Damon: Should Gay Actors Stay Closeted?

I believe I was the first journalist to conduct an interview with Matt Damon in which he talked extensively about anything gay, including the “gay rumors” about him and Ben Affleck. It was late 1999, and Matt was promoting his movie “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” which, as it happens, is one of my favorite pictures. Our conversation became a cover story for The Advocate (here’s a partial link) I didn’t find Matt homophobic then, and I stand by that opinion now. Some people aren’t so sure. Matt just gave an interview to The Guardian to promote his new movie, “The Martian” (which is great fun), in which he said: ‘I think you’re a better actor the less people know about you period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play.’ Social media went wild, so yesterday Matt appeared on “Ellen” to defend himself. Of the notion that he thinks gay actors should stay closeted, he said: ‘I mean it’s stupid, but it is painful when things get said that you don’t believe. And then it gets represented that that’s what you believe. Because in the blogosphere there’s no real penalty for just taking the ball and running with it.’ I’m willing to give Matt a pass on this one. However, I’m not willing to let him off the hook for saying “people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality.” Every time an actor talks about his wife and kids in an interview, and every time an actor brings his wife (as Matt has done) to a premiere he is “talking” about his sexuality. And there’s still a huge double standard in regard to how LGBT actors can talk and how straight actors can talk.

By the way, Matt’s saying that openly gay actors take a hit for being out isn’t quite up-to-date. He references Rupert Everett. But for every Rupert there’s a Neil Patrick Harris or Matt Bomer playing straight successfully on very successful TV series. Progress has been made.

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