The Top Ten Greatest Gays of Texas

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7. Terrence McNally Playwright Terrence McNally has more awards than you can shake a cat at: four Tonys, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller Grant and a bunch of others you've never heard of but that are very, very hard to win. McNally was raised in Corpus Christi but -- you guessed it -- jumped ship to New York. He began a romance with his theater mentor, Edward Albee (playwright of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and a current UH professor). Some of McNally's work was focused on AIDS and studied social stigmas against positive folks, including Andre's Mother and Lips Together, Teeth Apart.

Most famously, McNally wrote the musicals Ragtime, The Full Monty and Catch Me If You Can.

But McNally's most controversial play was Corpus Christi, a reimagining of Jesus' life where Jesus and his disciples are gay. On opening night 2,000 protesters took to the theater, and when it opened in London, a Muslim group issued a fatwa against McNally and he was sentenced to death.

McNally is currently revising the beloved musical Pal Joey.

6. Mary Martin Okay, so Weatherford native Mary Martin -- famous for her portrayal of Peter Pan -- never actually came out. But she's rumored to have had a long-term relationship with fellow movie star Janet Gaynor. Both ladies had "lavender marriages," those contrived to hide the sexuality of one or both of the spouses. (Martin was married to an interior decorator; Gaynor, to a costume designer.)

One of the most entertaining snippets about Martin comes from her performance of an innuendo-laden Cole Porter song, "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." Apparently, Martin was so naive that she had no idea what she was really singing about, to the delight of her cosmopolitan audiences:

If I invite A boy, some night To dine on my fine finnan haddie, I just adore His asking for more, But my heart belongs to Daddy.

5. John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner Not all great Texas gays made their mark on the stage. John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner changed Texas forever when their Supreme Court case legalized being gay. In 1998, a sheriff's deputy busted into Lawrence's apartment on the tip that there was a gun-wielding maniac inside. (The tipster later admitted to making the story up. He was actually a jealous lover of Garner's.) Instead of discovering weapons, the deputy found two men making love. They were arrested on the spot for violation of sodomy laws.

Thankfully, they fought their conviction all the way to the Supreme Court, which voted 6-3 to strike down the law. It would be one of the biggest Supreme Court decisions in history. (We spoke with the arresting officer who started the whole ball rolling after the Supreme Court decision.)

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Mandy Oaklander
Contact: Mandy Oaklander