Formerly not gay television actor and soon to be male stripper Matt Bomer finally opened his closet door last weekend. It only took a small push outward, up until his announcement Bomer’s closet pretty much had an open door policy; his sexuality was a well known and accepted fact in Hollywood. Not in the everyone knows Tom Cruise is gay way, but rather in the everyone knows Kevin Spacey is gay mode. Bomer making it official by publicly recognizing the man he has been involved with for several years and with whom he is raising children, however, is still a big step.
And score another hottie for our team.
Every gay man should be allowed to come out – or not – on his own terms and at his own time. Celebrities, however, are not ‘every’ gay man. When you make the decision to earn your living in the public spotlight, you don’t get to determine where that light will shine. In the past, Matt has been one of those celebrities willing to talk about the most intimate and detailed aspects of his life until the ‘who are you doing’ question hits the table. Then it’s all about how his private life is personal and should be of no interest to anyone. To those whose gaydar has been pinging, that’s the equivalent of announcing you are dating Rene Zweigler.
When everyone already knows you are gay, coming out isn’t all that. Still, Bomer should be commended for doing so both for his timing and the manner in which he did so. Most celebrities out themselves only after their career has taken a nose dive. In many cases their announcement is met with, “Oh, him. I kinda remember who he is.” Far too often the step to publicly announce they play for the pink team is part of an over-all publicity scheme to promote a book they’ve just had published. Bomer has no book joining him on his coming out tour, and his career is far from over. In fact, it may just be getting ready to really take off.
It is that career that the Texas-born actor was concerned over during a 2010 Details magazine interview during which he refused to talk about the rampant speculation about his sexuality. While neither confirming nor denying the rumors, Matt did say the reason he did not want to talk about it was “I have a network and a show riding on my shoulders.”
Matt evidently was troubled that Ramin Setoodeh was right and the general public could never accept a gay man playing a straight role. That’s a bit of a homophobic thought; it really means an ‘openly’ gay man can not find acceptance. ‘Cuz you are in fact gay whether you’ve announced it to the world or not. It’s also ironic that a straight actor taking on a gay role usually garners an Oscar nod, but the reverse is unthinkable and would lead to the demise of the actor’s career. But it’s Matt’s career, it’s his choice, and it was his bogeyman to defeat.
As the male lead of the television series White Collar, Bomer plays a con artist turned FBI crime consultant. His script writers probably could have helped him pull his ‘I’m not gay’ con off a bit more successfully in real life. Nonetheless, his coming out while being the leading man on a popular TV series is a first. Well, yeah Ellen actually called dibbs on that honor, but then she was playing the leading man on a comedy series, not an drama/action show. Then again on the ‘how big you are in Hollywood scale’, being the leading man on a TV show airing on the USA channel is just a step above being a waiter. So maybe it’s better to give Matt brownie points for braving the possible screw up of his movie career.
The hunky 34-year-old is currently involved in two films which might finally get Hollywood’s attention. He’s part of Ryan Murphy’s upcoming movie, The Normal Heart, the film version of Larry Kramer’s tale of a gay journalist who contracts HIV. Huh. Okay then, he’s one of the leads in the soon to be released Magic Mike in which he plays a male stripper. Huh again. No, wait, those could all be straight male strippers, right Matt?
“I think there will be several scenes that will… I think the gay fans will be very, very happy with several of the scenes that occur in the film’ Bomer reported when asked about gay themes in the movie. “But, yeah, there is one scene in particular where definitely those boundaries are blurred. Yeah.”
Okay but those are movies already in development; possibly it was future movie roles that audience’s would have trouble excepting an openly gay man playing a straight man in. “I would love to do a Montgomery Clift biopic,” says Bomer.
Okay then, we instead should look at his stage career. The stage is after all where serious actors practice their craft. That surely is where the damage to his career would be inflicted. Next month Matt will appear in a star-studded stage reading of Dustin Lance Black’s “8” in a Hollywood theater. Bomer will appear with fellow thespians George Takei and Chris Colfer in the stage production about Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
Uh, never mind.
Okay, fine. Bomer’s true milieu is the small screen anyway, so his concerns were no doubt about the effect his coming out would have on future television roles, possibly on a show that is popular and has an audience? Matt recently signed on to play Darren Cross’s older brother on upcoming episodes of Glee.
Damn! Ah! The record! Bomer’s concern was over his career and protecting the integrity of the roles he has played in the past! Matt says, “My big break was Guiding Light, nine years ago. I played a trust-fund baby who became a male prostitute”
Ummmmmmmm, then maybe he does have a book coming out? Nope, but Matt did appear on the cover of Alex Sanchez’ landmark 2001 gay teen novel Rainbow Boys.
Bomer’s announcement was handled mater of factly in a one-two punch that casually mentioned his longtime partner and their kids. Last week in GQ Italia, the mention was routine, almost an afterthought and would probably have gone unnoticed if not for Bomer’s inclusion of his husband and kids in his acceptance speech of the New Generation Arts and Activism Award at the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards ceremony in Palm Springs where he was honored for his work with HIV/AIDS.
“I’d really especially like to thank my beautiful family: Simon, Kit, Walker, Henry,” he said referring to his publicist partner Simon Halls and their three children. “Thank you for teaching me what unconditional love is. You will always be my proudest accomplishment.”
So maybe it’s not that Bomer has come out that should earn him accolades, or that he braved the possible negative effects doing so might have on his career. That he recognized what is truly important in life, the love of his partner and the example he sets for his children, and being true to himself rather than being concerned about what others think, is a far greater achievement. And for that, he deserves a big thumbs up.
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