By Jon Fairbanks
editor in chief, gaytravel.com
Fans rejoiced when they heard the "King of All Media” Howard Stern decided to stay put for another five years on Sirius/XM. Infamous for raunchy prank calls, naked models competing for breast implants and no-holds barred interviews where guests are asked about the most personal details of their sex life, you may not think of Stern as a gay rights champion.
In fact, the LGBT community owes Stern a big thank you! In between the rude, crude antics, you’ll find he’s the most brilliant, progressive broadcaster on the air today.
Case in point, the “shock jock’s” frank interview with Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir on Tuesday.
From Autostraddle.com -- Johnny Weir Talks Dirty Gay Details On Howard Stern
Johnny talks about first thinking he was gay at six years old when he was watching Pretty Woman and kinda wanted to be Julia Roberts. Growing up in a very conservative town in Pennsylvania he had no other gay friends but says his teen years were nothing like Kurt Hummel‘s on Glee, which he says looks like a horror story. As a teenager, he already felt he was better than everyone else because he was such a brilliant skater, so he had enormous self-esteem and built his identity around that. He talks about his first kiss with another male skater at 15 years old, a guy who hated being gay so much that he was “straight” and had a girlfriend.
He expands on why he’d marry a woman:
“I would marry a woman and have that partnership, that friendship, that love and I could have a boyfriend on the side and she could get her rocks off on the side. It’s a win win. But, we’d be in a union and that’s my opinion of what marriage should be. You have to be with your best friend.”
It goes on and on. Howard finds out his sex preferences: top or bottom, why he doesn’t have a boyfriend, whether he’s ever slept with a woman, details of anal sex, how often he cross dresses, his crush on Justin Timberlake, why he refuses to give up wearing fur and his affinity for Kelly Osbourne and Christina Aguilera. Pretty much required listening if you’re a fan of Johnny Weir.
Read the full story on Autostraddle.com
The interview with Weir is just one example of how Stern uses his influence and enormous popularity with straight and in some cases homophobic listeners to educate.
During the News with co-host Robin Quivers you’ll hear Stern support same-sex marriage. Two years ago when discussing the topic he proclaimed: “What is this hang-up about gay marriage? Who cares? Get on with your life!”
Perez Hilton, Sandra Bernhard and ohhh myyyyyy … Mr. Sulu Himself! Out Star Trek actor George Takei has been Stern’s official announcer since 2006.
Takei told me how he became involved with the show and why he continues to be one of the most popular members of Stern's on-air family.
JF: How did you get involved with The Howard Stern Show?
GT: Brad (that’s Brad Altman, Takei’s husband) got me on it. In 1990, I was performing in a play in New York and I didn’t know Howard from Adam. I remember waiting outside of the studio and hearing a gross conversation going on. I was thinking, why don’t they get some nice music? What a shock to find out that’s the show I was waiting to go on. Howard is known for pranks but he’s a decent guy and a strong supporter of equality for gays and lesbians.
When the California Supreme Court allowed same-sex marriage, that’s when Howard and his wife Beth got married.
JF: Some members of the LGBT community have a negative perception of Howard Stern? Why should they give the show a chance?
GT: Howard is known for college boy pranks but the fact that he’s invited me to be the announcer shows he stands for opportunity. He’s allowed me to talk about my relationship and wedding as a normal part of society and how straight and gay couples can identify with each other. He’s given me the platform to show the challenges a gay couple faces, without judgement.
JF: Do you ever feel uncomfortable talking about your private life and sexual topics on the show?
GT: Howard has a way of dragging things out of people. He’s a very good interviewer but don’t think what I talk about is different than what straight people talk about. Howard creates easy conversation.
JF: Do you think you’ve changed the opinions of some of Howard’s homophobic listeners?
GT: One listener in Oklahoma City, a straight married guy with two kids sent me an email saying he was against same-sex marriage. After hearing the way Howard talked about this issue, it changed his attitude. Now, if there’s pro-gay legislation, he’ll vote in favor of it. I’ve received a number of emails like that.