Apres NPH, le Deluge?

by Christopher Orr | October 19, 2009

Even as Neil Patrick Harris's star continues to ascend--and polls capture the ongoing sea-change in public acceptance of homosexuality--putatively pro-gay Hollywood continues to maintain the celluloid closet. In a fascinating piece on the subject, LA Weekly reports:

Only a year ago most of Hollywood was publicly appalled by Proposition 8, the anti–gay marriage ballot measure that passed in November. Heavy-hitter Pitt and Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg contributed $100,000 checks to the “No on 8” campaign, and dozens of Hollywood big shots, like Rob Reiner and Barbra Streisand, attended an A-list “No on 8” fundraiser at the Beverly Hills home of billionaire grocery magnate Ron Burkle. Yet the big studios and their mostly male chiefs — and the scores of socially liberal men and women who play key roles as casting directors and agents — have together created a kind of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which places enormous pressure on gay, male actors to remain in the closet....

The dichotomy between Hollywood’s claimed social benevolence and its actual practices was seen starkly in July, when prominent gay TV director Todd Holland publicly revealed a practice of his own, which is probably common in the L.A. and New York film and TV industries: He advises gay actors who want to succeed to “stay in the closet.”

Publicist Howard Bragman, by contrast, describes himself as "the guy people tend to come to when they want to come out of the closet," a role he's played since at least 1991, when he helped Dick Sargent (the second Darrin on Bewitched) come out publicly. And Bragman thinks it's only a matter of time before the dam breaks:

The publicist hasn’t brought out an A-list, gay male actor — yet. But Bragman says that day is coming, and after the first superstar decides to reveal himself, a fundamental shift in American acceptance of gay leading men may not be far behind. He’s currently working with a famous musician who’s still closeted from the public, but who will come out next year. And the manager of one major movie star approached Bragman a year ago and asked about his client’s possibly going public, but the actor still refuses to pull the trigger.

One understands the studios' reticence and, to a greater degree, that of the performers. But this is an area where, for all its ideological self-congratulation, Hollywood is lagging the public at large.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/apres-nph-le-deluge