AN: I have had this story in my head for a while but wasn't sure how to attack it. This is totally different than how I imagined it. Please let me know what you think. It's different than anything I have written (style wise) Oh and regular text is the author writing, italics is not.
I first met Kurt Hummel in the summer of 1971, before the premiere of his movie The Devil and Me. I was floored by the opportunity to met this legend of Stage, Radio, Television and Screen. I was just a young journalist trying to start my own magazine. In The Open or ITO, as many of you know it as now, was just in its infancy. I was the editor, writer and publisher, I was the magazine. Being young and optimistic, I requested interviews with nearly everyone making headlines at the time. After three small issues, with no one of importance ever agreeing to an interview, I was flabbergasted when Mr. Hummel agreed to meet with me. After all this was the romantic lead of the most infamous Hollywood love story of all time, agreeing to meet with a reporter for a small, magazine marketed to the gay community. Little did I know the impact that first meeting would have, not only on my little rag, but on me, Mr. Hummel and the world at large.
The first article I published on Mr. Hummel was not the story he really had to tell. It was your basic Hollywood interview about the movie hitting theatres later that month. But that meeting led to this, a full article telling the story of Kurt Hummel as told by him. This is not the story of how he met and fell in love with his partner, Brittany Pierce, who he later married. This is the story of the man who after 60 years of life, may finally get to live the life he always dreamed of. This is the story about a man who had dreams overshadowed by the world's rules, the world's fears and the world's prejudices.
I was born in a small town of Ohio, on October 27, 1911. My parents were poor, my father working at a local farm, my mother being a house maker, as was the norm at the time. When I was eight, she became ill, the doctors weren't sure what was wrong and after less than a week, she died. We had no other family in the area, so my dad sent me to live with my aunt, that would be my mother's sister. She lived in New York in the Lower East Side with her husband and their son Artie(Artie Abrams). I was sad to leave my dad, but knew it was better for the both of us and New York was different than Ohio. Artie and I became fast friends, running the streets of New York and trying not to let Aunt Gertrude know all the trouble we were getting in. Not long after I arrived in New York we fell in with Finn (Finnegan Hudson) and Puck (Noah Puckerman). The four of us would stand on a street corner after school singing and dancing waiting for people to throw pennies into an out hat box we found in Aunt Gertie's closet. We called ourselves, the Less Than Singers, we figured if we set the bar low, people would be more willing to pitch in something. That summer though, Artie got sick, polio. It was awful watching him but no matter what Finn, Puck and I could go out and sing without him. He survived, obviously, but he never danced with us again. It took a while to convince Aunt Gertie to let him out of the house with us, but soon we were singing again.
We sang on street corners every day, but slowly they all left, Finn and Puck to chase skirts, and Artie cracking down on studying. With Artie, I understood, when he lost the use of his legs, he needed to an education, since he would be able to do the jobs normally reserved for boys in our neighborhood. Finn and Puck… well we were getting older, I guess I can't really blame them. When I was 12 I dropped out of school and moved my act to the Orpheum. Well, not really the Orpheum, more like the slab of pavement outside the Orpheum. I would put on my Sunday best and sing, dance, tell jokes, anything to get noticed. The pennies were less, but I was determined to grab the attention of someone from the theatre or the circuit.
After almost a year busking in front of the theatre all day every day, Will (Will Shuester) approached me. He had seen me the last time he made it to New York, said he was impressed by my determination. He took me inside and presented me to the stage manager. Finally I had my chance to prove myself. Bennie, I think was the stage managers name, he asked me what I could do, being the cheeky bastard I was I said, "What do you need?" That afternoon I found myself on the stage singing "Angel Child". Man I performed that song, dancing along, I worked hard for that performance. I was offered a place on the circuit making $80 a week. I kept my composure shook his hand then ran all the way home to tell Aunt Gertie and Uncle Jack. They weren't too pleased, but when I told them I would send home what I could, they were a bit happier.
Just thirteen and I was traveling around the country performing, doing whatever they needed me to. I studied everyone's acts, I could take over at the last minute for anyone. I had so many names I used I always joked that I needed to have my real name inked on my body so I could just look down if I forgot who I really was.
