the biz

Should Gay Hollywood Be Telling Young Hollywood to Keep it in the Closet?


Well this just about flies in the face of every stab at making Hollywood a more progressive place: Emmy-winning gay director Todd Holland is publicly advising who hope of having any career in Tinseltown to stay in the closet.

The remarks came at a panel at Outfest, Los Angeles’ queer film fest that began over the weekend — and, to put it mildly, surprised the audience.

Not sitting in Holland’s camp was Outrage director Kirby Dick (a hetero), who mirrors our stance: “I know where you’re coming from, but it’s a regressive argument.” (And: If “an A-list actor came out, it would have more impact on the culture than an A-list politician.”)

It’s hard to argue with Holland, known best for directing-producing Malcolm in the Middle (see photo). Being out in Hollywood is usually a death sentence; the phenomenon is part old wives tale, part absolute truth, and part self-fulfilling prophecy. Just listen to Rupert Everett bitch about his decision to come out and what it did to his career. And that was in the 90s. But if that’s the evil reality, should the message from gay industry vets be that actors should continue the charade, and lie about (or never mention) being gay for the sake of fame and fortune?

If that’s the route you go down, you’ll end up being … Kevin Spacey. Or maybe Neil Patrick Harris if you’re lucky: Officially not out until you’ve already scored a successful television series.

Coming out is a personal decision, no matter how famous you are. Trying to make it big in Hollywood is another choice. Can we blame a guy for not being open about his sexuality because he wants to be a movie star? Nah. But we live in an era where there are no secrets, just camera phones and Twitter, and it’s almost as foolish to think you can score an acting career in Hollywood as it is thinking you’ll be able to do it and keep your sexuality a secret. Just meet Terrell Carter.

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  • Rudy

    Rupert Everett is delusional.
    He was exotically beautiful when very young, but then his forehead began to photograph larger and larger and his days as a leading man days were numbered.
    Now a great gay actor can have a wonderful career as Ian McKellan has proved, but can anyone name a performance where critics fell all over themselves saying “you must see Rupert Everett in this?”

  • mk

    The critics loved him and My Best Friend’s Wedding and all raved about how he was so much more charming and attractive than the leading man and how he stole the show. After that a number of the films he starred in had bad scripts, instead of making himself charming to his many female fans in interviews he talked about things that would clearly be off putting to them like his days as a prostitute (honest, maybe, but not smart), and he put out an autobiography that made him sound like a pain to work with.

    I’m sure being out is a career disadvantage in Hollywood. Many Hollywood people and even out actors have said it is and said there is casting discrimination. However, I do not buy Rupert’s story that his career fell apart just because he’s out.

  • scott ny'er

    “coming out is a personal decision” says you.

    And yet you continue to blast away at Clay Aiken. Very hypocritical.

    And if you’re and A list actor and you come out… yeah, I think it’s probably career suicide.

  • university_dude

    it makes so much sense for a celeb to be vage about their sexual orientation. It gets them more coverage and PR when people keep guessing.

    This site proves it with all the Anderson Cooper stories. If they let the cat out of the bag sites like this wouldn’t be able to write about them as much.

  • dontblamemeivotedforhillary

    I like Another Country (anything but California!)

  • John Santos

    All this does is justify Hollywood homophobia. If Microsoft told their employees they could be gay in private, but to show up at the Christmas party with a woman, we’d all be at Microsoft’s throat–as evidenced by the recent article about a Microsoft employee being harrassed.

    Yet, when Hollyowood does just that–forces queers in the closet, we excuse it.

    Like I said before, Al Qeada should have flown their planes into the Hollywood sign; America would have been a better place for it.

  • ChristopherM

    I have four words for Rupert Everett and his tiresome whining about his career (or lack thereof): “The Next Best Thing.” Make shit movies when you are at the height of your renown, and your career is going exactly where his has gone.

  • adamblast

    If all you care about in the world is maximizing your chances of success, then by all means, lie your way to the top, or the middle, or wherever you end up. But don’t pretend you’re a victim of the system when you’re helping to defend and perpetuate it.

  • jason

    It’s sad when gay people reinforce the closet.

  • WillBFair

    No one can blame an actor for staying in the closet says you. But activist know-it-alls can blame the guy in Stickville for staying in the closet.
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Coming out must be a personal decision because only the person involved knows whether it’s safe. The self righteous types who tell everyone to come out get on my nerves.

