March 10, 2010

Come out, come out, wherever you are...

Okay, put on your surprised face... Sean Hayes, the Emmy-winning actor who played super-gay Jack on Will and Grace, has come out of the closet in an interview with The Advocate. Hayes comes out in a reluctant half-assed lame kind of way, and yet he does it. Too little, too late?

When challenged on why he didn't come out when he was on top of the TV world, Hayes gets defensive... did he owe it to anyone to come out earlier, when it would have real impact?

Do celebrities have an obligation to come out? Richard Chamberlain came out recently, after waiting until he was like 140 years old and thirty years past The Thorn Birds. Does anyone care now? What would have happened if he came out when he was on Dynasty and being touted as Hollywood's premiere bachelor?

Out magazine has featured Jodie Foster and Anderson Cooper on its cover, challenging them to come out. Both looked away and did nothing. What is the morality here, and what are the career and financial repercussions? Putting aside the hate and potential violence, coming out can cost a career -- in 2000 Barbara Walters challenged Ricky Martin about his sexuality, and though he didn't directly respond, we were all left with the same impression (gay gay gay) and Walters now says she regrets it as she thinks it killed his career.

Research shows that when someone knows a gay person, they are more in favour of gay civil rights. So when tens of millions of people know you, your coming out will advance the cause of civil rights. So is that obligation or opportunity?

When I was a kid growing up in the 70s, the only gay role models were Paul Lynde, random guests on the Donahue show, and the florist who did my Bar Mitzvah. Would life have been easier with role models? I think so.

Sean Hayes is gay and seems bitter about being labeled gay. Ricky Martin's career may have been hurt. Jodie Foster has always dodged the question. Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John, Adam Lambert, Rufus Wainright are all out with successful careers.

CNN's popular Anderson Cooper, long assumed to be gay, is rumored to be replacing Katie Couric as the next anchor of CBS news; will he use his ever-growing profile to step up and come out? Should he?

19 comments:

Tawnya said...

I wanted to thank you for stopping by! I appreciate the visit. Honestly, I always thought that Sean Hayes was gay. Like out gay. Maybe he seems bitter because he doesn't like people to label him. I don't know. I personally try to not label people, sometimes I am successful and sometimes I am not. Ellen's career is fine now, but when she came out on her show, I know her ratings dropped like a stone...

Meliha said...

I found this blog post interesting and can completely understand both sides of the fence. Great question on whether celebs should feel "obligated" (for lack of better word) to further advance rights, even if its a case where it might harm their profile.

inannasstar said...

I'm with Tawnya, I thought Sean Hayes was already out? (I guess I'm a clueless straight woman after all...sigh). I can understand both sides of the arguement about coming out of the closet (yes, I realize I'm a straight woman, but as a Witch, I did have to come out of the broom closet....but I digress) but for me personally, I feel like in order to have any kind of relationship with someone, I have to show me myself and I. There is no room in that closet for all of me....my arse is just entirely too big. Seriously though, I could never live a public life which was basically a lie. It would feel to Sybil for me.

Robin said...

Wow ..I'm so torn on this..its an individuals' choice..but I wish they could all come out to an accepting and comforting audience, but that is not the case....it is true that some that you have mentioned have done well by coming out..but there is so much more to it than just a successful career..there is safety issues and that is what worries me...You are right though about advancing the cause of civil rights..but not everyone can do that..its so personal..I guess in a perfect world they could come out, feel safe, and prosper...we can only hope..!

Christine said...

I've commented before on the topic of whether or not gay celebrities have an obligation to the public to disclose. I don't think so. Yes, there are comfort and strength in numbers...but not everyone has it inside themselves to be a spokesperson. You know what I mean? It's that everyone, famous or not, has their own personality and weaknesses. They need to choose what's best for them and how much attention they can handle, and in this instance it wouldn't be about any performances on screen.

At the end of the day, out or closeted, if they are content with themselves and satisfied - that is really all that matters.

Princess Pamela said...

Wow! Sean Hayes is gay??

Seriously, I don't think there is any obligation for someone to come out and announce it, unless they choose to do so. Everyone has their own reasons to keep it to themselves or share, and who are we to force the answer?

I think that even when it appears to be so obvious, it's none of our business to push for an answer. Leave folks alone to do as they wish.

TICKLEBEAR said...

i'm so totally floored!!
i really didn't see that one coming!!
(yeah...really...NOT!!!)
:D~
as for coming out, to each his own. i don't like the notion to coerce someone into coming out. if they don't, they have their reason(s), and that should be enough. though i do wish we would stop being this invisible minority. homophobes might stop targeting us if they knew our actual numbers; but then, maybe they wouldn't either...

