We have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly in the Butcher household. Since I contribute to a pop culture blog, reading it is the least I can do. We get the hard copy, and the e-version on the iPad. Both end up in the bathroom where movie reviews and the Bullseye get read. This week, the cover reads:
“The New Art of Coming Out: How Gay Stars Are Now Carefully—And Surprisingly—Going Public About Their Private Lives.”
Key word here: “surprisingly.”
I have no gaydar. None whatsoever. Growing up, it just went right over my head. George Michael? I had this picture on my bedroom wall and never thought twice about it:
The Birdcage came out, I was all, “Robin Williams is gay?” And all the while, I was thinking, “Man, Nathan Lane plays a great gay guy.” Again, I had no idea.
Seriously, unless you’re a musician and you write a song called, “I’m Gay,” or you play a gay person on television, week in and week out for season after season after season (i.e., Sean Hayes), I’ll never catch on.
So, as I thumbed through the pages of this week’s EW, you can imagine my astonishment as I learned that some of entertainment’s biggest names were gay. Where have I been? In an issue that rattled off more than 30 names of gay celebrities, here are some of the ones that had completely escaped me.
Wanda Sykes: What? Wanda Sykes is gay? Who knew? However, upon further research, it turns out the real secret was that she had a talk show on FOX.
Adam Lambert: Nuh uh! America’s Idol is gay? What would Bill Riley say about that?
Martin Short: Wait, sorry, that’s Clay Aiken. I was about to say…
Jonathan Knight: The NKOTB singer officially came out in a statement on the band’s website. No one heard about this because he came out in a statement…on the band’s website.
Lance Bass: First Jonathan Knight, now Lance Bass. I’m getting all my Backstreet Boys mixed up. Lance Bass was the crazy one that went to Russia to get his cosmonaut certification, right? He was going to go up in space on MTV’s dime? Sounds like a bulletproof plan to me. (And, yes, I know that Lance was in 98 Degrees, not the Backstreet Boys; it was just a joke so please don’t barrage me in the comments.)
Queen Latifah: Apparently she’s not out, despite playing a gay pride event where she referred to the crowds as “my people” and that she “had been waiting a long time to do this.” Do what? Not sure, but she insists “this” was not “coming out.” Listen, it makes no difference to me, but after seeing the caliber of men she was dealing with this in this video, I wouldn’t blame her if did she come out. Or if she rolled up on one of those dudes, punched him dead in the eye and said, “who you callin’ a bitch?”
Meredith Baxter: Elyse Keaton is gay? Can you imagine what Alex and the rest of the Young Republicans would have thought?
Ricky Martin: Oh, Ricky Martin came out, all right. CAME OUT…WITH HIS OWN LIP BALM. No, I’m dead serious. Ricky Martin has his own lip balm called “Ricky Martin’s Lip Conditioner.”
All joking aside, as few as fifteen years ago, these sorts of public statements were few and far between. People went their entire careers (and lives) in the closet because of the backlash they’d inevitably face. Obviously, there’s still a long way to go. But because of men and women like the ones in this post who have had the courage to come out regardless of the reception, there’s great change being made.