Friday, 24 April 2009

To Out or Not To Out?

Hollywood's Silent Closet
Did you hear the one about the upcoming summer blockbuster heartthrob who has a clause in his deal that allows the studio to dump him if he comes out? Or how about the one about the world-famous singer who celebrates his concerts with all-boy after parties? Everywhere you look, there's a new "Is he or isn't he" rumor. This week, British singer Marilyn admitted to a five year-love affair with Gwen Stefani's hubbie, Gavin Rossdale. A new documentary promises to prove once and for all that Florida Governor Charlie Christ is gay. And heck, Hugh Jackman just loves the gay rumors. But is it "coming out" when you're dragged kicking and screaming out of the closet?

Here's a real story, with the details removed for privacy. A few years back, while casting a tent pole action blockbuster, the studio in charge discovered that it's lead was a big 'mo. They went to him and said essentially, "Look, we need to know you aren't going to come out. We can get you dates with a girl for public appearances, but you can not possibly come out." He refused and was dropped from the project like a hot potato.

Why haven't you heard this story? Because the actor in question wanted a career. It's easy to think of the Hollywood closet as some relic of the past, but it's alive and kicking. Gays and lesbians who come out, do it at enormous professional risks and unlike many other industries, there is no such thing as "employment nondiscrimination" in Tinseltown, whose very existence is about being discriminating.

So, when a celebrity chooses his career over his sexuality, do we blame them? For the most part, it seems we take each outing as a 'victory'. "Aha! I knew you were gay!" we shout and feel vindicated, but let's put it this way – How many of you have gone out and bought a Clay Aiken album since he came out of the closet?

Bruce Vilanch, a constant source of wisdom told me once that we should ask ourselves why we would want to include somebody who doesn't want to be a part of our group? He has a point. Shouldn't we want willing allies? Certainly, of you go out to a gay club or walk hand in had with your boyfriend in the park, you're opening the door to talking about it. After all, we don't want to encourage any more celebrities to do the "Yup, I'm Gay" story in People (which always makes the celeb in question seem like they think we should throw them a fucking parade), but how different is it when we tell a celebrity, "Oh my god, you're totally gay!" from the annoying guy in high school who taunted us with the same remark?

So, tell us – do celebs deserve to be yanked out of the closet or is it a personal decision? Do you have any personal ethics of outing people in your own life?

Source: Are Gay Affairs Awesome or Awful?

Photo: Hollywood's Silent Closet