Quinto shows guts in quietly coming out over his sexuality
IN a measured, low-key fashion, the American actor Zachary Quinto casually dropped into an interview that he is gay.
Not heard of him? Well, he’s not the biggest star in the firmament. But he’s a decent enough actor who made a significant impact playing Mr Spock in the 2009 big screen Star Trek re-boot.
Fans of the 6ft 1in Pittsburgh native have been discussing his sexuality online for years. Now, in an interview with New York magazine, he’s spoken of his distress at the number of suicides sweeping the United States by young people killing themselves over their closeted homosexuality. “As a gay man,” he says, “it made me feel like there’s still so much work to be done”.
I say good for Zachary Quinto. But the feeding frenzy that can erupt over a star’s private life is growing as the internet makes it easier for the rumour mill to spiral out of control.
And it’s not just celebrities who become a target. Ordinary people become victims too, just like bullied 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, who, says Quinto, made a cry-for-help video before killing himself last month.
Years ago movie stars could rely on film studios to protect them while some writers would not wield their pens to cause harm. Others never signed up to such clauses and some actors’ careers were ruined if they dared to cross swords with the all-powerful gossip columnists.
Rock Hudson is the perfect example of a gay man living a lie for the benefit of his fans. Yet everyone who worked with him knew the truth, and Hudson didn’t hide it. He was discreet, but even discretion doesn’t count for much in Hollywood.
The pressure to conform to the mores of the era was immense. It’s less prevalent today and there are several big-name actors whose sexuality is constantly discussed. But these days it’s the fans who are leading the way in the “Is he or isn’t he?” debate. And it’s totally toxic.
I had a conversation with another writer a few months ago about the continued closeting of some very big movie stars. He remarked “What does it matter? We all know who they are.” I neither agree with nor care for the latter part of that statement at all, but I do agree with the former.
What does it matter? Quinto has happily played homosexual characters but chose to come out in support of a phenomenon that is affecting America’s youth. That shows class, and guts. Yes, there are allegedly several A-list stars whose lives are lived under the cloak of fake family harmony.
If audiences don’t complain when a straight actor plays a gay man, then they should accept a gay actor playing straight. And they should cheerfully support the Zachary Quintos of this world when they quietly make an announcement that is permanent in its positive impact.