Lily Tomlin’s 72nd Birthday Wish: Stop Expecting Closeted Stars To Come Out

Ninja, prease. Lily Tomlin was livin’ the lesbo-loca back before coming out on magazine covers was cool. But in a 2008 interview she said that celebrity fans shouldn’t expect closeted stars to come out because you never know their circumstances. As for anti-gay politicians, Tomlin says you can force those clowns out the closet whenever you like.

Happy birthday, Ernestine!

Via The New Civil Rights Movement. Image via greg in hollywood

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  • Fitz

    Screw closet cases, even talented ones. You are part
    of the solution, or part of the problem.

  • Cromwell

    Good advice queerty since it’s none of our business

  • christopher di spirito

    Lily Tomlin is a paleo-feminist who won’t appear on any talkshow if the host ever used the term “douche” as a pejorative. She also said “gay marriage isn’t for her.” She’s old and tired and part of the Laugh-In generation.

  • hf2hvit

    @christopher di spirito: So now, everybody MUST get married? There’s plenty of straights who are smart enough to know marriage isn’t for them…

    That LAUGH-IN generation fought for what YOU have today.

  • slanty

    Happy birthday, honey!

  • christopher di spirito

    @hf2hvit: Are you really that thick? Lily Tomlin never fought for my generation. She was busy with her comedic career, making millions, and playing the Tom Cruise, John Travolta game of avoiding any mention of who she is her personal life.

  • Cam

    Hey Lilli,

    Then stop expecting us to support them.

  • alan Balehead

    She’s talented and doesn’t need to come out for the publicity good for her!!!

  • Blah Blah Blah

    So glad I did’t get that self loathing gay gene whereby actors coming out of the closet validates me as a person!

  • slanty

    @Cam: I think most LGBTs are going to continue supporting actors, closeted or not, as long as they’re not setting back gay rights.

  • Cam

    @Blah Blah Blah: said..

    “So glad I did’t get that self loathing gay gene whereby actors coming out of the closet validates me as a person!”

    No, the self loathing gene apparently went to the closet case actors. But then again, maybe you think that all light skinned black people should wear make-up and pretend to pass as white.

  • Rico1907

    @Blah Blah Blah: I’m so glad that there are still smart and rational people like you in the world. :)

  • slanty

    @Cam: You have a point, I didn’t think to compare it to that.

  • David Ehrenstein

    Lily is in the new documentary “Vito” about the life and work of gay activist and ACT-UP firebrand Vito Russo.

    I’m also in it.

    It will premiere at the New York Film Festival this month.

  • William

    @14 – David: Hmmm, not the usual fire and brimstone you sling at the other ‘evil,’ ‘closeted’ entertainers and journalists. Does Lily get an ‘official’ pass for her closet? LOL

  • iDavid

    Laugh-in was launched in ’68, the Laugh-In generation launched the Stonewall riots in ’69, which is responsible for alot if not everything that we have made today. So Christo, check your facts better next time. And Cam, since you won’t be supporting assumed in the closet mos, we won’t be seeing you buying popcorn at the next Quinto movie. I mean really, how much better one would be huffing and puffing on a Friday night all alone. So productive for “the movenment”. Regardless I will count on you missing the show cuz as you intimate, support is out if the question. See the true Americans at the movies, you know, the ones who believe in the 1st amendment, free speach n all, even if the words are in silence.

    I like butter on my popcorn kids. Cheers.

  • Little Kiwi

    “you never know their circumstances”

    right. because gay people have no idea what the closet is like. fuck OFF. we all share the same scars, there are no “new” stories, only variations on themes.

    people have been Coming Out for decades, in times and places far more unforgiving than our own today. There are no reasons in 2011, in the United States of America, for anyone over the age of 25 to be Closeted.

    Only EXCUSES

  • Mark

    @christopher di spirito: I am a part of the Laugh In generation son and we fought like hell then and we still are – you need to grow up.

  • Mark

    @christopher di spirito: I am a part of the Laugh In generation son and we fought like hell then and we still are – you need to grow [email protected]christopher di spirito: and how do you know what she did and did not fight for. Not everyone fights out to gain the limelight and attention – some fight in quite ways that are much more effective and achieve much greater outcomes. Your youth is showing and your lack of respect is disgusting.

  • iDavid

    Ah mother superior has eveeyone’s decisions all mapped out for them to execute upon Kiwi’s demands. Ok now 1, 2, 3, do what Kiwi says!

