General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

Why don't celebrities we know are gay come out of the closet?

Asked by tinyfaery (36374 points ) August 13th, 2008

For instance, Jodie Foster and Queen Latifah. I don’t see how coming out could hurt these two women (others, like those in sports, Tom Cruise, or Ricky Martin might have difficulties). They are both so established, but refuse to say, either way, if they are gay or not. Jodie Foster has had a relationship with a woman for almost 9 years, and they have a child together, why not just say “hey, I’m a big ol’ dyke”?

I ask because, we all know that exposure to people of the LGBT community leads to greater social acceptance. Why wouldn’t these celebrities do their part to further LGBT rights?

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39 Answers

mrjadkins's avatar

The answer is: does it make a difference in how you view/treat them if they are gay or not?

Queen Latifah has never come out or made mention that she is gay. I don’t know if she is or isn’t. If she is, good for her. If she isn’t, good for her.

Do we need to delineate gay or not gay? Why can’t people be respected for who they are instead of what they are?

I believe this is the foundation of equality. People don’t need to “come out”. They just need to be who they are and accepted for that.

lefteh's avatar

They don’t need to, mrjadkins.

But for many of them.. they are in a position where if they choose to come out, they could be an empowering icon to many gay and lesbian people throughout the world.

When Ellen DeGeneres came out, for example, she was instantly a source of hope and inspiration for lesbians all over the world.

I’m not trying to say that they have an obligation to come out and become a gay icon. Just saying that they have motivation to do so if they choose.

mrjadkins's avatar

Isn’t Bette Midler empowering enough? ;)

I see the point of getting empowered by people coming out but I also think there is a little bit of an “I told you so” attitude by our gay community. Especially among people like Perez Hilton and his ilk who out people for sport.

The community is really divided by this issue of out and in. I think it is up to the individual to come out when they are comfortable with it. There is a plus and minus to living a dichotomous life of straight/gay in the real world. I see it as a type of androgynous lifestyle. Sort of like the metro-sexual lifestyle.

tinyfaery's avatar

@irk Thanks for the link.

Knotmyday's avatar

Maybe they fear ostracism. Ellen did get canceled shortly thereafter. Intolerance is alive and well, my friends.

tinyfaery's avatar

I personally know a few lesbian women in the hip-hop community.

It’s so easy to say “Why can’t people be respected for who they are instead of what they are?”, when everyone assumes people are straight. If we all automatically assumed everyone was gay, I’m sure the heteros would be very outspoken about their sexual identity.

lrk's avatar

I think there’s a double standard here in comparison to heterosexuals: Straight affairs and relationships are in the news all the freaking time! People have no qualms leaking heterosexual affairs which the participants wish to keep secret…

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

I don’t think their sexuality is any of our business. I think they are entitled to their privacy and owe nothing to any one else or any other cause. They have to live their live as they deem honorable. Who are we to judge?

tinyfaery's avatar

No one is judging, except for you.

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

Tinyfaery, sorry if I gave the impression I was judging. It was not my intention.

mzgator's avatar

It is no one else’s business about what I do in my bedroom. It’s not my business what anyone else dies or who they do it with.

jca's avatar

it seems the point of the question was not about why the public is often critical of homosexuality or whether or not it’s ok to be biased, it seems the question was more just a basic why not come out if you’re famous. or did i misunderstand?

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Jodi Foster is gay? Be still my heart.

monsoon's avatar

Jodi Foster is a gay icon without being out, any lesbian can tell you that.

She does not hide anything about her relationship (lives with a women, her children have her and her partner’s last names), but makes it clear that she’s never going to hold a press conference explaining her sexuality.

Anyway, give me one out lesbian that is cast in mainstream acting roles. Or one musician, for that matter (tegan and sara, I believe, are the first to do this; become famous while being out, rather than coming out after becoming famous, though they are still far from mainstream). It doesn’t happen.

It’s one thing to applaud people for being heroic, but another thing to put people down for not being so.

monsoon's avatar

Though, tinyfaery, don’t get me wrong. I agree, in a perfect world, gay celebrities would come out and show the world how great gay people are. You’re right about the taking-the-easy-way-out argument.

