Joseph Gordon-Levitt On Addressing Gay Rumors: “That’s Tacky”


Adorably pint-sized leading man Joseph Gordon-Levitt is no stranger to gay fans, from his brilliant turn as a gay hustler in Gregg Araki’s 2004 drama, Mysterious Skin, and let’s not forget a minor part he had in gay rom-com Latter Days. Though rumors of his sexuality have floated around for years, JGL has always remained unfazed, as illustrated in this anecdote from his recent profile in Out:

Watching Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s short movie Pictures of Assholes is deeply instructive. In a virtuoso example of table-turning, the young actor channels his camera on the paparazzi that are hounding him and a friend in New York City. When Gordon-Levitt politely asks their names, they bristle with injury and insult, responding with “Asshole” and “Asshole Jr.” Gordon-Levitt is undeterred, politely interrogating them as they pile insult on insult. Finally, the younger paparazzo comes clean about their motive: “We saw a young star with another guy, and it’s implied that there’s something going on,” he says coyly. “The whole gay thing — it intrigues people.”

Gordon-Levitt is a new type of leading man for a new generation — one who doesn’t feel the need to fly after every tabloid, lawyers blazing, that claims he’s gay. “That would be really tacky,” the 32-year-old actor said, “they would win if I had to clarify.”

Think of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a less gay-baity James Franco with a gag reflex.

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  • Caleb in SC

    I love the way this guy rolls. What an awesome spirit.

  • Cam

    He also refuses to answer the question on whether or not he is a brunette, if his name is really Gordon, and whether or not he is male. Because that would also be tacky.

  • Lefty

    I guess it’s a subtle way of saying “I’m straight, but I’m not going to say so”, because he’s clearly not homophobic or in any way wishes to be disrespectful, yet the idea that a gay person who comes out is scoring an own goal, as it were, and the homophobes win, would be a contradiction. Therefore, the only way what he says makes some kind of sense, in context, is if he’s basically saying he’s straight but he isn’t going to say that he isn’t.
    Seems fair enough.

  • andy_d

    @Cam: Did you ever consider that it may be his way of saying “It’s not relevant so mind your own business?” Why do I get the feeling you cannot get enough of Paris Hilton or the Kardashians?

  • Lefty

    He’s not the first to say something of this nature. Johnny Galecki said as much on The View, years ago, and Matt Damon said something similar recently regarding the rumours about him and Ben Affleck, to name two…

  • AnitaMann

    Don’t know him so I don’t care with whom he shares his body.

  • J.c.

    Its the classiest way to answer this question from the media hounds.Hetrosexuality is no longer a badge of honor to be defended as if homosexuality was some dreaded condition.
    People in the arts work closely together on their craft and are a lot more socially sophisticated than the average Joe and are now finnaly in this day and age confident enough to ignore this ignorantly accusing question.

  • Caliban

    I don’t think he’s really talking about sexuality at all, but how he deals with paparazzi and the media. If he responds to their taunts (I almost wrote “taints”!) then he’s giving them control over his life, doing it on THEIR schedule and for their convenience, which he’s not willing to do. If some random schmuck with a camera walks up and starts asking you personal questions, would YOU feel obligated to respond?

    In the same interview JGL talks about being a “child star” and getting the feeling that he was seen as a THING, not a person, something to be marketed like a product, toothpaste or breakfast cereal. He rebelled against it and this is his way for doing that.

  • Pistolo

    Either he’s straight (which is probably the case) and he’s being coy with his gay following which I think is rather deceptive and stupid or he’s gay or bisexual but won’t say anything to seem subversive. Neither one wins points with me. If you’re straight, you can say it without my being offended as a gay man. It won’t shatter my heart to a million pieces if I don’t stand a chance with you. If you’re gay or bisexual and think you’re all cool in contrast to the people who have come out and advocated then I lose respect pretty quickly.

    As a celebrity, your stock and trade is talent, looks, personality, and intellect or one or two the 4 depending on who you are just like any other public figure. Disclosing your sexuality in a broad sense (gay, straight, bi, whatever) isn’t some invasive horrible submission to “the man”, it’s interesting and it’s only natural people will want to know.