    Good luck w that approah cupcake. Seems all your marks are yawning while flipping you off.

    Mark, agreed, several toddlers in the room. Ungrateful ones at that.

  • Paul

    Little Kiwi sounds so funny when he is angry – little boy having a tantrum. Everyone in America has the right to live his or her own life as they see fit, it is our right as an American, something you seem to be ignorant of.

  • Little Kiwi

    Wow. Look. More cowardly wimps giving excuses for their cowardice. You’re right, everyone has a right to live their own life as they see fit…oh wait. Except in America, where if you’re LGBT you actually still have government-sanctioned discrimination against you written into law in most States.

    why? simple – because too many grown-ass adult cowards don’t have the orbs to stand up to be counted, and haven’t the integrity to look at who came before and Do The Right Thing by opening the door for the next generation.

    You fucking cowards …i’d tell you to be ashamed of yourselves but it’s clear you already are.

    I’ve been Out since high school. fully. to everyone. why? because we have a responsibility to open the doors for the next generation. social progress will be slower if more cowards like you guys give excuses for not being man enough to be Out. grow a pair.

    your ‘right as an american to not be Out’ is pathetic. stop letting bigots control your life you little wuss.


    *elegant curtsy*

  • Little Kiwi

    and once again, the boastful lameness of the nameless faceless wimps who talk a mean talk on this site yet can’t put a name to who they actually are.

    no wonder your fathers didn’t want you as sons.

    just saying.


  • Pierre

    Got to love Lily Tomlin! She also makes a good point. Even though I do not advocate people remain in the closet, we don’t always know their circumstances. I guess some people have too much to loose.

  • Cam

    @iDavid: said…

    “See the true Americans at the movies, you know, the ones who believe in the 1st amendment, free speach n all, even if the words are in silence.”

    Could the U.S. School system PLEASE start teaching a civics class once in a while? You equate my statement that closeted celebs are cowards as an attack on their 1st amendment rights? Seriously?

    You do realize that the 1st amendment is about the govt. not being able to pass laws that abridge a persons freedom of speech and disallowing legal consequences for that speech.

    If they want to be cowards, there is nothing in our Constitution that shields them from people having an opinion about them

    David, you are TOO defensive of the celebs, you most likely are either in that business or are somewhat closeted, because you are acting like it hits too close to home. EVERY SINGLE PERSON who is out of the closet has done more for gays than ANY closet case celeb that writes a check once a year to an AIDS charity to sooth their guilt. Trying to pretend that they have it so much tougher than some woman in Alabama who comes out at work, or some kid in Ohio coming out to his parents is idiotic and beyond self centered.

  • milhouse

    Stars are not like you and me, they have special rights and privileges that the common folk could only dream of. Learn to respect their status, and you will be rewarded with a performance that you will cherish for a lifetime. Cause trouble for the stars, and their creative “mojo” will be damaged beyond repair, and you will be left with nothing but regret.

  • Lefty

    @milhouse: But in what way is coming out “trouble” for these “stars”? Isn’t this false and borderline homophobic notion that coming out is a negative thing precisely the reason why gay celebrities should come out and challenge that?
    I think as long as they aren’t actively homophobic – in order to cover up their true sexuality – as so many closeted politicians are, then their sexuality is their business.
    But that doesn’t mean that remaining tight-lipped on the issue is a good thing, let alone one that can be defended.
    It’s unfortunate that they can’t come out and be honest but as long as they’re not hurting anyone then they’re within their rights to make that negative choice. It’s something we should all regret but that doesn’t in the end give us the right to force them out…

  • Fitz

    I’m an old fart, and I am telling you– it’s cowardice to be a closet
    case. 72…. Is she afraid that her mommy will be mad? That she wont sell
    tickets in the bible belt?

  • Little Kiwi

    “their sexuality is their business” “their right to privacy”

    can you wimps grow a fuckin’ pair and wise UP already?

    your cowardly attempts to excuse your lack of testes is indeed the reason that many make the wimpy self-serving “Choice” to let anti-gay bigotry keep you closeted.

    you’re not gonna fight it and you pretend you’re “choosing” not to. bullshit. you’re just selfish.

    i tip my hat to the men and women who Came Out in decades before my own, to open the door for me. you’re the real vaguards.

  • hf2hvit

    @christopher di spirito: Are you really that stupid and unable to read? Did I say LILY TOMLIN? No…I said the “generation”. Get off you crystal and learn to read you ignoramus.

