His mother kicked him out for being gay. He’s turned how he survived into a movie.
I met James Lipton when he came to see me in the fall of 2008 to do a talk I was giving at a gay club in New York City. I’d just been out of the closet and, given the time I’d spent around gay men and gay women, I thought James was, in a word, hot. And the fact was he was gorgeous. He was a handsome guy with a deep voice, a lean muscular frame, and, thanks to his high-status parents, he had a lot of disposable income and, at the time he met me, he was earning a good living as a photo journalist for Vanity Fair. He was smart, a quick-witted comic, and a good friend. His parents had made a fortune investing in various businesses and I’d been told he’d gotten into his first Harvard class wearing a white suit.
The first time we met, at the club, he was wearing a red shirt and red suspenders. When he walked into a room in a business suit, it was very clear to me, in my moment of shock, that he was really gay.
Once he saw me, though, he began to pull on his suspenders and get dressed in the black suit jacket with the white shirt and black suspenders he’d worn to the club. When he came toward me, he pulled up the suspenders so they were hanging off his wrist; he looked a lot more manly in those suspenders.
“I’ve got something I need to say to you,” he explained to me, “but, you know, I don’t quite know how to say it.”
He then pulled on the suit jacket and sat down on the couch in the room. He was drinking a Pepsi.
“When your mother kicked you out of the house,” he said, “she said you were an embarrassment to your father—that you were ‘a disgusting specimen.'”
I felt shocked—but also a tiny bit relieved. So it was, in fact, true, as James had so neatly and eloquently described it: She indeed had cast a slur upon my homosexuality.
“You know what your mother said? She said you were ‘exactly what the world wants from a man—exactly what the world says you