Arts News

Queer Town: Orson Bean, Prop. 8 Supporter, Stars as Closeted, Gay Writer

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Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Actor Orson Bean, who supported Proposition 8 and contributed money to the "Yes on 8" campaign, is now starring in a Noel Coward play about a closeted, gay writer.

click to enlarge Actor Orson Bean
  • Actor Orson Bean

It seems a little weird to us, but perhaps what's even stranger is that Edge LA, a gay web site that runs a flattering story about Bean and the play, fails to mention anything about the actor's position on Prop. 8, which took away the existing right of gays and lesbians to legally marry in California.

Instead, Bean comes off as some kind of gay ally, recalling how theater people have always thought gays are a-okay.

"Homosexuality was always accepted by those of us

working in the theater," Bean tells Edge. "For example, everyone knew Lawrence Olivier was a

homosexual -- we didn't care even though it was against the law."

Bean, though, is not nearly that blase when it comes to gay marriage.

In January, 2009, only two months after Prop. 8 was passed, Bean wrote an op-ed for the Big Hollywood blog. In it, the actor complains about taking heat for supporting the gay marriage ban, then explains how same sex marriage is "not a civil rights issue."

"Seventy percent of African-American voters (all of whom, I'm sure, went

for Obama) cast a ballot in favor of Prop. 8," Bean writes. "They know it's not a civil

rights issue. They believe in family values in that community. They've

seen first hand what the assault on marriage results in. That's what

Prop. 8 is trying to stave off: an attack on the institution of marriage

itself. It's not about rights. Gay people already have all the rights

of marriage; they've fought hard for them and they deserve them. What

they want now is the WORD. And when a word means everything, it means


Bean wraps up the piece by describing the anti-Prop. 8 marches in Los Angeles as a "war on democracy itself."

So, Edge LA, this is the guy who's starring as a closeted, gay writer at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. We thought we'd set the record straight.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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