HOLLYWOOD AND HOMOSEXUALITY: Who IS gay in Hollywood? Why is it covered up with such militant precision? What does it say about Hollywood's attitude to gay actors and the gay community as a whole?
There have been two notable Hollywood heavyweights who have been plagued by rumours of homosexuality. One was covered up internally in the 50s and 60s, the other movie star's homosexuality has been suggested in our present media for many years. The participants: Rock Hudson and Tom Cruise. I will reveal others later.
Since the formal admission of Rock Hudson on July 25 1985, while in Paris for experimental treatment, that he was gay and that he had full-blown AIDS, the cover up of actors by the pink blanket has consistently intrigued me. By October 2 of the same year, the 1950's heartthrob was dead. Hudson's death not only brought the issue of the killer disease to the forefront of mainstream America, it also raised the subject of homosexual actors in Hollywood's closet, carefully guided to portray heterosexuals as their public image.
Hudson, born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr. on November 17 1925, was the epitome of unrefined masculinity. He had a sexual charisma which could not be manufactured and his good looks secured him a one way ticket to Hollywood. Alongside the heavyweights of the 1950s, such as Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster and Robert Mitchum, Hudson became a household name. When his homosexuality was on the verge of being exposed by the tabloids, Hudson was strongly recommended to marry his secretary, Phyllis Gates at the height of his fame in 1955. Twice in Hudson's career, his film studio dealt with the matter by paying off the tabloid in question, the infamous Confidential. Throughout the 1960s, Hudson made a multitude of romantic comedies most notably with America's darling, Doris Day. He also landed a stint as a married heterosexual San Francisco Commissioner in MacMillan and Wife. Subsequently, Hudson had relationships with several men, which in the 1980s culminated with his bisexual lover of three years, Marc Christian.
So, why did Rock Hudson feel compelled to hide his true sexual identity, even if it meant living a lie for most of his adult life? And, why have other prominent famous people chosen to deny their sexuality, resorting to deceit in order to maintain a certain image? It happened then, just as it still happens today. Other famous homosexuals include Rudolph Valentino, Dirk Bogarde, Richard Chamberlain, Tab Hunter and Montgomery Clift. Following his death, rumours of James Dean's bisexual antics surfaced. He was said to have embarked on affairs with several well-known men and women in Hollywood. The on screen persona of the tortured soul, echoed the real life torment surrounding his own sexual identity.
Today the repercussions of such a conspiracy of silence, manifests itself in gay rappers promoting homophobic lyrics to detract from their own gayness, more marriages of convenience and a general feeling that it is acceptable for a straight actor to portray a gay man, but not the other way round. In the US sitcom Will & Grace, the main gay character Will Truman is played by Eric McCormack, who boasts a six year marriage and a two year old son. The actor John Barrowman, who auditioned for the same role and was rejected for being too gay,' has gone on to play the lead character Captain Jack Harkness in Torchwood and whose orientation is unpredictable, with much success. Barrowman is openly gay.
And then there is Tom Cruise. Cruise has made his name continually playing straight male heartthrobs in huge movie blockbusters, making Cruise one of only a few guaranteed bankable movie stars in the world. However, rumours of Cruise's sexuality have followed him for decades and he is famous for unleashing his lawyers, with an undeniable ferocity, towards any man who dares to suggest a homosexual liaison.
Cruise was born Thomas Cruise Mapother III in 1962 and since 1983, following the success of the film Risky Business,' he has been a permanent fixture at cinemas around the globe. In 1998, Cruise successfully refuted claims from the media, that his marriage to Nicole Kidman was merely devised to cover up his own homosexuality. Today, Cruise has been seen to have resorted to weird couch jumping antics in order to profess his love' for the current wife, Katie Holmes of Dawson's Creek fame. The speculation surrounding his sexuality is ever present with rumours of pre TomKat sexual encounters with several men including porn star Chad Slater and allegedly Rob Thomas from the band Matchbox Twenty.
So, it appears to be the view amongst gay actors in Hollywood that remaining in the closet is beneficial for work issues and the fear of being relegated to playing camp gay roles for the rest of their movie star lives. The question still remains, if few movie stars are willing to cast off these shackles and reveal their true identities, what hope do we have for the future?
OUT OF THE CLOSET ENTERTAINERS:
Sir John Gielgud,
Portia de Rossi
David Hyde Pierce
AND MANY MORE......