But please, lay off Jodi. She has way too much on her mind what with being so awesome all the time. :)

lefteh's avatar

“Anyway, give me one out lesbian that is cast in mainstream acting roles. Or one musician, for that matter”

Do I have to limit myself to one?

Lily Tomlin.
Sarah Paulson.
Melissa Etheridge.
Indigo Girls.
k.d. lang.
Ani DiFranco.
Plus Ellen and a whole bunch of others, of course.

Also, check out this site, which is devoted to queer women in entertainment and media.

tinyfaery's avatar

I’m not attacking anyone. I asked a specific question. We know Jodie is gay, everyone around her knows she’s gay, she is an established actor/director, whose coming out would have pretty much 0 negative reprecussions to her personally, but could potentially give pride and assistance to a multitude of lesbian women. Why would she choose to stay in the closet?

tinyfaery's avatar

@mz Your comment is pointless. Not only does it not answer the question, but trite, cliches prove nothing.

lrk's avatar

@tinyfaery Are we sure that her coming out would serve her with no negative repercussions? There are plenty of people (e.g., average movie fans) who don’t know that she’s gay.

tinyfaery's avatar

That’s why I said pretty much. But you’re right. I sometimes get lost in my wonderful little L.A. bubble, where, pretty much, no one cares who you sleep with, just as long as their hot. ;)

monsoon's avatar

@lefteh, ani difranco isn’t close to being gay. She’s in a long term relationship with her “baby daddy,” as she calls him.

Of the people you listed, the only other person on it who I would think of as “mainstream” is melissa etheridge, who didn’t come out until very late in her career. And, I did mention this affecting musicians, but we’re talking about actors here, who coming out would effect a lot more, I would think. Name me a lesbian mainstream actress. The only one you listed was Sarah Paulson, who I’ve never heard of, nor have I heard of much of the work Wiipedia says she’s done.

@tiny, I admire and respect Jodi Foster. I stand by what I said, any lesbian will tell you that Jodi Foster is a strong gay figure, without even trying. And there, as I also said, is no out lesbian actress who pulls the kind of roles that jodi foster does. So you can’t say that there would be zero repercussions.

tinyfaery's avatar

Do you even read the posts. Look right above you. And anyone who knows Ani, knows she’s bi.

monsoon's avatar

I didn’t say Ani was straight, I said she was far from gay, which she is. Bi and gay are not the same thing. And I would call Ani a 1 on the Kinsey scale.

And i would argue that Jodi wouldn’t have pretty much zero repercussions either. There would be great repercussions. And I feel that this contention is supported by the fact that there are no out, successful actresses.

It would be great if Jodi Foster was out, but we can’t say that there is no danger in doing so. I’m not even out at my job, and I work for barely above minimum wage. I have superiors who openly dislike homosexuals. You can’t think that people are afraid of nothing. You have to give the LGBT community more credit than that.

tinyfaery's avatar

Again, did you read the post? I said that I understand it’s not easy, and that there could be repercusions.

And monsoon, I am part of the gay community, and it’s people like Ellen and me, not Jodie, who are forsaking some privacy, for the good of ourselves, as well as the community. LGBTs who live a double life suffer from so many psychological problems, which lead to addictions, which lead to… Being out may come with a whole other set of problems, but at least I,and Ellen, don’t have pretend to be something we’re not.

I’m sorry you feel insecure about coming out, I did, but I did it anyway. Sure, I happen to live in a state that has protections in place for people like me, but that does nothing to allay the prejudice and discrimination that I receive. And I do. But, I refuse to live my life in fear. I am open with my sexuality, and I do not allow my rights to be denied. I never let someone get away with their sexual prejudice or blatant homophobia. Sure, I won’t do it in a dark alley at night, but in most settings I am sooo open about my sexuality, and I refuse to let anyone tell me what I am doing is wrong.

No way Ani is a 1.

lefteh's avatar

@monsoon: Why do you have the right to decide if someone is mainstream or not? Go tell somebody in the entertainment industry that Lily Tomlin is not mainstream and tell me how long they laugh.