HUGZ

Michael Rivers said...

It's a very tough choice celebs face. It shouldn't matter at all, but we have to realize that it does. For some, their careers get stronger. For others, the career ends. I don't think we're anywhere close to having A-List actors coming out--and still getting action/romantic roles.

Pammy pam said...

ok everyone knows jodie foster is gay. i guess she thinks no one knows? i feel for those who are gay because i think you are under no obligation to anyone to come out. its all for your self protection. i mean, come on. i'm black and i am not so sure that if i had to come out of the closet (like a closeted black person) and face persecution that i would. a gay person, however, has to make a choice to come out and possibly face ridicule. that makes you very brave in my mind. if it was a matter of working and getting paid, hell, i'd hide too. nothing but love for anyone else who suffers in the minority like me.

Mrsblogalot said...

I've always felt this was a personal choice more than an obligation. will he? Won't he? I hope he does what's right for him .How's that for lukewarm, wishy washy and middle of the road?

Jodie Foster's gay?

Vodka Logic said...

I dont think it is anyones obligation to announce their sexuality one way or another, of course no one cares when one is straight. But... as you put it, if you know someone gay you are more likely to support the "cause' and what better way so in that case you have a strong case for obligation. However forcing the issue is rude, ie Barb Walters.

This applies to a lot of causes, did Michael J Fox "care" about Parkinsons before he was afflicted.. prob not too much. Did he have to out himself.. no but he probably did a lot for support by doing so..

I think you get my point and thank you for giving a view point I dont see often enough.. this and other posts.

Annie (Lady M) x said...

Shame on me, but I never thought of the obvious thing that you just pointed out - 'that people who know gay people are more in favour of their rights' ...... yep, so the more gay people who are out, the greater the advancement. Bloody good point, well made.

P.S. Sorry, but I didn't know that Jodie Foster was gay.....

inannasstar said...

Hey HottMcHottpants, there's an award waiting for you at my blog ; )

bmat10 said...

Nobody should have to come out, nor should they have to stay in. You cannot dictated who does what and why its a personal decision and frankly nobody elses business.

Of course it always surprises me to find out that there were people in the closet when I had just assumed they were way out.

Still I wish it just wouldn't matter.

Brahm said...

Wow, didn't know about Jodie Foster? We got some talkin' to do!!!

And these comments have been really interesting to read, and yes I agree with the cosensus here, which seems to be that is a private issue and we should not 'out' people, although I disagree when it is an anti-gay (Republican) politician who is secretly gay --- hypocrisy gets you outed.

That being said, I do think there is a great opportunity here for some of the gay actors and musicians out there to metaphorically strap on their balls adn come out --- think how impactful it was when kd lang, melissa etheridge and Ellen each came out. People are more likely to accept and embrace gay people when they attach names and faces to them. Ok off my big gay soapbox now...

Rusty Hoe said...

I don't like the obligation to come out. I think it is a highly personal decision (though I agree on the whole hypocritical a-holes who are anti-gay to the world then are secretly gay behind closed doors).

I think with society as it is, coming out can have some hard repercussions. Not just financially but suddenly people become the gay singer/actor/politician etc. The sexuality becomes the defining point not the person themselves or their achievements. I personally would love it if more mainstream, for want of a better word, people were to come out. The postman, the guy who fixes your car, the girl who works at the bakery, real people in a sense. Its great if a celeb feels comfortable to come out, but they are still somehow removed from reality like all celebs. I think it will be more likely to become a non-issue when the community realises that gay people are part of the every day community just like everyone else. Actually knowing someone who is gay is far more likely to change opinions than knowing that Sean Hayes or any other celeb is gay.

Here's hoping that one day it will become a non-topic.

Talk about coincidence, I'm watching re-runs of 'Ellen' as I type this.

TICKLEBEAR said...

i'm in agrement with RUSTY HOE. the more people find gays in their daily lives, the more it will be a non-issue.

here's hoping!!

Rick Modien said...

We need to get to the point when coming out is no longer necessary, because whether or not you're gay doesn't matter, and no one could care less. What will it take to get there? I'm not sure it's celebrities and well-known personalities coming out and making gay more visible. There's still a big personal and professional risk for them to do that.
Coming out is a very individual thing, and all of us do it in his or her own time. I'm so grateful I didn't have to come out on a world stage. I'm afraid that would have made it even more difficult for me, and, if my livelihood were still attached to it, I might not be out even now that I'm 50.

Will Burke said...

Gotta give props to George Tekei. Late out-er, but had a lot of fun with it on the Roast of William Shatner (if you've soon it, you've realized that Ben Stller is outed as a douche!).

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