The world responded to Ricky Martin’s revelation with a collectively snarky “obvs.” But despite our complete and total awareness of Martin’s homosexuality, he seemed like the kind of guy that just might never come out. But does that “kind of guy” (or gal) even exist anymore or is it just a matter of time for everyone these days? Whether the celeb outed by someone else, comes out to support gay rights or an upcoming memoir or was never closeted at all — the gayspores are multiplying. Fast!
All the joking about Ricky Martin (and last month about Sean Hayes) does miss something. Firstly, who are we to question why Martin or Hayes took so long to come out — many of us did, too, and like Martin, many of us chose a more politically tolerant time to step forward. Secondly, think about how scary it was/is for you to imagine coming out to just your facebook network, let alone millions of human beings who are poised to have opinions about you. Yes, it was obvious. Yes, we all knew. But closeting isn’t always about self-loathing or hypocrisy or sinister, selfish agendas (as perhaps Perez Hilton must say it is in order to sleep at night); it’s about naked, tentative fear. The longer a secret lasts, the bigger and scarier it becomes. And for many young stars with thriving careers who prompt our are-they-or-aren’t-they convos (Ellen Page, Kristen Stewart, Zachary Quinto); why risk a bump in their career path if they don’t have to?
Back in the good old days, the “writing about your secret gay life” thang was reserved for a celebrity’s post-mortem biographer, as it was for stars like Raymond Burr, Greta Garbo, Merv Griffin, James Dean, Marlene Dietrich, and Robert Reed. Most gay actors & actresses lived and died in the closet, and being “out” from the get-go was almost unheard of. But now celebrities are taking the biography into their own hands. Typically composed a good 5-10 years after the actor’s career has peaked, this coordination is crucial for both artistic and marketing reasons.
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