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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