Coming out should be a celebration—or at least something people feel comfortable doing in their own time. But sometimes things don’t go as planned, especially when you’re a high-profile personality.
Whether it’s being forced out of the closet by an arrest, getting caught out in public with a hustler or sharing your truth in a truly awkward acceptance speech, some celebrity outings are truly cautionary tales.
Below: 7 famous folks whose coming out could have gone much, much better!
1. Liberace: The Palimony Pianist
The flamboyant performer was the subject of rumors about his sexuality throughout his career. However, when Liberace’s chauffeur, Scott Thorson, sued the pianist for palimony—asserting he was Lee’s live-in lover for five years—the truth kind of hit the fan. (The case was eventually settled out of court). Though Liberace never confirmed he was gay, Betty White admitted she had served as his beard on several occasions.
For more on Liberace’s down-low dealings, be sure to check out Steven Sondheim’s upcoming bio-pic, Behind the Candelabra.
Photo: Alan Light
2. Dr. George Rekers: The Luggage Lifter
What happens when a Christian minister who promotes reparative therapy goes to Europe on his ministry’s dime? He hires a male escort to “lift his luggage.” At least, that’s the story Rekers told when he was spotted with a hustler at the airport (above).
Rekers admits he found “Lucien” on Rentboy.com but says he only learned he was a prostitute midway through their vacation: “I had surgery and I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.”
Right, because when you need someone to do some heavy lifting, you want a 130-pound twink who describes himself as having a “smooth, sweet, tight ass” and “perfectly built 8-inch” member.
Photo: Brandon K. Thorp
3. Ted Haggard: The Pastor With A Secret
Pastor Ted was the among the nation’s most influential evangelicals until 2006, when escort Mike Jones announced that Haggard paid him for meth-fueled sexual encounters for three years. At first, Haggard, who was forced to resign from the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, claimed he just bought the meth but never used it. Eventually, though, he admitted to affairs with men, and went for intense three-week spiritual counseling, with ministers announcing he was now “completely heterosexual.”
Since then, Haggard has started a new church and told GQ, “probably, if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual.” He remains with his wife of 35 years, Gayle. e, and
4. T.R. Knight: A Hostile Work Environment
During a fight on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, Isaiah Washington reportedly shouted at co-star Patrick Demsey, “I’m not your faggot like T.R. Knight.” The tabloids got ahold of the story and Washington was forced to leave the hit show. Knight, who hadn’t discussed his sexuality before, felt obligated to publicly address it in a statement:
I guess there have been a few questions about my sexuality, and I’d like to quiet any unnecessary rumors that may be out there. While I prefer to keep my personal life private, I hope the fact that I’m gay isn’t the most interesting part of me.
Knight was content to let sleeping dogs lie until Washington claimed he never dropped an F-bomb on the set. Knight went on Ellen and confirmed the whole sordid incident and thanked DeGeneres for being such an inspiration.
5. Larry Craig: Senator Wide Stance
The former lawmaker from Idaho became the subject of a torrid scandal when he was arrested for soliciting sex in a men’s room at the Minnesota-St. Paul International Airport. Craig’s infamous defense was that he had a “wide stance” when relieving himself and his contact with an undercover cop was purely accidental. Craig still maintains he’s straight, but several men have come forward to say they’ve engaged in sexual activity with Craig.
Someone get us an air-sickness bag!
Photo: U.S. Senate
6. Kwame Harris: The Boyfriend Basher
The retired 49er fumbled out of the closet when, earlier this year, he was charged with assaulting his ex-boyfriend for stealing his underwear and using too much soy sauce.
Harris’ attorney confirmed that his client was gay but said, “he doesn’t like to talk about his personal life.” He also claimed that Harris’ ex, Dimitri Geier, had started the physical assault.
Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department
7. Jodie Foster: The Rambler
While accepting an honorary Golden Globe Award , Jodie Foster publicly commented on her sexuality for the first time—sort of.
So while I’m here being all confessional, I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public. So, a declaration that I’m a little nervous about but maybe not quite as nervous as my publicist right now, huh Jennifer? But I’m just going to put it out there, right? Loud and proud, right? So I’m going to need your support on this.
I am single. Yes I am, I am single. No, I’m kidding — but I mean I’m not really kidding, but I’m kind of kidding. I mean, thank you for the enthusiasm. Can I get a wolf whistle or something? [Audio is silent for seven seconds] … be a big coming-out speech tonight because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually, proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met…
Her rambling speech was met with a lot of head-scratching: Some fans felt in was too little, too late; others believed Foster had been clear enough in the past, and some were irritated she couldn’t just be direct.