Will kept an eye on me, tried to make sure that I wasn't left behind or the management try to underpay me. He taught me some stuff too. Being in the circuit was a new experience, it was eye opening really. Something many people forget about Vaudeville at that time, was the men who would dress and sing like women, it's hushed up a bit now, but they were popular when I first joined up. The only problem was the talk that drifted around these men. At first I didn't really understand it, but soon I got what people meant. I was fourteen time I performed androgynously, my stage name was Marion Wentwood. I thought I was pretty clever with that, Marion was used for both men and women and Wentwood… well I thought it was appropriate. I was always careful not to be recognized when I dressed as Marion, I donned a black wig, darkened my eyebrows and used makeup to change my features. Not many people know it now, but I can sing really high… I never recorded it, for obvious reasons, but my range was rather large. It worked, I won the crowds over. When things shifted away from the freer feeling of the 1920's I let Marion go. It was easy, I only filled in when the regular wasn't with us. No one ever talked about me, I guess cause I was young, but I avoided the rumors.
When I turned 17, I decided that I needed to make a name for myself, but I needed a partner, I needed a straight man for comedic genius. In Hoboken, I met Brittany. She was part of the Pierce Sisters at the time. They were just coming into our part of the circuit, and I saw how talented she was. She was the youngest of her sisters, but the most talented, and they didn't use that fact. They mainly stuck her in the back. I started trying to convince her to join me, to make an act together. While she like the fact that I chased her, not to get up her skirt like most men, but for her talent, she said she couldn't leave her sister. As luck would have it, her oldest sister Blanche got in a little trouble and eloped leaving Brittany and Bianca high and dry with no act. Finally she agreed to work with me.
It took some convincing to get us on stage, we had one chance, for a permanent spot on the bill and for the higher pay. I told Brittany just to follow my lead. This could have been disaster, but it ended up being a stroke of genius. I asked Brittany a question, waiting for the set up for my perfect joke, but the words coming out of her mouth, I couldn't have written anything better. Brittany was born to play a Dumb Dora, but the best thing was that it was just her. She naturally had this dimwitted innocence, and I mean that in the best way possible. The audience couldn't help but love her, and we were set.
In the act we were dating, but in real life we were best friends. Yes, people assumed we were together, we didn't mind, we were happy just spending time together. I knew… even then… I wasn't using her.
It was at this point Mr. Hummel had to take a moment and collect himself. We resumed after a few minutes.
In May of 1930, a new act joined our tour. Blaine Anderson and Santana Lopez, they were a song and dance team. The crowd couldn't help but love them, they were fun to watch… a talented couple. Brittany and Santana hit it off instantly, as did Blaine and I. It was rare after that to see one of us without the other three. We shared compartments on the trains, and Santana and Brit would share rooms at the hotel and Blaine and I would do the same. It was complicated though… You are the first person I have told this, from the media at least… but, I'm gay. I've known it for a long time, but I just ignored it, figuring that it just meant I was meant for a life of solitude. But Blaine… he made that almost impossible. I didn't know if he felt the same way… it was not something people talked about… not at the time. I just tried to push my feelings away. We were in New Orleans, it was after a long day of shows, this would be about six months after Blaine and Santana joined us. The girls had gone back to the hotel and Blaine and I went to eat before heading back ourselves. We had scored some booze from somewhere, who knows what it was. We were both young, never really had anything to drink before, what with Prohibition and all, but we wanted some fun. We had a couple of drinks, we weren't drunk just feeling loose. We had been chatting and laughing all night, basically just doing what we always did. That was when he kissed me. Now I had kissed a couple of girls, including Brittany, but nothing compared to this. If I had any doubts before I knew then that I defiantly was gay, and I defiantly had feelings for Blaine. But I was scared, I wanted to run away but Blaine wouldn't let me.
