A reader writes:
I have to push back a little on your analogy between the military's DADT and Hollywood's DADT. First of all, the ability to serve your country in uniform is much more basic and much closer to a 'right' than the ability to star in Hollywood movies. More importantly, a person's sexuality has nothing to do with their competence as a military person. But Hollywood stars are literally selling sex on screen. For 'movie stars' in particular (as opposed to character actors), sex appeal and sexuality are the most important asset that a candidate can have. Thus, it seems a little more logical that their sexuality has to be managed, etc.
This really gets at a larger point, which is that Hollywood's decisions are based on what people will watch, and if Jake Gyllenhall (or whoever) came out of the closet, middle America would not go see Prince of Persia (or whatever). Thus, being in or out of the closet materially effects a movie star's ability to do his/her job, as opposed to a military person. I don't mean this to be a full-throated defense of the film business. It's cutthroat, at times bigoted, and always frustrating. But it's not the same as the US military, and it's certainly not something Brad Pitt or Barbara Streisand has control over.
First of all, as a television executive and filmmaker, I hate it when anyone refers to "Hollywood" as if it's one company, or even a cohesive group - it is not. The only thing the separate pieces have in common is that they exist to make money. Which leads to...
Secondly, it is AUDIENCES (not executives) who can't buy a known-gay actor playing a hetero romantic lead. The only exception I can think of is Neil Patrick Harris, but he's a comedian and he isn't taking on rolls where he's engaged in a serious hetero relationship. If Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, etc. came out as gay, they'd never make it in a big-budget romantic film again. And it isn't just male audience members, either. Tell a young woman that Brendan Fraser is gay, and watch her shriek in denial.
As for gays in other parts of the industry, I've worked with a number of openly gay co-workers and bosses. That I could see, it hadn't hurt their careers one bit. Certainly there's nothing there even remotely resembling DADT.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.