Well, I had hoped not to have to report this story when I first read about it on Friday afternoon. I had hoped that somehow it wasn't true. But now it seems there is more information available and it is with the heartbreak of a shattered illusion that I must inform you: Carol Channing doesn't like the gays.
(I know. Take a moment. It's okay. Breathe.)
In the past Ms. Channing has been known to support gay causes even appearing in gay pride parades and the like. Just last year she told the Windy City Times:
“Gay people are my favorites. Gay people just know people that are talented. They just know. I'’m their queen!”
It's true. The gay community has always figured prominently among her fan base, a fact of which she is obviously well aware. Some silly showtune queen-types even seem to deify her for her role in musical theatre history. Can you imagine?
Alright, alright, I confess I'm one of them! My friend Chuck and I decided in college that she was part of the Holy Triumvirate of Broadway Leading Ladies. "In the name of the Channing, and the Merman and the Mary Martin. Amen." So you can imagine how devastated I was to read about her rift with the gay community.
Apparently she gave an interview to a reporter named Kaizaad Kotwal of the Gay People's Chronicle. Ms. Channing is now 85 years old and apparently didn't realize at first that this phone interview was with a gay publication. During the course of their conversation she revealed her true feelings about her rather large gay following saying:
I don'’t think about them. I'’m grateful that they seem to like me. They'’re terribly loyal to me. But I'm knee-deep in the Bible and you know what it says about that.And on gay marriage:
I don't think about it. If they can'’t take care of their own problems, why should I bother. It'’s not my problem.
Fearing the gays might turn on Ms. Channing the way we did last season's American Idol contestant, Mandisa, after her ad libbed "lifestyle" remarks, Ms. Channing's publicist, Harlan Boll, released a statement in which he says:
(Kotwal) says he is quoting from a transcript he doesnt have. He was asking questions of Carol that were clearly traps. She initially thought she was doing an interview with The Springfied Times. I hadn't told her I had switched the two and when the reporter started asking questions about her gay friends, she thought it was going to be one of those interviews where she would have to defend her friends, but when she realized it was a gay trade, her defenses were already up and confusion ensued.
I don't know--the Kotwal interview seems pretty straight forward to me.
So, why would Carol Channing suddenly change her attitude about the gay community? Well, this is just a hypothesis, but you may recall back in 1998 Ms. Channing abruptly filed for divorce from her then husband of 42 years, Charles Lowe, over his alleged homosexuality. In interviews at the time Ms. Channing complained openly about their lack of marital relations during the course of their marriage ("Twice in 42 years!"). It could make a girl bitter.
Or maybe she's just losing her marbles.