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Coming Out in Hollywood

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Recently, The Wrap wrote a really insightful article about celebrities coming out publicly with ease, yet there are certain industries where it is still taboo to be out of the closet, namely big movie stars.

It seems so easy to be Neil Patrick Harris, Matt Bomer, and Anderson Cooper, all big television personalities, who came out in their own way whether it was a press release, a significant other's acknowledgment in a speech, or a letter to the editor of an online publication.

The news made the headlines for a day, and then we all moved on. Living in Hollywood, I hear the rumors all of the time from the stars hiding behind the religion of Scientology, to the actor in two huge summer action films, to the Academy Award nominated actor who almost came out, but chickened out at the last minute. (Google “Toothy Tile” for a hint.) Are the rumors true? I certainly don't hang out in celebrities' bedrooms, but with certain stars, where there is smoke, there is fire.

If telling the public has been so easy for television stars, why is it so difficult for big box office stars?

Here are some of the reasons:
1. Box Office Dollars: There is a lot more at stake for an actor who carries the weight of a $200 million budgeted film on their shoulders. If audiences cannot separate a celeb's public life from their personal life, the celeb runs the risk of a slimmer bank account and a dwindling career. In narcissistic Hollywood, people fear a dead career as much as aging in this town. Rupert Everett has talked on record about how his open sexuality affected his career. You can argue that he has made some bad movie choices, but only he and his agent know the type of offers that came in before and after he came out.

2. Politics: As open-minded as cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco are, there are plenty of cities and states that do their best to say anyone who is homosexual is "less than." This is often your core movie-going audience and the heart of your fans, so this factor is taken into consideration for many stars and movie studios. Politics like California's Prop 8 (or the antidote I support, NOH8) or the current power of the Christian right play more into decision-making than you would think.

3. Image: When you reach the stratosphere of superstardom like Brad and Angie, George Clooney, or Tom Cruise, so much of your image is controlled--from what you wear to whom you hang out with. If you buy into the system, part of your life will be ruled by this Hollywood image. (I will get into this more with in an upcoming Behind the Red Carpet post on certain behaviors of the A-Listers.) So, if you remember back in the day when Rock Hudson married his secretary to keep his sexuality a secret, you better believe that there are a few marriages in this town that are arranged still to this day. If I hear the excuse "But, they are married and have kids!" one more time, I might scream.

Hollywood is smoke and mirrors, things are arranged, people have a family, it's life and believe it or not, even in real life this happens, too. Will we see a major movie star come out soon? I don't think so. Like the country music, sports, and hip hop industries, it's still tough for people to live their own truths. Is it any of our business? Yes and no. Yes, in that it is important to set a precedent for the next generation, letting people know that it is okay to be who you are. No, in that it is their private life and they should have the right to live as publicly or as privately as they want. It's not a simple issue, and it is one that won't be answered overnight.

 

About Kristyn: Kristyn Burtt is a TV Host, Entertainment Reporter, and Former Couch Potato turned Mouse Potato living in Los Angeles.  For more Hollywood scoop, follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and on her site, Red Carpet Closet

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