Is It Worth Vilifying Sean Hayes When the Gays Have Plenty of Haters Already?

SOUNDBITES — “As I read the thousands of tweets and comments on in response to Sean Hayes’s decision to come out–many of them catty “What took you so long?” remarks–I wonder how many of these people are also calling Ashburn’s Bakersfield office to demand his resignation. How many of them have seen Kirby Dick’s amazing documentary Outrage and taken action to help unseat the closeted politicians featured in the film? My predecessors at The Advocate weren’t driven solely by the bottom line in their unending push to get O’Donnell and Hayes out of the closet–coming out really is a noble and wonderful thing. But as a journalist I know–as they did–that many more people will be drawn to stories about celebrity than they will be to stories about people like Roy Ashburn. Still, as a gay man who is unequal in the eyes of the law, I can’t help but think we’d do ourselves a favor if we embrace people, like Hayes, who willingly (and on their own timetable) come out of the closet and save our anger for rooting out–and kicking out–the hypocrites who are determined to keep us down.” —Advocate editor Jon Barrett on the heinous reactions to Sean Hayes’ coming out in his magazine (via)

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  • topsnap

    super condescending article btw

  • sam

    The reaction wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t so smug about it, by insulting reporters and fans as if he was being dragged out. I don’t know anyone who thought he was straight, so who was he fooling?

    He’s an actor! why would he be afraid that people knew he was gay? When he took that role of Jack, he should have known that he would have a hard time after wards getting roles, but not because the character was gay but because, it’s hard for most sitcom actors to get away from such big roles.

    He was rude. When other celebrities came out like Ellen, they did it without insulting others.

  • topsnap

    The timetable for coming out is now, not later, when we’re all dead and written off by unjust laws. Yeah so Hayes did it 10 years after the fact, but I did it 15 years ago when I was 13, as soon as I was able…and I wasn’t a co-star in a sitcom playing a gay character.

    The point of this has to be made, really, all this meandering from the truth is seriously illogical. It’s people like Hayes who make it forever difficult for anything to happen when the truth is always awash in semantics and intrigue.

  • Eric

    The comments would have been a lot less negative if Sean Hayes didn’t act like the world’s biggest fucking martyr and kept exclaiming “What more do you PEOPLE want from ME???!!”

    I dunno… coming out 1998, when it would have been relevant?

  • Patrick

    While Hayes was very good as Jack, it was no different from his roll in Billy’s Hollywood Kiss. He is a one note actor who now wants to use his coming out to further a career that is over.

  • REBELComx

    I don’t think anyone is vilifying Hayes. Everyone is just upset that he took THIS long to actually acknowledge what everyone knew. There is a HUGE difference between Hayes and Ashburn and it’s awfully silly to try to lump them into the same category.
    Hayes was just trying to avoid the question for his years of notoriety. He had ample opportunity to be upfront and give us a positive example and role model when he was in the public eye. Hayes is simply a coward who couldn’t handle the responsibility of being a spokesperson. Even when Will&Grace was on, the status of LGBTers was not nearly as good as it is now, only a few short years later. I think it took him too damn long, but I DO commend him for finally coming out.
    Ashburn, on the other hand, took a vocal and active stance against HIS OWN rights and tried to fake a straight family to get away from his sexuality. He shouldn’t be removed from office; he should be publicly shamed and embarrassed on a daily basis, have his tongue removed, and THEN removed from office. He played an almost Machiavellian hypocrisy game and is now facing the consequences. And if I was one of his constituents or on some ethics board in his legislature, I would certainly be acting to get him out. But that is for those people to decide, not someone like me, in a district on the other side of the country. That’s part of this complicated democracy. We can certainly voice our displeasure. But for me to contact his office and demand his resignation is political meddling akin to out of state religious groups funding another state’s anti-gay propositions. It might not be illegal, but it’s certainly unethical.

  • terrwill

    Sean: Obscurity is calling again, they are soooo ready for you…….

  • David Ehrenstein

    Is It Worth Vilifying Sean Hayes When the Gays Have Plenty of Haters Already?”


  • DR

    It’s not about Hayes choice to “officially” come out after his relevancy.

    It’s about the fact that when he did come out publicly, he was a total tool about it. Between the “what the hell do you people want from me” attitude and the “this is the greatest thing for gay rights since Stonewall” attitude, he came off like a total jerk.

  • Cam

    The attacks on him weren’t about his coming out. They were about how nasty he was, the fact that he had an attitude of “HOW DARE YOU!” and then went on to claim that he had monumentally contributed to the gay struggle. In or out of the closet, a dick is still a dick. The Advocate is merely worried that the next celeb will come out in some other magazine.