We ended up talking about it, deciding that we couldn't tell anyone, and it couldn't happen again it was too risky. We tried really hard over the next few months not to let it happen again, but things changed again one day when we walked in on the girl unannounced, and let's just say they weren't doing each other's hair. I swear they both thought that we were going to end our partnership, but instead we came up with a plan. From that moment on I was dating Brittany openly and Blaine was dating Santana, at least in public. Behind closed doors, I was with Blaine and Brit was with Santana.
When more acts started transitioning to radio, we wanted to do it too. We knew we wanted to work together, so we planned out how to do it. We worked on the act on stage, bringing Blaine and Santana into our act. People seemed to like it and that was how "Our Little Darlings" came about. We were picked up by NBC Radio in 1933. By the time we finished the first season, we were becoming popular, but people also started asking when we were going to tie the knot.
That was a long, hard conversation. We knew what we wanted, but we also knew that it wasn't possible. In the end we were married in a double ceremony. To us, we were marrying the people we loved, not our partners. My vows were said in to Blaine, my ring has his name in it, as his had mine. The girls were the same way. In a lot of ways we were lucky, what are the chances we would have even had this chance.
We built houses on a large piece of property, with a huge shared basement. I lived with Blaine and Brittany with Santana, but to the world, we were the perfect normal couples. We were just close to our best friends. We have been together ever since. Through the transition to Television, doing more film. I think we have the healthiest Hollywood relationship, except for the part about having to hide it.
"Why now? Why tell your story now?" I had to ask. I knew that that would be what everyone would want to know.
Every few years we would talk about opening up and being honest with the world, but it never seemed the right time. We were happy, when knew what we had. Then Brittany started having problems with her heart. We didn't want to stress her more than needed. She quit working, we changed focus in our career again. I started writing more, Blaine focused on his music, as did Santana. When we talked about it again, Brit's only request was to wait until after she was dead. She said, "I want people to know that I love Santana. I just don't want people to make our love look bad."
When Brit died, (January 16, 1966) we all mourned. I did love her, not like a wife, but she was one of my best friends. We were heartbroken, but none of us compared to Santana. She started drinking, she stopped talking to Blaine and me. We tried to help her, to be there for her, but she pushed us away. We thought she was getting better. A little over a year later, as you know, she was driving drunk and wrapped her car around a tree, dying instantly. (February 14, 1967) Blaine and I mourned her loss just as much. It was hard, at least with Brit we had time to prepare ourselves.
We wanted to come out then, to tell the world our stories, but we didn't want to overshadow our girl's deaths. We knew our fans were already hurting and we didn't want to cause anyone anymore pain. We kept up the front, but I'm tired of living the lie. Blaine and I have been together as a couple for forty years, and married at least in our eyes for thirty-eight. We know this may cost us our careers and people may hate us, but we are done pretending.
At this point Blaine Anderson joined, I was honored to be one of the first people to see the two together the way they really are. The way they looked at each other, you could see the love between them. It made me realize that I want a girl to look at me the same way someday. If I ever had someone look at me with half the love these two share, I would feel lucky. Mr. Anderson shared with me: I have loved Kurt forever. I think he was the one I had been looking for all my life. I just hope people can see and understand that was we have is true love. And how can true love be wrong?
This article was originally published in 1971, and the impact was almost instantaneous. Some people felt that their dreams had been broken, finding out their favorite Hollywood romances was a sham. For others though, it gave them hope. Seeing a couple, so like then meeting, falling for each other and lasting at a time when homosexuality was looked down upon even more than it was then or today. They lost work, they lost friends, but they had each other, they were happy.
I am now reprinting it in honor of Mr. Hummel's 100th birthday. I was delighted to meet with him again. While we have been in touch off and on, my busy schedule, and Mr. Hummel's need for privacy kept us apart for several years. When I asked how Kurt felt about turning 100 he simply said:
My life has been over for ten years, I'm tired and I just want to see my Blaine again.
Blaine Anderson died of heart failure on December 8, 2001. Leaving behind the man he was with for seventy years. What marriage last that long? For Mr. Hummel's birthday, I think we should remember his real Hollywood love story. When discussing gay marriage think of this couple who committed to each other so long ago, before marriage equality was even a pipe dream. Think how different their life could have been if they could have been open about their love.
AN: Hit or Miss let me know.