Mr. Big Stuff
BY Jeremy Kinser
November 14 2011 8:00 AM ET
Then there’s the always unbridled Chelsea Handler, host of one of the most LGBT-inclusive programs on TV. Still, her on-air jokes about Chaz Bono in August had the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation demanding an apology (a far cry from 2009, when Handler hosted the GLAAD Media Awards). Mathews shrugs off the complaint. “Everyone is fair game to Chelsea,” he says. “You’re in front of an audience and thinking off the top of your head, you’re going to say things that offend people sometimes. Sometimes I’ll be driving home and I’ll be like, Oh, crap, I shouldn’t have said that.”
Mathews also swears he’s never encountered a homophobic situation at any of his speaking engagements, which include such far-from-metropolitan destinations as Laramie, Wyo. “It might be because they know who I am, so they’re not going to come to the show if they hate me,” he reasons, before mentioning that he can sense rural America’s attitude toward gay people changing. “This new generation coming up just feels so different. The feeling I get in these conservative, isolated places is that these kids don’t care that I’m gay.”
In an industry rife with tears-of-a-clown stories, can this guy really be this upbeat, this positive all the time? Mathews swears he doesn’t have a dark side. “This is my baseline,” he says, pointing to the broad smile on his face. “It’s just the luck of the draw. I have a really good life.” His good life includes sharing a house in the Los Angeles suburbs with Salvador, his partner of three years, and their two dogs.
The Human Rights Campaign has also recognized the goodwill being spread by Mathews and in September presented him with the organization’s Visibility Award. “It was the cherry on the top of right now,” he says. “When I was growing up I didn’t know what it meant to be a happy, successful grown-up gay person, and now I do. I feel like I’m setting an example for people everywhere.”