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Bill Maher
doesn't care if you're gay (and that's why we love him)

Bill Maher
doesn't care if you're gay (and that's why we love him)


Our 2006 Advocate Person of the Year is a regular guy who speaks his mind, makes TV that matters, and proves to America that real men don't sweat the gay stuff.

He's about as fearless a voice as we have in America right now. If you tell him that, as I did, over drinks at the Beverly Hills Hotel--just down the street from where he lives--he'll scoff and remind you that bravery involves dismantling bombs. But gays have no better friend in the media than Bill Maher, who treats the still-verboten topic of total equality for gays and lesbians--from gay marriage to gay sex to gay anything--with nonchalant conviction as he muses, pontificates, jostles, and hammers mainstream America weekly from his television platform. Maher was practically incinerated by the media and the public immediately following 9/11 when he suggested that the hijackers were brave in their own way--a statement he meant not as a compliment but an acknowledgment of fact--and lost his ABC platform, only to rise like a phoenix on the more hospitable HBO with his weekly Real Time With Bill Maher. In 2006, as gay sex scandals helped to scuttle the Republican dream of a perpetual majority, Maher's razor-sharp New Rules monologues became our favorite way to keep score. After the Mark Foley mess came to light, Maher listed a dozen worse threats to American youths, including military recruiters and corporate pitchmen. "Stop with the righteous indignation about predators," he concluded. "This whole country is trying to get inside your kid's pants, because that's where he keeps his wallet."

A fascinating amalgam of bleeding-heart member of the intelligentsia and man's man--he is a regular at the Playboy mansion, has his share of hetero commitment issues, and is a sports freak--Maher is at once one of the most famous and most quoted men in America, and most disconcertingly free of attitude. I told him, and meant it, that he was the least narcissistic celebrity I've ever interviewed. As we sat over drinks at night in a pitch-dark romantic booth on the patio of the Polo Lounge, the unabashed hetero and I, we both appreciated the irony.

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