Broad­way and record­ing artist on sappy songs, bi­sex­u­al­ity and his proud­est mo­ments

GA Voice - - Lgbt Atlanta Arts Reviews Entertaniment - By CHRIS AZ­ZOPARDI

As a child, Alan Cum­ming cried as his older brother sang “Danny Boy” to him from across the bed­room they shared.

“He would do it to make me cry,” Cum­ming says, re­call­ing his re­ac­tion to the Ir­ish sta­ple. “It’s just the emotion of the song. I’m Scot­tish, so the ‘pipes’ are kind of a di­rect route to my tear ducts.”

“Danny Boy” was the first song to break the singer-ac­tor into pieces - but it wouldn’t be the last. There’d be An­nie Len­nox’s “Why” and Adele’s “Some­one Like You” and Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes,” all of which are among the tear-in­duc­ing tunes on the per­former’s lat­est re­lease, “Alan Cum­ming Sings Sappy Songs: Live at the Cafe Car­lyle.”

And when Cum­ming cries, it’s no act. Those are real tears. Af­ter all, this is not Broad­way, where the ac­tor has ap­peared in a mélange of shows in­clud­ing “Mac­beth” and “Cabaret,” for which he won a Tony. Nor is this “The Good Wife” (he plays Eli Gold on the CBS show, which wraps in May). It’s also not “Spy Kids” or “The Smurfs” or his U.S. film de­but, 1997’s “Romy and Michele’s High School Re­union.” On that Car­lyle stage, Cum­ming is only one per­son: him­self.

“I’ve al­ways been at­tracted to both sexes, and whether I act on it or not is not any­one’s busi­ness, re­ally. I’m not go­ing to close my­self off to the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­pe­ri­ence just be­cause so­ci­ety says we must stick within th­ese rigid bound­aries.” —Alan Cum­ming

How do you ex­plain your ap­pre­ci­a­tion for mu­sic that makes you cry?

For me it’s about con­nect­ing per­son­ally. Th­ese songs are songs that have things in them that I can re­ally un­der­stand. I feel my singing them makes peo­ple lis­ten to them in a dif­fer­ent way, maybe. But, re­ally, they’re all songs that I felt com­pelled to sing be­cause I con­nect to them in an emo­tional way.

Your ré­sumé is ex­pan­sive. When a gay guy stops you on the street, which ca­reer en­deavor of yours are they most likely to com­pli­ment you on?

It’s very dif­fi­cult to tell nowa­days – it re­ally is. You know, some men­tion the “Romy and Michele” thing. But now it’s re­ally hard to tell. It may be my book (“Not My Fa­ther’s Son: A Mem­oir”); it’s a va­ri­ety of things. With les­bians, I know it’s al­ways gonna be “The L Word.”

As a bi­sex­ual per­son your­self, you’re known for be­ing out­spo­ken on bi­sex­u­al­ity and gen­der flu­id­ity. How do you ex­plain bi­sex­u­al­ity to peo­ple who still don’t get it?

I’m not here to change peo­ple’s minds about whether they be­lieve in bi­sex­u­al­ity. All I’m say­ing is that I think my sex­u­al­ity and most peo­ple’s sex­u­al­ity is gray. And yeah, I like cock. I love cock. But I also feel that I have an at­trac­tion to women. I’ve never lost it, ac­tu­ally. I’ve al­ways been at­tracted to both sexes, and whether I act on it or not is not any­one’s busi­ness, re­ally. I’m not go­ing to close my­self off to the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­pe­ri­ence just be­cause so­ci­ety says we must stick within th­ese rigid bound­aries. I find it re­ally self-hat­ing that the gay com­mu­nity, which has been so bul­lied, are es­pe­cially the ones who might be chid­ing peo­ple about their bi­sex­u­al­ity. I think, let ev­ery­one be who they are.

It seems par­tic­u­larly galling that that would be com­ing from a fel­low LGBT per­son. I re­ally do be­lieve peo­ple to­day, es­pe­cially young peo­ple, have a much more fluid idea about sex­u­al­ity and gen­der, and I should think we’re in a re­ally great place with the youth of to­day. It’s peo­ple who are a bit older who are still strug­gling with it.

Re­flect­ing on your early days as an ac­tivist: Why was it so im­por­tant for you to start speak­ing out on LGBT is­sues?

I have a voice. I have a plat­form. I have a great life. I have a re­ally great life, and I live the way I want to live. I am the per­son I want to be, and I feel like it’s my duty to take care of peo­ple who don’t have those op­por­tu­ni­ties. I have a per­sonal con­nec­tion to peo­ple who have been prej­u­diced against who are gay or bi­sex­ual or trans­gen­der. I’m Scot­tish and I grew up with fair­ness and jus­tice. Where I come from, it’s very im­por­tant that we ad­here to mak­ing sure that ev­ery­one is look­ing af­ter each other. So, it’s partly my ge­netic makeup (laughs), but also in the priv­i­leged po­si­tion that I am in, I feel it’s my duty to give back and help other peo­ple along. Be­ing an artist is un­der­stand­ing other peo­ple and want­ing to reach and con­nect with other peo­ple, so help­ing other peo­ple is ab­so­lutely a part of that. When there’s in­jus­tice and per­se­cu­tion, I can’t re­ally live in a so­ci­ety with that go­ing on and not do some­thing about it.

Alan Cum­ming won a Tony Award for Best Per­for­mance by a Lead­ing Ac­tor in a Mu­si­cal as the Em­cee in ‘Cabaret’ in 1998. (Photos by Steve Vac­cariell)

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