If you missed Jon Stewart's interview with Project Runway's Tim Gunn last night, check it out. Mr Gunn really is a breakthrough cultural figure in my book. He's drily hilarious, extremely smart, courteous beyond measure, and ... civil and humane. Yes, we only catch glimpses of him on Project Runway. I didn't care for his own new series (less is more when you are watching a minimalist of manners). But his character really shines through the cracks of reality television.
It is thrilling to have openly gay men of such erudition and accomplishment and manners in the public square. Neither brandishing their sexual orientation nor hiding it, a handful of mature adult men are forging a new understanding of how integral gay people are to the broader society. The men who come to mind - Tim Gunn, Tim Gill, Peter Gomes, Michael Cunningham, David Geffen, Barney Frank, Alan Ball, Alan Bennett, among many others - represent to me, at least, role models for gay men who are at ease with social responsibility and adult maturity. They inspire me - and many others. None of them has in any way denied his sexual orientation, and yet all have integrated it into something much broader and bigger and complicated. This is not the first time that gay men have achieved these cultural and social heights, of course. Far from it. But it is the first time a critical mass have done so openly and proudly and increasingly without any affect. For men in their 50s or older, this was an achievement. They survived a plague among their peers, and thrived. We owe them.
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