    Lastly, Sean Hayes only came out because his career has tanked and he has to have people buy tickets to his play on Braodway….”The Gays” go to theater and can create buzz around a play.

  • Cam

    Oh, and The Editor of the Advocate using an old deflection technique of “Well we shouldn’t attack him because he isn’t as bad as…..” Is just childish and stupid. By THAT logic, we shouldn’t be upset at anti-gay politicians in the U.S. because in Uganda they want to kill us.

  • Chitown Kev

    It’s not that Sean Hayes came out when he came out, but it’s the Linda Blair-bile that flew out her her mouth at the gay community when she did come out.

  • Geoff M

    We all make choices in life and are judged on them. Hayes made his mark and his money off the gay community’s support for his show then he turned away from us.

    By being coy or denying when he was asked directly about his ‘open secret’ he bolstered the opinion that being gay is something to be ashamed of.

    Just an opinion but I think people are pissed because it’s felt he used us, and hurt us and was so damned self-righteous about it in that interview.

  • gayvirgo

    Yes, it’s always wonderful when someone comes out of their own volition and, yes, we should ALWAYS expose hurtful hypocrites who vote against us when they ARE us.
    But, as was pointed out, when Hayes was at the apex of his tv career (thus far) and in a very high profile place, to NOT admit his sexuality clearly pointed out that there is something “wrong” with it (be it personal, professional, spiritual, etc….).
    Should we vilify him? Yes, to a point. He has it coming. He chose to gamble on his secret=career and lost. Now those of us he threw under that career bus have something to say.
    For me, I have always admired Eric McCormack- a straight actor who’s career was all ahead of him who chose to play gay proudly and without apology at a time when it was still considered a risky career move. I will ALWAYS support his career because of that.

  • MeDontGetIt

    Obviously the editor of The Advocate – who knew that rag still existed! – is friends with Hayes or has something for him or more. So now he attacks those who condemn Hayes lack of balls and his cowardice. No wonder The Advocate is irrelevant today and went down the drain. Hayes should be flushed with it too.

  • MeDontGetIt

    @Cam: Bravo Cam, well said.

  • alan brickman

    just ignore him and let him go back to hating the morning goods guys….

  • swine

    He could have made a difference if he came out 10 years ago. His silence implied shame to straights & gays alike. He’s a coward — just a coward. Coming out now is meaningless — just a cheap ploy to keep a stagnant career going. He made millions playing a character & he could have used his fame to speak out for gay causes. He could have helped gay teens struggling to deal with their sexuality. Instead he stayed silent & collected his million from Will & Grace. Sniveling coward — go away!

  • Forrest

    Harvey milk Larry Kramer Monumental.contributions Sean Hayes don’t think so.

  • Kieran

    Nothing delights some bitter queens more than bitch-slapping one of their own—-especially if he has become the rich and/or famous person they always dreamed of being.

  • Anthony in Nashville

    My beef with Ashburn and Hayes comes down to hypocrisy and hubris, respectively.

  • Klarth


    Good point.

  • Klarth

    This is tiresome. Sure, maybe we’re all heartless bastards for being annoyed with Hayes, but we also have a point. It’s the same sitch as Clay Aiken, and my feelings are the same.

    Please don’t expect me to be impressed with your coming out years after relevancy, just in time to revive your non-career, and accept that NOW you’re going to go around to all the HRC parties and fight the power. You do have something to prove to me.

    It may be true that people who would be more powerful on our side are also at more risk of personal cost in doing so, but sooner or later, you’re going to come out anyway. It should be about your own integrity, to do it when you’re the most powerful, instead of at the last minute.

    It’s a little like religious people who live as they wish through their lives, and say a prayer on their deathbed and leave a huge endowment to some charity and expect to get into heaven, and get the huge waterworks funeral. (Maybe this works; I’m not God, so I wouldn’t know.)

    And in this case, we al already knew, gay and straight alike, and didn’t really care. It’s not like he was fooling people, and had a wife and kids and all this, who would be affected by it. It wouldn’t have affected his roles because his roles were already limited. Who would have bought Hayes in a straight role? He played it too gay, and we always knew it wasn’t a total act. He could have continued with those kind of roles.

    And really, if he was so concerned about being typecast, why did he accept the role and keep it so long in the first place?

    If I wasn’t a flaming type homo, I would have a hard time playing one for the entire run of a series. I’d push for my character to be less of a stereotype over time. At least that might create a more realistic view of gays in real life, which would be constructive. But he didn’t do that. In fact, even Eric McCormack’s character became more “gay” over time, and by the end, they were just walking jesters. Gay minstrelsy. So the merit of the series is debatable anyway, as far as its contribution to our cause.

