"'My heart goes out to a lot of the young people in Hollywood because they really do have a whole different set of pressures than I have here in Toronto,' said Ruggiero, 21.
"'I had newspapers that were cheering me on and congratulating me and at the same time respecting my privacy. And I wondered to myself: Would it have been the same situation in America? I don't think so.'
"There is simply too much money at stake in the United States, says Ruggiero, who's headed to L.A. this weekend to represent [the TV show] 'Degrassi' at the annual GLAAD Awards. The show is nominated for best drama series.
"'The biggest young actors in Hollywood have multimillion deals and all this stuff, and there's such a huge publicity engine there that we don't have,' Ruggiero says.
"'I'd like to think as time goes by, people might be a little more open about their sexuality, but I think the reality as it stands right now in Hollywood is that people really do fear what's going to happen to their careers if they come out. It's all about the dollar signs.'
"Webster notes that most of the actors coming out recently are TV stars - no major movie stars have taken the brave step, even though there are many well-known actors in Tinseltown whose homosexuality is an open secret despite the presence of spouses and children."
[For the full article, see here]
I think it's more than "about the dollar signs!" The tremendous shame and self-loathing among so many LGBT people, combined with the brainwashing engaged in by all too many clergy telling their congregations, and all others who will listen, that LGBT people are "sinners," "disordered," and "a threat to our way of life," that has largely made America so homophobic!
Of course, the need to bend to some degree of political pressure has had some states institute crumbs of incrementalism such as Civil Unions and Domestic Partnership benefits. Yet, as I've written before, it is my firm opinion that these constructs, although conferring some short-term benefits, are retarding the realization of full marriage rights, and the dignity that accrues to the designation of "marriage," that same-sex couples who want to make a lifetime commitment to each other certainly deserve.
Religion in the U.S. has all too often enmeshed itself with reactionary political forces (sometimes combined with the view that America is the equivalent of "a city upon a hill," especially favored by God, and called out by God to serve a prophetic purpose), and it has frequently attracted rather one-dimensional leaders, who have bureaucratically structured most churches and denominations in such a way that there is engendered a respect for the clerical hierarchy, and what division of labor exists within these bureaucracies are believed by both the leaders and the congregations to be legitimately subordinate to the mind-sets and dictates of the leaders. (I understand that denominations differ in varying degrees in this regard. However, with the exceptions of the United Church of Christ, and The Disciples of Christ, most other denominations seem to fit the above pattern to a significant degree.)
Usually, homophobic rhetoric and rantings emanating from pulpits are combined with an emotionalism that can't help but have those in the audience get caught up in the rhythm of the rhetoric, and virtually by osmosis take on the prejudices of the relevant pastor or priest, viewing those prejudices as being "Godly," since a member of the clergy spoke the words, and come to feel that they, themselves, believed in those words and the sentiments expressed before they even heard them.
Indeed, many people who are attracted to homophobic churches in the first place are likely to be rather one-dimensional people who are most comfortable thinking in black and white terms, and who see inherent dualities in life, such as good and bad, and right and wrong. Of course, there are such dualities that exist, yet there should be expressed disagreement within and outside the church as to what constitutes "good" and "bad" and "right" and "wrong."
Visiting injustice and discrimination upon any of God's children is "bad" and "wrong" by any Christian definition! Indeed, to demean and oppress any human being for being who he or she is is nothing short of "evil!" (That is the message that any church worthy of the name must preach and live out loudly and clearly for all the world to see, if it is truly representative of the life and teachings of Jesus!)
What complicates this evil is that it besmirches Christianity itself, as all too many people view Christians as being a bunch of harsh, censorious, judgmental freaks who delight in castigating people who don't think and act like they say they do. Indeed, homophobic rhetoric emanating from professing Christians, clergy and non-clergy, is a profound embarrassment to all Christians worthy of the name.
Since religion has played such a vital part in American society, and since it has been reactionary religion that has gained ascendancy particularly since the early 20th Century, homophobia has been given a legitimacy that it certainly doesn't deserve, and that is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus.
When homophobia is supported by religious figures, it is given a legitimacy that not only empowers haters and hate-mongers, but also negatively affects LGBT people and their families and loved ones, in that many (at least on some level of consciousness) come to believe the ignorant and hateful rhetoric spoken with a mantle of authority, and an asserted and perceived credibility, that are neither warranted nor deserved.
For example, given my training, I feel rather comfortable discussing social and biblical issues. However, I'd be a fool if I were to pontificate upon a subject like nuclear physics, a subject about which I know nothing!
Yet, all too many professing Christians, who are usually completely ignorant concerning sexuality and gender identity issues, have no compunction to condemn what they don't understand, and then proceed to give oracular pronouncements denouncing LGBT people, using as justifications for that denunciation what they think God wants for this world and for other people.
So, actors and actresses in the U.S., even in this day and age, are fearful of coming out, lest parents won't take their children to see their films. As Elaine Liu cogently points out in the above linked article:
"But Elaine Lui, a correspondent on CTV's ETalk, doesn't think that day [when actors can freely come out] is coming any time soon.
"'I don't think it's going to change for a long time, if ever,' said Lui, who also blogs about celebrity gossip on her website, Lainey's Entertainment Update (www.laineygossip.com).
"'Family movies are the ones that are making the most money, like 'Wild Hogs,' for example - that made tons of money. The top-grossing movies are very family-oriented, and nobody wants to imagine that the stars of those movies are gay or to take their kids to those movies and have to explain that to them,' she says.
"'People seem to get more conservative once they have kids, and they like to believe in illusions just as much as the older generation of movie-goers. The people who go see family movies are very conservative, and it's those movies that are making the studios so much money.'"
So, until LGBT people and allies directly confront homophobic clergy, continuously picket homophobic churches, write letters to the editor of local, regional, and national newspapers, engage in meaningful coordinated activism in conjunction with LGBT Rights organizations to insist on acquiring full and equal civil and sacramental rights, and not in any way patronize or support churches that advocate discrimination, the shame, self-loathing, and fear is likely to continue among Gay actors as well as among many other Gay people.
There is plenty of blame to go around for the homophobic state of much of the U.S., but I place most of the blame on homophobic clergy and their followers who stupidly think that they are doing God a favor by thinking they are being "righteous" by convincing gullible people who don't have a clue regarding sexuality and biblical exegeses that LGBT people are sinners and are "not right with God."
Indeed, such feelings of self-righteousness, and even biblical ignorance of the Gospel message of grace, faith, love, peace, reconciliation, and inclusiveness can be seen among clergy in the highest offices within mainline denominations, and also to be seen to be splitting such a denomination as the Anglican Communion.
It's one big lie that homophobic clergy are purveying, and it's up to LGBT people, allies, and all Christians worthy of the name to spread that message loudly and clearly in any and every venue possible.
Then, and only then, will people, actors or not, feel free to live authentic lives before God and before the whole world, which is what Jesus has called us to do in the first place!