Photo: Jonathan Van Ness/Instagram

Hang Out With These Nine Queer Icons in Quarantine

LGBTQIA+ Travel Entertainment
by John Garry Apr 15, 2020

If it feels like you’re on day 365 of self-isolation and the pandemic’s stay-at-home palooza is driving you bonkers, it’s time to live vicariously through someone else by visiting their home — virtually, of course. That’s why we’re bringing you the first-ever dazzling edition of “Lifestyles of the queer and famous… in quarantine!”

Join us as we take you on tours of the homes where your favorite LGBTQ icons are cooped up due to the coronavirus. You’ll get to see everything from palatial retreats to artsy lofts and learn that home isn’t only where the heart is — it’s where you decide to get stuck for months on end during an international pandemic.

As the world transitions online and stars have no choice but to show off their pads MTV Cribs-style to reach fans, there’s no better time to pull a digital Bling Ring and sneak into the homes of these nine famous queer celebs to check out how the other half lives.

1. Go to “jail” with Ellen DeGeneres — Montecito, California


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At the start of 2019, Ellen DeGeneres and her wife, Portia de Rossi, purchased a five-bedroom, 10-bathroom, Balinese-style mansion in Montecito, California, for $27 million. This recent addition, a small portion of the entertainment mogul’s impressive real estate portfolio, is where DeGeneres is currently filming for her talk show due to the pandemic.

She recently joked, “One thing that I’ve learned from being in quarantine is that, people — this is like being in jail is what it is. It’s mostly because I’ve been wearing the same clothes for 10 days, and everyone in here is gay.”

If “jail” is an 8.24-acre luxury property with outdoor gardens that resemble a verdant tropical jungle, an infinity pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and an entire party of queers, I’m ready to break the law. Who knew solitary confinement could be better than a trip to Fire Island?

Fun Fact about Montecito: Montecito is a star-studded town, home to celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Julia-Louis Dreyfus. It’s easy to see why — hillside properties like DeGeneres and de Rossi’s look out onto some of the most idyllic shoreline found along the California coast.

2. Catch up on the “mews” with Jonathan Van Ness — Chelsea, New York City, New York


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Although Queer Eye‘s cat dad Jonathan Van Ness started his quarantine life in his spacious NYC apartment, it appears he and his kitten corral have relocated to a more spacious facility. His one-bedroom home in Chelsea couldn’t possibly capacitate filming his pets’ breakout news program — CATV — so it’s a good thing he made the switch.

CATV is a “quarantine cat station” featured on Instagram where you can catch up on international “mews” given by JVN’s aloof housepets. Although it’d be fun to take a tour of JVN’s home (one might hope a Queer Eye host would have a fraction of good taste), the trip to kitten corner is exactly the escape we need to combat the stress of current events.

Fun fact about Chelsea: Chelsea is no longer the queer neighborhood it was in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but it’s still the center of NYC’s experimental gallery scene. Who knows? Maybe once JVN and CATV return, they’ll be featured in one of the quirky art houses near his home.

3. Ride a firepole with Anderson Cooper — Greenwich Village, New York City, New York


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In late March, Anderson Cooper began filming CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 from his New York City home, noting, “Tens of millions more Americans saw their world shrink to four walls, or the walls of their homes, myself included.” From the looks of it, his four walls seem like a spectacular place to shrink.

Cooper, a descendant of the Vanderbilt family that became America’s obscenely rich during the Gilded Age, lives in a 1906 Greenwich Village firehouse that’s now a luxury bachelor pad. The design behind him while shooting his CNN show are professorial — antique books and pane-glass doors give off a classic pre-war vibe.

Don’t count on Anderson Cooper 360 to explore the Beaux-Arts building, however. Instead, check out the pictures from a 2015 H&M ad campaign featuring Kevin Hart and David Beckham. The two stars take ice baths on Cooper’s roof deck, work out in his gym, and lounge in his extravagantly decorated living room. The entire space is something out of a real-estate fairytale, and if Cooper’s looking for a quarantine partner, I call first dibs.

Fun Fact about Greenwich Village: Anderson Cooper lives one block away from Washington Square Park, a 10-acre green space that was used as a mass grave for yellow fever victims during an epidemic that plagued the city in the 19th century. It’s usually a cultural smorgasbord of buskers and visual artists, but today, it looks and sounds like a ghost town.

4. Enter “Grey Gardens” with Rufus Wainwright — Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, California


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Ever gay since singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright decided to hole up in his Los Angeles home, he’s been bringing fans a new mini-concert every day featuring a song from his extensive catalog.

“In these dire times, I want to share some music with you all from the warmth and comfort of our home in Los Angeles,” Rufus Wainwright recently wrote on his Instagram. “Hopefully you’re at your homes with your loved ones as well. We have to stay positive and I feel that music and art are a large part of what gets us through times like these.”

Lucky for us, it isn’t only songs he’s bringing to the table. Wainwright’s house — a fanciful cottage in LA’s Laurel Canyon — features prominently in each video, and it looks exactly like the film set a designer would create for an artsy-farty queer man. There’s a baby grand piano adorned with all sorts of classical ivory busts, a guitar, books featuring queer icons like David Bowie, and Rufus himself — always clad in a semi-open robe showing a suggestive poof of chest hair. It brings to mind George Gould Strong — the gay accompanist to Grey Garden‘s Big Edie — a story Wainwright has coincidentally already sung about in his quarantine concerts.

