Richard Chamberlain A Thorn In Side Of Gay Activists
Despite efforts by gay activists to persuade gay performers to reveal their sexual orientation, Richard Chamberlain maintains that doing so could wreck the career of any gay actor aspiring to play romantic lead roles. The onetime television heartthrob (Dr. Kildare, The Thorn Birds ) who is now 76 and "came out" in a 2003 memoir, Shattered Love, told the gay-oriented magazine The Advocate, "There is still a tremendous amount of homophobia in our culture. It's regrettable, it's stupid, it's heartless and its immoral, but there it is. For an actor to be working at all 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." Asked by the magazine whether a gay actor can only reveal his sexuality "when he's 69 and promoting a memoir," Chamberlain replied, "Despite all the wonderful advances that have been made, 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 [the gay marriage initiative]. Please, don't pretend that we're suddenly all wonderfully, blissfully accepted." Chamberlain's remarks touched off a torrent of controversy on the Advocate 's online discussion board. "Advising anyone, for any reason, to be dishonest about themselves is counterproductive," read one posting. But one actor responded, "The problem is the attitudes of the studio heads and casting agents. ... What good is being 'out' if they won't hire you? ... Mr. Chamberlain has a point -- in practical terms, you still gotta eat."