In her new movie, Florence Foster Jenkins, Meryl Streep takes on the true story of a socialite ridiculed for her lack of rhythm and terrible singing ability. There is an LGBT subplot to the film, as well because Florence’s accompanist is a closeted gay man named Cosmé, who is played by actor Simon Helberg.
When Streep was recently asked in an interview if she thought Jenkins would have been comfortable with an openly gay accompanist, the actress said “Oh, absolutely!”
She continues by referring to the time period of the film, set in the 1940’s. “The arts was where people could thrive,” Streep said. “I mean, every other part of society, I don’t think was friendly. So I don’t know. I think Florence is someone who embraced that world so thoroughly; I can’t imagine that she would have disapproved of Cosmé or in any way not loved him as much as she did.”
Streep also delved into the LGBT music influencers she had in her own youth.
“My piano teacher and his lover lived in a little house in Berkeley Heights, N.J.,” she said at a movie press event. “And I would go once a week to have my piano lesson.”
“My mother, who was born in 1915, never said — ‘the boys,’ she called them — she never said ‘the boys are gay,’ or that there was anything that she disapproved of. But it was just that this is a different life, and … they were living under the cover of the love of the people who loved them.”
The actress also had a trans teachers at school who introduced her to what it means to really live the life you want.
“My music teacher in sixth grade in Basking Ridge, N.J., was named Paul Grossman,” she said. “And… the next year he came back, and he was Paula.”
“Who really did that then?” Streep remarked. “It was very, very unusual. And he came back to school. He had three kids and stayed married, but he was himself, and he led the chorus.”