Which Hollywood Actors Are Homophobic?

Today: The Flying Monkey answers all questions, including: why
are so many online fandoms so queer?

Have a question about gay male entertainment? Contact
me here
(and be
sure and include your city and state and/or country!)

Q: I
heard recently that [a famous singer] was so homophobic that members of the
chorus in [a Broadway show] wanted to bring him up on charges. Do you know
any of the details? Also, are there any other performers you can name who
have reputations for their homophobic behavior? – Mike, West Hills, CA

A: I wasn’t able to verify the
dispute you refer to, and it would surprise me, because the actor has worked
with plenty of gay and gay-friendly actors before.

Other homophobic actors? South
of Nowhere’s
Danso Gordon
famously left that show because he was upset by the positive portrayal of a
character’s coming out and what he perceived to be a negative portrayal of a
Christian character – though he later had a very public change of heart, in
part because of the reaction to the incident.

In a 2008 mini-scandal, The Daily Beast reported that Mickey Rourke texted someone that,
despite playing a gay character, Sean
was “one of the most homophobic people i kno [sic].” Rourke later
denied both the text and the sentiment.

In 2009, actor Bronson
accused Tom Cruise of
making “constant” homophobic jokes on the set of 1983’s Risky Business – although
he later clarified that the comments were unremarkable at the time, given that
Cruise, unlike most actors, had not come from a theater background.

In 2009, it was reported that soap actor Chris Engen left the set of The Young and the Restless rather than kiss another
man (and the part was recast) – though he later issued a statement saying that
that was not the reason he left the show.

Legend has it that Denzel Washington counseled Will
not to kiss another man in Six
Degrees of Separation
for “image” reasons (and Smith complied) – although
Washington later co-starred in the landmark AIDS movie Philadelphia.

Ernest Borgnine
and Tony Curtis both publicly said
unkind things about Brokeback Mountain, which they refused to
see, despite being voting members of the Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences
(which had nominated the film for Oscars).

Jon Cryer
said some pretty ridiculous things about gays during a recent Emmy “roundtable” discussion.

Mel Gibson, Isaiah
, and Victoria Jackson
have all been accused of homophobia. In Gibson’s and Jackson’s case, I think we
can safely assume the accusations are true (although Gibson is friends with
semi-out lesbian Jodie Foster). Washington has apologized
for the infamous incident where he referred to a gay co-star as a “faggot” (but
he’s also argued that the whole dispute happened in the first place because of

Hugh Grant made an
on-air comment during a March rugby game that some people thought was homophobic.
“I discovered it hurt less if you tackled hard, than if you tackled like a
queen,” he said of his own attempts at sports.

But what does it mean to be “homophobic” exactly? Even on
this site – which is mostly GLBT or GLBT-supportive folks – there have been
passionate disagreements about whether a portrayal, joke, or comment is
“homophobic” – and it usually comes down to a question of interpretation and
intent. Who decides?

As a general rule, I think most Hollywood actors are far more GLBT-friendly than the rest of
society, and within Hollywood,
I suspect women tend to be more tolerant than men, and (as Pinchot says)
theater actors are generally more tolerant that non-theater actors.

Q: So I, like a lot
of people, was surprised by that recent study that looked at online fandoms and
ranked the top thirteen. Everyone made a big deal about the fact that Supernatural, which doesn’t have that
many viewers, came in first, while Glee only
came in twelfth. But what I think is more interesting is how many of the top
fandoms have such strong gay or slash fandoms: Supernatural, Glee, Smallville, The Vampire Diaries, Hawaii Five O. What’s that about? – Mark, West
Palm Beach, FL

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles of Supernatural

A: First, about that “study.” Before we give it too much credit, keep in mind that it was the work of one college
student, and the conclusions were based on a completely voluntary online
survey, sponsored by one specific website.

But polls are the most “scientifically accurate” when their
subjects are randomly chosen.

Think of it like this. Say you’re in a stadium with 100,000
people. You turn to the guy on your left and ask him his favorite color: how
likely is it that he’s speaking for the entire stadium? But what if you
randomly pick 100 people and ask them? What about a 1000? At some point, the
odds strongly favor the fact that the opinions of the subset will mostly match
those of the whole group.

But what if you don’t
choose the people randomly? What if you stand up and yell, “Hey, I’m making list of everyone’s favorite color! Who wants to tell me?”

Then you’re measuring something different – the willingness
of people to tell you their favorite
color. These opinions aren’t necessarily going to match the whole group. What
if people who like red are more likely to yell out? What if people whose
favorite color is blue are lazy or shy?

Basically, this fandom study is fun, but kinda junk science.

Still, this “voluntary” fandom survey may not be completely worthless: after all, word of
the survey eventually spread to most of the different fandoms, and since you
could argue that the more passionate fans would be more likely to reply, it was
a legitimate measure of fandom “passion.”

And in fairness to the researcher, she tried to corroborate
the survey with demographic information, web rankings, and other data.

But just because a fandom is more insular to itself – or
more self-confident about proving its passion to some website – that doesn’t necessarily
mean it’s any less “passionate” about their show, does it? What if a particular
fandom was too stupid to work their way through the 10-minute survey – or they
held a grudge against the sponsoring website? What if a fandom was dishonest and
encouraged their members to take the survey more than once? This would all bias
the results, which should be taken with an entire shaker of salt.

But Mark, what of the “gay” element you mentioned in most
online fandoms?

I don’t even have a pseudo-scientific study to back up my
thoughts, just my own thoughts and observations, but I totally agree with you
that it’s there.

Why? My theory is that men and women tend to interact with
the internet in different ways. Women tend toward social media and interaction,
and men tend toward, well … porn. As a result, fandoms are made up more of women
… who, in lieu of porn, are often drawn to things slash-related (which is
primarily or exclusively “gay,” depending on who you ask).

In other words, a lot of fandoms definitely have a queer
“energy” – even if their members aren’t necessarily or even primarily gay. I’ve
even seen it in fandoms you wouldn’t think would be that way – like, say, the Legend
of the Seeker

Make sense? It’s my theory, and I’m stickin’ to it. But
remember: it’s just my gut feeling, so take it with an entire lick of salt.

Have a question about gay male entertainment? Contact
me here
(and be
sure and include your city and state and/or country!)