Is ’Out’ Out in Hollywood?
No effect on homophobia?
Yet, Everett isn’t the only person in Hollywood that believes actors should stay mum on their sexuality. During a panel held at Outfest in Los Angeles last July, Don Roos, openly gay director of Happy Endings and The Opposite of Sex, said that he does not believe it is in an actor’s best interest to come out to the press. He added that he favored actors who did not reveal their sexuality because he "prefer[s] more mystery," and that he believes celebrities coming out of the closet will not have any effect on homophobia.
Darian Aaron, editor of award winning blog Living Out Loud with Darian and contributor to Project Q Atlanta and GBM News, told EDGE that Roos’s comments discredits the intelligence of the audience.
"I believe Don is indirectly insulting the intelligence of moviegoers who are more than capable of separating the off screen persona from the actor who is playing a character on screen," Aaron said. "A brilliant actor will always be able to transcend his off screen reality and lose himself in the character thereby causing the audience to emotionally invest in the character and not the sexuality of the actor."
Yet, Aaron acknowledges that there are real pressures on actors and actresses to maintain a level of ambiguity in the public eye.
"Despite the rapid progress and greater acceptance gays and lesbians have achieved over the past twenty years we still live in a homophobic society and the entertainment industry is a microcosm of the anti-gay sentiment that is found in the larger society," Aaron told EDGE. "The fear of losing one’s livelihood or being disowned by friends and family after coming out has been ingrained in our DNA. While an actor can hope that his artistic contributions will continue to be valued and judged based on merit without his sexuality being a factor, the reality is there’s a real possibility that a once promising career will either stall or fizzle completely once the truth is disclosed."
Aaron believes that many openly gay actors fall into the inescapable trap of typecasting. However, he cited Wilson Cruz, who played openly teen Ricky Vasquez on My So-Called Life, as an openly gay actor who has taken conventional typecasting to his advantage. Cruz has played a number of diverse and multidimensional gay characters on successful television shows including Noah’s Arc, Pushing Daisies, and The West Wing. Aaron stressed the importance of celebrities to be honest about their sexuality for the greater good, regardless of the barriers that may confront them.
"We live in a culture that glorifies celebrities and when they talk people listen," he said. "It’s been proven that those who know gay and lesbian people are more likely to support the fight for equal rights. Millions of people who watch Ellen DeGeneres on a daily basis and who may never have come in contact with an out lesbian now know one. They’re realizing while her bank account may be massive, she is not much different than the average woman who wants to live in a world where she is able to thrive professionally and personally. Sexual orientation doesn’t change that basic desire."