Jim-Parsons

So have you checked out this week’s Entertainment Weekly, with it’s Coming Out In Hollywood cover?

Times sure have changed… I remember when EW ran a ‘Gay Edition’ about a decade ago to coincide with the success of Will And Grace – in the process receiving a whole batch of angry letters and cancelled subscriptions!

The subject of this week’s main article is fairly simple – basically contrasting the hoopla that surrounded Ellen DeGeneres when she came out in 1997, and the total non-reaction when Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons quietly announced he was gay a couple of weeks ago (or rather he allowed a newspaper article to define his sexuality).

The piece itself is heartening but what I find most interesting is how many of the celebrities mentioned in the article work predominantly in TV. Alongside Ellen and Parsons there’s Neil Patrick Harris, Andy Cohen, Jane Lynch, Matt Bomer, Chris Colfer, Zachary Quinto, Wanda Sykes, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jillian Michaels (who I didn’t actually know was now ‘officially’ out) and many more.

There was plenty of ‘TV’ names on the list – but boy was there a lack of movie ‘stars’ in there. In fact there was pretty much none! Not surprising when you look at how vociferously John Travolta and Tom Cruise have hit back at claims regarding their sexuality and the constant dancing act that Jodie Foster and Queen Latifah play with their lesbianism.

Of course it’s not just the actors themselves. When you compare movies and TV these days they’re worlds apart when it comes to depictions of gay characters. Just try finding a gay or lesbian character in any of this year’s summer movies among all the action heroes, aliens and comic book characters. In fact, aside from Oscar season towards the end of the year, gays and lesbians are largely absent from the big screen. One more reason why I go to the movies less and less each year.

Contrast that attitude with TV where you’ll find modern society much more amply reflected. Glee, Modern Family, American Horror Story, Revenge, True Blood, Nurse Jackie, Suburgatory, Smash – essentially all the hot shows on TV right now, feature significant gay and lesbian characters. Even down and dirty macho shows like Game Of Thrones and The Borgias feature gay storylines.

Sure not all the depictions are perfect. I find Suburgatory’s Rex Lee pretty one note at times for example – but we’re still talking about a massive sea change. Plus there’s more to come, with sitcoms The New Normal and Partners on the way in the Fall. It’s just one more reason why I’m proud to work in TV and have so much respect for the medium.

Sure I get why movie actors don’t come out, just as I get why movie roles are so one note in the first place. Movies have to play internationally and different cultures are less tolerant of different sexualities than in the west. Plus let’s be honest, in a movie like The Avengers, there’s not much room for a straight romance, let alone a gay storylines.

But the success of all these blockbuster action movies has effectively killed diversity in the movie market. Unfortunately nowadays there just aren’t many of the mid-range films ($30-50 million) that could feature gay and lesbian characters. It’s all $200 million blockbusters, sequels and comic books now – and indeed has been for some time. So in the meantime all the best work – and most interesting and quirky characters – are on our TV screens. Not great news if you’re a movie fan over the age of 25!

So kudos to the TV industry once again – and shame on you Hollywood! Personally I think the movie industry is sealing its own fate – as evidenced by just how many ‘sure things’ have died a death at the box office this summer (Dark Shadows, Battleship, That’s My Boy, Rock Of Ages, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). My hope – movie studios start making actual adult movies once again. And that includes gay and lesbian characters too… who knows perhaps we’ll then have a few more ‘out’ movie stars as a consequence…