“Torchwood” star John Barrowman may not be the gay of the decade as voted by visitors to AfterElton, but he has a new fan in the man who was crowned the winner: Neil Patrick Harris.
“Mr. Barrowman, sir, well played,” Harris told AfterElton after learning of the victory. “We have never actually met, but know that I am a fan of yours onstage/screen and off. You are a true class act, and represent yourself extremely well. Happy Decade to you.”
Both Barrowman and the “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” star pulled out the big guns to compete on what was meant to be a rather harmless poll put out by the gay entertainment site. Both took to Twitter and other social media, and recruited some of the biggest names in the genre to help get votes cast their way.
In the end, however, what was thought to be a close battle was more decisive. Harris won 61 percent of the vote versus 32 percent from Barrowman. Ian McKellen from Lord of the Rings and X-Men fame had 2 percent of the vote, followed by “Star Trek” alum George Takei with 1 percent, tied with singer Adam Lambert.
“While I am aware that there are far more deserving people for this award — Tony Kushner and Larry Kramer and Paul Rudnick and Ian McKellen and Dustin Lance Black spring to mind — I will humbly accept this honor,” Harris said. “And I vow to not turn straight for at least another 10 years.”
AfterElton writer Brent Hartinger said one of the nice things that came from the poll is the fact that both Harris and Barrowman proved careers can actually get better after coming out, not get worse. Both have reached their best success yet since going public with their sexuality, and it has not weighed them down in the slightest.
“Indeed, in many ways, for many people, they are the ‘face’ of gay men in both the United States and the United Kingdom,” Hartinger said. “The same can be said for many of the other top vote-getters in our poll, especially Sir Ian McKellen and George Takei.”
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a continuing backlash against the gay community from some people.
“Homophobia is still far too pervasive,” Hartinger said. “While we celebrate the success of these men, we here at AfterElton.com also hear stories almost every week of anti-gay prejudice, even in the entertainment industry. Sometimes subtle, sometimes very pronounced.”
But having positive role models in the community like Harris and Barrowman help, Hartinger said.
“Celebrity role models now exist to influence the popular perception of what it means to be gay,” he said. “Gay serial killers and scandal-plagued politicians are no longer virtually the only ‘public’ face of homosexuality, which, thanks to the insidious nature of the closet, they were in the decades before now.”
More than 80,000 votes were cast in the AfterElton poll.