Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Sunday, January 15, 2017

My 10 Favorite Gay Couples from TV and Film

LGBT visibility has come a very long way since I was a young movie buff.  Our journey has taken us from small parts (usually the but of a joke) to horrible stereotypes.  But soon we would evolve to be the featured characters in TV shows and on the big screen.  As the journey continued, it was nice to see gay couples make their way front and center.  Now that gay marriage is the law of the land, I thought it may be a good time to highlite some couples that have made me smile as I watched them.

My current guilty addiction is the brilliant series Shameless, and I'm honest enough to admit that Ian Gallagher (Cameron Monaghan) and Mickey Malkovich (Noel Fisher) are the inspiration for this list.  They are the most creative thing I've seen as far as same gender loving relationships in quite some time. Two poor white masculine young men growing up in the rough hoods of Chicago, they were a very wonderful trip away from the usual narrative we see for young white gay men in love.   I was totally thrilled with the evolution of these guys both as individuals and as a couple.  "Not your typical gay couple" is an understatement when it comes to these two.  We get to see these young men in such roles as pimp, drug dealer and thug; and tackling such interesting issues as bi-polor disorder, pregnancy, being on the run from the military, and being on the run from the law.   


The show may have been called Noah's Arc but all the drama wrapped around Noah and his on again and off again boyfriend Wade was a bit too much for me.  It was Alex (Rodney Chesster) and Trey (Gregory Keith) that were the stand out couple on this show in my opinion.  Noah's Arc had me hooked the moment the show aired. Groundbreaking was the word frequently tied to the show and it was indeed that.  It was the first television show centered around African-American same-gender loving men.  Gay black men around the country quickly tuned it every week to find out what was happening with these four best friends in L.A. Though the show focused on Noah naivety and his quest for love, it was actually Alex's quick wit and funny one-liners that kept me interested in the show. And Trey was the perfect balance for Alex's over the top personality. And let's be real, Trey was very easy on the eyes.

The Birdcage still holds firm as one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.  Armand (Robin Williams) and Albert (Nathan Lane) are hilarious and will keep you in stitches the duration of the film.  The two are approached by their son in the beginning of the film with the announcement that while away at college he has met the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with.  The interesting part, the fiance is the daughter of a very conservative Senator. Proud parents Armand and Albert want to embrace the soon to be daughter in law and invite her parents to their home.  The twist, they must pretend to be a heterosexual couple and Albert must dress in drag as they entertain their potential in-laws.  An interesting great re-interpretation of La Cage au Falles (also funny as hell by the way), The Birdcage still holds up as one the best gay films ever and this couple holds up as one of the best couples ever.

True Blood was one of the greatest things on television in recent years.  Lafayette was one the main reasons I tuned into the show week after week.  Played by Nelson Ellis, Lafayette was the epitome of a hustler.  He cooked at the restaurant, sold “v” on the side, uploaded videos to the internet for pay.  The man did what he had to do to make that dollar.  He went several seasons just hooking up with random men throughout the series, but the show eventually gave him a boyfriend.  I was pleased to see him meet and initiate a relationship with the very hot male nurse Jesus (Kevin Alejandro).  Lafayette finally found someone that made him think about settling down.  The shrew was being tamed.  The two just looked good together on screen.

Who does not love Modern Family?  The writing is brilliant.  The acting is spectacular.  And the chemistry of the cast shines through with every performance.  Mitchell (Jessie Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) are fantastic.  Since the success of the show, Mitchell, who is actually gay in real life, has become a role model for countless LGBT youth.  It’s always a great thing when celebrities come out of the closet, because they show our young people that you can be out and proud and still be successful in whatever career you decide to pursue.  And I still watch the show in awe of Eric Stonestreet who plays the over the top flamboyant Cameron.  Knowing that he is actually straight makes his character a bit more interesting.  The two together are a terrific example of how couples should respect and treat each other.

The stars of Grace and Frankie are Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.  In episode one of the show we meet them and their husbands as they all get together for dinner.  The husbands announce to them that they want as divorce.  The reason – the boys have been in love with each other for years and they would like to end their marriages so they can spend their remaining years as an out gay couple.  I'll be the first to say, it’s not right that they spent years lying to and deceiving their wives.  But after decades of lies they finally spoke their truth.  Although they come out late in their lives, it is the fact that they are now out that gives them permission to treat their passion like it’s fresh and new.  It is refreshing to see these mature gay men on the screen.

