Michael Musto: Dish Warmed Over
BY Brandon Voss
September 07 2011 4:00 AM ET
I wondered how AIDS affected your column â€” if you struggled to achieve a balance between being a respectful reporter and providing fluffy distraction.
Well, in the early days of AIDS it was hard to find the right tone, because I was covering Pee-wee Herman parties at the same time I was not only covering but also engaging in ACT UP rallies. It was the height of political correctness, and my column took on a very preachy tone: Anybody who crossed me or the community was in for a real drubbing. Then, two paragraphs later, Iâ€™d be writing about some crazy club kid, so maybe thatâ€™s what made me unique among the gossip crowd: It was a very bizarre mixture of seeming fluffiness and angry commentary on current events.
When you first began at the Voice, did you consciously decide how openly and candidly gay youâ€™d be in your column?
The Voice gave me free rein to do whatever I chose with the column, and it was with that freedom that I got gayer and gayer. When I started the column, I also had a band called the Must, where I was the lead singer doing cover versions of Diana Ross songs all over New York, so itâ€™s not like I wasnâ€™t openly gay already. But the freedom of being able to go as far as I wanted â€” combined with the developments in the community such as the AIDS crisis â€” drove me like a cannonball out of the closet. At this point, Iâ€™m gayer than Eleanor Roosevelt.
Did that openness hinder your career in any way? Did you encounter homophobia?
Iâ€™ve always gone through life expecting to be bullied and mocked, but it doesnâ€™t happen that much. But there are definitely drawbacks to being an openly gay columnist, especially in 1984, when there werenâ€™t openly gay people in the media and when gay issues were barely addressed in the press. Even though it may have marginalized me in some ways, being openly gay made me special, and Iâ€™m the one people turned to for insight on gay issues.
You famously outed Rosie Oâ€™Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres in your column, and you wrote an Out cover story titled â€śThe Glass Closetâ€ť in 2007. Has your position on celebrity outing changed at all over the years?
No. Iâ€™ve always felt that since celebrities are in the public spotlight where their lives get dissected, to leave out their sexuality is extremely hypocritical and in fact homophobic. Iâ€™m not as angry as before because so many more people have come out since I started, and because there are so many other places on the Internet you can go for outing; Iâ€™m no longer carrying the whole thing on my shoulders. But I still think itâ€™s ludicrous for celebrities, even the glass closet ones, to not just say that theyâ€™re gay on the record. Don Lemon has certainly proven that you can be a CNN anchor, a TV personality, and an out gay male.
- New Antigay Children's Book Teaches Kids to Hate LGBT Families
- WATCH: Kaitlyn Hunt Rejects Plea Deal, Girlfriend's Parents Say They Had No Choice
- Robbie Rogers Becomes First Openly Gay Major League Soccer Player
- French Marriage Equality Opponent 'Very Scared' Of Right-Wing Backlash
- WATCH: It Already Got Better for This Colorado Student
- Artist Spotlight: Christopher Sousa
Sign Up For Email Updates
- Television Jason Collins Calls It a 'Slam-Dunk!' and More Fake Gay Reviews for Behind the Candelabra 6:30 PM
- Food and Drink Want to Eat a Hot Dog Named After Harvey Fierstein? 5:53 PM
- Marriage Equality French Marriage Equality Opponent 'Very Scared' Of Right-Wing Backlash 3:02 PM
- Entertainment News Augusten Burroughs Shows Off Wedding Rings 1:56 PM
- Women WATCH: Kaitlyn Hunt Rejects Plea, Victim's Parents Speak 1:21 PM
- Washington D.C. White House to Host Pride Reception June 13 12:44 PM
- Politics Virginia's Lt. Gov. Nominee Says Gays Are 'Ikky' 12:35 PM