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Lipgoss: The Truth Behind Hollywood's Overcrowded Closet

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Wasting my life on pop culture blogs and gossip sites, so you don't have to.

This week, another handful of fellas added their names to the growing pile of men who say John Travolta got gay with them. As potential showbiz scandals go, this is up there, if not quite with the 2004 Brangennifer love triangle, with Woody Allen's affair to Soon Yi, Mia Farrow's adopted daughter (circa 1992). (Although personally I still prefer the Milli Vanilli Grammy scandal of 1990.)

The triumphant tone of the tawdry Travolta coverage baffles me, however. Because even if the gay rumours were proved to be true, and obviously they have been vehemently denied, it wouldn't be John Travolta who should be ashamed. It's Hollywood. And the rest of us. Because if John Travolta couldn't be openly gay in Hollywood, who the hell can be?

In all seriousness, if a good-looking and talented Hollywood actor felt that his sexuality would destroy his chances of success, the shame is mostly ours. Because depressingly enough, he wouldn't be wrong.

In 2010, the veteran actor Richard Chamberlain sent pundits, bloggers and tweeters a-flutter by telling The Advocate that he would not have got his best roles if producers had known he was gay, a detail he concealed until the age of 69. "Personally, I wouldn't advise a gay leading-man type actor to come out," he concluded. "For an actor to be working at all is a kind of miracle, because most actors aren't, so it's just silly for a working actor to say, "Oh, I don't care if anybody knows I'm gay.""

Chamberlain's remarks make uncomfortable reading because they bring to light precisely how naive the straight majority's understanding of closeted homosexuality really is. We like to believe that the only reason someone would keep their sexuality under wraps is because they're ashamed of it. "Honestly, don't they realise that we live in a tolerant society now?" we tut. "Hey, we all watch Glee! It's okay! Come on out!"

Now we're forced to consider that most gay actors are fine with their sexuality. It's just that they know casting directors, producers and studio execs aren't convinced that we are fine with it. And until they are, it's a career-savvy decision to keep schtum.

"There is still a tremendous amount of homophobia in our culture," Chamberlain continued. "It's regrettable, it's stupid, it's heartless and it's immoral, but there it is."

His advice, whilst controversial, is sound. We have yet to see an openly gay actor - male or female - cast as the lead in a big-budget Hollywood movie.

So is it really fair to demand that gay entertainers come out, given the evidence that this sabotages their chances of stardom? Can we call it cowardice, if the fear isn't misplaced?

This much I know: any forced outing of a gay celebrity is absolutely nothing to crow about.

Chateau Barrymore

In cheerier and boozier news, Drew Barrymore consolidated her position as coolest woman in the world by collaborating with the artist Shepard Fairey on the labels for her new range of Californian wines. Sigh. I give up.

Mumsnet.com

Hey, want to see Mariah Carey's online baby photo book? Of COURSE you do.

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