A-List Movie Actors Still Don't Come Out For Some Surprising Reasons

Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
As last week's Supreme Court decision on marriage equality and the weekend's Pride celebrations prove, this country has come a long, long way in respecting the rights of LGBTQ people. But in some areas, we still have quite a ways to go. Surprisingly, Hollywood is one place that is, in certain ways, stuck in a homophobic past, a series of stories in Variety points out today. The situation is still so bad that we have yet to see an A-list movie star come out as gay at the peak of his or her career.

Though TV stars like Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris have reached even higher levels of fame after coming out, there's a general understanding that this isn't possible for movie actors if they want to keep their top billing on big studio films.

"There's this narrative that people are attached to: You cannot come out because it's going to hurt your career," Ellen Page, who came out last year, told the trade paper. "And that's potentially true. When I made the decision to come out, I wasn’t naive to that."

The truth is, it's more than just a "narrative," unfortunately. Variety conducted a poll in which 60% of respondents said that if they knew the lead actor in an action film was gay, this would deter them from seeing it, while 40% would avoid it if the lead character were gay. This is not even taking into account homophobic attitudes in the foreign countries where Hollywood blockbusters still count on making big money.

Gay and lesbian actors' movies "probably wouldn’t play in China," box-office analyst Jeff Bock told Variety. Publicist Kelly Bush added that some actors might even fear for their safety in other countries if they come out.

The story ends on a positive note, however, as experts acknowledge millennials' more open-minded attitudes and relaxed acceptance of sexuality, with actors like James Franco turning the question into a long guessing game.

"A young gay or lesbian actor will come up through the ranks and end up being so good, and someone America finds so winning, they end up in a position to get films greenlit," Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black predicts. We're certainly looking forward to that day.

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