Michael Musto: Dish Warmed Over
BY Brandon Voss
September 07 2011 4:00 AM ET
So you’ve mellowed as opposed to growing more and more bitter as you age.
I am getting on a bitter bent again, because lately I’ve been running a series of columns on things that I hate. In fact, parts of the new book read like one long screed, where it’s like I’m getting shit off my chest so I don’t have to pay for therapy. I actually don’t go to a therapist, so the column has provided me with years of free catharsis.
Have your columns gotten gayer?
Yeah, which doesn’t even sound possible. It used to be that every word was gay, and now it’s every syllable. They just scream “gay” from beginning to end, but they’re not written only for the gay community. I always hate when celebrities finally come out and then say, “It’s not that important. It’s just like my hair color.” You can change your hair color, but you can’t change being gay, and it’s intrinsic to my fiber. I was born this way, and so was my column.
You also cover gay porn more than the average columnist.
When you write about anything involving porn, people click on it. One thing I always wanted to do with my column was to level the playing field: I can gush over a hot guy the way the old Walter Winchell types would drool over some young starlet. Porn is a great leveler, because everyone on earth is into it, whether they admit it or not.
You’ve become a go-to gay voice of authority in the mainstream media. How do you think the gay community regards you?
By now, they’re not afraid of me anymore. They’ve realized I’m here for the long run, so they do tend to respect my opinion. The reality is that I’ve lived through so much, and I’ve reported on all of it coherently; I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink, and for many years I was the only clear-headed grown-up in the room. I have a strong opinion, but I try to factor in not just my own feelings but also the whole situation in every case. Some people probably hate me or just think I’m tired, but I get a lot of kudos as well as cooties.
Yet you didn’t start out with the goal of becoming a mouthpiece for the gay community. Are you comfortable with that position and the responsibility that comes with it?
I like it. But you’re right: When I started the column, there was no pressure on me to be any particular thing. When my column went through the original AIDS epidemic, which was like a horrifying sci-fi movie in the ’80s, I became more politicized, I joined ACT UP, and I started introducing gay politics into my column as well as fluffy event coverage. So I put myself in the position of being somebody who’s going to be called upon to comment on issues in the gay community, and I’m thrilled to be in that position.