In 2007 the tabloids grew further in influence as the world’s fascination with celebrity showed no signs of abating, all while gays and lesbians continued to demand better treatment from the media. We decided to revisit some of the year’s memorable gay-tinged events.

Celebrity News

In January, Hunky Prison Break Actor Wentworth Miller went on record denying that he is gay, despite incessant rumours to the contrary that continued to surface throughout the year. In the same month, Singer George Michael pleaded innocent in London to charges of possession of marijuana and that he was unfit to drive after he was arrested in September 2006 when police found him passed out in his car – apparently after a dope binge.

Brokeback Mountain star Jake Gyllenhaal endeared himself to gay fans everywhere by performing in drag on Saturday Night Live singing the song And I’m Telling You, which was featured in the movie musical Dreamgirls.

Seventeen year old Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe, shocked everyone (apparently) by posing for semi-nude photos to publicise his role in the West End play Equus.

Grey’s Anatomy actor Isaiah Washington apologised for again making homophobic remarks about his co-star T.R. Knight amid calls that he be fired from the hit television show: “I apologise to T.R., my colleagues, the fans of the show and especially the lesbian and gay community for using a word that is unacceptable in any context or circumstance,” he said. The furore came to a head later in the year with the announcement that his contract to star in the medical television drama had not been renewed.

In March, Suze Orman, the financial guru who had visited South Africa and was a regular guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show, told The New York Times Magazine that she is indeed a lesbian.

Former pop-star-turned DJ Boy George was again in the news for all the wrong reasons when he was arrested for the alleged kidnapping of a rent boy that he met on Gaydar. Reports claimed that he chained 28 year old Auden Carlsen to the wall of his London home after luring him to the house to pose for photos. The trial is set to take place in 2008.

Another celebrity came out the closet when actor David Hyde Pierce, who played Dr. Niles Crane on the sitcom Frasier for eleven years, confirmed that he is indeed gay. This news was included in a profile by the Associated Press on Pierce, apparently with his blessing.

Singer Enrique Iglesias made one of his gay fan’s day by serenading the shell-shocked boy. Performing the song Hero at G-A-Y in London, he pulled one of the male audience members on stage and proceeded to hold and sing to him.

In June, filmmakers were criticised for casting John Travolta in a traditionally gay role in the musical movie Hairspray because of the actor’s affiliation with the homophobic church of Scientology. One commentator even suggested that gays boycott the film. Instead we flocked to see it.

Rumours about Wentworth Miller’s sexuality were given fresh new impetus in July when he was spotted spending time with T.R. Knight’s ex, actor Luke McFarlane. McFarlane has a recurring role on the TV series, Brothers & Sisters. Reports claimed that the two had been secretly dating for six months.

In London, music icons Madonna and Elton John finally made up after a very public falling out in 2004 in which Elton commented that Madonna didn’t deserve an award because she didn’t sing live. Madonna who insisted that she did indeed sing live at her concerts, was introduced by Elton John as a surprise guest on stage at the GQ Men of the Year Awards. He admitted that he had “written a grovelling apology.”

That same month, Madonna, who was visiting Israel at the time, was criticised for her connection to a homophobic Kabbalah leader. Rabbi David Basri, who is the head of the Kabbalah’s Magen David Yeshiva in Jerusalem, has been openly homophobic, once claiming that an outbreak of bird flu was punishment from God for the behaviour of gays and lesbians.

LGBT activists criticised JaRule’s homophobic comments in a magazine interview. The rapper slammed American pop culture for being too gay-friendly. “Lets talk about all these fucking shows that they have on MTV that is [sic] promoting homosexuality, that my kids can’t watch this shit. Dating shows that’s [sic] showing two guys or two girls in mid-afternoon. If that’s not fucking up America, I don’t know what is,” he said.

On local television, Survivor SA’s first openly gay castaway, Rijesh Govender, was voted off the series by his tribe-mates in September. He was seen as arrogant and cocky by many viewers, reflecting his love-hate relationship with the media and the gay community.

Former Gucci designer Tom Ford, who is openly gay, made waves in the fashion world by appearing in a photo shoot cavorting naked in a shower with male models. The fallout from Boy George’s drug arrest in 2005, for which he served community service, continued in 2007: A judge ordered him to cough up £30,000 to a LA nightclub after he failed to arrive for its launch when police found drugs in his New York apartment.

On the verge of the Spice Girls reunion tour, Melanie Chisholm (aka Mel C, aka Sporty Spice) again insisted that she is not a lesbian. The singer has been dogged by rumours about her sexuality since the beginning of her music career. In an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine she said, “At first that made me laugh because it wasn’t something that ever crossed my mind. And then it kind of pissed me off when I thought, ‘Because I have short hair and am quite muscular with a few tattoos, am I the stereotypical lesbian?'”

In October, Jake Gyllenhaal also felt the need to confirm that he’s not gay. He told a journalist while in London promoting his film, Rendition, “No, I am not open to persuasion myself, but the idea of homosexuality is acceptable to me. I grew up in a city where half the people I know are gay.” It’s was also confirmed that rumours that former co-star Heath Ledger was to appear in a sequel to Brokeback Mountain were – unsurprisingly – utter nonsense.

The month of November kicked off with the announcement that Top Billing presenter and international model, Janez Vermeiren, had scooped the 2007 Alcohol Killer Mamba Sexiest Man of the Year title. The results of the annual survey, which saw television personalities dominate, were announced at a glitzy celebrity-studded bash in Sandton. Hosted by Mambaonline.com, the survey – now in its fourth annual edition – saw South Africa’s gay community voting via SMS and online for its favourite local male celebrity. “

People magazine named 37 year old actor Matt Damon as the “Sexiest Man Alive”, also in November. “You’ve given an aging suburban dad the ego-boost of a lifetime,” he told the magazine. Other men on the list include Patrick Dempsey from Grey’s Anatomy, Ryan Reynolds and Brad Pitt.

Local gay celebrity Somizi Mhlongo appeared in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court in December after being arrested for indecent assault. It was claimed that the choreographer, actor and TV host sexually assaulted a 28-year-old male fan who asked him for a lift and an autograph. He is alleged to have fondled the man’s “private parts.” He was released on R2000 bail, without being asked to plead, and ordered to appear in court again in February.

Jodie Foster sneakily came out of the closet in late 2007: When receiving an award in Beverly Hills, she thanked “my beautiful Cydney who sticks

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