With ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repealed, California’s Prop 8 on a crash course with the U.S. Supreme Court and gay representation at an all-time high in TV, many of us might feel the winds of change when it comes to accepting gay lifestyles.
Hollywood icon, Richard Chamberlain, 76, who has seen the changes in pop culture and came out himself in 2003 at age 69, delivered a reality check when the Advocate asked “The Thorn Birds” actor how he felt about gay actors coming out.
“It’s complicated,” Chamberlain says. “There’s still a tremendous amount of homophobia in our culture. It’s regrettable, it’s stupid, it’s heartless, and it’s immoral, but there it is. For an actor to be working is a kind of miracle, because most actors aren’t, so it’s just silly for a working actor to say, ‘Oh, I don’t care if anybody knows I’m gay’ — especially if you’re a leading man. Personally, I wouldn’t advise a gay leading man-type actor to come out.”
That flies in the face of many gay activists who say that when famous people come out, it helps to change opinions about gay people in general. Chamberlain, who is currently playing a romantic interest for Saul (Ron Rifkin) on ABC’s “Brother & Sisters,” takes a very sober look at society’s attitudes toward gay people.
“Despite all the wonderful advances that have been made,” he says. “It’s still dangerous for an actor to talk about that in our extremely misguided culture. Look at what happened in California with Proposition 8. Please, don’t pretend that we’re suddenly all wonderfully, blissfully accepted.”
Do you agree with Chamberlain? Or do you believe that lead actors should come out despite the threat to their careers?