Pride month might have come to a close, but for the fans of dancing, shirtless, sweaty hot men, don’t you fret—you’ll be able to flock to theaters to enjoy what is probably the most-hyped sequel of the year, Magic Mike XX, starring returning castmembers Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello and our personal favorite, Matt Bomer.
The film promises even more gyration and less clothing and additional screen time for Bomer’s aspiring actor/singer, Ken, who comes back at us with moves that are more impressive and abs that are more ripped than before.
And he even sings!
But the age-old debate still sits in the back of our mind: If you’re an actor in Hollywood, why stay in the closet? If Bomer can be out and gay, grinding naked up against women in a summer hit, then you can, too, right?
Others disagree, including out gay actor Rupert Everett. “The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the film business,” he said in a 2009 interview with The Guardian. “It just doesn’t work and you’re going to hit a brick wall at some point. You’re going to manage to make it for a certain amount of time, but at the first sign of failure they’ll cut you right off.”
Everett shares the belief that coming out can hold actors back from becoming the leading man. He cites that out actors are denied the straight roles, while heterosexuals are given the leading gay ones, à la Brokeback Mountain. Everett’s case doesn’t hold much merit when it comes to Bomer, whose other big credits involve the thrillers Flightplan, HBO’s The Normal Heart (playing a gay man opposite Mark Ruffalo) and an upcoming leading role in The Magnificent Seven opposite Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington.
Bomer, 37, has been out since 2012, when he thanked his husband, Hollywood publicist Simon Halls, and their three children, while accepting an honor at the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards. The original Magic Mike, perhaps not-so coincidentally, premiered the same year with much fanfare and the box office receipts to prove that, gay or straight, an audience likes him naked even with a husband and kids.
Luckily for him, since coming out, Bomer’s career has done anything but stall.
Blame his chiseled, all-American good looks, propped up alongside his equally hot Magic Mike XXL co-stars, for sustaining a career that perhaps for others would have waned. Being paraded for our entertainment on stage as an oiled-up sex symbol, with dance moves for days and musical numbers to boot, doesn’t hurt, either.
But lets look beyond that for a moment. Yes, it is possible that besides having the physique of Bomer, there can lie real talent. Bomer came out of the closet around the fourth season of White Collar, the award-winning show that Bomer starred in as lusty Neal Caffrey. The show lasted six full seasons, earning Bomer a 2015 People’s Choice Award for his role as and as Neil Caffrey, a womanizing two-face thief.
Although playing a straight character, his personal life didn’t alter the success of the show or deter his fan base—if anything, it enhanced it. After coming out as a gay dad and husband, he began to be the talk of tabloids, grace magazine covers and popped up on numerous talk shows.
His knack for strong performances on television and the big screen have earned him both an Emmy and MTV Movie award nomination and were solidified by winning a Critics’ Choice Award in 2014. And let’s not play down his winning of a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor this year for his role in The Normal Heart.
Perhaps these are small examples of the strides we’ve made that an actor is just an actor—not a gay actor.
Regardless, with the anticipated release of Magic Mike XXL by gay men and straight women alike, an out-of-the-closet gay actor can be strong and physical without necessarily pandering, and even heroic while still being sentimental.
Or maybe it is that Bomer, with all his talents and physical beauty, is a gay man who embodies a new kind of gay actor. Lets hope for the latter.