Who Wants to Lick Charlton Heston?
A petition to commemorate Charlton Heston on a U.S. postage stamp took place on the actor’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today. A press release encouraged fans to “send an e-mail, letter and/or sign the petition in support of the effort to successfully implement this historic Hollywood figure into the U.S. postal stamp collection.” Heston was described in the release as “an icon of epic proportions, Academy Award-winning actor, philanthropist, and political activist.”
Missing from the release was any reference to Heston’s ties to the National Rifle Association, which many feel sullied his impressive film legacy, which included a performance as gay artist Michelangelo in The Agony and the Ecstasy and the title role in the homoerotic Ben-Hur. Heston’s numerous speeches on behalf of the NRA often included antigay rhetoric, drawing the ire of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and other LGBT organizations.
In 1997, GLAAD criticized Heston’s speech at the Free Congress Foundation's 20th Anniversary Gala, during which he stated, “I find my blood pressure rising when [President] Clinton’s cultural shock troops participate in homosexual rights fund-raisers but boycott gun rights fund-raisers ... and then claim it's time to place homosexual men in tents with Boy Scouts, and suggest that sperm donor babies born into lesbian relationships are somehow better served and more loved.” He’s also noted for the bon mot “In Hollywood there are more gun owners in the closet than homosexuals.”
See the following pages for late LGBT entertainers who are more worthy of celebrating.
Dorothy Arzner — Wearing unfashionably short hair and mannish clothing, she was the only lesbian film director to make an impact in the Golden Age of Hollywood, with Sappho-infused classics such as Christopher Strong and Dance, Girl, Dance.
Tallulah Bankhead — She dazzled audiences with brilliant performances in plays such as The Little Foxes and films such as Lifeboat, but the bisexual bon vivant was just as noted for her notoriously naughty wit.
William S. Burroughs — Novels such as Junky, Naked Lunch, and Queer made the Beat icon one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.
Truman Capote — Envied for his quick, bawdy wit and lionized by the social elite (his Black and White Ball remains legendary), the colorful author produced works ranging from the wistful Breakfast at Tiffany's to the brilliant “nonfiction novel” In Cold Blood.
Rock Hudson — While controversy surrounded his AIDS-related death, the underrated actor left a legacy of fine performances in films such as Giant, Pillow Talk, and Seconds.
Liberace — The flamboyant yet closeted pianist — a heartthrob to millions of gray-haired matrons —sued a columnist for insinuating he was gay, but during his heyday he was the world’s highest-paid entertainer.