First pro athlete is out, so where are gay movie stars?
05:00 AM, Apr 29, 2013
The second-to-last bastion has fallen.
Today there’s only one group of celebrities in America with no openly gay people: male movie stars.
Until Monday, there were no male American athletes active in any of the four major professional team sports who had come out. Then Jason Collins, a 12-year NBA veteran, became the first, announcing he was gay in a first-person essay in Sports Illustrated.
“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” Collins wrote. His essay will run in the May 6 issue.
His declaration was greeted with a surge of positive comments across the Twitterverse; President Obama even called to congratulate him and offer support.
But some people were asking: Where are the gay movie stars?
There’s no doubt they exist but so far no one has actually said so. Except for Jodie Foster at the Golden Globes, when she sort of came out in a rambling speech so oblique as to be nearly incoherent. Even she couldn’t be straightforward about it and, anyway, she’s not a male movie star.
Meanwhile, male and female stars of TV, stage, music, news media and politics all have come out in recent years, with little controversy or even much attention. Matt Bomer, who plays a sexy straight guy in USA Network’s popular White Collar, for years declined to talk about his private life, which includes a male partner and children, but then came out in a low-key way last year when he thanked his partner while accepting an award.
And British movie stars, such as Ian McKellan and Rupert Everett, seem to have less of a problem talking about being gay (although McKellen is in his 70s and neither can open big-budget films by dint of his own stardom).
But not American movie stars, and the chances that there would be zero gays in that group are vanishingly small.
“I don’t know why this is a big deal anymore I don’t think anybody cares,” says Howard Bragman, vice chairman of Reputation.com and a veteran publicist who has guided several celebrities to a coming-out announcement.
“Certainly there are big gay movie stars and in many cases we know who they are, but they’ll go to their graves denying it or suing the pants off you,” Bragman says.
In the weeks leading up to Collins’ announcement, there was a lot of buzz online that one or more pro athletes was about to come out. No such presaging talk has been heard in Hollywood, says Bragman.
Instead, a soap-opera star, Tuc Watkins of One Life to Live, casually came out last week and also revealed he’s a single father of twins. If a TV star doesn’t have anything to fear anymore, why does a movie star? And what exactly is there to fear?
“His agent? He’s probably gay. His publicist? Gay. His manager? He might be gay,” Bragman says “We have a gay U.S. senator and a gay NBA player what’s left?”
Now that Collins is out, and depending on how his announcement affects his career (he’s now a free agent), it could be that more gay athletes will follow suit. Will gay movie stars be emboldened, too? Bragman isn’t optimistic.
“So many big stars have invested so much in living their lie that I don’t see them changing now,” he says. “There’s no way to explain this rationally.”