If They Were Gay, Who Would Care?
By Shana Naomi Krochmal
Out took the entertainment industry�s temperature in an attempt to determine whether the long-held assumption�that an out gay male actor could never enjoy a career as a leading man�was still true, or whether times have finally changed.
Here�s the one thing nearly everyone interviewed agreed on: We could never have had this conversation two years ago. Sure, Will & Grace had proved that gays could have mainstream feasibility. But it wasn�t until last year that queers finally broke the sound barrier: Brokeback Mountain won three Academy Awards and has now grossed $175 million worldwide. In fewer than five months Lance Bass, T.R. Knight, and Neil Patrick Harris all stepped up and out. More recently, Ellen hosted the Oscars to near-universal acclaim. So have we reached a Hollywood tipping point�or at least the final plateau right before the summit?
�I�m not trying to sound like a Pollyanna,� says Simon Halls, a gay partner at publicity powerhouse PMK/HBH, �but I think what we�re finding is that people are far more accepting than anyone would have given them credit for.�
So maybe what�s standing between the A-list and the closet is not just a fear of the so-called American public�at least not of the female half, long considered to be more willing to accept gay stories and actors. To get the inside scoop, we contacted a number of Hollywood�s biggest behind-the-scenes players, but many declined to discuss the topic with Out, even in the most general terms.
�No one wants to offend anyone,� explained one publicist, citing fears that a reader might assume a client is gay. �And anyone who does have a [closeted] gay client wouldn�t want their name out there either.� A spokesman from GQ wouldn�t even entertain the question of whether a newly out gay actor could book their cover, saying only, �That�s just too hypothetical.