It is arguably one of Hollywood’s worst kept secrets that there are famous gay guys behind some of the biggest companies. Not every gay actor or director wants to come out to the public in fear of hurting his career, so people can often only speculate about their favorite celebrity’s orientation. The public perception and acceptance of famous gay men has changed a lot since the 80’s and 90’s, though. Gay actors who decide to be outspoken about their sexual preferences are casted for straight roles, and straight actors are also much more comfortable with playing gay characters on TV and the big screen. Coming out as gay is no longer a risk for famous gay men and celebrities. On the contrary: Most mainstream media and production companies express their support for gay actors and actresses.
As one director puts it: “People here don’t care about your sexuality when you are a celebrity. They care about your talent as an actor, not who you sleep with. I never found his dating preferences were any of my business when I chose the lead for my last movie”. Gay actors can be just as successful as straight people, and being honest about one’s sexual orientation and dating can actually increase the image and status of famous gay guys. Nowadays, self-respecting media outlets would never judge a gay actor for his dating preferences and sexuality. The dating life of gay celebrity couples is definitely of great interest for gossip blogs, but articles do not sensationalize the sexuality of celebrity couples any longer – they just take a general interest in what’s going on in their dating life.
Why a gay actor has an important function as a celebrity for LGBT fans
The LGBT community is extremely supportive of famous gay men and celebrities who come out to the public and have a positive image, and big production companies have realized that including a famous gay actor or gay characters in their show can boost the popularity in the LGBT community. While some people view this calculated depiction of LGBT characters critically and point out that the most important motivation behind these productions is money, the majority welcomes the inclusion of characters with different sexual orientations. A gay actor can be a great role model for LGBT teenagers who feel insecure and need a famous gay guy to identify with, and thankfully, Hollywood has come a long way in this regard. When a gay celebrity is open about his sexuality, this will also make it easier for him to enjoy his private life since he can go on a date in a public place. That being said, a gay actor can openly date his gay actor friends, and gay celebrities are not only often seen dating in Hollywood, but in the music industry as well. Since the music and movie industries often cooperate in productions, a gay actor often meets his partner on the set of a movie.
Actor couples who have worked with the same directors are thus extremely common among gay celebrities. For one gay actor, all his former partners were people he had met at work: “All these guys I worked with… we shared everything from changing room to hotel, so basically our entire life while we worked for the same show. I don’t think we were a good match in the end, but when you learn so much about is life and what he is like, you get closer and start dating… As a gay actor, I find it very difficult to match with people since I only have time to get to know these few people I work with. I think I would like to get to know people from other industries, but for most of my life, I spent my time dating another gay actor. I guess dating would have been a lot easier if I were home for most of the time, but because of my work, I am away for most of the year.”
Famous gay men in the fashion industry
The fashion industry has been a longtime stronghold for famous gay people from all around the world. Gay celebrities and gay couples are often fashion idols that influence new fashion trends among gay men. Gay designers and managers hold key positions in most of the biggest designer brands from France and Italy. For some reason, coming out as gay has been easier for people in the creative industry, as an outstanding creative talent is still often linked to the sexual orientation. Because of the more open-minded work environment, a fashion career is still very popular with gay men. Talented fashion designers are more likely to be open about their sexual orientation than a gay actor as they don’t have to worry about negative consequences for their career. Being gay and a fashion designer is generally accepted, and some gay designers have a celebrity status not only in the gay scene. As gay people are happy to support each other, a gay actor is often more than just an actor on the big screen, but usually also the celebrity face of many famous fashion brands in France. An actor is able to capitalize on his celebrity fame in many ways, and model jobs are very common. Celebrity guests are also welcome visitors at fashion events, and a popular actor is often able to promote his newest projects this way. For a fashion brand, the right co-operations with a gay celebrity or actor set them apart from companies that only target the straight market, and from experience they know that products are most successful in the gay community when they are endorsed by a gay actor or celebrity. Gay celebrities and gay couples expressing their sexual orientation work well in ads when they promote a positive image of gay life, and most brands have recognized that most gay customers respond positively when they are targeted with ads showing people with the same sexual orientation like them. A gay man prefers products that match his sexual identity, and out happy gay celebrities are perceived as people like him. For him, his choices tell other people something about his private life and what he likes. Gay men know that others judge them for their taste, and therefore a gay guy who knows what he wants to tell others about his gay self often spends a lot of time on choosing the right brands that complement his self.
The corporate world opens up to famous gay men
As some of the biggest corporations in the world are run by gay people, the corporate world is also slowly opening up to leaders who do not want to hide their sexuality and show their identification as LGBT at work. Apart from Hollywood and designer brands, almost all major IT companies support LGBT employees and publicly state that they do not care about the sexual orientation of their people. The sexual orientation is an important part of the identity and self, and people who can be out at work are found to be more productive than employees who have to lie about their orientation. In surveys, people identifying as LGBT unanimously said that they are more happy at work when they can be who they want and do not have to feel like an actor trying to hide one’s self. Being gay is not important for doing a good job, but when an employee has to hide that he is LGBT because he is afraid of the reactions of his colleagues, this will most likely affect his performance. To show their support for the LGBT community, some companies run LGBT career fairs that target gay professionals. But despite all these positive developments, there is still need for improvement in many industries to give LGBT employees and gay celebrities equal career perspectives.
Former gay actor speaks about his life as a CEO
In several industries, people still hesitate to come out and continue to play a role at work as they do not know how their other business partners will react, and while most managers know about this situation and the effect it could have on their employees, promoting diversity is usually less important in their business strategy. This could prove to be shortsighted, though, since several market research institutes estimate that the way a business supports its people has a measurable effect on the turnover and pays of on the long run. For example, one market research company interviewed a celebrity CEO on the impact his new diversity campaign had on his business. He reported that while he does not know how the numbers will change from last year yet, he feels his company is doing the right thing, and he can already tell that his people are happier and more productive from the short time since the policy was implemented. As a former actor, he knows about the pressure that famous gay men feel, and he has pledged that his company does everything there is to do for gay people. “As a gay man and former actor, I know how important the public opinion is, and this is why I want us to become the best place to work for LGBT people. I view inequality very critically, as I know how that affects your overall happiness.” To prove that these words actually mean something, he just announced that from this year, gay couples will be given the same perks and life insurance benefits as straight couples.