Friday, April 29, 2011

April 29

Mark Feehily, gay Westlife singer

Mark Feehily, one of the lead singers of the Irish boy band phenomenon Westlife, came out as gay in a British tabloid interview in which he announced his long-term relationship with Kevin McDaid, a member of the British boy band V (disbanded in 2005). Mark said, "My life has gotten umpteen times better. My sexuality doesn't define me as a person, but it's a huge part of anyone to be open about it. It's changed my life totally, as I feel much happier and more at ease. It's the best thing I've ever done." Unlike his Westlife band mates, for years Feehily did not discuss his private life. Westlife is HUGE in Europe, but virtually unheard of in the United States; their stock in trade is ballads.

The pair have dated since January 2005, after having met at a concert in Ireland. In yet another interview, Feehily (in dark shirt in photo at left; Kevin in light blue shirt) told The Sydney Morning Herald that despite the fact that the majority of Westlife's fans are female, there has been no real negative reaction. "I am so much happier now, and I think our fans can see that," he said. "Through the years of getting to the point where I wanted to come out, I had to go through every kind of emotion, but I can honestly say that the day before I came out, I didn't care what the reaction was going to be."

Feehily said that while he did not intend on getting married right away, he is happy to know he could form a civil partnership in Britain with the recent passing of the Civil Partnership Act. The musicians say that when the time is right, they will look into having a civil partnership ceremony. Mark and Kevin, who now works as a photographer, got engaged on 28 January 2010, and Feehily confirmed the news via Twitter. Asked about his future plans with McDaid, Feehily replied, "We're best friends, we live together and we're going to get married soon. I can't wait, but we haven't finalized the date." Kevin did the still photography for Westlife’s album “Gravity,” their eleventh studio album.

Mark sings lead at the beginning of this Westlife video of “Smile,” before Shane takes over. Incidentally, the music for “Smile” was written by Charlie Chaplin for his 1936 film “Modern Times.” Lyrics were added in 1954 by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons. Recordings of this perennial favorite have been made by Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson (apparently his all-time favorite song), Michael BublĂ©, Lyle Lovett and scores of others.

In this acoustic video of their early super #1 hit (1999), Flying Without Wings, Westlife’s Mark Feehily takes over lead vocals from Shane at the 53 second mark. Note: don’t get your hopes up about Shane – he is married to his childhood sweetheart and became the father of his third child in January, 2010. In fact, all the other members of Westlife are married straight men.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 26

Anthony Perkins, closeted gay actor

Anthony Perkins was an actor who had affairs with A-list homosexuals: Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Troy Donahue, Rudolf Nureyev, Leonard Bernstein, James Dean, and Stephen Sondheim. The one that lasted, however, was with dancer/choreographer Grover Dale, with whom Perkins had a six-year relationship before his 1973 marriage to photographer Berry Berenson, the sister of actress Marisa Berenson. Dale, who had been Perkins’ understudy in the stage musical Greenwillow, also married in 1973 (must have been something in the water that year). Perkins was 41 years old at the time of his marriage and said he had sex with a woman for the first time just a year before that, at age 39, with his co-star Victoria Principal during filming of The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean.

Perkins was a veteran of stage, screen and TV, even earning an Oscar nomination for Friendly Persuasion, but he lived in utter fear that Confidential magazine would out him, as it did with Tab Hunter, one of his early lovers. Perkins had two sons with Berenson, but he died of AIDS in 1992 at age sixty; he did not acknowledge during his lifetime that he had the disease, even though the National Enquirer broke the story two years before his death.

His performance as Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s film Psycho is unforgettable, but his career went into decline soon afterward. Perkins was known to frequent gay porn stores and gay movie houses in Times Square, NYC, where he watched men have sex in the stairwells. For over a decade Perkins lived in a platonic relationship with photographer Helen Merrell, a dominating force of a woman 14 years his senior. Merrell went on to become an influential theatrical agent and philanthropist. In the late 1950s, Perkins released three pop song albums, but a career as a singer never materialized, although he did have several successful singing roles in Broadway musicals.

His widow, Berry Berenson, was killed while aboard American Airlines flight 11 as it crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.