With everyone from Anna Paquin, Lady Gaga and even Snooki openly revealing their bisexuality, some are left to wonder if this marks another sea change in the public’s growing acceptance of differing sexual identities.
Still one has to ask the obvious question – where are all the guys? As we stride forward into what many see as a more enlightened and tolerant time, some relics linger to remind us that all things are not yet equal. There remains a widely held consensus in Hollywood that being gay, or even just gay-adjacent, can seriously jeopardize an actor’s career.
Part of the double standard is the almost universal sex appeal associated with girl-on-girl action. When Madonna kissed Britney Spears at the MTV Awards, the public outrage by some was quickly shouted down by more positive (even drooling) press. Had it been Snoop Dog and Kenny Chesney, reaction would have likely been somewhat different.
So what’s an A-List actor who likes his bread buttered on both sides expected to do in Hollywood? Live a famed yet hidden life betraying one’s self for the sake of career? In a word – yes. At this moment in time, apparently the powers that be have collectively accepted that’s just the way it is.
In an early film role, Will Smith was expected to kiss Anthony Michael Hall during a scene for Six Degrees of Separation (1993) – adapted from the Broadway play. Concerned that this might haunt his public persona- he reportedly turned to Denzel Washington for advice. Following that conversation, he decided to let his stand-in handle that particular stunt. “It was very immature on my part” he would later tell Entertainment Weekly. “I wasn’t emotionally stable enough to artistically commit to that aspect of the film.” That film, it’s worth pointing out, was released 19 years ago. Things are apparently not all that different today.
One of the very few male actors to publicly reveal their bisexuality is Alan Cumming of CBS’s The Good Wife. His theater background and penchant for being eccentric seem to mute any import his disclosure might carry. Apparently being predictably gay or bisexual doesn’t count. Much better if it shocks us.
Bisexuals often feel like the red-headed step-child of the LGBT movement – a legitimate but not central wing that should perhaps pipe down while the adults are talking. Despite the hypocrisy, they are often treated by gays as though their identity is undecided, and therefor less valid.
Perhaps no single corner of the entertainment industry better demonstrates the gulf separating the genders more then MTV’s ‘The Jersey Shore.’ Snooki made some waves with her recent disclosure of trysts with both men and women. She made the splash even bigger by suggesting Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino might also be a switch hitter. “His posture and the way he holds his cigarette,” she told The Huffington Post, “I can’t confirm or deny with Mike, but if he was, it would all make sense.”
So are we left in this weird no man’s land where it’s okay in real life- but absolutely unacceptable at the box office? Ted Casablanca, the openly gay E! gossip columnist says “The public just doesn’t want to know about it… the business is built on fantasy.”
The suspension of disbelief is a power thing. It allows you to release logic and accept things like time travel, alien invasions and Vin Diesel’s acting ability. We can reconcile in our minds that Charlize Theron is not a serial killer and Mel Gibson isn’t just a pleasant guy who can hear the inner thoughts of women.
It’s actually a double standard – and a double insult. They’re saying the public is too dense to discern between fiction and reality, and they’re saying an actor can’t be powerful enough in their performance to shake public perception. Is that really true? Well, maybe in Vin Diesel’s case.
Will King is a television and media critic who splits his time as a stand up comic. He collects conspiracy theories and claims to have invented Teflon. In his spare time he follows presidential politics and all traffic signs. He lives in Charlotte, NC.
Selma: Maybe if the bisexual boys of Hollywood grew some balls and professed their love more often it would be better received by the media. It seems these boys are scared to “come out” as opposed to the females who come out honestly and proud. Same sex relationships are normal, so for all the male equal opportunity lovers out there, put your head up, be confident and most importantly don’t be afraid of who you really are.
Giulia: It seems as though there is a double-standard in Hollywood that is in “favor” of women. Women aren’t amateurs when it comes to body image expectations but it’s probably a whole new ball game for most men… especially bisexual ones with the added internal struggle of being true to themselves sexually. I recommend this DiscoveryGame to help men discover how much pressure they are feeling from the media.