Photo: Tom Sorensen
You left out Sean Hayes who basically came out to get some P.R. for the play he was in and attacked the gay community while doing going on about how great he was, and how he did more for gay rights than blah blah blah…..
On a side note, something that hasn’t really been pointed out, is that the guy who outed George Reckers, almost single handedly crashed the Pro-Prop 8 case that is now before the Supreme Court. They were using a lot of Reckers writings to back up their case and those all got pulled with the guy outted him.
I hope he is doing ok, the community owe him and the guy who outed Ted Haggard some major thank yous.
This made me angry. how dare you judge Jody Foster on the way she came out? did you live her life, do you have the same experiences, fears, etc…? Are you constantly in the public eye?
Coming out can be a painful, life changing experience, and everyone has the RIGHT to do it as he or she sees fit.
This article just shows how petty and stupid people can be.
next time, you may want to right two different articles “how to avoid be outed” and “celebrating the often awkward, painful process of coming out, particularly in public”. It’s hard enough for some people to come out without being judged by petty shallow know it alls. Sounds like you’re saying if you can’t do it fabulously don’t do it at all! Not the message I’d want to send.
@skipbar: It’s Jodie.
So…..it WASN’T hard for Foster to not only come out and defend Mel Gibson’s bigoted and anti-woman rants but to also give him a job in one of her movies….
But it was SO difficult for her to come out.
I guess supporting a woman beating anti-semite was much easier for Miss Foster.
give me a break. maybe someday we’ll all be as fabulous and perfect as you are. I’m sure I was awkward and said stupid things when I came out, I just had the good luck not to be a public figure.
Let JODIE be Jodie and allow her her own coming out, focus on bettering yourselves, try and help lost, scared kids come out. Do something good with your time instead of beating up on a woman who did something that was obviously very uncomfortable for her. Geez, can’t we all stop being so mean to each other?
By lumping Jodie Foster in the same list as those horrible hypocrites like Larry Craig and Ted Haggard, you’re not just being insulting to her (which I have to assume was your intent, or why bother), you’re demeaning every gay person who has actually come out of the closet, but did it in a way YOU don’t approve. And frankly, that’s just wrong.
Please point out exactly where Queerty said that Foster was exactly like Haggard and Craig. No, the story is about how not to come out.
As far as your rants go, please don’t bother, you aren’t talking to a room full of straight people so don’t try to tell everybody on THIS blog about how much tougher Foster had it than anybody else.
One other thing I notice, You never responded to my comments on Foster backing up Mel Gibson, I guess even you don’t have a defense to explain THAT one away for her do you?
my last response, this is tired and you’re a fool.
1) “Please point out exactly where Queerty said that Foster was exactly like Haggard and Craig. No, the story is about how not to come out” – clever insert of the word “exactly”, however, by simply including them in the same list, the comparison is made.
2) “you aren’t talking to a room full of straight people” – really? you mean a blog titled queerty isn’t a straight blog? thank you for the clarity. I have no idea what your point is here, and frankly I don’t care. it’s too stupid to discuss.
3)”You never responded to my comments on Foster backing up Mel Gibson, I guess even you don’t have a defense to explain THAT one away for her do you?” – I have no idea why she would do that, and I find it uncomfortable as well. however, that wasn’t the point of the story nor of my response, so I chose to ignore it and actually discuss the article.
To repeat, I simply find it stupid and wasteful to judge the coming out of others. and people who do, should find something more useful to do with their time and energy (advice I’ll be taking at the end of this rant). She is one of us, and instead of demonizing her and using her as a negative example, we should be embracing her and welcoming her.
actually, one more comment. I shouldn’t have called anyone a fool, that was rude, and I apologize.
I will absolutely judge somebody who had the ability to come out because they were protected socially and financially and yet instead of coming out, they used their influence to defend Mel Gibson.
Your response number 2 tried to deflect the meaning of my comment. Yes, it IS obvious that this is a blog full of LGBT’s so once again, please don’t try to tell us how difficult coming out can be.
My problem is that never judging anybody gets out of hand. Foster wasn’t Larry Craig, but Foster defending a batterer, rac- ist and anti-semite all the while staying in the closet is not anything that young gays should want to emulate. If I can judge Sara Palin, the Pope, terrible, and I can judge Ryan Murphy and Ellen as good I can certainly judge Jodie Foster as being a bad example.
Side note to Queerty, please stop blocking posts that have the word “Rac ist” in them. Why in the world is that a word to block out when describing somebody like Mel Gibson or Anton Scalia?
