody is going to be offended by me saying that.

Everybody has something in themselves they feel is fragile, delicate, misunderstood, not heard, and we want that part of ourselves to be heard. We’re not relating to each other, we’re just all going, ‘I need to be heard now and I’m going to be offended until I’m heard’.

And if you cast that person in that role, ‘I’m not heard, therefore I’m offended, therefore that’s wrong, end of conversation’.

What’s happening to us?

It’s like we’re all functioning in the world as if it’s road rage and these are our cars and we’re behind the safety glass of Twitter and all that stuff. There are a lot of people who are hideously offensive out there and that needs to be addressed, but there’s a whole gamut of stuff and [people jump] on bandwagons and it’s really hard for all of us to know what to say or do.”

*Priscilla Queen of the Desert’s  Guy Pearce to The Guardian, discussing the casting “backlash” of straight actors playing gay/trans roles

BRAVO!

Matt Bomer Cast As Transgender Sex Worker in “Anything” and It’s Instantly Being Called Out By Trans-Activists

Variety reports:

“Anything” is based on McNeil’s play of the same name. Lynch plays a man who is suicidal over the death of his wife and moves from Mississippi to Los Angeles, where he can be under the watchful eye of his protective sister, played by [Maura] Tierney. He then begins an intense friendship with Bomer’s character, a transgender sex worker. The unlikely new couple must reconcile their vastly different backgrounds as they fill the void in each other’s lives.

“Anything” is being produced by Hauptman, Louise Runge, and Ofrit Peres. Bomer, Tony Lipp, and Scott Wexler also executive produce.

Casting Bomer as a transgender character is opening a longstanding wound between the trans community and Hollywood. Bomer joins Eddie Redmayne and Jared Leto in the list of men who have played recent roles depicting the stories of trans women and it sends the trans community into a tizzy.

As soon as the news of Bomer’s casting was released Twitter exploded with trans-activist who took to social media to complain.

Where the casting of a trans actress would be more realistic lets not forget one thing.  Its called “acting”for a reason and it is show business.  It’s the talent that matters.

In reality a sympathetic portray by Bomer will draw more people and do more good than casting lets say Candis Cayne or Laverne Cox as Bomer is a bigger name and a much better thespian.

 

Matt Bomer to play Trans Character