Google "Liberace predator." Go on, do a Google search for it, and you'll see at least eight hits on the first page alone that reference the famous, late musician as being a sexual predator. Well, one of the eight references states that he was not a predator, but that's the exception. Of course, if you come to this post some time after it's been written, the search results may be different. The reason there's so much chatter online about the flamboyant piano player who died 26 years ago is a new, high-profile movie recently aired.
Behind the Candelabra premiered on HBO two nights ago. It has a nice Hollywood pedigree, yet eventually took form as a TV movie (albeit a graphic one) because it was deemed to be too gay for a mainstream Hollywood theatrical release. And, yes, it is most certainly gay. Heterosexual actors Michael Douglas and Matt Damon do a brilliant job at playing the homosexual and bisexual characters of Liberace and his lover Scott Thorson, respectively. Thorson enters the star's rich and luxurious world, and never wants to leave. It is their relationship, and how it developed, that leaves me puzzled as to why so many articles are referring to the late showman as a "predator."
As far as we know, from what is gleaned from Thorson's book that the film was based on, and others' accounts of the celebrity's lifestyle, Liberace was certainly a hyper-sexual older man who preferred to copulate with younger fellows. He probably used the lure of his wealth to help appeal to them, but there did seem to honestly be some love between he and Thorson. However, at no time do we know of Liberace having run-ins with underage boys, or harming his lovers, or keeping them prisoner.
Why, then, does the media label him a predator?
Sexual predators are real, and they should be identified as such. But Liberace -- from what we know of him -- did not fit such a mold. To be sure, he was a messed-up individual, living in a society that would not accept him being public about his sexuality, too old and horny for most younger men, only his wealth providing an initial form of attraction. He had a suffocating mother-son relationship. He was routinely unfaithful. Certainly, Liberace wasn't going to win any 'Most Wonderful Person of the Year' awards, but a predator? No.
Let's be clear: I am making the assertion that there is a double-standard occurring here. If Liberace had been a straight man, with the exact same lifestyle (just substituting women for the men, of course), then no doubt he would have been celebrated by adolescent and twenty-something males the world over for his prowess, and labeled a "stud." He'd have been the Wilt Chamberlain of the music world. Alas, he was gay, and so he was a "predator."
C'mon, people, it's 2013 for crying out loud.