Thursday, June 21, 2012

Travolta Gay Rumors, Scotty Bowers Book Re: Secret Sex Lives of the Stars and Book Describing Marilyn's Lesbian Affairs

Regarding accusations that John Travolta sexually harassed male masseurs - that is one thing. No one should take advantage of his/her power or influence and harass anyone else, sexually or otherwise.

But all the talk about these accusations proving that Travolta is gay reminds me of the recent book by Scotty Bowers, “Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars” (see NY Times review here and review here). Some of the stars named in the book were predominately “straight” but had same-sex affairs. Bowers himself, who had flings with many of the male stars, married a woman.

Now, is it really so unusual for someone who identifies as “straight” to be attracted to the same sex? Years ago I briefly dated “Lisa,” who worked in the film industry. She told me that literally all the girls on set, basically straight girls, flirted with her and tried to get with her.

I asked Lisa why in the film industry there seems to be so much same-sex action, even among primarily straight people. I mentioned that I never heard of any same-sex flirtation at my job, or in other industries where my other friends worked. Lisa said that, for many people, the entertainment industry represents a fantasy where people can do what they want. They’re not limited to being gay or straight – they can be with whomever they want to be with.

Now, “Full Service” is certainly not the first book or article to say that many stars of yesteryear had same-sex affairs, nor will it be the last. For instance, my major celebrity crush as a teenager, Marilyn Monroe, had at least two lesbian encounters, one with her drama coach and one with Joan Crawford, according to the recently released transcript of tapes she gave her psychologist shortly before her death.

Though to be sure, many books are written expressly to cause controversy and thus gain sales. For instance, celebrity journalist Darwin Porter’s new book, “Marilyn at Rainbow’s End,” claims that Monroe had lesbian flings with Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Stanwyck, the aforementioned Joan Crawford, and the simply luscious Elizabeth Taylor. “The Globe” tabloid writes regarding the rumors in this book: “But in her diary, Liz wrote about a sexual encounter with Marilyn after a June 1961 Frank Sinatra party. ‘Her touch was electric,’ Taylor said. ‘I wanted to see how far the b**** would go. But she had to do all the work.’”

Granted, a “celebrity journalist” and a tabloid are sparking these rumors. Who knows if the stories are really true? I have not read Porter’s book, and cannot verify any of the author’s claims. (But I hope the Elizabeth Taylor rumor is true, as she will always be the celebrity I am most in love with, the most beautiful woman who has ever lived!)

And regarding the Marilyn transcripts, who knows how accurate the transcription is? Though I have to say I don’t see any reason for the tapes to have been transcribed incorrectly. Regardless, I don’t find it outlandish at all that Monroe, who starred in my first sexual dream, could have had many lesbian encounters, and in fact I find it quite believable.

I have not read Bowers’ book either, but from the reviews and interviews with Bowers that I have read, I don’t think the book is a fraud or just a sales ploy. Bowers seems very candid, decent, and genuine in interviews. Besides, I think it perfectly reasonable that celebrities in the past had same-sex affairs. And if stars in the past had same-sex affairs, why not today’s stars?

Further, why would celebrities be any different from everyday, ordinary people? Aren’t we all human? Aren’t we all sexual beings? Don’t straight girls talk about girl crushes and straight men talk about man crushes? What if a straight girl acted on her girl crush? Would that automatically make her a lesbian?

No. Somehow we need to get past the binary world of gay/straight. On Kinsey’s scale, most people, although they may be closer to one end or the other, do not fall completely on one side. I am convinced that most people are some level of bisexual. Freud introduced the concept of innate bisexuality in all humans, and I agree with that. The potential is there for everyone, but individual experiences and behaviors can strengthen certain feelings and lessen other feelings. And not everyone is born with the same degree of bisexuality, let alone acts on such feelings.

To that end, sexuality is even more precisely described as a spectrum, as I first discovered in a post by Shashauna P. Thomas, to which I eagerly responded. Sexuality on a spectrum allows for greater fluidity. And as such, I don’t think John Travolta is completely gay or completely straight. He probably enjoys sex with men but I think he really loves his wife as well. His sexuality, like everyone’s, falls on a spectrum. In fact, I think very few people are completely homosexual. (Though I used to think I was. Until I met Robert Hannibal.)

For me, the larger issues with Travolta concern sexual harassment and adultery. If he did sexually harass others, that is wrong. If the Travolta-Preston marriage is a monogamous one, and these accusations of affairs are true, then he did cheat, and that is wrong.

But if he and his wife are in an open marriage and have a polyamorous relationship and understanding, then he did not cheat. Yet, notwithstanding the openness of the marriage, any harassment is wrong.

Regardless, I am tired of people assuming that because someone has had same-sex affairs it must mean the person is gay. No, it just means the person is a human, a sexual being. Aren’t we all?

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