Tiffany Batson |Staff Writer|
As America continues to struggle with anti-gay bullying, Hollywood actors are trying to make a change.
Zachary Quinto, an actor of such films as Star Trek and the television show “Heroes,” has recently come out of the closet on his web site. In his blog, Quinto said he wanted to come out of the closet publicly because of the recent tragedies of teens committing suicide due to anti-gay bullying, particularly the suicide of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer of New York.
“In light of Jamey’s death, it became clear to me that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it is not enough,” wrote Quinto, “There is an immense amount of work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality. Gay kids need to stop killing themselves because they are made to feel worthless by cruel and relentless bullying.”
Hollywood has come a long way from shunning openly gay actors to now accepting them. Iconic actors such as Montgomery Clift and Rock Hudson spent their entire lives concealing their sexuality from the public.
Back in the golden age of cinema, homosexuality was not as accepted in Hollywood. Early films can be seen using it as the butt of jokes and out actors being publicly humiliated and blacklisted.
Even as recently as ten years ago, some comedies used homosexuality for a cheap laugh, and out actors such as Rupert Everett complained that being true to themselves has hurt their career.
But now, in the age of Ellen and Neil, Hollywood seems ready to accept its fabulous roots.
Emmy Award-winning talk show host Ellen DeGeneres announced her sexual orientation in 1997, and continues to be an advocate for gay rights. Recently on the “Today Show,” she said she was happy to come out publicly because she was able to be herself.
Although some critics believe that out actors could not receive a leading male role in romantic films that demand a strong and manly lead character, this claim stems from the fantasy that the leading male actor should be the man all the ladies want to be with, and the man all men want to be.
Despite this stigma, Neil Patrick Harris continues to play the ladies man known as Barney, one of the most beloved characters on “How I Met Your Mother.”
An actor’s sexual orientation obviously doesn’t change their acting skills. It’s their believability on camera and their job as an actor that matters the most.
Though it has been a long road, being gay is not as taboo in society as it once was. Openly gay actors now serve as role models for teens that are struggling with their identity.
The shift in Hollywood accepting and positively publicizing openly gay actors could only improve the way teens are bullied for their sexual orientation. There is obviously a long road ahead, but the emergence of a new form of role model can only do good for young people who are grappling with their sexual identity.