The common response to Ricky Martin coming out of the closet is to transparently feign surprise. After all, everybody knew he was gay, right? Actually, I wasn’t so sure. I think the contrarian in me made me wonder if it was too obvious to be true or something. Not that I spent a whole lot of time thinking about Ricky Martin since I was finally able to get that song out of my head two years ago*. I would have preferred it if Martin had come out prior to that point so that it wouldn’t have a resurgence in my mind. Thanks, Ricky.

It’s interesting the line that celebrities walk when it comes to such things. It was in Martin’s professional interest to be straight, or at least pretend to be. So when approached about it, he denied. Megan McArdle comments:

What Martin did is awfully brave and daring–given his profession, and what I understand to be the demographic for his music, this might be a career-ender.

I find his coming-out letter sort of interesting, though. He says that by not coming out, he was “not sharing with the world my entire truth”. Well, yes, but who does? I assure you, dear readers, that there are many parts of my “truth” to which you will never be privy, and lucky you, really.

It would have been a career-ender a decade ago. Arguably, the rumors did sufficiently damage his sex appeal that kept him from reaching his full potential. I remember Julianne’s reaction at the time was something to the effect of “Oh, of course he is. Damn.”

As far as the importance of coming out, if anything that can be chalked up to a reaction of his being hounded on the subject. If he’d never been asked and never lied about it before, it’s really quite possible that he would have taken the David Hyde Pierce approach to privacy. Pierce himself came out, of course, but that was in part to acknowledge his long-term relationship to Brian Hargrove. While one’s private sexuality is not something everybody needs to know, homosexual celebrities can’t skip straight past the homosexuality to acknowledge their would-be (and in Pierce’s case eventual) spouses**.

That it draws attention is not precisely their fault. Indeed, people like Martin and Pierce come out precisely because they’re asked the question. In their cases, over and over again. It’s the entertainment industry’s responsibility and by extension ours.

Of course, some celebrities come out more enthusiastically than others. Ellen Degeneres had a flailing sitcom and tied her announcement to her character’s in an attempt to save the show. Or at least that’s my reading of it. Even with the cynical motives I ascribe to Degeneres, though, I am inclined not to ask why she felt the need to come out. Being in the closet means having to keep your relationships under wraps. As long as we care who they’re dating (I don’t, but I mean “we” collectively), we force them to either hide it or come out. Being in a “secret relationship”, whatever the reason, sucks. I would find it immensely preferable if we didn’t keep tabs on what celebrity was dating what other celebrity, but curiosity is a witch. I don’t care as much as a lot of people and Americans don’t care as much as the British***, but few are completely immune. And as long as that’s the case, the preferable response is simply to say “okay” and move on.

* – It’s actually even worse than that. There was another song that came out at about the same time by someone else. I only barely remember the song and I remember a nod to the state of Nebraska, a metaphor about treading water, and the words “la vida noche”. I really liked the song and would love to be able to track it down, but it was just before the point where any Top 40 song gets planted in a bunch of lyric databases. I can’t find it to save my life. “Livin’ La Vida Loca” reminds me of that itch I can’t quite scratch.

** – This post is not about gay marriage.

*** – Sometimes I get frustrated with our celebrity-obsessed media, but whenever I go to a British website, I realize how much worse it could be.


Category: Theater

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14 Responses to Celebrity Closets

  1. web says:

    Given that his demographic was primarily “screaming prepubescent girls“, maybe admitting he was gay a decade ago would have hurt his career. I don’t know.

    I don’t think it was particularly “brave”, and I think much of the “ooh they’re so brave” mentality for McArdle or others who worship “out of closet celebrities” really is just a bit silly today. Let’s face it, whatever career he’s got at this point, he could retire on whatever he has right this minute, never “work” a minute of his life again, and live quite, quite, quite comfortably by the standards of any normal human being. Whatever bravery or actual possible PR consequence there was in declaring “hey world I’m gay” sailed long ago.

