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Popular Topics in Literature
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Congratulations to John Barrowman, MBE
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 06/14/14
Last updated on: 06/15/14
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Congratulations to actor and singer John Barrowman, who on June 14, 2014 was named a Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. The openly gay star of Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Arrow, who is ubiquitous in British entertainment as a musical theater star, concert performer, and as host or guest of television shows, has been honored for his contributions to "light entertainment and charity."

Barrowman is a prominent supporter of numerous charities, especially those that support animals and gay rights, including Stonewall and the Make A Difference Trust, which supports people living with HIV and AIDS.

He is a native Scotsman who was reared in the United States and first found fame in London's West End. An accomplished actor and singer, he has won plaudits as a musical theater star and concert performer as well as for his roles in film and television. As a singer, he is especially known for his extremely skillful interpretations of the works of Cole Porter, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Stephen Sondheim.

As Linda Rapp points out in her glbtq.com entry on him, Barrowman is unusual among actors for having been completely honest about his sexuality from the very beginning of his show business career. As he told Gay Times interviewer Rupert Smith in 2004, "There's a received idea that being openly gay in the TV industry will limit your ability to get work, but I decided early on that I wouldn't hide anything. If you lie about yourself, then people are going to work very hard to expose that lie. If you're honest, it's not an issue and you can just get on with your life. . . . As far as the public goes, they see me playing different characters, some straight, some gay. They can make their own assumptions."

Ironically, Barrowman lost one coveted television role because he was perceived as "too straight." He was turned down for the role of Will in the NBC sitcom Will and Grace. Heterosexual actor Eric McCormack was cast in the role.

In 2008, Barrowman was featured in a fascinating BBC documentary entitled, "John Barrowman: The Making of Me," that featured his personal quest to understand why he is gay. As he commented, although he is perfectly comfortable with his sexuality, he is nevertheless interested in questions related to the cause of homosexuality: is it nature or nature?

The documentary, which has been posted on YouTube, follows Barrowman as he travels to Chicago and Los Angeles and London to look into various theories. While the documentary offers no definitive answers, it provides a lot of information in an interesting format.

When Britain legalized same-sex unions in 2005, Barrowman announced his plans to enter into a civil partnership with architect Scott Gill, with whom he had been in a relationship for fourteen years. Barrowman then avoided the use of the word marriage for gay unions because, he said, "It's something that has the connotation of religion, and religion is something that hates or dislikes gay people. . . .Why would I want to have a word like that connected with me and Scott?"

The two registered as civil partners in Cardiff on December 27, 2006. The brief ceremony was followed by a small gathering of family and friends.

On July 2, 2013, however, Barrowman and Gill married in California, soon after the Supreme Court's rulings of June 26, 2013 that permitted the resumption of same-sex marriages in California and struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.

Upon the announcement of the Queen's Birthday Honors, Barrowman issued a video blog expressing his pleasure. "It's been the hardest thing for me to keep this a secret, but I'm glad it's out now, because this is probably one of the proudest days of my life.

"The fact that I am able to celebrate it with my husband Scott, the fact that my parents are still here to celebrate it with me.

"I can't tell you how honored I am to get this MBE, to be recognized by Her Majesty, and also by the United Kingdom, because that's where I consider my home.

"Proud to be Scottish, proud to be part of Great Britain, and proud to accept this honor.

"I am chuffed and I can't say more than that."

PinkNews reports that the Queen's honor's list also recognized three individuals specifically for their equality work.

Mark Mackenzie was awarded an MBE for his work in support of Transport for London's LGBT staff network, Pride in London, and the Gay Games. He worked with the British Transport Police to produce a Hate Crime Best Practice Guide, which is used to stamp out homophobic and transphobic crime across the transport network.

Reverend Colin Coward, the founder of Changing Attitude, which campaigns for glbtq people in the Church of England, was also recognized with an MBE for services to equality.

Emily Jayne Mcaulay, the chair of the Devon and Cornwall Gay Police Association, also received an MBE for services to equality and diversity.

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