Hollywood sees cracks in gay "glass closet"

Thu Jun 5, 2008 3:17pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood's "glass closet" may not be shattered, but with stars such as Ellen DeGeneres and T.R. Knight openly out and shows like "The L Word" proving popular in recent years, insiders say being gay or lesbian is no longer a career breaker for celebrities.

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday gave a final approval for gay marriages in the state, clearing the way for talk show host DeGeneres and her girlfriend of four years, actress Portia de Rossi, to marry as planned.

Last week actress Lindsay Lohan, 21, was the subject of widespread talk in celebrity magazines that she was having a lesbian affair with friend Samantha Ronson, prompting some in Hollywood to encourage her to go public with the relationship.

If she did, it might not hurt her career, as it most definitely would have only a few years ago. In fact, say many gay Hollywood players, it has not hurt theirs.

"After publicly coming out, I haven't noticed a difference," "Grey's Anatomy" star T.R. Knight told Reuters at an event to celebrate gay marriage in West Hollywood.

But Knight, who was forced by a colleague to disclose publicly he was gay, noted he had a steady job, which cannot be said for others.

Actor Rock Hudson kept his homosexuality a secret for decades for fear it would hurt his ability to win leading-man roles. His death to AIDS-related illness in 1985 shocked Americans, and when DeGeneres publicly came out in the late 1990s it caused a media sensation.

But by early this decade, TV show "Will & Grace," about the lives of a gay man and straight woman, had become a critical and audience hit, a sign of increasing public acceptance.   Continued...

<p>Ellen DeGeneres (L) and Portia de Rossi arrive at the 16th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Party to celebrate the Academy Awards, the Oscars, at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California, February 24, 2008. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>