After Ricky Martin, Why Is Barbara Walters Still Asking Famous People If They’re Gay?

Didn’t Barbara Walters learn her lesson about asking celebrities about rumors they’re gay? Walters this year admitted that one of her biggest regrets was her 2000 interview with Ricky Martin, where, she acknowleged, she “pushed [him] very hard to admit if he was gay or not, and the way he refused to do it made everyone decide that he was. A lot of people say that destroyed his career, and when I think back on it now I feel it was an inappropriate question.” And yet she just did the same thing to Oprah. Except this time it wasn’t inappropriate, she insists.

Bill O’Reilly last night asked Walters whether that line of questioning is reasonable, and Walters responds, Yes. Okay lady, explain.

Walters only asks about people’s sexual orientation if she knows they aren’t trying to keep it a secret. And, uh, how does she know if they are trying to keep it a secret? Uh, by asking?

“If you were trying to keep it a secret, Bill, I wouldn’t ask you,” says Walters. HAHA. Loves it.

But is O’Reilly actually the reasonable person here, wishing celebrity interviewers didn’t include questions about sexual orientation during these Q&As, no matter how “fascinating” the subjects? I doubt one little question about Oprah’s rumored gayness — rumors that have been trailing her for years — is going to ruin her career like it supposed did Ricky’s, and Oprah herself has regularly addressed (and laughed off) the lesbian gossip. But how does Walters know any of this is not, in fact, an attempt to stay closeted? Does she get to decide? Apparently so.

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  • robert in nyc

    Its nobody’s business asking someone about their sexual orientation. What is the point or relevance? I wonder how media whore Walters would react if one of us asked her what kind of sex she enjoys and which position or if she enjoys giving blow jobs? STFU Walters!

  • Ken

    Agree – it’s none of this hag’s or anyone else’s business. All a star owes anyone is a good performance – period!

  • gaytravel

    ughh. gotta love the crack interview tactics of Barbara Walter.

    Walters: “Are you gay?”
    Celebrity: “No”
    Walters: “Are you sure?”

  • divkid

    @robert in nyc

    talking about it, opening up about it, normalises it; so that one day it will be be matter of fact and not relevant or worthy of comment, praise or blame. we’re not there yet.

    but it depends how the inquiry is done either sympathetic or freakshow.

    is the gay thing just about just sex ( if answered yes, then inquring into that would be merely indulging prurient interest ); or is the gay thing more than just sex and so capable of supporting a worthier discourse. you tell me. im clueless. sometimes its seems its just about shopping. and lady gaga.

    suddenly it all becomes clear.
    after the sequins clear you see the shallow

  • Marcus

    I’m sorry, Diane Sawyer can grill Whitney Huston about her drug problems, but Barbara Walters can’t ask if a celebrity would like to comment on the rumors that they’re gay?

    That’s bullshit.

    There’s nothing wrong with being gay, right? So why can’t she ask, especially if that rumor is fever pitch and everyone is speculating anyway?

    Barbara Walters has a job to do…and she’s entitled to ask any question she would like, no matter how unsavory it might be to the person being interviewed or to the people watching at home. She is a journalist…and a decorated one at that. That said, I also believe that the person being interviewed has every right not to answer the question or reply, “it’s none of your business.”

    If Oprah, Ricky Martin, Hugh Jackman or Jodie Foster have a problem with that, then they probably shouldn’t do the interview. Reporters aren’t designed to kiss your ass, they have a story to get and deadlines to meet. Sorry.

    And Bill O’Reilly: The reason Barbara didn’t ask Sarah Palin if she was a Lesbian is because there isn’t a rumor I can think of to warrant that question. Now, if she was interviewing Palin’s husband, then that’s a different circumstance, because I have heard numerous rumors about him.

    Also, yes, Barbara did she say that regretted what happened with Ricky Martin, but let’s not forget, she grilled Ricky Martin about being gay…she just didn’t ask, he declined, and moved on. She wanted an exclusive coming out story and she was hell-bent on getting it, just like Billy Bush did years later…so I understand her regret, but doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have asked the question at all. She just needs to learn that once an interviewee says they don’t want to talk about a subject, just move on.

  • greenmanTN

    There’s nothing ‘offensive’ about being gay but if someone isn’t already openly gay it’s inappropriate for Barbara Walters to ask directly. However, if someone has been dogged by rumors they’re gay I do think it’s fair to ask about the rumors themselves. Instead of asking “Are you gay?” she could instead say something like “There have been rumors about your sexuality for years. How do feel about those rumors?” That leaves a lot of leeway for the person to discuss the invasive nature of the tabloid press, fame, their gay fans or, if they wish, to use the opportunity to come out.

  • George

    Sorry but I agree completely with O’Reilly here. Unless you’re going to be going down on Oprah (or any other person), their sexuality is none of your business. Get a life and learn something useful.

  • Trey

    @Marcus: Thers is nothing wrong with being gay unless you are a hard working gay actor in h’wood in search of leading man / action roles in movies or tv, because coming out for a gay male actor still damages your career if he has his sights set on leading man or action roles and not Glee guest appearances or song and dance numbers on awards shows or generic character roles. Sad but true. As courageous as it was for someone like NPH to come out, he will likely never get another straight guy ‘womanizing’ type role again. It’s just too easy to cast a straight actor. It’s a Catch-22 since it takes more folks to come out but who wants to sacrifice their careers in the meantime. Sad state of affairs for both sides – the actors who take the hit and all of us who need more out entertainers.

  • divkid

    “There’s nothing ‘offensive’ about being gay BUT IF SOMEONE ISNT ALREADY OPENLY GAY ITS INAPPROPRIATE FOR BARBARA WALTERS TO ASK” [my emphasis]

    its maybe inappropriate in some peoples eyes now, but in order to get to them better times. more accepting times. well have to endure a little discomfort on the part of some stars who lest we forget are insulated more than most by money and popular acclaim. its very little sacrifice to ask if at all. it’s simply acknowledging who they are ( presuming they do know ), and always put in fore front of mind (really coz this shit is pernicious and i know im not immune) that gay isn’t shameful. it doesn’t mean sex, ya know actually doin it ugh, gross. and that being so. then why the coyness. so dude don’t let that bleeding heart run dry. you’r gonna need it.

    remember it was once taboo to ask a star or indeed any a woman about or even say the word, pregnant. or to talk about or even mention the word cancer in polite circles. times change. but thats not strictly true. people have to make that change. so make that change [ cue michael ]

  • Eric

    Time for the old bag to retire and give someone else a chance.

  • Joe

    Ive never understood the public`s fascination or admiration for Barbara Walters. She comes off as `real` as Entertainment Tonight`s Mary Heart, and Walters gives horrible interviews.

  • alan brickman

    typical man hater disguising it with gay rhetoric….Barbara you’re fooling no one!!

  • jacknasty

    As an aspiring/sometimes working actor I have mixed feelings on this. I don’t like the idea of hiding your sexuality or having a beard girlfriend/wife, but being out can really affect your ability to get work. I guess it comes down to how the question is asked. “Would you like to address the rumors about your sexuality?” comes across much better than “are you gay?”

    With the first question anybody could answer however they want. “I don’t want to waste both of our time discussing rumors” is not a denial and isn’t a lie either. Or somebody could use that question to go off about how paparazzi/media are invasive as many celebrities do. But if you flat out ask “are you gay?” you force somebody to come out or lie, and a refusal to answer will always be interpreted as an unspoken yes by many people. But by giving somebody a more open ended question they can keep their dignity.

    And for sure pressing on with it after an aswer the way Barbara did with Ricky Martin is always tasteless.

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