If you read gossip websites, the good and the bad - naming no names, of course - then you'll know that barely a day goes without speculation upon the sexuality of a celebrity. The internet is peppered with the lexicon of illicit homosexuality - 'gay trysts', 'beards', 'secret gay lovers' and of course the grotty 'gay romp' or two.
Taking a prurient interest in who's doing who is nothing new; the gossipmongers have been screaming and pointing "FAG!" ever since the day Rock Hudson put on just a teensy bit too much moisturiser. But now there are so many obvious, glaring 'open secrets' that you wonder why these A-listers keep up the pretence. What does it say about our society that the Hollywood elite can't confess its predilection for pecker? And why are we so keen to expose them or, in the case of the aforementioned gossip peddlers, gently prod and tease them to make them squirm.
I'm not interested in famous people being role models for the youth of today. A lot of people seem to think this is vital and important, that to 'normalise' homosexuality we need half the cast of Coronation Street or Doctor Who to admit some awkward fumbling in a Waterloo sauna, but I don't see how it helps. Whether we like it or not, for every star who proudly announces their gayness to the world, there are many others who choose to hide it, on the pretext of it harming their career or damaging their public image.
But that's ridiculous in this day and age, right? Nobody could possibly like Movie Star X less if they came out? They'd still watch his movies, right? Well, we'll probably never know. Maybe the celebs are right to be worried. Now that Heroes star and modern-day Mr Spock Zachary Quinto has revealed, albeit without much fanfare on his part, that he is homosexual, will his stock plummet? Is the rebooted Star Trek franchise doomed? Probably not, but don't expect more established actors to follow his example. The gossip columns may have been abuzz with excitement, but Zachary Quinto is, as yet, hardly a leading man. As cute and as cool as he is, no Hollywood blockbusters are riding on this guy's reputation.
Politicians are equally in the firing line. All it takes is a 'close relationship' with an adviser, the odd indiscretion and sharing a hotel room and the gay rumours - or 'gay slurs' as some still love to call them - soon come a-knocking.
What we conveniently forget as we attempt to drag celebrities from the closet is that just like mere mortals, they too may be struggling with their sexuality. Having an expanse of wealth and discreet rent boys at your disposal doesn't mean that you're any more ready to admit to yourself that you're gay - a key milestone to meet before you even think about telling the world.
A distasteful side effect of closeted Hollywood is the sham love stories. Actor A, who has a new film on the horizon, hooks up with Actress B, whose star is on the ascent. Guarding your sexuality can be a tricky business - if you say nothing about your private life, it merely encourages the dirt-diggers of the press to use bigger shovels; there's little chance of escape.
Some stars, then, decide the best form of defence is an outright lie. In an effort to quell the whispers, strategically-placed kiss-and-tell stories will appear, or the closet case in question may appear on the red carpet with a hot, young lovely perched awkwardly on their arm. These arrangements keep the gossip about him getting 'done' by all comers at a coked-up orgy and it helps to raise the profile of the lady. Mutually beneficial, sure, but a cruel joke being played on anybody, gay or straight, who really does want the A-list's top flight to be their moral guide.
So, gay stars, stay firmly in the closet if that's the right thing for you to do. But please don't feel you have to engage in off-the-shelf, faux heterosexual happiness solely for our benefit. We believe in it about as much as you do.
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