  • adamblast

    The issue in Hollywood is not safety, but ambition. Success, power and fame. And the up-and-coming hottie lying about his orientation is not just making a personal decision, he’s also forcing countless others to lie or hide on his behalf.

    People will do anything for a shot at stardom. Many of those things are reprehensible. Lying about your orientation, and expecting others to lie for your as well, is one of those things.

  • Marius

    Sadly, Holland is right.

  • The Gay Numbers

    He’s right, but I hope someone finds the courage to be the trailblazer anyway. The truth is there would be no Will Smith without a Sidney Poiter. Someone has to be first, good and make bank. The tripple threat.

  • DeAnimator

    Or maybe people should grow a pair (of balls for men and eggs for women and whatever for whoever else) and not be such friggin cowards.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @DeAnimator: Tell us your real name since you believe in courage so much.

  • Random Gay Guy

    Frankly, I don’t know what the big hooplah is about when it comes to hollywood actors being in the closet. It is not like they all go around pretending to be straight. They just never answer questions or appear on covers about their sexuality. They have the right to privacy. If you want to stay in the “closet”, fine stay in there. If you want to be out, come out.

  • cheeseandcrackers

    hollywood has no business, left or right, telling anyone what to do…that shitty dream factory where coke head anorexics rule the tube?


  • cheeseandcrackers

    @Random Gay Guy:

    frankly, anyone who uses the word frankly is random and definitely not unique….lol lol lol


    twat blowhard, but yes i agree with you so marry me … lol

  • Random Gay Guy

    Is that really the best that you have? I could respond by insulting your intelligences, but I am above that. Actually, screw that. Why try to be civil on a forum where no one gives a fuck what you say. I can use frankly as much as I damn well please. That should be the last concern of a poster like you that uses lol after his own, and because of your fifth capitalization, I use the word lightly, sentences. Do us all a favor. Go suck a dick and then swallow a cyanide tablet.

  • James

    I don’t agree with him at all. More actors need to come out so that people will become comfortable with that fact that some of their favorite actors are gay. Give straight people a chance, they may surprise you.

  • chapeau

    Living a Lie is never the Right answer.

  • tavdy79

    “Now a great gay actor can have a wonderful career as Ian McKellan has proved”Rudy

    The Ian McKellen comparison isn’t exactly fair – out gay European actors tend to be far more successful than their American counterparts because there’s much less prejudice in Europe. There are loads of top British TV & film actors who are (or were) openly gay or bi – Pam St. Clement, Richard Wilson, Miriam Margolyes, Simon Callow, Derek Jacobi, John Barrowman, Russell Tovey, Antony Cotton, Matt Lucas, Nigel Hawthorne, Sue Perkins, Jeremy Sheffield, Gordon Kaye, Steven Fry, Christopher Biggins, Michael Cashman, and more. I even know of gay American actors who’ve moved here because finding work is easier.

  • mk

    I think the biggest problem with this stuff is that the actors get all the shit on both sides and are freelancers in a highly competitive market with very little power. The gay actors take criticism from the public for not coming out and deal with prejudice from the industry for not staying in. The people in the real power positions, the agents, executives and casting people, take no criticism for their prejudice and discriminatory practices that keep gay actors scared and damages their careers. A lot of those power players are gay themselves, and gay actors have often said the gay players are actually the most against hiring out gay talent, but they have no personal accountability and take no public criticism unlike the actors.

  • galefan2004

    @chapeau: That just isn’t simply true. There are professions where it is a requirement to stay in the closet in many states. Acting isn’t unique.

  • Topher

    @mk: I am inclined to agree with your point about the system being discriminatory; however, this position sets up the chicken and egg scenario. How can we rail against a prejudiced system if there are no gay actors willing to stand up and point out the discrimination? And why would a gay actor come out when the known consequence is discrimination? Unfortunately, this sounds like a stalemate in need of a black swan.

  • Awooooo

    @Random Gay Guy:

    This is how I feel too but what I don’t like about what this guy is encouraging people to stay in the closet. I’m fine with people wanting to wait with coming out – this how I feel about overall but I’m not fine with people encouraging others to stay in the closet. If someone wants to take that chance let them.

  • jason

    British theater has a history of out gay personalities. However, American theater does too. Keep in mind that the British theater has often served as a springboard for a movie career, whereas, in America, theater and movies are usually quite separate.

