Quinto shows guts in qui­etly com­ing out over his sex­u­al­ity

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - ART - TONY EARN­SHAW

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.

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