    It’s like when Cynthia Nixon went as far as to say she chose being gay, defended it by saying something very similar to Levitt about the “other” winning, and then ultimately admitted to being bisexual. It’s just vain to throw yourself into gray territory to create allure, I hate it.

  • lasandman

    I admire him for begging the question of why it is important. What I do find a little distasteful is the image you chose to pair with this story. His portrayal of an underage hustler was heartbreaking and to choose this image seems to cheapen the whole discussion.

  • Suburban

    I think he handles the question very tastefully. Some actors like Jeremy Renner seem to resent the rumors and he acts like a jerk about it. Anne Heche always bothered me. She was with Ellen then all of a sudden she turns around saying she’s straight and marries a man, now they’re divorced. Don’t label yourself one way then ‘change your mind’. You can’t change your sexual orientation. Why didn’t she just say I’m bisexual. Or do these actors just do it for publicity to get on magazine covers?

  • Niall

    This whole press and media culture of twisting headlines is getting awfully annoying. From the title of this, you’d think he said the gay rumours are “tacky” when that couldn’t be farther from what he meant.

  • Cam

    @andy_d: said…

    ” Did you ever consider that it may be his way of saying “It’s not relevant so mind your own business?” Why do I get the feeling you cannot get enough of Paris Hilton or the Kardashians?”

    It’s the same thing that Sean Hayes, Jodie Foster, Queen Latifa etc… all say. Gays are still discriminated against, and it ISN’T offensive to ask somebody about their dating life so I’m sorry if I don’t feel that we are in a post bigoted society.

    Oh, and comparing civil rights etc… to watching the Kardashians just shows how sad your priorities are.

  • Cam

    @Lefty: said… “Matt Damon said something similar recently regarding the rumours about him and Ben Affleck,”

    Except for the fact that both are very publicly in heterosexual relationships.

  • Kieran

    It’s not as if American audiences are homophobic and care if their handsome male actors are gay.
    Because officially, American homophobia died out on September 26, 2009 and was buried shortly thereafter along with all of the negative gay stereotypes so beloved in American culture.

  • Doughosier

    I met him at an airport once and went over to talk with him because he was looking at me. This was before his comeback, after 3rd Rock. I didn’t know who he was but my thought was “who’s that cute gay boy looking at me”. We exchanged Emails for a time (he was going to college in New York, at least that was his email) but never got together.

  • LubbockGayMale

    What right do we have to know the orientation of public figures? NONE at all.

  • mydude


    Who said it was a right? This whole thing is based out of rumors (some more true than others) and speculation.

  • ShowMeGuy

    @Kieran: Where is this “America” of which you write?

  • Rockery

    All of this song & dance = GAY

  • Vegas Tearoom

    If you believe that there are straight men who enjoy having sex with men, then he is right, it IS tacky…and sticky.

  • Pistolo

    @LubbockGayMale: We have a right to ask, a right to be interested, a right to want to know. And frankly I don’t think him disclosing would infringe upon his rights, he just wants to be a cool kind of sexually ambiguous. How vain.

  • SFHarry

    Are we not allowed to leave comments on the Stoli guy story? Am I doing something wrong?
    I have something to say.

  • Cam

    @LubbockGayMale: said….

    “What right do we have to know the orientation of public figures? NONE at all.”

    Either you are a troll on here from a publicists office or you are incredibly self hating. What right do we have? Here is an idea, if we are equal, then why is it that Jennifer Anniston is asked about her boyfriend, Angelina Jolie is asked about her pregnancy and her husband, George Clooney is asked about his girlfriend….

    BUT, according to YOU a gay actor being asked the same thing is a horrifying dirty secret that should never be exposed. Your opinion is exactly the same as the anti-gay bigots…in other words, gay is dirty and must be hidden. It’s no surprise to me that you are apparently from Lubbock Texas where attitudes like that are so common.

  • fetch3535

    Gawd, since I was also a kid and JGL was Tommy, thru his role in Mysterious Skin (my GAWD what a body!) the fisted essence I produced fantasizing about him would float a cruiser. I don’t care what his private life is; it’s HIS life. His public life is deliciously vague, and that vagueness keeps alive the hope that he is; and the fantasy that he will have a flat in front of my house.
    In my fantasies, you don’t have to be gay, you just have to be present. :-)

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