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Actor Wentworth Miller Comes Out as Political Statement

by Xavier van Beesd in Media & entertainment , 27 oktober 2013

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

In recent years, a rather large number of athletes has come out of the closet, both in Europe and in the United States. It seems that men in team sports are less inclined to be open about a different sexual preference than men in individual sports, but it is no longer true that the world of sports is a bastion of fearless heterosexuality. This was never true for the film industry in Hollywood, but yet there are very few American television and film actors who are open about their homosexuality.

By contrast, rumors and insinuations about these men are widespread, and this has been the case for almost a century. When Rudolph Valentino visited Chicago in July 1926 during a promotion tour for “The Son of the Sheik,” he came across an article in the Chicago Tribune that was titled “Pink Powder Puffs.”

The author wondered about a powder vending machine that was installed in the Gents of a new dance hall. The reported was horrified: “A powder vending machine! In a men’s washroom! Homo Americanus! Why didn’t someone quietly drown Rudolph Guglielmo, alias Valentino, years ago?”

The author continued his tirade with the statement that it was time “for a matriarchy if the male of the species allows such things to persist.” And he ended the article with the lament: “Hollywood is the national school of masculinity. Rudy, the beautiful gardener’s boy, is the prototype of the American male. Hells bells. Oh, sugar.”

For a lot of butch heterosexual men, Valentino was just a “painted pansy.” This did not apply to Cary Grant, although the fact that he was living with his colleague Randolph Scott off and on, led to innuendo in the gossip papers, and to even more explicit remarks after his death. Scott regularly and jokingly described himself as Grant’s wife, and journalist Richard Blackwell once wrote that the gentlemen were “deeply, madly in love”.

Alexander D’Arcy, who co-starred with Grant in “The Awful Truth” (1937), declared that Grant en Scott “lived together as a gay couple,” adding: “I think Cary knew that people were saying things about him. I don’t think he tried to hide it.” Grant, who was married five times, at least admitted at one point that his first two wives had accused him of being a homosexual, but his third wife, Betsy Drake, would not hear of it. “Why would I believe that Cary was homosexual when we were busy fucking?”

Grant himself never explicitly said anything about his sexual preference, whether gay or straight. But in the decades of his success, being open about same-sex interests would be grounds for a professional ban. The fear of such a ban, or at least of a serious decline of the number and the kind of roles offered, is probably also the reason that a lot of actors today are not open about their sexuality. Therefore, it should be applauded that Wentworth Miller, who became famous as Michael Scofield in the television series “Prison Break,” and has some Dutch blood from his mother’s side, took off his straight mask without reservations.

Although in his case, the mask had been showing imperfections for a long time. Even during his “Prison Break” period, there were a lot of rumors that the attractive hunk was gay. But at the time, he never spoke out on the subject. The blogger Salmagundi reports that he was told that Miller was out of the closet when he played the role of Gage Petronzi in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in 1998.

Miller’s coming-out was due to his invitation to be the guest of honor at the International Film Festival in St. Petersburg. In a letter that was made public on the GLAAD website, he thanked a Mrs Averbakh for the invitation, but continued with:
“As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes.

However, as a gay man, I must decline.

I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government. The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.

Perhaps, when and if circumstances improve, I’ll be free to make a different choice.
Until then.

Wentworth Miller”

Wilson Cruz, a spokesperson of GLAAD (an acronym for Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), stated that “Wentworth’s bold show of support sends a powerful message to LGBT Russians, who are facing extreme violence and persecution: you are not alone.”

Nowadays, it is always a pleasure to follow the voice of the people in cyber comments, in this case more concerned with the sexual aspect of Miller’s statement than its political aspects. On the GLAAD website, Gena Rees expresses the hope that “one day people won’t have to ‘come out’ and announce that they are gay.” It is not clear whether Tyler Sigler’s statement should be seen in a positive or negative light: “I never once thought he was gay during all the episodes of ‘Prison Break.’ Stereotypes be damned!”

Certainly positive is the confession of Tamayn Irraniah on the blog Salmagundi: “I did always secretly hope that he was. It makes me feel a lot better knowing that he is. It’s less like I was back in high school pining over straight boys.” Even though some think it is a shame that Wentworth Miller does not make his voice heard in Russia, the bulk of comments on the web is positive. This should be seen as a sign for other actors that they too can be open about their sexual orientation.

Miller’s sexual orientation is no longer of interest to the press, which is now focusing on the question whether he is in a committed relationship or not. For example with the eight years younger actor Luke MacFarlane, who came out in 2008. In 2007 and 2008, there were rumors that the actors were in a relationship already, and, according to reports, they have spent another “romantic day” at the end of August. To be continued when we hear wedding bells...!  



In the New Issue of Gay News, 322, June 2018

Antwerp, June 30, 2018

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