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Kelsey: In the cage with marriage foes, not really challenging the same

by Jeremy Hooper

Actor Kelsey Grammer on playing gay in the upcoming La Cage Aux Folles revival:

This combination of a (staunchly conservative) actor and a (flamboyantly gay) role might cause, for some observers, a certain mental dissonance. But La Cage, Grammer explains, is a universal tale. “It’s a great story about any couple. They all have the same Screen Shot 2010-03-23 At 8.28.32 Am-1dynamic: a heterosexual relationship, a homosexual relationship, a man-with-dogs relationship. There are universal events that take place: the differences, the angers, the insecurities, the histrionics. You would call it, I guess, a male-female dynamic. This just happens to be two boys.” I ask him about La Cage’s relevance today, given the Proposition 8 fight in California. He says, “Oh, right. Of course. You know I wasn’t even thinking of that. Isn’t it funny?” On the subject of gay marriage in general, he adds, “Why is the government involved at all? If two men marry or two women marry, fine, go ahead—it’s not my issue. But when governments get involved, it just becomes more confusing.”
*Read more: Kelsey Grammer on Playing Georges in 'La Cage aux Folles' [New York Magazine]

Okay, so the whole "man-with-dogs" things sounds almost Santorum-like at first read. But since he's including heterosexuals in the mix of the comparative relationships, we're thinking it's probably okay. He's not putting gay on a list of "others": He's putting everyone in a melange.

What we actually find annoying is the part about marriage equality. First, the fact that he's about to be the lead in a gay play on Broadway (one written by Harvey Fierstein, no less), and he hasn't given any consideration to what the show, a portrait of a same-sex-headed family in the face of conservatism, means on a larger scale? Plus he's someone who's talked about possibly wanting to run for the senate from California, and he hasn't considered the Prop 8 connection? That seems completely disingenuous, first off. Or, considering his own staunch conservatism, friendship with anti-marriage candidates, and own announced intent to seek a political future, it could be an easy dodge that has let him to justify the cognitively dissonant roles in his life. Either way, it's kind of lame.

But beyond the dodge: When he does think of the subject of gays marrying, Kelsey gives a complete non-answer about government not needing to be involved? Well, uh, Kelsey, guess what: The govt. is involved! Something someone who's been married three times should certainly know! And since it is involved, the question on the table is how does this government justify excluding tax-paying, qualified same-sex-couples from equal rights and protections? If one personally doesn't have a problem with same-sex marriages, then the correct next step is to work within the system to remedy the discrimination. But dancing around the substantive subject by saying its "confusing"? Well that's just silly. And it furthers the misinformation and/or complacency that has made this fight so overwrought already. A fight that Grammer's own professed buddies have been instrumental in fomenting.

Look, I believe he is essentially pro-gay. So with this role and the press associated with the same, Kelsey has a unique opportunity to move the GOP's ball forward on this issue. He can do so by saying something like, "I'm a Republican, I'm starring in an iconic gay play about family, I'm working alongside scores of LGBT cast and crew mates, and each and every one of them deserve the same equality as anyone else." Or he can mention his affection for his iconic co-star David Hyde Pierce, and his deservedness to have the same rights as anyone else. Just something more. But until he does give a clearer answer, he's kind of having his cake with a party that has anti-gay bias in its platform, while eating it too at the La Cage company's cast party. That's somewhat problematic.

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Your thoughts

I think you are reacting defensively b/c he was described as a "staunch conservative". As far as I know, he is pro-gay and has never uttered anything anti-gay. His show Frasier was notoriously pro-gay. His conservatism is directed more to fiscal and foreign policy issues.

Posted by: Tom | Mar 23, 2010 6:32:02 PM

Not at all, Tom. I've known he is conservative for a very long time, and in fact, applauded the casting when it was announced, since the show is all about being who you are, resistance be damned. And I absolutely do believe he's pro-gay. That's why I'd like to see better, more pointed answers in terms of marriage equality. He as a proud Republican with personal friendships to McCain, Giuliani, and others, could make a difference.

Not defensive -- just finding a teachable moment.

I'm actually surprised they described him as a staunch conservative. From his other answers in the article, he seems more like a Libertarian to me. Not sure if that label came from him or the writer, but I think it might be a stretch.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 23, 2010 6:38:14 PM

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