There's power in numbers—the actors' union numbers, that is. In a recent survey conducted by Equity, only 57% of gay actors feel they can be open about their sexuality with their agents. But why the secrecy?
Over half of the gay actors who responded said they feared being offered only stereotypical ("gay") roles, and (probably more importantly) of being denied juicier romantic leads. To put it simply, as one actor stated, "I have seen others sidelined due to their sexuality and I know that I have been sidelined too." Another said: "It's OK for a straight actor to play gay roles but harder, if not impossible, the other way round."
And, indeed, they do seem to have a point. In 2010, the gay Broadway-star-turned-TV-mainstay Jonathan Groff was criticized by "Newsweek" as being "unconvincing" as a heterosexual character on the hit show Glee. "When he smiles or giggles, he seems more like your average theatre queen, a better romantic match for Kurt than for Rachel." Now, correct us if we're wrong, but "theatre queen" sounds pretty stereotypical to us.
"My Best Friend's Wedding" star Rupert Everett maintains that he regrets coming out, telling the Observer last year, "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."
But how are things for the ladies? Possibly even worse. According to the Guardian, many respondents suggested that lesbians feel even less supported in the industry than gay men. One lesbian said she had "twice been made to feel very uncomfortable, always from ignorance not malice and always from straight male directors." Wait—straight men being insensitive? Color us shocked. (OK, that too may be a stereotype.)
Overall, however, actors still seem to want to be open their sexuality. "Being true to yourself is a step to being true to the character you play."