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View Diary: What Soderburgh's Film About Liberace Says About the Closet (309 comments)

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  •  Was Liberace REALLY in the closet? (1+ / 0-)
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    I can remember back to the 1960s, and Liberace, and Liberace was synonymous with gay.

    I went back to college in 1997, and in an English class, I wrote a satirical essay titled, "Was Liberace gay?"  In which I asked whether, despite his reputation as a ladies' man, Liberace could have actually been gay.  The instructor was younger than me and she didn't understand all the context that made it satire.  I had to EXPLAIN it to her.  I felt bad about that.  I thought it was pretty funny.

    This isn't photoshopped.  Liberace actually wore this:

    I remember when he went on TV wearing these hot pants, and everybody's jaws dropped.  I think he wore them again on Dick Cavett's show, or Tonight Show.  The host asked him why he was wearing hot pants, and he replied about how he thought they were wonderful, and didn't everybody like them, and how he supported the fact that hot pants were coming back in style...  Unspoken in all of this was the fact that he was deliberately trying to flaunt his gayness, especially in the light of his reputation, and everybody was supposed to cover their mouths and laugh.

    I also remember, one time he was on the news.  He held some big ridiculous media event and the local news crews were invited.  They sat around an enormous dining table set with white dinner cloths and candelabras.  One of the reporters asked him the question, flat out, "Mr. Liberace, are you gay?"  The other reporters looked mortified.  Liberace smiled, with perfect aplomb, kept his chin up and replied, no, of course not, he didn't know how such horrible rumors ever get started.  And THAT was the end of that.

    So, yeah, if he was in the closet, where was the closet?  Who didn't know?  If he had come out of the closet, nobody would have been surprised, but very many would have been shocked by the "tactlessness" (I put this in quotes deliberately) of such a decision.  It would have ruined "the fun" and made tolerance of him a political act rather than an entertainment one.

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