(Credit: Andrea Raffin via Wikimedia)
Hollywood star says she knows at least four closeted actors who remain so due to homophobia
In a recent interview published in The Sunday Times, Kate Winslet revealed that she personally knows at least four well-known gay actors who remain in the closet.
"I cannot tell you the number of young actors I know — some well known, some starting out — who are terrified their sexuality will be revealed and that it will stand in the way of their being cast in straight roles," she said. "Now that's f***ed up."
Winslet, best known for her leading role in the blockbuster film "The Titanic," is clearly frustrated with the Hollywood unwritten rule that dictates that gay actors remain closeted. While this rule applies to all members of the LGBTQ community, she clarifies that the judgement about being gay applies to men "more than anything."
Part of the secrecy is based on filmmakers' unfounded beliefs that gay actors are not able to play straight characters.
"Hollywood has to drop that dated crap of, 'Can he play straight because, apparently, he's gay?' " she continues.
"That should be almost illegal. You would not believe how widespread it is. And it can't just be distilled to the question about gay actors playing gay parts. Because actors, in some cases, are choosing not to come out for personal reasons. And it's nobody's business. Perhaps privacy. Perhaps conditioning and shame."
A 2019 study by Statista revealed that 23 percent of men and 17 percent of women respondents felt that there was an adequate number of acting roles for LGBTQ+ actors. In the same study, the majority of other respondents said they had no opinion or didn't know the answer.
Because actors, in some cases, are choosing not to come out for personal reasons. And it's nobody's business. Perhaps privacy. Perhaps conditioning and shame.
Hollywood isn't the only place where homophobia flourishes. Everyday people across the country, living far away from Hollywood, have to contend with daily discrimination in both their personal and work lives.
According to a research study by McKinsley conducted in 2020, LGBTQ+ employees still have to struggle to fight discrimination and have to make great efforts to gain acceptance in their everyday work interactions.
Perhaps not surprisingly as a result, many of those surveyed revealed that they have not come out to their work colleagues and remain closeted. More than a quarter of the LGBTQ+ respondents in the study are not broadly out at work.
Coming out is going to the frontier of how authentic and transparent I want to be about who I am.
—Jevan Soo Lenox, chief people and culture officer, Stitch Fix
The McKinsey study revealed four specific challenges that LGBTQ+ workers face in the workplace
Some of the key findings about workplace challenges for LGBTQ+ employees include:
- Coming out is especially challenging for junior employees. Only one-third of LGBTQ+ survey respondents below the level of senior manager reported being out with most of their colleagues.
- Women are far less likely than men to be out. Only 58 percent of the LGBTQ+ women surveyed (compared with 80 percent of LGBTQ+ men) said that they are out with most colleagues. One reason: existing gender discrimination.
- Coming out is more difficult for people outside Europe and North America. While three-quarters of North American respondents and 78 percent of European respondents were broadly out at work, only 54 percent of respondents from other regions reported being out with most of their colleagues.
CHART: 5.6 Percent of U.S. Adults Identify as LGBTQ
So being out is not just a struggle in Tinseltown; it perhaps might be even more of a struggle for those who don't live in Hollywod and thereby don't have the cusion that fame, fortune and fawning fans provide.
For Winslet, she strongly believes that change is possible and necessary. She feels that if more people spoke up in support of those who feel that they have to live a life that is not authentic for them, this issue of hiding one's true self would end.
“It takes more people to speak the way I am,” she explains, offering solutions to this problem that continues in Hollywood and around the country.
"I don't intend to browbeat or take on Hollywood. We're just talking about young actors who might be considering joining this profession, and finding a way to make it more open," she said. "For there to be less judgment, discrimination and homophobia."
And hopefully less people in this town who feel that they have to continue to keep their true selves hidden.