As much as I wished Stephen Sondheim had a new musical about Liberace, this is obviously a typo. Steven Soderbergh directed the Liberace biopic.
I was thinking the same thing about Sondheim.
On Jodie Foster, I think most of the people scratching their heads either thought she didn’t need to say anything, or they just didn’t understand the humour she was trying to use.
I love her as an actress, I think she’s one of the most talented and underrated actresses of the last thirty years. And I don’t think she needed to “come out” either. Why bother when the people you actually care about are the ones that matter?
Her coming out has changed nothing. Celebrities can come out now, it’s not a big deal. But maybe that’s why some people are angry about her doing it this way – she waited until it wasn’t a big deal, she didn’t do it when it was a problem, and when Ellen was getting the sh*t storm of abuse for daring to do it.
Sean Hayes has a “pilot coming out”….maybe that’s why you didn’t mention him??
Jodie has balls..I respect her..
testing, testing, 1-2-3 Walkers spotted, shhhh!
skipbar, right on. As did Ratz, why not attach a fancy name to late comers, such as “Dyke-Emeritus.” Embraceable idea?
Jody Foster’s been rich and famous since childhood, the idea of people being shocked that she doesn’t seem to be able to form a complete sentence that makes a lick of sense is baffling to me because FUCKING SHE’S NEVER HAD TO DO IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.
@skipbar: “It’s hard enough for some people to come out without being judged by petty shallow know it alls.”
I agree with you, and I might add that, in contrast with the people she is being lumped with, Jodie Foster was, as far as I know, never hypocritical and never harmed anybody, not like certain West Hollywood queens who can easily live openly and judge others without paying any price.
And yes, please stop blocking rac*st for f*ck’s sake.
@skipbar: Regarding your statement about Foster, “She is one of us, and instead of demonizing her and using her as a negative example, we should be embracing her and welcoming her,” truer words have never been said. As a gay man who’s not a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, I receive a lot of criticism from my fellow brothers and sisters for not being the Perfect Gay Man, for not toeing the line, for being a self-hater, etc etc.
You’re one of the few people around here who understands that simply because we have our sexuality in common, we’re not all going to behave the same way.
@BlokeToys: said…. “”I might add that, in contrast with the people she is being lumped with, Jodie Foster was, as far as I know, never hypocritical and never harmed anybody, not like certain West Hollywood queens who can easily live openly and judge others without paying any price”
Never harmed anybody? Gee, I guess coming out in full support of Mel Gibson after he beat his girlfriend and using the N word screamed that he hoped she was raped by a pack of……
Her complete support of a raging bigot, abuser etc… add to that the fact that you seem to be attacking a huge bunch of gay guys that you have no idea what their coming out was like pretty much makes me assume you are either some pathetic little fangirl or an intern working for Foster.
I’m not a huge fan of the West Hollywood scene but I will bet you that a majority of the people there took much more of a risk coming out of the closet than Foster.
But wait thats right, you are the stereotype. Somebody is famous therefore anything they do is perfect. You remind me of the screaming Clay Aiken fans who used to come on here and attack people who said he was gay. Or the Adam Lambert fans who come on here and attack gays saying that we are evil if we don’t by Lamberts next CD. Sorry, just because you liked Foster in “Stealing Home” doesn’t mean I have to support her defending wife beaters and bigots nor pretend that her being closeted for so long somehoe makes her a misunderstood hero.
BJ, what a shock, the person that comes on to constantly defend Log Cabin and their support of known anti-gay politicians is on here crying support for the closet.
It isn’t much of a surprise.
@Cam: Oh come on, Cam, I don’t “defend” the LCRs, I just don’t understand why they and GOProud are always being bashed here, when what they’re accomplishing is bridging a conspicuous divide between gay and straight. Agree? Disagree?
@Cam: Your argument is twisted. As Foster said at the Globes, she has been out to everyone she has ever met since her young adulthood. And she has been publicly out at least since 2007. I doubt that Foster was protected enough to come out as a young actress in Hollywood without it damaging her career. There were no major Hollywood figures who were out at that time. Do you have a factual basis for your claim?
Ultimately, it was her choice to make. She did not pose as a straight woman; she merely kept her private life private.
Her relationship with Mel Gibson is irrelevant to this discussion. Whether she stood by Mel Gibson as a friend has nothing to do with her coming out. She never defended what he said. She stood by a friend at a low point. I would hope my friends would do the same if I reached a low point, as i would do for them.