Also…from an interview with Ani:

OK, so the label question: What are you calling yourself these days?

I guess, bisexual. I’m so used to that label, but I always call myself queer. I like the word queer, `cause it sounds funny, queer ha-ha. It’s a cool word, an open-ended word. It means, like, the kind of love I experience is not the kind of love that’s on TV.

It’s funny. Often love—the politicization of love—is so claustrophobic for people on any side of the equation. In the dyke community, your love affair is a political statement; you can’t avoid the politics. But sometimes it’s like everyone forgets the real purpose of being with this other person.

I read somewhere that I’m trying to challenge my dyke following by sleeping with a man. God, I would never go to such extremes—like there’s a straight girl from hell lurking within me. Throughout all this my perception of love has remained consistent: I experience love in a really primal, ungendered way. I’ve written about it that way, I use both he and she pronouns, I write about people that intrigue and attract me.

This person I’m in love with now is really extreme. He’s so kind to me, he’s so funny, we have so much fun, and we get each other through all this shit. I couldn’t have premeditated this. People have to put up with me and my big mouth always telling my side of the story—plus the whole public noose around my neck the whole time. He’s really good at dealing with it; he doesn’t give a fuck. He keeps me sane.

Do you think you’ll ever be with a woman again?

Whenever people ask me about being with a woman, being with a man—it’s more like, could I see myself being with another person? Right now, no way. I’m in love with this person.

marinelife's avatar

Why isn’t sexual preference and whether one declares it that person’s private business, gay, straight, bi or other?

lefteh's avatar

I feel like that issue was addressed earlier when others raised the same question.

tinyfaery's avatar

Straight people do not have to declare anything, it’s automatically assumed. Heteros can wear their wedding rings out in the open without being worried if someone will ask them what their opposite sex partner’s name is. They can kiss and hold hands in public without fear of reprisal. But when a gay couple kisses they are flaunting it.

Please. Private business my ass. If straight people never kissed in public, wore wedding bands, or had pictures of their families out in the open, then it would be private.

A lot of hetero-centrism going on around here.

marinelife's avatar

@tf That is not where I was coming from. I know people whose lives were damaged, because others felt it was important to “out” them.

tinyfaery's avatar

Damaged for the moment, or forever? There was no relief, no more anxiety from hiding? Huh. Never heard of that one before. I don’t agree with “outing” people, but psychologically speaking, it more damaging to hide than it is to be open.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, that may be so, but each person should get to decide when they stop hiding for themselves—about anything, not just sexuality.

tinyfaery's avatar

So you have no interest in the John Edwards affair, or the Monica Lewinsky scandal? They should never had been outed? They should have come out about things in their own time, and in the manner they chose? If you say yes to this, then I’ll be the first to say you have no double standard.

marinelife's avatar

Actually, no I don’t have an interest in those things. I wish they were not dwelt on. Not those. Not that Eliott Spitzer liked to be spanked. Not any of it. I just don’t see that any of this adds to the public discourse. I also think a lot of innocent people (cuckolded or cuckqueaned spouses) are hurt all over again.

monsoon's avatar

@tiny, please don’t talk down to me. I’m only trying to have a discussion with you. You don’t need to talk to me about how your a better member of the LGBT community than I am.

breedmitch's avatar

I feel it’s each person’s individual right to decide how much of their personal life is made available to the public. But I’m always disappointed when a major star hides their homosexuality. I think it’s a missed opportunity for educating some of the “backwater-burg-minded Americans”.
There’s this great documentary about the fans of Dolly Parton. They all go on and on about how great her relationship with her longtime assistant, Judy is, but each comes up just short of realizing that Dolly and Judy are lovers and have been for years. If major stars like Ms. Parton would come out it could be an opportunity to show “country” fans (read conservatives) a positive gay role model.

lrk's avatar

@Marina: I’d argue that Eliot Spitzer’s prostitution situation was relevant: he not only ran as the squeaky-clean good guy who didn’t break laws, he also busted prostitution rings as NY’s attorney general.

marinelife's avatar

@Irk You are right. That was a poor example I chose.

proXXi's avatar

Tom Cruise let South Park beat him to it.

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