45 Years of Stirring the Pot
BY Neal Broverman and Michelle Garcia
August 21 2012 4:00 AM ET
February 16, 1999: After the 1993 passage of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” many gay and lesbian members of the military bravely stepped forward to champion the repeal of this policy. Marine Corps captain Rich Merritt was a model soldier who appeared in several major news publications as the symbol of DADT’s deleterious effects. But an Advocate investigation discovered that Merritt lived another life as a porn star, effectively disqualifying him as the poster child many were searching for.
February 15, 2000: Dr. Laura Schlessinger was revered for her traditional, straightforward advice to devoted listeners of her radio show. So when she said being gay was a “biological error that inhibits you from relating normally to the opposite sex,” she became the LGBT world’s public enemy number one. Schlessinger agreed to a written interview, in which she said her strengthened faith in Judaism further instilled a sense of moral opposition to gay rights and same-sex relationships. Still, she claimed to have employees and friends who are out, who “actually agree with me that legalizing homosexual marriage and adoption is wrong.”
November 5, 2001: In 1997, Anne Heche began dating Ellen DeGeneres, making them the faces of all things lesbian. At every pride march and television appearance, Heche declared herself an out and proud gay woman. But then Heche and DeGeneres broke up in 2000, and afterward followed a bizarre incident in which a disoriented Heche was found wandering aimlessly around California farm country. In her 2001 autobiography, Call Me Crazy, she announced she has an alter ego, the alien Celestia. That year she married cameraman Coley Laffoon and had a child. When then–senior arts and entertainment editor Anne Stockwell questioned Laffoon’s heterosexuality, Heche went on the defensive.
“So there’s not a same-sex experience in his past that would have left him open to a broader view,” Stockwell asked. “One,” Heche countered, “that’s none of my business or your business to even ask that question, and I think it’s completely out of line.” Stockwell started to apologize, but Heche retorted, “This is not an article about Coley.… I’m finished with this conversation. This is ridiculous. You have got to be kidding me, after everything I have given you, you are now asking me about my husband’s sexuality? That is flooring to me. I [give you] everything in my honesty, and now you are asking me about my husband’s sexuality. Wow. Wow!” Heche ended the interview immediately.
March 15, 2005: A rumor that Marcia Cross would come out on the cover of The Advocate during the height of her Desperate Housewives fame created a media firestorm, thanks to a post on a random Web forum. The rumor spread so quickly that Cross appeared on The View to clear things up. In our cover story, “Anatomy of a Rumor,” we looked at how gay gossip travels at lightning speed in the modern 24-hour news cycle.
January 30, 2007: The interview with Kristanna Loken, model, L Word actress, and Terminator 3 cyborg, started out as a fairly standard Q&A. It ended with an uncomfortable situation for “I’m not a lesbian” actress Michelle Rodriguez, whom Loken was rumored to be dating, when Loken suggested the Fast and Furious star was upstairs in her bed.
March 27, 2007: In “Chasing the Duclod Man,” a young bisexual woman recounted her real-life battle to bring down an enigmatic cyberbully, eventually tracking down a recluse who was more mentally disturbed than homophobic. The 21st-century cat-and-mouse story elicited hundreds of comments and letters, and almost as many conspiracy theories on the real identity of the “Duclod Man,” an autistic Memphis, Tenn., man named Richard.
April 24, 2007: It was the question on all of our minds: Why aren’t there openly gay contestants on the queerest show on prime time — American Idol? At that point, Clay Aiken had yet to come out, Adam Lambert was still just an L.A. club kid, and a same-sex harassment scandal involving fourth-season finalist Mario Vazquez was rocking the show. Meanwhile, first-season finalist R.J. Helton told The Advocate that Idol producers had advised him to stay in the closet.