    These days, declaring you’re gay is as much a career move as anything else. Declaring you’re gay revives (or in the case of Ellen, attempts to revive… possibly successful since she has her own talk show and everything these days) a flagging career by marking you as “artsy”, and gets you a good amount of coverage for a few months in mainstream magazines, followed by a few more months in “gay-focused” magazines. A certain talentless autotune-abusing barbie doll “performer” got a couple extra months of fame by declaring to Wawa Wawters recently that she “had had sexual relationships” with other women. Declaring it “brave”? That’s pretty much a joke. In a world where people’s vision is regularly assaulted by the likes of Adam Lambert and Perez Hilton, people like Neil Patrick Harris or Ian McKellen saying “Hi world, I’m gay” is about as scary or “brave” as going to the grocery store and picking up a bucket of ice cream.

    And I know the South Park references fly fast and furious, but… yeah.

  2. trumwill says:

    Whether it qualifies as “brave” I think depends precisely on who an artist is and whom they are selling themselves to. I will give Martin some degree of credit for that which I would not give, say, Neil Patrick Harris. I would have given Martin a lot more credit a decade ago than I do now. Really, though, whether it’s brave or not is beside the point. I figure they should do whatever they want to do as far as that goes.

  3. Sheila Tone says:

    “Given that his demographic was primarily “screaming prepubescent girls“, maybe admitting he was gay a decade ago would have hurt his career. ”

    Yes, any man who plays to that demographic has to worry about that. Marrying a *woman* presented the same problem. It meant your dream guy was off the market. I remember when the Duran Duran guys were getting married — a lot of us young teen fans were genuinely upset about it. Like we thought we had a shot otherwise.

    Maybe kids are more sophisticated nowadays.

    Hyde Pierce was definitely not a hetero romantic lead. None of his fan base would downgrade him for being gay. On the contrary, I thought he should have been gay on “Frasier.” I was annoyed that they chose a relationship for him with a dimwit New Age working-class woman. IRL guys like that will only go for women like that if they’re so totally in the closet that they’re specifically seeking something that has no chance of happening. Niles should have come out.

  4. trumwill says:

    IRL guys like that will only go for women like that if they’re so totally in the closet that they’re specifically seeking something that has no chance of happening.

    That’s an interesting observation. Why do you expect that a closeted man would go that route? Lack of available options?

  5. Sheila Tone says:

    Why do you expect that a closeted man would go that route? Lack of available options?

    Well, no, the point is he doesn’t want *available* options. Then he’d have to, you know, have the relationship.

    It made sense that a closeted gay man would marry someone like Maris. She’s cold and emotionally unavailable, so wouldn’t put many emotional or physical demands on him. Yet, he’d still get the benefits of her money, good decorating sense, and social connections. He’d also get the mainstream status of a married man.

    Where the show really went wrong was drawing Niles as a heterosexual beta nerd, timidly lusting after a passionate earth-mother type. This is a cute but very incorrect stereotype about men who are intelligent, high-class and highly mannered. Even if Niles were not one of the gayest non-gays ever on TV, hetero men who share his traits do very well paired up with cold, slim, fashionable women, and not well paired up with low-class loud women.

    A lot of women seem to have a fantasy about unleashing the animal in a guy like that. I’m telling you, the animal is a well-groomed poodle.

  6. trumwill says:

    Oh, I understand why he would end up with Maris. That would be perfect for a closeted gay man. Same with Mel. I was curious why a gay man would go after a Daphney sort.

  7. David Alexander says:

    A lot of women seem to have a fantasy about unleashing the animal in a guy like that. I’m telling you, the animal is a well-groomed poodle.

    Sheila, I think I’d like a bit of an explanation here. It’s as if you’re implying that some women think there’s some hidden alpha or sexual creature underneath that proper exterior?

  8. rob says:

    I was curious why a gay man would go after a Daphney sort.

    British accent, those always go well with the gay. I rather like that Niles wasn’t gay. Finally a smart, cultured straight man on tv.

    There was a Sex & the City reference to Ricky Martin. It was something along the lines of “I don’t believe in bisexuality, in my experience it’s always been one stop away from Ricky Martinville on the gay train.”

