Should Celebs Stay Closeted?
Over the last week, controversy arose out of comments by two out Hollywood directors during discussions at OutFest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian film fest. Both directors, Todd Holland and Don Roos, basically told actors not to come out.
Holland's comments, told before a small audience of just 30 people, were then supposedly taken out of context. The blogosphere interpreted his comments to mean that young, gay male actors should stay in the closet. Perez Hilton wrote that Holland said hiding your sexuality was a necessary choice in Hollywood. Holland, in an article he wrote on July 20, said he didn't tell people not to come out, rather he couldn't advise someone to come out, especially if they reside in the upper echelon of Hollywood's elite.
Roos, on the other hand, didn't sugarcoat his opinion in that he feels the viewing public can't disconnect an actor's personal life or actions from a character they play. “I prefer more mystery," he said. "I don’t want to know about [his or her] political views, whether they’re gay or straight.” He referred to Mel Gibson's infamous drunken Malibu rant and Tom Cruise's couch-hopping incident as things he would consider before casting those actors. He went on to say that he has "a deep respect for homophobia [in America] and I don’t think it will ever go away. I don’t think actors coming out is going to help end homophobia. I think doctors, teachers and lawyers coming out will end homophobia.”
I personally feel that someone's private life should be kept private—if they want it to be (unless they're a politician passing anti-gay legislation and then living a hidden gay life. To that I say, out the bastards!). However, if someone in a position of power is gay and not out it not only hurts them, but also everyone else who is not out or afraid to come out. Roos' comments that doctors, teachers and lawyers coming out has a bigger impact then someone like Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt or Shia LaBeouf (I'm not implying these actors are gay; merely that they're big-name A-listers) aren't exactly correct. The bigger a person is and the more in the public eye they are, the more impactful their coming out would be. Who cares about a judge in Cleveland coming out other than maybe people in Cleveland, or said judge's friends and family? But if Tom Cruise came out (again, not saying he's gay; I wouldn't want to get sued for $100 million!), it would have a seismic effect around the world.
So by a gay director telling young, gay Hollywood, particulary guys, to stay closeted, does that inversely affect every other young, gay person afraid to come out? And do you think people wouldn't pay to see a leading-man type or action hero if they came out? Do you base your movie-or TV-viewing choices on what a celebrity does in their personal life? It seems that people forget that actors act; they create characters that are often larger than life, that allow us to escape from our own realities. So why would it matter what they do in their personal life or behind closed doors? Until everyone who is gay comes out and is comfortable living, as Holland said, an authentic life, who else is going to respect the gay community if they don't now?
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