Time Magazine Discovers Gay Presence Online
Time Magazine quotes Internet demographers in a recent issue who confirm what Gay people have been saying anecdotally for several years, Gay people are big on the Web. In fact, they're huge.
According to estimates, 20 percent of AOL's 21 million subscribers are Gay, and at nearly all hours, the article says, men-for-men (M4M) chat rooms are full. Time notes a spot check in AOL's Town Square area found 140 of the first 200 chat rooms catering to Gay subscribers.
"Unless you're John McCain, you can't always look at someone's face and know they're Gay," online activist John Aravosis told Time, in a sly reference to the GOP candidate's professed ability to spot closeted Gay men. "The chat rooms are a place where people can be relaxed and reach out without fear."
The Time piece was something of a quick pass, laying out for readers how AOL's M4M chat rooms are organized, how members scan for profiles and how they use the information to arrange a meeting. But what was so extraordinary about Time's coverage is not what was included in the piece but what was left out.
For instance, while AOL offers a great many rooms for Gay people and their diverse interests, the geographically arranged M4M chat rooms in particular, cater to far more prurient designs on the part of the users. To borrow a phrase, AOL M4M chat is less about looking for Mr. Right, than looking for Mr. Right Now.
Time makes mention of an incident back in Oct. that Aravosis and others say indicated anti-Gay bias on the part of AOL staff members responsible for enforcing company Terms of Service (TOC) guidelines. Specifically, a Gay AOL subscriber in Texas described himself as a "bottom," which the company said was a violation of TOC guidelines prohibiting sexual language.
A far more telling example might have been an incident that took place in San Francisco last Aug. when the city's Department of Public Health traced an outbreak of syphilis to AOL's San Francisco Men 4 Men (SFM4M) chat room.
Health officials said at the time it was the first recorded instance of a disease cluster being traced to cyberspace. [from DataLounge.com]
Fascinating New Musical
Theatre Book Focuses on Gay Work
The second musical theatre book by New Line Theatre's openly Gay artistic director Scott Miller, Deconstructing Harold Hill (Heinemann Publishing, ISBN 0-325-00166-9, paperback, $18.95) was released Dec. 1, 1999 and is in bookstores now.
Deconstructing Harold Hill is a deep-down, perceptive look at some of the greatest musicals ever produced on Broadway, in-depth enough for professional directors and actors and yet accessible enough for the casual fan. Each chapter takes one show and discusses it in great depth, looking at characters and relationships, musical themes, historical context, the authors' original intentions, and many other things. Chapters include the recent Broadway mega-hits Chicago and Ragtime (whose composer Stephen Flaherty is openly Gay), classic musicals like Camelot (including a discussion of the Gay subtext in the show), The Music Man, and The King and I, two shows by Gay composer Stephen Sondheim, Passion and Sunday in the Park with George, and the Gay-themed musical March of the Falsettos.
Miller's first book, From Assassins to West Side Story: the Director's Guide to Musical Theatre (Heinemann Publishing, ISBN 0-435-08699-5, paperback, $19.95) is now in its third printing and has received rave reviews. It follows the same format as Deconstructing Harold Hill and discusses Assassins, Cabaret, Carousel, Company, Godspell, Gypsy, How to Succeed, Into the Woods, Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Misarables, Man of La Mancha, Merrily We Roll Along, My Fair Lady, Pippin, Sweeney Todd, and West Side Story. Amazon.com called the book "that rare theater textbook that is so articulate, insightful, and downright playful that it can be read simply for pleasure." Stage Directions magazine gave it "Our highest recommendation." Library Journal said, "[Miller] aims at the heart of each work and reaches it with artistic insight."
Miller has also contributed to three other books, Stephen Sondheim: A Casebook, a collection of essays by the top musical theatre experts in the United States, as well as The Stage Directions Guide to Directing and The Stage Directions Guide to Publicity, both published by Stage Directions magazine. He has also written book, music, and lyrics for eight musicals, and has written music for film, television, and radio. He is a columnist for CultureFinder, a national arts Web site (www.culturefinder.com) and a periodic contributor to several national theatre magazines, including In Theater, Stage Directions, and The Sondheim Review.
Deconstructing Harold Hill is available in bookstores and also online at www.heinemanndrama.com and Amazon.com. Copies can also be ordered through Heinemann's toll-free number, 800.793.2154.
Madonna's Next Best Advice
Madonna, promoting her new flick, The Next Best Thing, in New York recently, told reporters that it was costar Rupert Everett who talked her into doing her own version of the classic song "American Pie," according to MSNBC. She also said of 3-year-old daughter Lourdes: "She is a great little singer and dancer, and she has perfect pitch. She memorizes whole songs and then goes around the house singing them. Right now she's into Mary J. Blige, the Spice Girls, and me." [from The Advocate]
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