Happy ends & beginnings The Lavender Tube on Luke, Matt, Jonathan, Robin and others' new projects & families

  • by Victoria A. Brownworth
  • Tuesday August 22, 2023
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Luke Macfarlane and Peter Porte in Hallmark's 'Notes of Autumn' (photo: Allister Foster/Hallmark Media)
Luke Macfarlane and Peter Porte in Hallmark's 'Notes of Autumn' (photo: Allister Foster/Hallmark Media)

You may need a chaser to Amazon Prime's hot little gay rom-com movie, "Red, White & Royal Blue" with Taylor Zakhar Perez as Alex, son of the U.S. president and Nicholas Galitzine as Prince Henry (Read our review).

There's more to come, that was, thankfully, in the works before the writer's strike that has dragged on since May 4, leaving us largely in a world of game shows and reality series. Let's catch up with a few new gay romance shows.

"Notes of Autumn," starring Ashley Williams, Luke Macfarlane, Marcus Rosner, and Peter Porte, will premiere as part of Hallmark Channel's annual Fall into Love programming event on Saturday, September 16. Singer-songwriter and actress Debbie Gibson serves as an executive producer. Troy Scott directed from a script by Rick Garman.

Ellie (Williams) is a fun-loving, classically trained pianist living in the city who gave up on her passion long ago and now works for a hotel. Her best friend Leo (Macfarlane) lives in the rustic outskirts of British Columbia. Leo's a famous author with writer's block who can't seem to finish another installment in his highly popular book series. (We can relate!)

Realizing they both need a change of scenery as the chilly days of autumn settle in, they decide to swap places, only to find themselves completely lost in new surroundings.

Peter Porte, Luke Macfarlane, Ashley Williams, Marcus Rosner in Hallmark's 'Notes of Autumn' (photo: Allister Foster/Hallmark Media)  

Ellie gets tangled up in helping Sam (Rosner), Leo's neighbor, put together a musical performance for a local fundraiser and comes to terms with why she quit music years ago. Leo strikes up a friendship with Ellie's good friend Matt (Porte) and opens himself up to writing something different that really inspires him.

If you guessed romance is in the wings for both Ellie and Leo, you guessed right.

Out gay actor Macfarlane starred in "Bros" on the big screen and in the Hallmark Channel movie "A Magical Christmas Village." He also played Charlie on the Apple TV+ series "Platonic." Porte has guest starred on "Uncoupled'' and "NCIS," and also played Dimitri Von Leuschner on "Days of Our Lives" and Ricky Williams on "The Young and the Restless."

On June 4, 2023, Macfarlane and his partner, alpine skier Hig Roberts, welcomed their first child together.

"Tess Eleanor Macfarlane, born June 4th 2023," Macfarlane wrote in his Instagram post, sharing the name of his daughter to his friends and followers.

"We started life with some hectic days and received world-class care. On Father's Day we got to take her home. Her Dads can't wait to introduce her to all the remarkable people and the beautiful world we live in."

Fellow Travelers
The trailer for Showtime's upcoming historical miniseries "Fellow Travelers" is amazingly hot and will have you anxiously awaiting the drop, which is still weeks away, but we wanted to get you pumped for it.

Based on the 2007 novel by Thomas Mallon, the series stars perennial out gay hottie Matt Bomer and out gay actor Jonathan Bailey. The focal point is the decades-long romance between two men who first meet during the height of McCarthyism in the 1950s.

Jonathan Bailey and Matt Bomer in 'Fellow Travelers' (photo: Showtime)  

Showtime says: "After a chance encounter in Washington D.C. in the 1950s, Hawkins Fuller (Bomer) and Timothy Laughlin (Bailey) start a volatile romance that spans the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s, the drug-fueled disco hedonism of the 1970s and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, while facing obstacles in the world and in themselves."

Save up to buy Showtime, kids. You do not want to miss this one.