    Like some other posters, I came out years ago. Sure, college is a little later than some, but I didn’t build up a whole life around a lie. I started working to discard it as soon as I felt safe enough to do so. I didn’t want people in my life long term who couldn’t accept me for who I was. I didn’t feel I could live a lie and fake my way through a marriage or other hetero relationship and parenthood just to cement myself in the closet to make things “easier”.

    I understand people who did that back in the 50s and 60s and before then, because things were bad. They’re far from perfect, but he was born in 1970. So it was the 80s by the time he started growing up, and surely began to figure himself out. I don’t think he has the same excuse as the Rock Hudsons of yesteryear. Things were improving even then, and at least in the 90s or the 00’s, he could have done his part without fearing for his life. I mean straight people are risking their careers to pitch in. And what’s their stake in it?

    Charlize Theron is saying she won’t get married until we can.
    Ewan MacGregor has always been an ally, and still is. He’ll play a gay role in a minute, and call a ‘phobe out on national TV.
    Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger played lovers while at the heights of their careers. Jake isn’t hurting for work, and if Heath was still with us, he’d be playing several roles right now.

    and so on.

    So, while it’s always a good thing for a closeted gay to see the light and breath fresh air, in this case, it’s a little too late. When you’re famous, there’s a critical moment when it’s the best time to pull off something like this. Too soon and you doom yourself to the gay ghetto, too late, and you get this.
    Neil Patrick Harris hit it off, and Sean Hayes failed.
    What can I say?

    We’ll get over it eventually, but leave us our indignation in the meantime.

  • Mike

    The Advocate got “thousands of comments and tweets”? Somehow, I seriously doubt that.

  • AlwaysGay

    No. Gay people have so much to deal with. Where are the gay scientists finding cures for ANY std or creating an alternative to condoms? Where are our fierce gay advocates?


    I don’t think it’s worth vilifying him, simply because on the one hand, I’m still in casually shocked/quasi-amused that he wasn’t already out before all this (I really assumed that he was)…and on the other, I really don’t care that much about him overall. I was never a fan of Will & Grace and I haven’t followed his career in any other role either. In the meantime, I don’t now, or ever have, needed Sean Hayes to acknowledge his homosexuality in order to further validate my social existence/relevance as a gay man.

    I *really* wish the gay community would quit hovering over outwardly-gay…possibly-gay…rumored-to-be-gay…quietly-gay…ashamed-to-be-gay celebrities…or straight-but-cool-with-the-gays celebrities for validation. It’s lame. Live for yourself. Don’t try to get others to help you in the process.

    Between these factors, honestly…my reaction to the whole thing is an overall shrug. I don’t support or vilify him. I feel no different about him than I did a year ago.

  • trickstertara

    @Klarth: Well said. All of it.

    I don’t blame people for coming out late in their careers. The late filmmaker Derek Jarman was notoriously critical of Ian McKellen for waiting until the late-1980s to come out. If Ian was late in doing so, he never blamed his own people (I repeat: HE NEVER BLAMED HIS OWN PEOPLE) and he’s more than made up for it in his two decades of advocacy and hard work on his community’s behalf.

    Will Sean Hayes step up to the plate for us now? I doubt it.

  • Forrest

    Being out anywhere in America is activist even if you do nothing beyond that.Living an honest life is a great example.Just don’t laugh at us rainbow bumper sticker and rbow flag on the house queens. We need all kinds of visibility

  • Cam

    No. 20 · Kieran said..
    Nothing delights some bitter queens more than bitch-slapping one of their own—-especially if he has become the rich and/or famous person they always dreamed of being.

    So basically by your logic, nothing that ANY gay person does would warrent our saying anything negative about them, because then we would be negative queens lelighting in slapping down one of our own. Perhaps you wanted to be an actor on TV and so feel that this applies to everybody, but I can assure you I had no opinion of Mr. Hayes, one way or the other until he came out in a way so bitter he put George Michael to shame. If ANYBODY was attacking their own it was him. But apparently you refuse to see that and believe that we should all kiss the ground of any has-been who comes out and INFORMS us of how important they are.

  • Henry Holland


    He came out at the time of “Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss” then leaped right back in to the closet and said “My personal life is a no-go zone” when “Will & Grace” became a big hit. The airhead seemed to forget back then that there’s things like archives and people’s memories.

    And the negative reaction he’s getting now is because he was an asshole about re-coming out now, plain and simple. If he would have had some class and humility, nobody would care.

  • 4 Douche BFs from my 20s (I am smarter now)

    @Cam: Yeap. but, as you see there are quite a few people here who lack the reasoning or don’t want to possess the reasoning to see beyond the deflection.

