‘Out’ Honors Closeted Gay Celebrities
When New York did a “Gay Life Now” issue in 2001, only seven of the forty prominent New York gays asked to pose for the cover were willing. Those big shots may have been gay, and they may have been out, but it just wouldn’t do for them to be gay and out on the cover of a magazine. “There was a time when the closet was a necessary safe haven,” our pal Maer Roshan, who edited the issue, wrote in an angry 2,000-word essay. “But now, it exists as an anachronistic monument to shame. It’s time for our public figures to stop hiding in there — and for journalists to stop helping them.” Six years and a month later, maybe at least that second part has come true. Here’s a first glimpse at the cover of Out magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America” issue. Those are models holding Jodie Foster and Anderson Cooper masks on the cover. Neither, of course, would appear themselves.
Perhaps because they’re not actually “out” as homosexuals? While both are long rumored to be gay, perhaps they don’t want to be known for being gay? There isn’t, after all, a comparable list of the “50 Most Powerful Straight Men and Women in America.” Maybe Anderson Cooper just wants to be thought of as a great journalist (insert snide comment here) and Jodie Foster wants to be regarded as a great actress and think it’s nobody’s business who they’re sleeping with?
AmericaBlog’s John Aravosis is on the list at #19. He’s proudly and openly gay and often uses his site to crusade for gay issues. He is not, however, a member of the Gay BlogAds Network. I suspect it’s because he’s not interested in being associated with ads like these:
These are all standard ads in the network. I captured them on politics and sports blogs from the network, avoiding any sites whose titles or descriptions signaled they were sexual in nature.
Now, to be sure, there are some salacious ads running on other BlogAds hives. Back when t-shirt sellers were a major BlogAds buyer, I run several at OTB featuring buxom females sporting tight-fitting shirts. Still, there’s no other hive which seems to be defined by its advertisers this way. Indeed, even the celebrity gossip sites, which often do feature salacious gossip and photos, attract much more mainstream advertisers.
Assuming Cooper, Foster, and the other non-out celebrities on the list actually are gay, maybe they’re not ashamed to be gay or even hiding the fact that they are but simply living quietly. Maybe they prefer to be thought of no differently than their peers who happen to prefer to have sex with people of the opposite gender? Maybe they don’t think of themselves as having a “gay and lesbian perspective on style, entertainment, fashion, the arts, politics, culture, and the world at large” but rather as individuals with their own views?
Pam Spaulding, who didn’t make the list but probably deserved to, points to reasonable questions by Sarah Warn and Michael Jensen about the thinking behind this list. Both rightly wonder about the implications of treating the suspicion of homosexuality as if it were a fact. Jensen:
I have to wonder if this doesn’t mark a significant turning point in whether celebrities can live in the closet. Out is simply ignoring the question of whether or not Cooper or Foster are gay and discussing them in the same breath as Barney Frank and David Geffen. By putting them on the list, Out says they are the gay and that’s the end of the discussion. That’s a very interesting notion indeed and it will be fascinating to see if the mainstream media follows suit.
One hopes not. It strikes me as an outrageous invasion of privacy.
Less significantly, perhaps, I agree with Warn that the rank-ordering of some of these people rather dubious:
[I]f you define “powerful” as people who can get things done, how on earth did porn director Chi Chi LaRue, blogger Perez Hilton, and Interview magazine editor Ingrid Sischy rank higher than Jodie Foster? And if they’re going to list people who aren’t technically out, why aren’t they including the myriad other more powerful closeted gay men and lesbians (especially politicians) who affect more lives than Chi Chi LaRue?
A good question. Then again, is it any coincidence that the celebrities whose faces-on-sticks they put on the cover are two of the prettiest? Anderson Cooper is ranked #2, behind only David Geffen. Still, isn’t it customary to put the winner on the cover rather than the runner-up? And there are more than a dozen women ranked ahead of Jodie Foster, who barely makes the cut at #43. Why not feature, say, Rosie O’Donnell?