  • Pete n SFO

    Easy to be righteous from a keyboard. A celebrity is definitely making a deal w/ the devil & that devil is likely investing a lot in the outcome. Why do people imagine that just b/c one person wants to come out that the rest of the world (their employers, their audiences, their sponsoring products) will come along with?

    2011 is not 1965 when Tomlin began her career. She’s the one who gets to decide. We may wish she would be more vocal, but gays especially should recognize the danger of mob-rule.

    Personally, I have worked w/ people that, if they understood I was gay, would not have worked with me. I change the world where I can, but sometimes I can see, issues are just larger than me.

    And besides, you have no idea what other actions Tomlin may take in her life beside your 1 tool of measurement.

  • Little Kiwi

    it’s not that “issues are larger than you”, its that you’re not strong enough to be a vanguard.

    stop making excuses. there are no noble dignified reasons for being a closeted adult in 2011 in the USA. only excuses to cover up one’s cowardice.

    by all means, make the cowardly self-serving choice. just stop thinking we should respect you for it.

  • alan Balehead

    Outing entertainers is just being jealous….deal!!

  • Lefty

    @Little Kiwi: Putting aside your laughably old-fashioned assertion that a pair of testacles equals courage, your point doesn’t negate what you seem to think it does. Not coming out is a negative thing, yes, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a personal issue nor does it give you the right to out people. We get you’re highly emotional and extremely proud of your heroic testes but it’s not as black and white as you seem to think, unfortunately, no matter how loudly or aggressively you state your opinion as fact.

  • Cam

    @alan Balehead: said..

    “Outing entertainers is just being jealous….deal!!”

    Really? THATS the best defense that the celeb defenders have come up with now that Neil Patrick Harris and Ellen have blunted the “They’d never have a carreer anymore if they did” argument.

    Jealous? Oh yes, everybody is SO jealous of some closet case afraid to be honest about their lives. Sorry, but if the people on here were jealous of that lifestyle and wanted it none of us would have come out of the closet.

    But you go right ahead and keep defending the people that have less courage than every single person who has ever posted a faceook status of “In a relationship with….and had a member of the same sex listed” They are hurting gay rights by solidifying the notion that being gay is something bad to be hidden. They are part of the problem.

  • randy

    @Little Kiwi: Totally agree, Little Kiwi. Now, I can understand staying in the closet until your career gets settled, and that might take time. Not that I agree with that stance, but I can at least understand it. For some people, being a star is far more important than being a healthy person. (And god knows how many mentally unhealthy stars there are!)

    But once your career is secure, there is no reason not to come out. Ricky Martin did. Do I wish he came out earlier? Sure, but he finally did. And that did a hell of a lot to normalize gays in the hearts and minds of teenagers and Latinos all over. People like Ricky and Rosie and Ellen and Lily prove that once you have a secure fan base and career, coming out won’t harm you, and in fact may help you.

    And really, for most stars, whether acting or music or whatever, if they haven’t made it by the time they are 30, chances get slimmer and slimmer. And for those who ARE a star, often their best work was before they were 30. So to remain in the closet after 30 or so really is pointless: Either you don’t have a career to fear ruining, or your career is so stable it won’t ruin it.

  • Tone

    One has to wonder how many of the punters currently snarking at each other on this board about celebrities not coming out are actually themselves out. In my experience anyone who has embarked on the coming out journey has understanding, tolerance and compassion for those at different places on their own journey.

  • WillBFair

    @Little Kiwi: You seem to think that coming out is a great blow for equality. I don’t. These days, everyone pretty much knows who is and who isn’t, whether they’re in the closet or not. And those of us who are emotionally stunted, shallow, and selfish actually make us look bad when they come out. They validate those stereotypes. On the other hand, gay people with kindness and character make us look good whether they’re in the closet our not.
    I guess you need to believe that you’ve done a great thing for equality by coming out, and you enjoy looking down your snoot at those who haven’t. Sounds like fun.
    Again, I’m only guessing. But maybe you’re a tad fem and were actually forced out. If so, you have my sympathy. But please stop trying to play the righteous crusader leading us all to an era of perfect equality. It’s very tired.
    Bottom line: only the individual knows all the details of his personal life, if his boss or associates are homophobes, others who could do him harm, actual violence that could happen, market conditions that could harm him (as in Hollywood), his freinds and neighboors, etc… You don’t know any of that, and neither do I. So I prefer to mind my own business and leave the decision to each person.

