The USA Network has a certain prescription for its shows: Psych, Monk, Royal Pains, and Burn Notice all are drama-comedies with romance mixed in. They’re com-rom-drams? Rom-dramedies? And for the most part, they all have a gay-ish element: On Psych, the completely hetero friendship between Gus and Sean is mixed in with bromance jokes; Burn Notice‘s Jeffrey Donovan is like a cable network James Bond (and we all know how gay that makes him). And new this season is White Collar, a show that follows the same USA composite: Cute lead character involved in solving problems (crimes, as most of USA’s shows do). And White Collar also has the gay-ish element: The leading man, Matthew Bomer’s Neal Caffrey, is cute and savvy and sexually confident. But we didn’t know just how much White Collar went gay. Just two episodes into the series, and we learn its headlining actor is a ‘mo.
Earlier this week, the gossip blogger known for making that “faggot” remark claimed Bomer is openly gay, and in a relationship with Simon Halls (pictured, on right), the chief executive of public relations firm PMK/HBH, one of the largest and most powerful PR firms in all the land. (You might have heard their name back when PMK’s then-CEO Pat Kingsley, Tom Cruise’s one-time publicist, made a sport out of shooting down gay rumors.) The item was picked up by the blog Boy Culture and the kids on gossip forum Data Lounge.
Bomer, whose past credits include standard soap opera stints and a regular gig on Tru Calling, is not being outed by his own camp; the website AfterElton asked Bomer’s publicist about the situation, and she replied, “No comment,” and “We don’t comment on any of our client’s personal lives.” (That’s a lie. PMK regularly shoots down rumors about client Jennifer Aniston’s pregnancy, as just one example.)
But then there’s the evidence. Namely, photos of Bomer and another gent (not Halls) in major make-out mode. (That’s him in the red.)
For his part, Halls is openly gay. He and PMK co-chief Stephen Huvane, who is also gay (and a looker), exercise a level of power that, it would not be an exaggeration to say, can literally make or break someone’s Hollywood career. They represent clients like Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Neil Patrick Harris. Stephen’s brother, Kevin Huvane, is also in the business: He’s the
manager agent of folks like — yup! — Jennifer Aniston. There are plentiful stories about Halls and Huvane treating Hollywood as their own fiefdom; more often than not, they are true.
So while it’s pretty exciting to see a couple of gay men wielding so much influence in an industry where being gay is still a scarlet letter for actors, it’s also a little frightening to see what happens when they try to use that power to shut down reports that impact them personally. Halls’s camp wasn’t successful in getting the gay celeb blogger to remove the item, but Boy Culture did take down the photos by “kind request.” The blog Greg In Hollywood removed the photos, because “the photo is several years old and since the actor is out and in a committed relationship, I’ve decided to take it down. The request was made very politely by Bomer through friends.”
But the Internet never deletes anything. The photos of Bomer kissing another fella are regularly available to anyone with a few minutes and interest to find it. And it’s ridiculous to think that getting them yanked from a couple gay blogs will delete it from anyone’s memory.
We can understand the position Bomer is in: He’s been openly gay for much of his career, at least inside the industry, but now he’s headlining a nearly-guaranteed-to-be-blockbuster series on USA, in a role that requires (female) viewers to lust after him. We won’t jump to conclusions, but if history is any indicator, USA’s executives (and those at parent NBC Universal) won’t be too thrilled with Bomer’s sexuality making headlines.
To which we say: Too late.
Or maybe Halls is just unhappy seeing the Internet flooded with pics of his current beau getting randy with another man?
UPDATE: Sean Akers, Web designer to the gay stars (read: Zachary Quinto), who says he is a friend of Bomer, writes Queerty: “Matt Bomer is an out actor. He is dating Simon Halls. They have kids. And these pics are 9 years old. It is drudging up his past to reveal something that isn’t a secret. Posting these pics only serves to hurt Matt’s family. He is not hiding, but this kind of post is exactly why so many gay actors do hide. In a world where this shouldn’t matter, it still does. As his friend, I am thinking of his kids and his relationship. I am thinking about how people in a community that should respect Matt for being open about his sexuality are being turned against him. He didn’t ask you people to take down the pics. Simon Halls and PMK had nothing to do with it. It was me who asked. As Matt’s friend. Matt is the kindest person I know. He is genuine and he works very hard on his career and on his relationships. His family is his priority. And the post and the pics sadden me.”
It’s a nice sentiment, but here’s the rub: As a high-profile television actor, Bomer sells his personal life as much as his acting skills. This is the arrangement celebrities agree to when they join the Hollywood elite. Ask George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, and even Jon Gosselin. Or Rosie, Ellen, and Neil. Substantial paydays and the perks of celebrity are joined by prying eyes who want to know about your intimate lives. And especially because Bomer is an out actor, as Akers notes, he should understand his private life carries an asterisk. Our coverage is not the reason actors stay in the closet; they stay in the closet to avoid being labeled gay by the mainstream entertainment press. Us? We want to celebrate famous gay folks (who aren’t assholes)! We report on the romances and break-ups of TR Knight and Adam Lambert and Rosie O’Donnell. Welcome to the fold, Bomer. We’re happy to add you to the list of out and proud gay men with mainstream acting gigs. Surely you’ll be accepting a GLAAD award this time next year then?