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The present-day celluloid closet

Fifties movie idol Tab Hunter recently published his autobiography, featuring an eye-opening look on his life as a gay actor in Hollywood when the closet was king. Having a starlet on your arm was a necessity if you were a gay man that wanted a successful career.

He wondered, in an interview in the Philly Inquirer, whether there’s been any progress in the land of make-believe in terms of major movie stars kicking open the closet door.

Have things changed? So few big-name actors are out that the nation’s few gay magazines stock their covers with nongay stars playing queer roles. A major film about two cowboys called Brokeback Mountain is about to be released, two cowboys in love, two cowboys afraid, two cowboys in a closet as big as all outdoors. We can already see the interview: Yeah, I had to kiss a dude, but I shut my eyes and thought about his hottie sister. They always say that.

So what’s stopping you, Oscar-winner with yet another forgettable opus on the charts, or you, drop-dead-handsome lead with wrong-gender eye candy on your arm? Do you think you’ll be importuned to raise money for causes that embarrass you, or be forced to grin and wave to hordes of ravenous gay teens? You do anyway.

A good actor can play any role, but sometimes the acting should stop.

No kidding. In a town full of gay folks at high levels of the industry, there is still plenty of room for homophobia based on the need to make a buck. Execs are nervous afraid of box office tanking based on any inkling of a portrayal of gay relationships or same-sex encounters (outside of indy films of course).

Look at the Oliver Stone film Alexander. The film’s poor performance was blamed for scenes depicting same-sex acts between principal characters, by the director himself, who re-edited the film for release on DVD to pacify the bible beating set, back in May:

Director Oliver Stone has cut the gay references from his “Alexander” movie for the DVD version of the 2004 flop. Stone claimed his epic was unpopular with American audiences because of the subtle homosexual content.

He said, “They didn’t even read the reviews in the South because the media was using the words: ‘Alex is Gay.’ As a result you can bet that they thought, ‘We’re not going to see a film about a military leader that has got something wrong with him.'”

In the DVD version, the relationship between Colin Farrell’s Alexander the Great character and Hephaistion — played by Jared Leto — will be portrayed as simply a friendship. However, fans of Rosario Dawson will be pleased to know more angles of her character Roxanne’s naked exposure will be included in the DVD.

Universal is so paranoid of homo-sex that the planned biopic of the life of Brit singer Dusty Springfield is going to be whitewashed of any lesbianism. And this was a woman that did eventually come out.

An anonymous Universal executive that was asked about the excision of Dusty’s lesbian affairs said, “Film-goers are growing weary of overt scenes of homosexuality.” WTF?

I guess Tab was right. Not much has changed. If these kinds of decisions are going on in Hollywood boardrooms, is it any surprise that PR gurus to the stars still keep their meal tickets locked away in the closet?

Strangely enough, some of our favorite TV stars of the past never played it straight, even if they never came out:

Is there anyone who didn’t think Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde) was queer as the day is long? And how about one of my favorite game show queens, Charles Nelson Reilly?

OK, gossip time, since it’s a Saturday and all — which stars need to come on out of the closet already?

Also see:
* Fox News anchor Shepard Smith outed; will people of note ever willingly come out?

* Classic Hollywood teen idol Tab Hunter comes way out in autobiography

Hat tip to Jennifer at Intous

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Pam Spaulding

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