  • 4 Douche BFs from my 20s (I am smarter now)

    @Klarth: Again spot on.

    More importantly, don’t be nasty about coming out after you are relevant. It is the whole let me be an asshole like I am owed something or am entitled that’s the turn off for me.

  • 4 Douche BFs from my 20s (I am smarter now)

    @CONVERSATION CHAMBER: Do you know how to read? people are attacking him because he’s acting like a dick.

  • The Artist

    Oh, leave the man alone. It’s not like we all didn’t know he was family. Stop trying to look for hero’s (spokespeople, whatever) and form your own. Spread the word. PEACELUVNBWILD!

  • swine

    I have a lot of bitterness about Sean’s delayed coming out. I was a teen during Will & Grace — and I was having a lot of trouble dealing w/it. His coming out would have really helped make it seem OK. Maybe that sounds stupid, but I know it would have made a difference to me. Instead, I think his silence about his obvious gayness implied to me that he was ashamed of it & that I should be ashamed also of being gay.

    I hope he can effectvely contribute like Ian Mckelln instea of just using this moment to try to revive his dead career

  • James UK

    Sean Hayes is a minor actor. He isn’t the second coming, whether of Harvey Milk or Jesus Christ. Nor is he a latter day Roy Cohn. So get over yourselves. The closet affects us all, whether we like it or not. I seriously doubt that any one of us hasn’t remained silent or looked the other way when we heard something that we ought to have responded to but didn’t have the energy/strength/nerve to deal with that day.

    His visibility as an actor on a temporarily successful TV show doesn’t make him a spokesperson for us or even capable of being an effective spokesperson for us had he chosen to be. Lots of you would have hated him anyway for being nelly and not representing Ms Straight Acting Gay.

    Blaming the gay for the closet rather misses the point, is no more than projection and pretends that the world out there is so very post-gay that coming out to the entire world (and not just to the people you know) is so very easy and without consequence. If he were a sportsman (football, rugby, soccer – not ice skating)the reaction here might be rather different. A lot of these posts are infected with self hating bash the nelly shit.

    Hayes clearly isn’t a hero. But nor is he a villain.

    Roy Ashburn on the other hand I could happily peel and roll in salt. Or melt down for glue.

  • spindoc

    @No. 36 · James UK

    Hey James, nobody in here is asking him to be a spokesperson….but when somebody comes to us begging us to attend his show…we WOULD like it if he wasn’t a dick.

  • Sapphocrat

    Dear Miss Hayes:

    Get OVER yourself, bitch.

    You spend how-many-years collecting a paycheck with your swish-a-second minstrel show on “Will & Grace” — which did NOTHING to improve the image of queers on TV — and you can’t so much as acknowledge your fagosity or the very faggots in whose flesh you left your high-heel marks so you can have a fucking career?

    You fucking coward. And now you pull attitude?

    Eric McCormack has more balls in his little finger than you have in your pants.

  • Sapphocrat

    @Klarth: Beautiful, Klarth, every word. Thank you for taking the time and energy.

  • Sapphocrat

    @swine: “Maybe that sounds stupid…”

    Not at all. I spent my youth being pissed as hell at Jodie Foster (who is about my age) for not coming out — when everybody damn well _knew_. Jodie was never my role model, but she was a _lot_ of (straight) folks’ little darling (and still is), and I knew her coming clean could have made a HUGE (positive) impression on Those Who Never Knew.

    She could have made it so much easier for her contemporaries (like me), but all she did was continue to swap spit with Rob Lowe and Richard Gere.

    I’ve always asked: “How much money does one queer NEED before s/he’s comfortable enough to go looking for his/her soul?”

  • Greg

    The Advocate editor is making a foolish Stick Man argument here. Criticizing Hayes does not preclude us from criticizing Ashburn. Nor is anyone equating the two men.

    Does Barrett think that if we disagree with Hayes, or express our lack of respect for him, that we’ll be too tired or too distracted to condemn Ashburn as well?

    I understand he has to justify the space given to the Hayes interview, but don’t expect the rest of us to fall in lockstep.

  • swine

    Thanks for the kind support, Sapphocrat — but I think there’s something specific about Sean that annoys me & others. It really has to do w/the Will & Grace connection. I’m not especially bothered by Ricky Martin or Anderson Cooper not coming out — that’s up to them & it’s a personal choice when or if they ever will.

    Sean can turn around all the negative energy very easily, but I doubt he will. He shows just what a big douchebag he is in that sour interview.

  • Herb

    Jon Barrett and Sean Hayes can both kiss my ass.

    Berrett thinks that Hayes should be embraced by the gay community so that we can take Roy Ashburn to task. That doesn’t make sense. There is zero logic to Barrett’s proposal.

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