GMA goes gayer
"Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts is the most visible Black lesbian on TV and one of the most beloved. After 18 years of a half-closeted love affair with her partner Amber Laign, Roberts is finally tying the knot in September. (www.goodmorningamerica.com)

Robin Roberts and Amber Laign on GMA (photo: ABC/Michael LeBrecht II)  

Yes, wedding bells are ringing for the couple who met on a blind date in 2005 and fell in love. They have not only been through the vicissitudes of the closet and coming out very publicly, but both women have gone through life-altering and nearly life-ending cancer experiences.

Roberts' experience with first breast cancer and then a harrowing bone marrow transplant she documented on "GMA" led to her acknowledging Laign publicly and coming out in 2013. Now it seems Laign's recent very tough battle with breast cancer has propelled the couple into "What on earth are we waiting for?" nuptials.

We wrote over and over in this column in the aughts that Roberts should come out. The trajectory of Roberts' and Laign's relationship from hidden secret to wedding shower on the show is in many respects the history of marriage equality in the U.S. It's also a story of how much more national acceptance of same-sex couples there is than there was two decades ago.

Now it's "Road to the Ring" on "GMA" which kicked off with a big wedding shower with the women's friends and family on the August 16 show. Niecy Nash Betts, who herself came out recently and married her beautiful butch partner Jessica, was cheerleading the party. (previously; B.A.R.)

The next day Roberts shared a photo of the couple from the party on Instagram, writing, "Sweet Amber & I had so much fun yesterday! We appreciated @goodmorningamerica fam throwing us a wonderful party and all the well wishes we received truly touched us...we thank you! It was good to be by each other's side because this morn we're both headed in different directions to our respective bachelorette parties close friends are hosting for us. Happy Place here I come!"

Catch up on www.goodmorningamerica.com

Lemon's aid?
For years we cheered out gay CNN anchor Don Lemon. And then this year the always acerbic snap diva part of Lemon that we'd long appreciated when it was turned on Trump, the GOP and racists, started to turn on women in streaks of misogyny. The result was audience and coworker blowback that led to Lemon being fired in April.

Don Lemon (photo: CNN)  

On the August 18 episode of her podcast Pivot, Kara Swisher talked to Lemon about the firing and the revamping of CNN.

Lemon said, "CNN, the strategy and their content and the direction they wanted to go in, I was not a part of that. They did not want me to be a part of that, and I think that has, from what has played out publicly as it relates to CNN, as it relates to management, and what they're doing now, I think that it's obvious that they didn't want me to be a part of that. And I think that's a real issue that happened."

When asked about CNN head Chris Licht being fired soon after Licht fired Lemon, he told Swisher, "Do I feel vindicated in that sense? Yes, I do."

He also claimed that had Jeff Zucker been heading the network when Lemon made misogynist comments about GOP presidential contender Nikki Haley, for which he apologized online, he would not have been fired.

Lemon said, "I hadn't gotten into trouble for making mistakes before because I would apologize for them or explain what I intended to say, and it would be fine because I think people understood that that's the way it works in television."

He said. "I was never allowed to address the issue on the air. I wish that I could've, but I was never allowed to."

Lemon seems to forget how he doubled down with female co-anchors Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins or that women at CNN had complained about his misogyny. So this was a missed opportunity to acknowledge that all men are inculcated to be misogynist and "some of my best friends are women" is never a defense. Disappointing.

Climate crisis
Finally, as we wrote here, the climate crisis impacts LGBTQ people directly and precipitously, posing unique threats to the LGBTQ community. The scenes from Maui, SoCal, the Pacific Northwest and Canada are gutting. We all need to be engaged in protecting the planet—and ourselves. Donate to help Maui and local communities impacted by fires and floods if you can. We need to be in this together.

So to mitigate those end-of-summer blues and embrace the autumnal equinox ahead and keep dystopia at bay, you know you really must stay tuned.