Gay Pride originated for gay men and lesbians. These days, it's not uncommon to encounter this acronym: LGBTQI: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning and Indeterminate. Many embrace "queer" as an umbrella for this sexual goulash.
Until relatively recently, "queer" was a loaded word employed by enemies to hurt and demoralize. But, as Homer J. Simpson pointed out, "I resent you people using that word. That's our word for making fun of you. We need it!" With the ultimate high school putdown now, "That's so gay," "gay" is the new "queer."
Meanwhile, queerness itself has become the stuff of academic discipline. Among the findings: "Queer" has expanded far from its homo base to encompass any transgressive behavior. By this definition, basketball star Dennis Rodman definitely qualifies as queer. Pamela Sue Anderson, Uday Hussein and Kim Cattrall's "Samantha" clearly make the cut. President John F. Kennedy's hyper-drive libido, love of amphetamine injections, innate sense of style and humor and starfucking of Marilyn made him the modern proto-queer.
As more and more gay men and lesbians strive to become virtually normal-married, house in the suburbs, 2.5 children and wood-paneled station wagon-it's worth pointing out that heterosexuals possessing queerness probably exhibit more tendencies once thought of as "gay" than many gay people.
In that spirit, I present a list of the 10 queerest New Yorkers who play for the other team. If I incorrectly inferred anyone's sexuality, my humble apologies. I would never intentionally impugn anyone's reputation by incorrectly implying that he or she was straight. Happy Pride!
10 Rabbi Philip Berg
Can an Orthodox rabbinical scholar remain true to his calling and still project total queerness? Does Rabbi Philip Berg care? Berg had spent a lifetime studying the Kabbalah, the most esoteric, mystical branch of Judaism, when he became mentor and spiritual advisor to Madonna and a coterie of fabuloids, including her then gal pal Sandra Bernhard. As if that weren't enough, Berg's teachings became the inspiration for the Material Girl's Ray of Light, the Sgt. Pepper of dance albums. Berg caters to the celebrity-enlightenment crowd. Is he "the world's foremost authority on the Kabbalah," or a celebrity mindfucker? Whichever, he's kosher and he answers to a higher authority: Daily Variety.
9 Sam Waksal
Just being able to call domestic goddess Martha Stewart your best friend qualifies him for queerness. Waksal went one step further, making headlines with model-handsome society-walker-cum-gay-A-lister Peter Bacanovic. Waksal, in the great queer tradition, took a shlumpy Ohio background and remade himself into a Manhattan bon vivant and art connoisseur (only the goyim pay retail-or sales taxes.) When his sales-tax skimming and stock schemes caught up with him, Waksal's chutzpah couldn't save him. Now he's headed for stir, where he'll find out what it's like to be someone's bitch in the not-so-merry old land of Oz.
8 George Soros
George Soros was born in Budapest in 1930 and survived the Nazis and Communists to become a billionaire investor. Rather than sequestering himself with artwork and French maids, Soros took his money to fund controversial campaigns like black education in apartheid South Africa, needle exchanges at home and an end to the so-called war on drugs everywhere. Queerness is the innate inability to fall into allotted slots and a willingness to make yourself heard. If so, Soros' ability to bite the hand that feeds him makes him one sassy bitch.
7 Rudy Giuliani
Sure, you know him as the rootin'-tootin' gunslinger who brought the law back to Dodge City. But look at the facts: The guy moves out on his mate and moves in with Howard Koeppel, his boytoy and their tiny dog. He loves to do drag and looks disarmingly comfortable in stockings and heels. He has a Virgin Mary fetish. He's obsessed with back-room sex. He falls under the spell of a Jewish mother-figure. And his prostate condition makes his orgasms a matter of public knowledge. How gay is that?
6 Ted Turner
He says what he thinks and damned if he cares what you think about him. He was married to someone who spent all of her time in the gym and wore spandex. Turner has a uniform fetish (he has worn a Confederate uniform to business negotiations). He had to leave Brown University when he was caught in his dorm room in flagrante delicto. But what makes him endearingly queer is Turner Classic Movies. Every day, thousands of budding fruits take their cues from the endless stream of Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Crawford vehicles that race across this indispensable fountain of Hollywood wisdom. Ted, you are fierce!
5 Kenneth Cole
If you don't know the clothes, you know the ads: In-your-face blank type extolling the virtues of gay-positive safer sex and boo-booing the Bushies (no accident, as Cole's father-in-law is Mario Cuomo). Cole himself may not be light in the loafers, but he has parlayed a love of women's shoes into an international licensing business, from fuck-me pumps to running shoes. Cole took nice Jewish boy Kenneth Cohen, moved to Manhattan, and was reinvented. It's no coincidence that his company is named "Kenneth Cole Productions": Like Ralph Lauren or Martha Stewart, the product he's selling is himself.
4 Robin Byrd
She likes to say she's a "trisexual," meaning try anything, but the shocking truth is that Byrd is a closet het. No matter: She made her name in porn, presenting male and female strippers on late-night cable. Her real accomplishment was taking sex and turning it into camp. The boy shows were always more popular, and for years her pre-Black Party extravaganzas brought together every visiting boy porn-star in town. Her phone-sex lines cater to every taste, no matter how bizarre. She spends her summer in the Pines, where she's first on the dance floor at every tea dance. She recently learned to flag. She's taken outrageousness and made it into a business.
3 Liza Minnelli
Her dad was PRETTY much gay. As was her first husband, Peter Allen. Her mother was Judy Garland, for crying out loud! We won't even speculate about Current Husband; we'll leave it for others. Many others. Liza's entire life has been suffused with queerness, from Mama's fans to the way she delivered that "divine decadence" line in Cabaret, to her over-the-top wedding last year (on the guest list: They Call Me Miss Ross, Wacko Jacko and Liz). She's so familiar with the Betty Ford Center that they're giving her a lifetime membership. In the The Andy Warhol Diaries, she's described as sniffing poppers while giving Baryshnikov head under the table at Studio 54. "I made my mind up back in Chelsea." You sure did, girlfriend.
2 Victor Calderone
He certainly looks gay, with his shaved head, goatee and hard body. Maybe that's why he turns heads at the gay clubs, where he has become a superstar DJ. When he became the first straight man to spin at the Black Party, the notorious 18-hour mega-leather-and-sex rave, Calderone celebrated by posing in full party regalia on the cover of Next magazine with his sexy wife, Athena. Although he does other parties, he has become the hottest DJ on the gay circuit, where he has transformed the beat from diva anthems to Latin-inflected tribalism. New dad Calderone's latest project: the all-night Jungle party at Hammerstein Ballroom, produced with his good friend Kevin Aviance, the night before the Pride Parade.
1 Bill Clinton
Because he can't keep his johnson in his pants. Because he partners with class but parties with trash. Because he likes to strut the family jewels in tighty-whiteys and not let them flop around in boxers-and he doesn't care who knows it. Because he's always watching his weight. Because he loves a good blowjob. Because he understands more about the creative uses of an unlit cigar than any leather daddy. Because the whole damned world knows about his sex life. Because he said he never inhaled. Because he's gentrifying Harlem. Because he's pussywhipped. Because his daughter is named Chelsea. For all of those reasons and so many more, Bill Clinton is the ultimate embodiment of queerness.