  • WillBFair

    @Tone: What a lovely sentiment. Thanks.

  • iDavid


    I’m not protecting just celebs, all have a right to run their own lives w/o codependant paparazzi type leeches forcing an issue.


    Well said and I will add, anyone in the spotlight who is gay has nashed on the idea of coming out ad naseam. They know the game and noone, Noone knows their circumstances except a chosen few.

    I’m relieved that the major majority here has reality in check and does not allow anger and control to be their guide.

  • Alexa

    The level of stupidity and ignorance in this thread is shocking even for Queerty. Lily Tomlin isn’t closeted, she has been “officially” out for over ten years and was not exactly closeted before that – as she herself has said, she talked about her partner in interviews, referred to her as her partner, but the press often ignored those parts.

    And learn to read please. When she says marriage is not for her, she means SHE doesn’t want to get married, not that none of us should be able to get married. Honestly, I think some people here just need to find something to get their panties in a knot over, whether it’s warranted or not.

    @David Ehrenstein: Looking forward to seeing it.

  • Cam


    Alexa, learn to read. The comments on here are in response to her comment about OTHER celebs coming out.

    And TONE said “In my experience anyone who has embarked on the coming out journey has understanding, tolerance and compassion for those at different places on their own journey.”

    Sorry what we don’t have tolerance for are the phony explanations about how they are REALLY doing something better for the community by staying in, or how they are more brave because they did a fundraiser for AIDS and shouldn’t come out, or pretending that asking about if they are in a relationship is somehoe a different question than EVERY OTHER celebl gets asked. It’s the phony justifications.

  • iDavid

    Ok group hug!!! lol luv you bitches. Off to enjoy an awesome weekend in Palm Springs. Now go get someone out who really counts, like a Conservative Irrational, another Ted Haggard knock off would be big points! Kiwi, go fuck Rick Perry, w paparazzi in tow. Then you will be the out celeb you really want to be……no? ;)

  • Dave

    Celebrities are in the public eye so it is everyone’s business if they’re GLBT and closeted.

  • Alexa

    @Cam: some of them are, and I’m not talking about those posts. I have no issue with your posts, even if I don’t agree with all your points. But some of them accuse her of being closeted; for example: “72…. Is she afraid that her mommy will be mad? That she wont sell tickets in the bible belt?” If one is going to attack someone, knowing the facts first would be a good idea.

  • Matthew Rettenmund

    I disagree with Lily, but like her. Still, at the risk of offending her with my terminology, I think anyone who uses right-wing bullshit terms like “paleo-feminist” is a douche.

  • Benjamin

    I can’t wait until the next Cooper, Latifah, Quinto post when Erhenstein whines on them – I’ll be asking where was his issue with Lily?

  • Elloreigh

    We are no more entitled to knowledge of a celebrity’s orientation than that of any other person. Certainly I appreciate those who are not only open, but who actively participate in our fight for equality. But that doesn’t mean I feel that every gay celebrity has to publicly acknowledge it, get married, etc.

  • Ted

    Bitter old queens making demands and getting all puffed up about such bs. Some of you sound like a bunch of old geezers in rocking chairs. What the fck business is it of yours what she does in her personal life? I can see it now if some stranger made dmands of your life.

  • maxreed

    Havent been on this sight much lately, guess not much has changed reading these posts. Most of you make me want to go back in the closet. Next time people cant figure out why more people dont come out, try reading the qweerty comments on any story and then ask yourself if you want to be associated in any way with these people.

  • Lefty

    It’s a little depressing when gay people try to draw an equivalence between straight celebrities talking about their sexuality and gay celebrities doing the same. There is no comparison in the current atmosphere. Maybe in an ideal world where sexuality is no longer an issue, but clearly that isn’t the case. Surely it doesn’t need to be stated so obviously that coming out as a means of increasing visibility of gay people is a major part of how progress has been made in the last sixty years. I still maintain it’s anyone’s business if they come out or not and we’ve no right to forcibly out people no matter how regretable it is that people in these positions still feel they can’t come out, but saying there’s no difference between a gay celebrity coming out and a straight one is ridiculous. Think of the intial bravery shown by gay heroes like Barbara Gittings – who went out into the public eye on demonstartions (risking everything they had) precisely because they realised that VISIBILITY is an important part of breaking down stereotypes and therefore fighting prejudice.