    There is much more of the heterosexual boys’ club mentality in the movie biz than the theater biz.

  • romeo

    Spent many years in Hollywood. Think I know Mr. Holland’s type very well. No directors, producers, casting agents, etc. were more discriminatory against gay actors than the gay ones. Even when the role was gay, they’d cast straight. Not to mention, all the closeted stars, and there are a lot of them, counted on supposedly out types like Holland to help keep them in the closet. So much for gay liberation in “liberal” Hollywood. Of course, there is some truth to what he says, but things are changing. Fissures are forming. But no thanks to Mr. Holland and all the others like him.

    If you’re gay and have acting talent, go into the legal profession. Given the odds of anyone making it in what’s left of Hollywood, you’ll make a lot more money, and you won’t have to pay off beards in divorce settlements.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @mk: You are right about the dynamic.


    The solution really is a sufficient number of gay men becoming sucessful enough to break the Hollywood mindset. The industry really is from what I have heard about perception of what they think the public believes, but it often does not test the assumptions. Women can not do this type of movie. Blacks can not do that type of movie. Gays can not be out. It is a surprisingly conservative industry in his set up over social beliefs and money. I do not mean like political social conservatism. I mean in that it will take forever to overcome an entrench belief.

    We are asking any actor who comes out to be the trailblazer, and hope they do not lose their career in the process. There is not an easy answer this. I want someone to come out and do the right thing, but I am not going to attack for not having that level of courage either.

  • Cam

    Rupert Everett chose crap movies after. My Best Friends Wedding was his one shot, He wasn’t famous before, and he gradually sank back after because he did movies like that horrible one with Madonna.

    As for “Gay Hollywood” I love this self hating idiots. They LOVE to pretend that Hollywood is so much more difficult than the real world. I’m sorry, but no gay actor is going to get worse treatment than some guy who comes out as gay while working in a used car dealer’s lot in Sylina Kansas, or a broker in NYC who comes out in that macho culture, or a factory worker in Pittsburgh. They need to get over it. The closet gives us newtered half persons like David Hyde Pierce and Kevin Spacey.

  • Dennis

    Thank you for pointing out that it is most often NOT the actors who wield the power in Hollywood. Agents, casting directors, producers, studio heads and assorted other ‘suits’ play a MAJOR role in keeping hypocrisy, double standards, DADT-type lies, female ‘beards’ and homophobia alive.

    I don’t like to advocate for anyone to be in the closet…and total ‘she doth protest too much’ douches like Cruise make me vomit…but blaming ONLY the actors for perpetuating the closet is simplistic and unfair.

  • Cam

    Hey, if these folks are honestly saying that there is discrimination that is enforced at all levels then the state of Ca. needs to investigate every studio, casting agency, talent agency etc… Because they are violating CA. non-discrimination laws.

  • BradSA

    @Cam: “Rupert Everett chose crap movies after. My Best Friends Wedding was his one shot, He wasn’t famous before, and he gradually sank back after because he did movies like that horrible one with Madonna.”

    How do you know he was offered anything better after he came out? Maybe he took those roles because it was all he had to choose from.

  • Cam

    @BradSA: you said “How do you know he was offered anything better after he came out? Maybe he took those roles because it was all he had to choose from.”

    That movie “The Next Best Thing” with Madonna was supposed to be a Julia Roberts Vehicle. She looked at the script and bailed, that should have been a signal to him. That movie was horrible. Also, before he did “My Best Friends Wedding, if you look at his IMDB profile, he was doing a movie or so every few years. Ever since My Best Friends Wedding he has been doing several projects a year. It still looks like his career is in a much better place than it was. I would say that Playing a villain in a mainstream picture like Inspector Gaget is better than playing “Sasha” in “Inside Monkey Zetterland. Which was about the level he was on before.

  • DeAnimator

    @The Gay Numbers:

    Drew Cosgrave. Now how about yours, or are you coward too? :)

  • M Shane

    Simple logistics: Hollywood is a bussiness catering to what the most of the movie watching want to see. Believe it or not most of America are Christian and not real bright.

  • anonymus

    Brad Pitt is homosexual, although he never admitted it. He is so sincere and honest that he is using image of ” heterosexual man ” to get kids, fame, and wealth. What a coward!

  • JamesReno

    @Cam: DHP is in the closet? LOL He is not doing a very good job of it is he? I could have sworn I saw a picture of him kissing another guy some years back.

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