    Something about that musical style really goes well with gay. Since every shut-in biodiversity fan has to have a theory, I have mine. I call it Gay Cad. Of all the biological theories of homosexuality slinking around out there, the most acceptable is Gay Uncle. The Gay Uncle theory says that there was a selective advantage to having an uncle who didn’t have kids. Gay men were able to invest enough in neices and nephews to compensate for the fitness hit of not having kids of their own. Problem with it is that there’s no evidence. Gay uncles would have to seriously crank up fitness of 2nd degree relatives: like double it. A big chunk of death (and therefore potential for upping fitness) was in infancy and young childhood. Dudes can’t breastfeed, so it wasn’t very likely. Also, gay men are like straight men in not really giving an excess crap for kids: gay uncle predicts that gay men should be very concientious, and emotionally stable, and really really put effort into psuedoparenting: doting, paying for school, babysitting…

    In reality, gay men excel at traits that would seem more advantageous in short term reproductive strategies. Gay men are at one end of the distribution of traits that make men better at empathizing with women and seducing them. Singing, dancing, and acting are a triple threat on broadway and having affairs. Extraversion and emotional volatility get attention. While there’s such a thing as bad attention, being a wallflower udually makes being a ladies man harder. Gay men may have “prettier” looks on average, it could just be a sample bias from women not pursuing men they don’t find attractive, or gay men have to take better care of their appearance because they’re into dudes. OTOH, they seem to into fashion and “the cult of the body.”

    In some periods male homosexuality was thought to be caused by distant or absent fathers and close mothers. Really though, the fathers may be were absent because they, their love and dancing, and large penises were out womanizing. Gay men are close to their mothers and sisters because they’re good at women. The big problem stereotypical gay traits and caddishness is that gay men don’t seem noticeably taller or athletic than straights. Women really like both of those, athleticism espcially for short relationships.

    Unlike lots of “evolutionary psychology” theories, gay cad makes predictions. Straight brothers of gay men will have had more short-term partners. Men who have gay sons will on average be more promiscuous. There should be others, but it’s late. Every hbd theory needs a truly controversial aspect. Male homosexuality and promiscuity should covary between populations. Homosexuality and paternal investment will vary inversely. Populations in which women had relatively more control over over their lives and reproductive behavior should have higher rates of male homosexuality as well. To my knowledge, I didn’t steal the theory, but who knows.

    Stone, you’re old enough to remember Duran Duran as a fan? If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you? I pictured you as 2-3 years older than me, not approaching the Roissy years.

  9. Sheila Tone says:

    Sorry to spoil your fantasies, Rob: I’m in my late 30s, married, and 10 months pregnant. 😉 Not as elderly as Roissy41, but old enough to judge him as a peer.

  10. Maria says:

    Congratulations, Sheila. From reading your posts, I suspect that kid is gonna help improve the collective US IQ score (unlike any spawn of roissy41, should he be so lucky to have one).

  11. Maria says:

    Stone, you’re old enough to remember Duran Duran as a fan?

    Sigh. I’m old enough to remember when “Hungry Like the Wolf” played a role in a major notorious murder case.

  12. rob says:

    More mental picture than fantasy. I figured you for 34-35. I knew about the married and pregnant, but not how long. 10 months, that’s kids a slacker already. For some reason I thought you had a toddler too.

  13. Brandon Berg says:

    The common response to Ricky Martin coming out of the closet is to transparently feign surprise. After all, everybody knew he was gay, right? Actually, I wasn’t so sure. I think the contrarian in me made me wonder if it was too obvious to be true or something.

    On that note, there was a scandal in Japan about five years back when a media personality known as “Hard Gay” was caught on a date with a female model, whom he later married.

  14. Sheila Tone says:

    10 months, that’s kids a slacker already. For some reason I thought you had a toddler too.

    Correct as to toddler. As to fetal slacking — the normal gestational period is 10 months, as calculated figuring a “month” is 4 weeks and gestation takes 40 weeks. But they start counting at the first date of a woman’s last period, which is silly because clearly there’s no pregnancy at that time. So only 5 percent of babies are born on their calculated due day.

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