  • NSRob

    Interesting interview from 2008 but that’s not what her 72nd birthday wish was.

    (P.S. I also wish there were a lot more Out actors)

  • Brian

    “the Stonewall riots in ’69, which is responsible for alot if not everything that we have made today”

    No it wasn’t. Stonewall riots are an origin story/myth, much like “the garden of Eden.” They’re simply an origin story told to create a myth of a “common start” to the gay rights struggle.

    In reality, they were a bunch of corrupt cops being beaten up by pissed off bar patrons, not some revolution that led to equal rights around the world.

  • iDavid

    Hah! I know. I can almost see the sand bunnies smok’in scarab-crack when they came up w That Adam and Eve story. Greatest story ever sold. And there aren’t even apples trees in that part of the world.

    And the dumb get dummer.

    Thank our stars we have Stonewall on film. “Hell hath no fury ….. “

  • Bryan

    @maxreed: Talk about being a drama queen. If a few idiotic comments on the internet that you disagree with makes you feel like regressing and going back into the closet, then you must have loved being in it to begin with. Maybe you just miss it?

  • Mav

    While I support the privacy of ANYONE in the closet, regardless of celebrity status, I am a little unimpressed with closeted actors, since their secrecy seems centered in a “OMGifpeepsknowI’mgaynobuddywillseemymoooooooooovies!1!! :(” mentality, which is asinine.

    Everyone knows Neil Patrick Harris is queer as a three dollar bill, and everybody still goes to see his movies. Nathan Lane came out after the Matthew Shepherd murder, and people still go to see HIS movies. Ditto Jodie Foster and Jane Lynch. And as far as I know, K.D. Lang is still killin’ ’em.

    If you’re a good actor/musician/whatever, people won’t really care who you sleep with. At least not the people who matter.

  • Rex

    But NPH is in really cheesy movies. He’s not the type that any woman or gay man would lust after as a leading man type so using him is not a great example. He is ensemble cast material basically so it doesn’t matter that he is out.

  • Marcus

    @christopher di spirito: She’s from another generation. Listening to her talk is like listening to an old geezer who just doesn’t get the world we live in. Her and her ilk love to keep sympathizing with the Hollywood closet, yet, have nothing to say when a Adam Lambert, Nathan Lane, NPH or Ricky Martin come out and still continue to do well.

    @Rex: Huh? I work with many women and the love NPH. He’s not Zac Efron, but women and gay men do find him incredibly handsome and talented. You speak of him as if he’s David Spade or something.

  • SBC19

    NPH is not a leading man. He’s a cheesy TV actor whose presence in film is usually treated as a joke in itself. Whenever he’s cast in a movie, it’s as an ironic novelty character, who doesn’t log that much screen time.

    Nathan Lane is successful, but he’s no Clooney, Pitt or Depp. No one takes him seriously in anything other than campy and stereotypically “gay” comedies.

    Jodie Foster hasn’t been a leading lady in about 20 years. When her lesbianism became more and more apparent, her demand dwindled. These days you’re more likely to hear jokes about how butch her personality is than to actually see her in a mainstream film.

    Jane Lynch is largely a television actress, and is usually cast as a prop character. I can’t think of a time when she was ever the ‘star,’ or when her character was the focal point or centerpiece.

    KD Lang is a one hit wonder, and incidentally that one hit she scored came *before* she came out. She still performs, but her audience is niche.

    So basically what you have here are examples of just how limiting an “out” entertainers prospects are. Sure, they could still get work: they can be that silly or self-righteous barely focused on sidekick, who is almost asexual seeming or desperate — but they’re not going to lead a big budget film. No one is going to buy an out gay male actor as the romantic lead playing opposite Sandra Bullock…so he has little appeal with female audiences…and an out actor for damn sure isn’t going to resonate as the lead hero in action/horror films that appeal to a 18-34 year old male audience. In the meantime, the gay film genre is small, so starring in films that specifically target a gay audience isn’t going to propel or maintain the career of any actor who dreams of being a big star.

    But I suppose none of that would matter to self righteous idealists who sit online all day mocking and trying to shame anyone who isn’t willing to be an ardent foot soldier for “the cause.” It’s arrogant as hell for someone to preach, and almost demand, that closeted celebrities come out, when it isn’t they who have the very real possibility of facing a career backlash/fallout or dry-up.

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