The Glass Closet, Revisited
By Michael Musto
Five years is an eternity in “closet” years. Things have changed dramatically since my May 2007 Out cover story about the glass closet, the phenomenon where public figures, like Jodie Foster and Anderson Cooper, live gay lives but stop short at actually coming out on the record. To recap my thesis: The “g.c.” crowd avoids being defined as gay, though at least they don’t deny their sexuality, and never come up with fake opposite-sex love interests for the media. This seemed like an advance from the traditional deep-closet, but I still urged those stars to join Neil Patrick Harris and Lance Bass in breaking glass, promising they’d still be fabulous while leaving coyness behind in favor of total honesty and freedom.
Well, they didn’t heed my advice at all, but other notable figures did so in droves. Since the article, “Invisible” singer Clay Aiken came out as a gay father in a 2008 People interview. Comic Wanda Sykes became out and political the same year. Adam Lambert did a 2009 Rolling Stone interview where he put it on the record. And in 2010, country star Chely Wright had a People cover; Will & Grace’s Sean Hayes told the Advocate, “I am who I am”; and Ricky Martin went from closet to glass to out by revealing, “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man.”
Still, no Jodie or Anderson, but CNN’s Don Lemon did come out in 2011, wanting to be forthright as an anchor and urging other people to do the same. Actor Zachary Quinto joined him in the open space. And this year, White Collar’s Matt Bomer went public with his family, which is good because he’s costarring in The Normal Heart, a movie about how silence equals death.
That’s a lot of broken glass -- an almost deafening amount of see-through-camouflage shattering. Clearly, the showbiz mood has become more accepting, the out and proud club way less lonely an organization to hook up with. Being half-out is no longer the popular way to go; it’s all or nothing these days.
But did I mention that Jodie and Anderson are still glassy? Seven months after the piece, Jodie did thank “my beautiful Cydney” at an event, but she didn’t elaborate and went right back into the glass closet (sans Cydney). And while Anderson is rumored to be coming out every few months, he never does, staying ambiguous as the ladies continue to fantasize about him, while the gays convince themselves he is out. With a syndicated day-time show on his plate, it seems like he -- and the boyfriend -- will stay casually off-the-record for some time.
He’s joined in glass by Queen Latifah, Ellen Page, and Jim Parsons (who’s also in The Normal Heart), but they’re a shrinking group as busting out becomes the honorable -- and sensible -- thing to do. So, five closet years after my cover, I’m still urging: Don’t be glassy, be classy! But thankfully, it doesn’t warrant such screaming anymore.