Dear A-List or A-List-on-the-Cusp Leading Man,
I'll get right to it. You're gay. Are you tired of hiding yet? Come out of the closet. No matter what the conventional wisdom says, it's important that you come out. I'll get to why for your own good later, but we need you as a role model, we need kids to see that you can be out and a success, as high as the level will go.
It's true that as a huge celebrity, people do care who you sleep with, do care what you do in your spare time, do want to know all they can about you. Whether you like it or not, disagree or agree, that's just the way it is. Even if you choose not to play that game, the interest is there and affects how we perceive you. That's difficult to deal with, I'm sure... I can't even imagine.
When women celebrities come out of the closet (as welcome as it is), the straight men can still fantasize about them. If you were to come out, it's feared that it'll turn off the straight crowd all the way around and there will be negative interest in your off-screen life, you may lose the believability factor for straight romantic roles, and boom, your revenue potential for high profile projects is destroyed.
I know it's all about money... how will it affect the bottom line? Some high profile gay behind-the-scenes men suggest it's best for your career if you stay in the closet. It's all so iffy, but the thing that gets lost in all of this is... how do they know? How does anyone know? No one has done it.
But I ask you, how many high profile big star projects with supposedly straight romantic leads have tanked of late simply because they're not very good? Here's a thought: Put an out gay actor (you) that happens to be a fantastic artist (you again) in a high profile romantic comedy with a great script and terrific director guiding it along. I will wager that it becomes a hit. A huge hit. A bigger hit than anyone could have realized because the movie's great and the gay guy pulled it off. Wahoo!
Come on... be the first! Start a trend! Those in the know will say that's idealistic, but really... how can they speculate? It's not been done before. I'm not talking about George Nader in the 50s and all the whispering. I'm saying that no leading man has come close to lifting the veil, and anytime there was going to be proof revealing their (your) status, suddenly they (you) get married or get involved in a (hetero) sex scandal. Ah... the secret's still safe.
My fellow Gay Actor... come out of the damn closet.
If you're good and you choose your projects well, you stand to be an even bigger star than you are now. And if you're on the cusp of stardom, do it and live your life your way. Not having to lie in interviews, no fear of blackmail, the possibility that you will become a hero to millions and millions of fans who will support you in your artistic choices and will go along with the stories you choose to tell as an actor... sound good?
One day, none of it is going to be an issue. We will openly serve in the military, we will have total marriage rights, we will be able to love who we choose without fear of physical or emotional torment, we will show the world that we are everywhere in everyone's lives in every industry whether they know it or not, and we will show them that we all want the same things... to work, to love and be loved, to have all the rights promised in the constitution and in every political document that exists.
That day is not here yet, but change is happening at an incredibly fast pace. If you don't think that you, as one of the most famous faces in the world, don't have the power to help those changes happen sooner than later, you are mistaken.
It does matter if you come out. You should. You must. You may not think you're lying when you show up on the red carpet with your female "date" when your boyfriend or partner or husband is sitting home watching you on TV, but you are.
I'm not going to blame the fate of Matthew Shepherd on you, but it's all connected... if even one of us is self-loathing and hiding, it buys into the entire conservative agenda that being gay is a shameful embarrassment and worthy of only disdain, that we're a bunch of perverts who need to go away. The world is your soapbox, more so than anyone out there, more than any politician or scientist or behind the scenes industry person.
Neil Patrick Harris and TR Knight are heroes in how they're handling their out (and outed) status. Successes. Doing what they want. Both Emmy nominated for playing straight guys on high profile TV shows. Both were well deserved nominations and not because the gay guys "pulled it off"... my contention is that they were the right guys playing the right roles beautifully, and in Neil's case... he's frickin' hilarious.
What a concept... do your job, do it well, and the rest takes care of itself.
And by the by, when straight actors have been rewarded for their "bravery" in taking on gay roles, does that at all turn your stomach or make you gag a little to hear that?
To all Male Romantic A-List Leading Men: Rumor and wishful thinking aside, I don't know if you're straight, gay, or bi, but if any of you are gay... it's time. If any of your high profile actor friends are gay, be there for them and help them Out. Even if you're not the romantic leading guy, come out. Characters welcome. All of you, 1... 2... 3... don't flinch. Come out. Your career may not end up being what you thought it was going to be...it might be better and more rewarding than you could ever have hoped, with a life away from the biz that is more satisfying than you could have ever dreamed.
I'm an out gay actor in Hollywood. I'm not where you guys are... I'm older than most of you, I do character parts on TV, a lot of theater, and I have a side biz as a personal organizer that I love. No one really cares about my personal life... my mother maybe, but TMZ and the gossip rags have no interest, although since there's enough dirt in my life to kill twelve careers, maybe they should. My earning potential as of now is nowhere near yours and I wouldn't want you to lose your earnings, but doesn't living life as a free man have any stock in your value systems?
Most importantly, who is to say that your earning potential will drop? I'm not being facetious here, but really... how do you know for sure? A couple of lousy movies will probably hurt you way more than you owning who you are for all the world to see.
Even if only one A-List out leading man took a vocal personal affront to Prop 8, it could have done worlds of good by speaking out. Right now, no issue concerning gay rights is too small. We're at a crossroads, a wonderful but difficult crossroads. Help us fight for equal rights... your equal rights... by coming out. Your voice is louder than the rest of us. We will support you every way we can.
Please. I reiterate... it's time. Come out.
Sincerely and with great respect,