Actor Zachary Quinto (Heroes, Star Trek) made headlines Sunday for casually coming out of the closet in an interview with New York magazine, prefacing one of his comments with the phrase, "As a gay man…" But considering that his homosexuality (in private life) had already been widely reported and that he's convincingly played both gay and straight characters — he can currently be seen as one of Anna Faris's ex-lovers in What's Your Number? and as a gay homeowner in American Horror Story — some commentators argue that his public acknowledgement shouldn't matter at all, particularly in a post-Neil Patrick Harris world. Other writers loudly disagree. Who's right?
Teens still need more role models: Sure, it would be nice if Quinto's coming out wasn't headline-making news, says Mack Rawden at Cinema Blend. But we're living in a time when gay marriage is a hot-button socio-political issue. More importantly, with bullying and teen suicide a rampant problem, we have to convince "our children that it can get better." Any face that can be attached to the message matters. That it's Mr. Spock's face, well that should be even more encouraging.
"Zachary Quinto reveals he's gay"
Being open privately isn't enough: You could say that Quinto's career thus far demonstrates perfectly why gay actors often stay in the closet, says Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon. He's "moved fluidly between playing gay, straight, and Mr. Spock." But coming out shouldn't change the kinds of roles he's offered because he's proven already he's believable in all of them. Quinto's sending a message to other actors that it's not enough to be open about your sexuality in your private life. "It's a successful man's acknowledgment that who he is as a person shouldn't make a difference in how he does what he does for a living."
"Why it still matters when a celebrity comes out"
Hollywood still needs its first openly gay movie star: While Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, or Glee's Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch are valuable gay role models, says Adam B. Vary at Entertainment Weekly, they aren't exactly bonafide movie stars. The truth is, Hollywood agents, publicists, and managers still advise their clients not to come out "in case one day they become an A-list movie star." But Quinto, a highlight of Star Trek thanks largely to his romantic chemistry with Zoe Saldana, may be that movie star. Once Hollywood sees how little this news affects the upcoming sequel's box office and the reception of Quinto's performance, it could open the door to that glass closet in which so many actors live.
"The end of the 'glass closet'? Why Zachary Quinto coming out matters to Hollywood"
It doesn't matter at all: This "isn't exactly huge news," says Scott D. Pierce at The Salt Lake Tribune. It's not like it's been a big secret that Quinto was gay. And it doesn't affect his ability as an actor at all. What's telling is that Quinto came out almost off-handedly in an interview; it's "other people who are making a big deal out of it." Quinto's nonchalance asserts that, in this day and age, the only suitable reaction to the not-so-shocking news is "ho, hum."
"Ho, hum. Zachary Quinto comes out"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Yes, Republicans can impeach President Obama
- What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex
- Why Texas' abortion rates aren't falling as quickly as everyone expected
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
- The 6 best low-cost smartphones
- Paul Ryan's anti-poverty plan is another sign of life in the GOP
Subscribe to the Week