So White Collar’s Matt Bomer has officially come out of the closet. I stand by his decision one hundred percent. More than that though, I stand by the way he chose to come out. There was no big, attention grabbing magazine cover. There was no big announcement from his publicist. He simply thanked his family, including long time boyfriend Simon Halls, while accepting an award. It reminded me of how Zachary Quinto chose to come out – a passing mention about being a gay man during an interview. I think how both Zachary and Matt chose to come out says a lot about how attitudes are changing in regards to sexuality. Perhaps it isn’t the big deal it used to be.
When Zachary came out, there was a lot of press attention about his decision to do so but that really wasn’t I paid attention. I paid attention because Zachary handled his coming out with class, dignity and treated the whole conversation how it should be treated – like something completely normal that someone might mention without even really thinking about it. Matt did much the same thing and I find that so refreshing. It shouldn’t be something people have to think about. It should be what it is – normal.
Sometimes coming out in a more casual way isn’t really an option – or is an option that is taken away from a performer by the media. When Neil Patrick Harris came out of the closet, he really did so as a response to certain bloggers who will remain nameless and their threats to out him. One blogger went as far as to solicit photos of Neil and his former boyfriends. This behavior couldn’t be more harmful. While Neil did choose to come out on his own and did so with a very beautiful statement to the press, the choice really was taken from him. It was an either come out or I’ll out you sort of situation. It was a come out or I’ll make sure I invade your privacy as much as possible. This kind of thinking is disrespectful not just to the celebrity involved but to the whole gay community.
I think anyone of a certain age will be able to clearly remember Ellen’s coming out. There was a lot of press. There was a lot of publicity. There was a huge backlash. In the end, I’ve never had a problem with the way Ellen came out. I thought she handled it quite well. It’s important to remember that Ellen came out at a time when sexuality wasn’t really something a lot of people talked about honestly. This was a time before the gay rights movement really kicked into high gear. It was a bold and brave move that cost Ellen a lot at the time but earned her the respect she needed to relaunch a highly successful career.
Most people know Jane Lynch as Coach Sue Sylvester on Fox’s Glee but if you’re a movie buff, you’ve probably seen Jane in a lot over the years. She’s the sort of actress that is immediately recognizable but still able to blend into every character she portrays. She’s witty, charismatic and talented. She also happens to be a lesbian. She doesn’t hide who she is, openly talking about the fact that she’s a lesbian but often with her trademark dry wit.
Chris Colfer is most well known for his performance as openly gay high school student Kurt Hummel on Fox’s hit television series Glee. Chris has been open and honest about his sexuality since he first rose to fame and has really proven it is entirely possible for a young gay man to succeed in Hollywood without hiding who they are. Whether or not he has a career beyond Glee remains to be seen but I think that will have a lot more to do with the projects he chooses than his sexual orientation. Chris has handled his fame beautifully – choosing to make his interviews about what he’s doing in his career and what he’s accomplished in his professional life instead of what he does in his personal life. A lot of other actors – straight or gay – could take a cue from Chris. He’s charming, funny and talented. The fact that he’s also gay is really just a footnote to his larger story.
With Matt Bomer’s decision to come out while still keeping his private life private for the most part, he joins the ranks of other celebrities who are open about their sexuality but choose not to discuss it, This list includes former Frasier star David Hyde Pierce who only officially came out a few short years ago but has chosen not to make his sexuality a big deal. When he quietly married his long time boyfriend, there was no big official announcement or declaration. Instead, he just confirmed the wedding after it had taken place and left it at that. I think that speaks volumes. David is a classy guy – being open and honest about part of who he is but also making sure people understand that being gay is only one part of what makes a person who they are.
When I was a weird teenage girl, I had a ginormous celeb crush on former (tear) R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe and, although he’s gay, that crush has only grown as time has passed. Michael is a great example of someone coming out and making it really mean something. Instead of making his 2008 coming out all about him and his personal life, Michael acknowledged how much a celebrity coming out can impact young people out there who may be struggling with their own sexual identities. Michael had always shied away from talking about his personal sexual preference before deciding to come out, neither confirming not denying rumors that he’s gay because he said he felt it didn’t matter. I don’t think he backed away from that stance just because he chose to come out. It’s possible to be private and keep the focus on your work while still being open. Michael proves that and I applaud him for it.
There will always be celebrities people whisper about. Jodie Foster may well be one of them. While she has never chosen to keep her sexuality a secret, she has also never actually come out and said she’s a lesbian. I don’t think that matters at all. She is living her life and not trying to hide anything but she also isn’t allowing the press to pry open the doors of her bedroom and that’s her right. I applaud her for having the guts to draw the line. Will she ever come out? It’s really no one’s business. While some could argue that by coming out she could help young girls who struggle with their sexuality but it could also be argued that by being who she is and now allowing herself to be forced to talk about something very private and very personal, she’s going the exact same thing. You are not who you love. You are not defined by your sexuality and I think that’s the message Jodie Foster sends.
Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with throwing open the door of the closet, jumping out and never looking back. There are lots of examples of this kind of coming out in Hollywood such as Star Trek‘s George Takei. I absolutely love George. If you don’t ‘like’ him on Facebook you should go do so right now. No, I mean it. Now! Hilarious pictures. Anyway, so George came out not long ago and since then has been very vocal about gay rights. He’s a shining example of a proud gay man, not shying away from talking about his personal life or about his support of gay rights.
We’ve only just scratched the surface here. There are a lot of openly gay celebs in Hollywood that I didn’t really get to write about. A short list:
- Adam Lambert
- Alan Ball
- Alexis Arquette
- Amber Heard
- Bill T. Jones
- Boy George
- Clay Aiken
- Elton John
- Guillermo Diaz
- Ian McKellen
- Jesse Tyler Ferguson
- John Barrowman
- Jonathan Groff
- Lance Bass
- Nathan Lane
- Portia DeRossi
- Ricky Martin
- Rufus Wainwright
- Sean Hayes
Hopefully as time passes and more celebs start to come out, attitudes about gay celebrities and gay people in general will start to change and articles like these ones will no longer be relevant.