(Spoiler alert).  Rent came out a long time ago.  But if you still have not seen it, and you’re planning to, please stop reading now.  Tom Collins and Angel Dumont love each other.  Tom does not care that Angel is transgender.  Tom is in love with her for the person she is.  And Angel loves Tom, flaws and all.  But sadly, we lose Angel in the middle of the movie.  When she dies, Tom is devastated.  I’m gonna tell you, I mourn with him as he goes through this loss.  You can tell as he grieves that this was the person he wanted to spend the rest of his years with.  The two made a beautiful couple.

Someone described Trick to me before I saw it.  Basically, it’s a movie about two men that spend the entire night looking for a place to hook up.  Based on this description it was not a movie I was in a big rush to see.  One day on a whim I decided to check it out.  Not only do I love this couple, I must say, this is now one of my all time favorite LGBT films.  Gabriel (Christian Campbell) plays a full time call center customer support tech/ part time musical theater writer.  Mark (John Paul Pitoc) plays go-go boy that picks up Gabriel on the subway.  Unfortunately, Gabriel’s room mate has the room for the night and going to his place is not an option.  Mark’s living situation is “complicated.”  As the two spend the evening looking for a place for sex, it is obvious that something is developing between the two of them.

I still very distinctly remember watching Philadelphia in the theater.  This film came out in 1993.  Back then playing gay for a big named actor like Tom Hanks was still something very taboo to do.  It was a very bold mold for him.  At this point, Antonio Banderas was not a house hold name but he had several successful films under his belt already, so this was also a bold move for him as well.  But not only was Hank’s character gay, he was also HIV positive.  Hanks actually lost a lot of weight for this role because in the film he develops full blown AIDS and fights for his life while simultaneously fighting this lawsuit within the courts.  With a stellar performance by Denzel Washington as well, Hanks would go on to win an Oscar for this role.  While Andrew and Miguel don’t spend a great deal of time together on film, their few shared on-screen moments showed intimacy and passion the likes unseen between gay men before this film (at least for me).

If you have not yet viewed the little gem Leave It on the Floor, do yourself a favor and go check it out on Netflix.   Brad (Ephraim Sykes) is kicked out his home by his mother after she learns that he is gay.  But I must add, if I had spoken to my mom the way he spoke to his mom, gay or not, I would have been kicked out of my house as well. After ending up homeless, he happens to meet Carter (Andre Myers) in a store and as a result stumbles into the L.A. ballroom scene.  The film is a musical.  So if you are not a fan of this genre you may not like this movie.  But if you are okay with a group of men that spontaneously break into song, you may get to love this as much as I do.

So there it is.  My list of favorite gay couples.  My list of favorite lesbian couples will come later.  But in the meantime, let me hear back from you.  How do you feel about the couples on this list?  And who are your favorite gay couples?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Farewell Bruce Williams (aka Jalissa Andrea Michaels)

2016 was a HORRIBLE year.  Not only did we lose some incredible national celebrities, we lost a big local one here in the Phoenix area.  I was visiting my partner Chris in New Hampshire when I got the news.  Bruce Williams (a.k.a. Jalissa Andrea Michaels) had passed away.  I've known Bruce since my first year in Arizona, and I must say, the news left me feeling some kinda way.

What can one say about Bruce?  Let's just say this, if you've met Jalissa Andrea Michaels, she left an impression - good or bad because with her there was no indifferent.  Jalissa could be abrassive, annoying,  overbearing and too much.  Lord knows she could.  But those things aside, you can not deny the impression she made on the Phoenix drag community.  The founder of National Capital Cities pageantry system and the promoter for Arizona's Entertainer of the Year pageant, she has probably crowned more local drag queens that several other systems combined.

