Monday, December 27, 2010

Out actor Richard Chamberlain tells gay actors to stay in the closet

Cover of "Shattered Love: A Memoir"Veteran actor Richard Chamberlain (Dr. Kildaire, The Thornbirds), who came out in 2006 in his memoir, "Shattered Love", sat down for an interview with the Advocate recently and talked about coming out late in his career, playing gay versus straight roles and whether or not it's advisable for actors to come out publicly.

Here's part of that interview from The Advocate:
You were a wildly successful closeted actor during a period of time when coming out was unheard of, but the climate of acceptance has significantly changed in recent years. How do you feel about gay actors who still remain closeted as we near 2011?
It’s complicated. There’s still a tremendous amount of homophobia in our culture. It’s regrettable, it’s stupid, it’s heartless, and it’s immoral, but there it is. For an actor to be working is a kind of miracle, because most actors aren’t, so it’s just silly for a working actor to say, “Oh, I don’t care if anybody knows I’m gay” — especially if you’re a leading man. Personally, I wouldn’t advise a gay leading man–type actor to come out.

When can a leading man come out — when he’s 69 and promoting a memoir?
I have no idea. Despite all the wonderful advances that have been made, it’s still dangerous for an actor to talk about that in our extremely misguided culture. Look at what happened in California with Proposition 8. Please, don’t pretend that we’re suddenly all wonderfully, blissfully accepted.

I'm trying hard not to get angry about this story. It may be just a generational thing, like when your dad doesn't get your taste in music. Or it could be that maybe, just maybe, he has a point. It's rare enough for an actor to be able to make a living by acting full time. It's even more rare for an actor to become wildly successful, rich and famous.

It is understandable, or at least it should be, that if an actor has been able to beat the odds and achieve all of those things, that he or she might be overly cautious about coming out and risking the loss of everything they've worked so hard for. Add to that the fear of typecasting, like Nathan Lane and Harvey Firestein have often been and the closet can seem like a warm safe place.

For example, Rupert Everett was among the first wave of successful actors to come out. He quickly became typecast as the gay best friend and hasn't worked much since. Of course, it could also be that his horrendous plastic surgery made him look like a completely different person.

On the other hand, it is because of the courage of actors like Chamberlain, Everett, Firestein and Lane that other gay actors feel more comfortable coming out with little impact on their careers. Either way, coming out is a very personal choice. It certainly helps for young LGBT people to be have role models in the entertainment industry, but some people just aren't the role model type.

Look for Chamberlain on ABC's "Brothers and Sisters" in coming weeks playing the love interest of Uncle Saul. Chamberlain's character comes back into Saul's life as the man who gave him HIV back in the 80's, but doesn't remember the encounter.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep comments relevant and civil. Comments attacking other people will be deleted.

Subscribe in a reader