Saturday, 28 June 2008

Hot for Girls, Gross for Guys

Female stars, including Angelina Jolie and Drew Barrymore, have revealed past relationships with women and haven't seen their careers hurt in the least because of it. But among male actors, owning up to experimentation is all but verboten. Why the double standard?

"I'm not sure what that's based on anymore, other than the idea that leading men have to be virile and masculine in order for them to be viable for big roles," said Corey Scholibo, arts and entertainment editor of The Advocate. "For women, it seems that women and, of course, men will still accept them if they admit to experimentation in the past." …

But the fact that actresses seem able to reveal bisexuality without negative repercussions may not point to acceptance as much as society's desire to see them, first and foremost, as sex objects.

"It's great that women have more flexibility to experience those relationships without being penalized, but I think it's because women are taken less seriously in general," said Jennifer Baumgardner, author of "Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics." "It's like, 'So what if they were fooling around?' When two men who were thought to be straight have sex, it's perceived as more serious."

Maybe that's why so few men in Hollywood are willing to talk about experimenting with other guys. Alan Cumming is the only major actor to call himself bisexual, but with his scrawny stature and preference for theater and indie flicks, he was classified as eccentric long before talking about his sexuality.

While E! online gossip columnist Ted Casablanca claims male actors "absolutely" fool around with the same sex as much as their female counterparts, he doubts he'll see a day when a hunky, A-list, alpha-male -- a Jake Gyllenhaal (who made waves when he starred as a gay cowboy in "Brokeback Mountain") or a Chace Crawford (the "Gossip Girl" pretty boy rumored to be gay) -- talks about it publicly.

"The public just doesn't know about it. It's still Hollywood's biggest, dirtiest secret -- absolutely always will be," Casablanca said. "The business is built on fantasy. If Joe is talking about how he likes to go around with Kenny, it doesn't work. But if Jenny wants to talk about getting it on with Katie, it sells tickets."

Casting directors and network executives contacted for this story were reluctant to talk about how the employability of actors, male and female, changes when they reveal they don't conform to the heterosexual norm. But while the bulk of bisexual Hollywood may still be in the closet, many gay actors have come out in recent years and haven't hurt their careers because of it.

"We've had a spate of them recently: David Hyde Pierce, Lance Bass; Neil Patrick Harris came out and still has his role as a womanizing man on 'How I Met Your Mother,'" Scholibo said. "Anytime someone comes out and says, 'I'm going to keep doing what I'm going to do,' it opens up the door for the public to accept a new kind of gayness which encompasses every kind of representation. But whether they owe it to us, I don't know."

Source: ABC News, Bisexual in Hollywood: OK for Girls, Not Guys