I met Bruce back in 1999, not long after I arrived in Phoenix.  Chris was working for the downtown YMCA.  One day he came home telling me about this new character that had joined the YMCA team. He described him as "over the top,"  Then, one day at the Y, the day came came that Bruce would be having a show and it was time for his transition into Jalissa.  We lived close to the Y and Bruce wanted to stop by and change at our place.  He didn't show up alone.  That was the night that I met Jalissa Andrea Michaels and her friends Tiffany Saigon and Locious Loreal.  All three of them were alot of fun.

Some time later, when Jalissa held her Mr. Southern Regions pageant, she asked me if I would compete.  Let's just say she could be persuasive.  Next thing you know she's got me on stage rocking a speedo in the swimsuit competition, doing my Stevie Wonder impression for talent, and pulling out my wedding tuxedo for formal wear.  It was at this pageant that I was introduced to Byron Lord and Sean Boone, two individuals that would go on to become really good friends.  That night I was crowned Mr. Souther Regions and during my reign I met some of the greatest gay male performers and most amazing female illusionist the city ever knew.  And it was all because of Jalissa.

Jalissa liked to be called "Mama."  She loved performing but more than that she loved promoting her pageants.  She could be demanding but that was because she had a vision for herself and her system and she never wavered from achieving that vision.  Love her or hate her, she has left her mark in Phoenix. I seriously don't know a single drag queen I can think of that has not been a part of one of her pageants.   She will truly be missed.

I really want to give a shout out to Tim Gram (aka Shakra Devine) for documenting the Phoenix Drag community.  At every performance she attends she has her camcorder in hand and has done a remarkable job capturing so many performances of so many entertainers for us to relive over and over again for years to come.  Please check out some of her videos of Jalissa below . . . 

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Sexuality Double Standard

So I have spent a big part of my New Year's Day binge watching TV (don't hate me - I know you did it too).  I kept hearing about Insecure and I finally got a chance to see it.  I must say, I am kinda digging it.  But I just watched something that made me take a pause.  It's an episode where one girl and the guy she's dating start to talk about their scrupulous sexual history.  She mentions how while in college she actually hooked up with another girl.  He too shares that when he was younger he once had sex with a guy. After the hook-up, he then realized it was not something he was into and it has never happened again.

Following his confession the girlfriend freaks out.  Suddenly she thinks he must be gay.  She talks this over with all of her girlfriends and they all come to the conclusion that if he did it once he will probably do it again.  She ends up dumping him because she is convinced that he is on the downlow (or that he has the potential to be on the downlow).

So what I want to know if this?  Why was it okay for her to hook up with a girl when she was young, but it is not okay for him to have experimented with same-gender sex.  There seems to be this perception that girls can have sex with other girls and it's no big deal.  But if this ever happens with a guy - he is labeled for the rest of his life as gay.  Adolescent toying around is not an option. Youthful experimentation is not permitted.  If a guy had sex with another guy once, he must wear the gay label from that moment on. Why is this double standard allowed?  And will men ever be able to share this truth (if it is their truth) and not be vilified for it?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Let's Get It Started

So today is New Year's Day.  This is going to be a BIG year for me.  It will be a year of exceptional change.  Moving to New Hampshire has me both excited and a bit fearful.  New city!  New career!   After almost 20 years living in the desert of Phoenix, AZ, I will now be in the New England area.  It's an area rich in history so I'm excited about delving into the culture..  It's also an area that has a more liberal and progressive population than Arizona so I am looking forward to being around more like minded people.  But I am hesitant about the cold and snow.

Leaving Xerox after nearly 20 years also has me nervous, but it is something that really needed to happen.  I have not been happy for a few years now.  It is company that did many good things for me, but the joy ended some time ago.  It is not the same company I started with.  I hated the direction I saw the company going. But I was comfortable.  Very comfortable.  Not wanting to step outside of comfort zone is what allowed me to stay in a job that I was unhappy with for so long. 

So 2017 is going to be a year of tremendous transition.  However,  I am up to the challenge.  I will walk into this new chapter with enthusiasm knowing that I can conquer any obstacles that come my way.  I have a very support husband.  He will help me get through this.  "I am smart.  I am kind.  And I am impotent." I have been equipped with every tool needed to be successful.  So I welcome this new year, my new city, and I look forward to beginning a new career.  Bring it on 2017 cause I'm ready for you!

Romans 8:31 - "What shall we then say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?"