March 11, 1967– John Barrowman:
Never apologize for being nerdy, because un-nerdy people never apologize for being assholes.
He is quite the underachiever: actor, dancer, singer, writer; working on stage, in films, television, and with the extra duty of being professionally good-looking. He even danced on ice.
Barrowman is probably most famous for playing time-traveling Captain Jack Harkness in the 2005 reboot of Doctor Who (1989-2015) produced by Queer As Folk creator Russell T. Davies. Barrowman then went on to star in a popular Doctor Who spinoff, Torchwood (2006-2011).
Barrowman was born in Glasgow, Scotland. In 1976, when he was eight-years old, his family relocated to Illinois by the company his father was working for. While he was in high school, Barrowman appeared in his school’s musical productions. He majored in Theatre at United States International University in San Diego.
Back in the UK, Barrowman made quite a splash in London with his professional debut in a West End production of Cole Porter‘s Anything Goes (1989), not as Reno Sweeney, but playing the ingénue Billy Crocker, a role he would play 14-years later in the Trevor Nunn acclaimed 2003 West End revival. Always in demand for stage work, he has also appeared in West End productions of Miss Saigon, Beauty And The Beast, Hair, Grease!, The Phantom Of The Opera, and La Cage Aux Folles. Barrowman played Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard in the West End and, briefly, on Broadway. His only other Broadway role was in the Stephen Sondheim revue Putting It Together (1999–2000) opposite Carol Burnett. In 2002, Barrowman played Bobby in Sondheim’s Company at the Kennedy Center, as part of a Sondheim festival.
On film, Barrowman sang a duet with Kevin Kline in that dreadful Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely (2004), one of the few highlights in that clunker, and he sang the big Springtime For Hitler number in the film version of the stage musical version of the original film of Mel Brooks‘ The Producers (2005).
Barrowman had originally been considered for the title role of Will on the television series Will & Grace (1998-2006), but the network brass felt he was “too straight”, and the role went to Eric McCormack instead, who is of course, straight.
He did appear on American series television, on Arrow (2016-18) as an action-crime-super hero DC Comics drama on the CW.
Barrowman has been out and proud for a long time and has always been forthright about his gayness. He revealed he was once written off a television series for refusing to hide the fact he was in a relationship with another guy. Just as his television career took off, he faced a very real pressure to stay in the closet by a production company that was run by a gay man. He was given the ax from 1990s USA Network series Central Park West (1995-96) because he refused to keep the relationship a secret.
Barrowman met handsome architect Scott Gill in 1993, and they have been a couple ever since. They became husbands in 2013. When it was suggested by the producers that Barrowman keep quiet about the gay stuff, he said:
I went back to Scott and told him, I can’t do that. I can’t lie! For years I’d wanted to be myself and I hid being gay for a period of time, and been bullied for certain things. But, I can’t do that, so I said no, and I just lived my life. My character was written out of the show and sent of to South America to get a face-lift.
Barrowman is dedicated to his fans. Last spring, during a live-stream from his Palm Springs home’s hot tub, his husband happened to get in the tub totally naked, showing the world his stuff. Let’s just say that Barrowman must be very happy and very talented. You can find it on Youtube.
Barrowman claims when he met Gill it was love at first sight:
I was doing the play in Chichester and Scott was brought down to see the play by a mutual friend of ours. He told Scott: ‘You’ve gotta see this guy in the play, he’s naked for the first seven minutes!’ So Scott certainly knew what he was getting!
The couple became domestic partners in the UK in 2006, and they were married in Palm Springs, just a week following the United States Supreme Court’s decision to deny an appeal to overturning California Proposition 8.
It feels great and I think more gay men and gay women should go ahead and do it as long as they’re serious about it. It’s not really recognition, but it’s important for people to see the normality of the entire situation, and it forces people who don’t agree with gay men and women to have to accept us. We deserve the rights like everybody else. It’s been a long wait, but we legitimized our relationship to each other a long time ago when we signed our mortgages together, and this is just something that forces people who don’t want to recognize it that they have to.
Barrowman has written a pair of juicy memoirs: Anything Goes (2008) and I Am What I Am (2009). He has 10 solo albums and can be heard on the original cast recordings for 13 musicals.
Both Barrowman and Gill are outspoken advocates for Gay Rights and Progressive Politics. Barrowman worked with Stonewall, one of the strongest British Gay Rights organizations. Barrowman helped place signs around London that read:
Help exterminate homophobia. Be bold. Be brave. Be a buddy, not a bully.
Barrowman acted as a representative of the LGBTQ community to then Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Barrowman holds British and American passports. He has been outspoken about the current failing administration, especially Veep Mike Pence for his support for conversion therapy. Barrowman is very passionate when it comes to the election and who gets to select the country’s next Supreme Court justices. The future of LGBTQ rights hinges on it, he said.
Here we have a buffoon who is going to try to get into the White House and then he and his party elect some supreme court justices who more than likely would take all of our rights away again.
I hope it doesn’t happen. Then there will be an extreme outcry from people because too many people have too many people in their lives who are LGBTQ and we all know now, it’s not a disease, it’s not a choice, it’s not an affliction, you can’t change it, we’re born this way and that’s it. And we have to make the laws and rules to accommodate everybody and that’s gonna be Democratic Supreme Court Justice choices, not Republican!
Last year, Barrowman appeared on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!, a reality television series in which celebrities live together in a jungle for a month, competing to be crowned “King” or “Queen of the Jungle”. The first UK was filmed in Queensland, Australia. It is a sort of combination of Survivor and Big Brother with a decidedly British sensibility. It has had 18 seasons, despite few Americans tuning-in. Barrowman came in third place, but not after eating some disgusting things, spraining his ankle and appearing naked. At the end of the show, he was united with his husband:
We’ve already talked about buying a camper van when I saw Scott the other day in the jungle. I don’t think I will be going in a tent or sleeping outdoors but I might be in a big camp camper, fabulous!
I have learned in here how to use your fear and make your fear your strength and live every day in the moment.
Earlier in the season, he related a story of how they met to another contestant:
I was in Sunset Boulevard at the time and I invited Scott to come and see me and we’d then go out for a meal. Well that night we were meant to go out I get a call from someone who said they had Cher on the line. She’d seen the show the night before and wanted to take me out for dinner. I said: ‘that’s amazing, but I can’t go’. I spoke to Cher and told her why and she said no one had ever turned her down before so bring Scott along. So, our first date was with Cher.
Before going on the show, Barrowman joked he wanted to be the first of a new kind of gender fluid winner on the show:
I want to be King and Queen of the jungle and cross the gender lines.
The couple have houses in London, Cardiff, Wales; and Palm Springs that they share with their three cocker spaniels, and where they host an annual yard sale every March. They couldn’t possibly be more adorable.