Gay stars thriving but await A-list company

Thu Sep 25, 2008 4:59pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "American Idol" singer Clay Aiken tiptoed out of the closet this week into a world where American gay and lesbian celebrities are thriving, but still awaiting the company of an A-list star.

Aiken, 29, confirmed what most people in the music business have long believed when he told People magazine he was gay in an interview released on Wednesday.

The 2003 "Idol" runner-up joined popular television host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, "Sex and the City" actress Cynthia Nixon, actor Neil Patrick Harris and others who have acknowledged their sexual orientation in recent years.

Hollywood has come a long way from the days when stars like Rock Hudson had to keep their sexuality a secret. But coming out can still be risky for a star even if it is no longer a career ender, Hollywood watchers said.

Actress Lindsay Lohan and British DJ Samantha Ronson have set tongues wagging for months about their friendship, but so far Lohan has dodged opportunities to clarify it. Lohan did acknowledge in a radio interview this week that the two had been "going out" for "a very long time," but did not provide details.

"Almost everyone who has come out has been happier because of it and in almost every case, it has helped their careers, " said Hollywood public relations expert Howard Bragman.

"However the fear is still there -- the fear of fans, and of studios. Coming out is easier in the music world and it is generally easier for women than men," said Bragman, founder of the Fifteen Minutes PR agency.

PRIME TIME   Continued...