Fun fact about Laurel Canyon: Laurel Canyon has a long history of attracting the music industry’s elite. In the 1960s and ‘70s, artists like Frank Zappa, Carole King, and Jim Morrisson called these Santa Monica Mountains home.

5. Get ready to wrestle with Daria Berenato — Orlando, Florida


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The WWE’s first openly lesbian wrestler, Daria Berenato has taken to YouTube to teach fans how to stay fit while gyms are closed. Berenato, who resides in Orlando, Florida, uses her Spartan-style home for bodyweight workouts that fans can do without leaving the house.

Everyone was caught off guard by the pandemic — including professional athletes. Without a sizable home gym, Berenato makes the best of her situation so she can remain ready for the ring. If you follow her routines, you might be ready to duke it out like a professional wrestling star, too.

Fun fact about Orlando: Over 72 million people visit Orlando annually to check out the city’s 13 popular theme parks, which clogs highways and fills up parking lots. Berenato has probably never had such an easy time driving to the grocery store.

6. Go home on the range with Orville Peck — West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California


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Gay country crooner Orville Peck knew a thing or two about isolation before the coronavirus came to West Hollywood. The singer-songwriter always performs with a mask, and themes of loneliness play an integral role in his 2019 debut album, Pony, which he celebrated with a live-stream performance from his new home in Los Angeles last month.

Although the music star’s house is nearly as hidden as his face (Peck routinely films in the same spot in his home) what you can see is worth checking out. Peck, adorned in a cowboy hat, fringed mask, and cow-spotted tank top, plays in front of a tapestry featuring four cowboys riding horses through the Wild West. It’s Brokeback Mountain-style erotica, i.e. softcore country porn for hopeless romantics.

Fun fact about West Hollywood: The Tongva tribe called this land home long before Spanish cowboys claimed the area in the late 18th century. In the 1960s and ‘70s, queer pioneers transformed WeHo into the gayborhood it is today, and today, gay cowboys like Peck are still ruling the roost.

7. Laugh out loud with Leslie Jordan — Chattanooga, Tennessee


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Watching the videos on actor Leslie Jordan’s Instagram is like visiting your kooky grandma who’s always semi-drunk on white-wine spritzers. While quarantining in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Jordan (most notable for his roles on Will & Grace and American Horror Story) is cracking up both himself and his followers as he regales the trials and tribulations of quarantine.

His home is surprisingly ordinary — it’s an unassuming suburban-style pad with seemingly little over-the-top flair — which makes the videos even better. Unlike so many other celebrities, Jordan feels relatable, as does his content, which capitalizes on the universal feelings of isolation with the comedic flair of a Southern belle stuck in the body of Bilbo Baggins.

Fun fact about Chattanooga: After the government-owned electrical company EPB set up a fiber-optic network to speed up its ability to communicate, the new technology was offered as an internet provider for the local community. Chattanooga now has some of the fastest internet service in the country. No wonder Jordan has no problem uploading so many videos to Instagram.

8. Visit a contemporary art gallery with Russell Tovey — Shoreditch, London, United Kingdom


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Russell Tovey is a gay man of many talents, and his London loft is just as eclectic as his resume. Tovey made a splash on the podcast scene in 2018 with Talk Art, a series where he and gallerist Diament interview artworld heavyweights about the medium’s magic, and was most recently supposed to appear in the latest Broadway revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? before it closed due to COVID-19. With nothing tying him to the states, Tovey shacked up in his Shoreditch home for isolation, and his followers should be glad that he did.

The actor, who most LGBTQ folks will recognize for his role as Kevin on HBO’s Looking, lives in a veritable modern art gallery. Whether it’s his apartment’s collection of paintings, the assortment of mid-century modern furniture, or the adorable puppies featured in nearly every Instagram post, a look into Tovey’s apartment is a lesson in home design done well.

Fun fact about Shoreditch: A gritty art-punk outlet on the fringes of London, Shoreditch replaced SoHo and Camden as the city’s epicenter of “cool” for millennials. Although some of that scene is moving further east, residents like Tovey are ensuring the ‘hood remains hip.

9. Have a sing-a-long with Melissa Etheridge — Hidden Hills, California


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Melissa Etheridge has been a queer icon for 30 years, and the walls of her Hidden Hills are evidence of a wildly successful career. LGBTQ art fills the space, her 2007 Academy Award for “I Need To Wake Up” stands prominently on a busy countertop, and a gallery wall showcases Etheridge on the cover of Rolling Stone in June of 1995.

To see these artifacts behind Etheridge while she hosts a series of sing-a-longs via Facebook Live is thrilling. After all these years, this folk-rock phenomenon still holds up to snuff. For Etheridge fans, the time to come to her window is now. She won’t be home soon — she’s already there.

Fun fact about Hidden Hills: You can’t really come to Ms. Etheridge’s window. Hidden Hills is a gated community that’s home to celebrities like the Kardashians and Britney Spears, and outsiders aren’t readily welcome — even when everyone isn’t busy social distancing.

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