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Frank Rich: Cool

Frank Rich: Cool


As one of the leading op-ed columnists for The New York Times, Frank Rich can be counted on to write about gay issues with authority -- fitting, since he also served as the theater critic for the Times when theatrical productions were tackling gay visibility in unprecedented ways. "To a certain extent, I discovered my own ignorance about the whole subject on the beat in the 1980s because of the explosion of gay theater, a fair amount of it ultimately prompted by the AIDS crisis," Rich says, noting that attitudes have shifted considerably since, particularly when it comes to gay marriage. "I have two sons who are in their 20s now, and I think they are sort of representative of a generational change. They find it hilarious that adults are still arguing over what, to them, is just so obviously a civil rights issue that should have been resolved."

Rich's scathing theater reviews have earned him a reputation as the "Butcher of Broadway," and he is no less harsh on antigay politicians in the editorial pages of the Times. "I think the panic you see in the religious right about the Republican primaries right now reflects the fact that -- to use The Advocate's term -- it's just not 'cool' to be outwardly bigoted," he says. As for the closeted politicians who nevertheless vote for antigay legislation, Rich points to Angels in America, which tackles that hypocrisy via the controversial figure of Roy Cohn. "Look, there are gay people -- no differently than straight people -- who support some Republican ideals, such as a smaller government or a strong defense," Rich says. "How, though, they can go to work for a party that still demonizes homosexuals for political gain while pretending not to -- that, I don't understand."

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