Barry Manilow has come out. I know. It’s hilarious, isn’t it? Like most gay men, I just assumed he’d always been out. He played a bathhouse with Bette Midler in the 1970s, for god’s sake. But I guess it’s not official until you tell People.
When the American lawyer Roberta Kaplan took on Edith Windsor’s case in 2009, she thought she had found the ideal plaintiff with which to challenge the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act. Now 84 and a widow since 2009, Windsor had been with the same woman for 44 years and stuck with her through 22 years of illness. She was bright, attractive and conventionally feminine – pink lipstick, blonde bob, pearls. She was also the victim of substantial discrimination – forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate tax purely because of DOMA. There was just one problem: sex. Windsor is “exceptionally colorful and voluble” on the subject and gay sex often makes straights uncomfortable. So Kaplan told her to keep mum on the subject, at least publicly. “All I needed was Antonin Scalia reading about Edie and Thea’s butch-femme escapades” Kaplan told the New Yorker. Fortunately Windsor won her case last June when the U.S. Supreme Court declared DOMA unconstitutional and now she’s free to hold forth on love, sex and her own “love affair with the gay community.” Ariel Levy profiles the woman behind the landmark case in “The Perfect Wife.”