@boring: Jodie Foster is a Yale-educated polyglot. No one has ever questioned her intelligence. Indeed, she is known for being intelligent and thoughtful.
I understood exactly what she was saying at the Globes. The fact that she used metaphor and imagery apparently went over your head (as it did others). Frankly, I think she made that speech for her sons, not for herself.
@skipbar: Right on! I do not understand the authoritarian impulse of some (Signorile is a prime example) to dictate when and how others should come out. The primary tenet of the gay rights movement was to allow people to live their lives freely, as they choose. It is a fight against heteronormativity. Yet, the reactionary impulse, the resistance to this fundamental principle, still plagues the hearts and minds of many gay and lesbian people. It is an expression of their own anxiety about living outside the norm.
Including Jodie Foster and TR Knight in this rogue’s gallery is ethically and politically wrong IMO.
@Cam: You have a difficult time sticking with the topic of discussion and try to obfuscate by raising irrelevant issues, don’t you? Putting aside whether Jodie Foster harmed anyone by standing by Mel Gibson, you are advocating (however unintentionally because you don’t appear to think through your positions) that one is guilty by association for the words and actions of others in their lives. This is an absurd and dangerous position. Indeed, it is an attitude that was used historically against gay and lesbian people. Can’t associate with them or people will think I’m one of them.
The poster to whom you responded was clearly talking about Foster’s not/being out caused no harm. That how she has chosen to live her life has not harmed anyone. Did you really not understand this?
As for Weho queens coming out, you unsurprisingly fail to comprehend that Foster has been out all of her life on the same level as the rest of us. She has not hidden her sexual orientation in her life. She is just like the rest of us in this respect. She simply demurred on making a public announcement on the subject. I believe that is exclusively her choice, just as I would reserve the same right for myself regarding my life.
Jodie Foster has always struck me as a kind and respectful person, and I cannot fathom the level of hate directed her way from within the gay “community”.
@jar: I think there are three reasons for the activists demanding that everyone come out. First, they are too stupid to understand that it might be harmful or even dangerous for some people to come out. Or they don’t care. Or because they have come out themselves, they like to think that they’ve done something grand and glorious for the movement. Sure, it’s good when people come out. But it’s not so good when mean or selfish or ignorant people come out, because they make us all look bad.
And the freakish fangirls return.
The fact that you had to write such a long response to justify seems to indicate the one twisting things is not me.
Facts are facts, Foster hid for years that she was a lesbian, and attacked her brother when he claimed she was. Yet she had no trouble defending a wife beater, a rac ist and a bigot publicly. I think it’s obvious which she thought was worse.
“I think there are three reasons for the activists demanding that everyone come out. First, they are too stupid to understand that it might be harmful or even dangerous for some people to come out. Or they don’t care. Or because they have come out themselves, they like to think that they’ve done something grand and glorious for the movement. Sure, it’s good when people come out. But it’s not so good when mean or selfish or ignorant people come out, because they make us all look bad.
What a sad, idiotic post. Lets go through it one by one shall we?
1. Too stupid to understand it might be harmful or dangerous for some to come out.
– Thats interesting, Foster has been acting in Hollywood since she was around 3. Her brother outted her in 1997 and she attacked him for it. Since harm isnt’ the case with Foster, that part of your post is irrelevent.
2. They have come out themselves. Yes, if a guy working in a used car lot in Kansas, or a woman in Oklahoma working at a Home Depot can come out, then please don’t try to lessen what they did.
3. Mean Selfish or Ignorant people coming out. My My My, wouldn’t it be nice if everybody was as non-judgmental as you. My issue is simply. Don’t tell me somebody is a hero when compared to most she is a coward. I had nothing to say about Foster until her little supporters started coming on here freaking out.
If my brother outed me I would attack him too. It is not his place to make that decision for me.
@jar: I don’t think anyone has questioned Jodie Fosters intellegence either. It’s her lack of coherent speaking and writing that baffle me. She did go to Yale, as she loves to offer up anytime no one asks, yet seems completely out of the loop with modern social delimma and lack empathy towards anyone who struggles in this society, because she never had to. And supporting bigot/abuser/homophobe Gibson is too much.
@TJCMMNSNSE: Exxxxactly. Intelligence has no bearing on her social skills, which border on high functioning Autism.
…there is something here for everyone to know. When you realize the extent of Gay issues on the planet and how difficult life is for homosexuals—we must consider the number, and it is quite a lot, of men who are in the closet, they’re petrified about letting their sexualities become known, and so scared that some may even resort to violence to help cover up their identities.
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