Equity UK Survey: Coming Out Still a Struggle for Gay Actors

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equity_uk-logoA survey conducted by the actors union, Equity, revealed that only 57% of gay actors felt they could be open to their agents about their sexuality.  A third of those surveyed admitted they had experienced homophobia, with 57% of it coming from other performers.

While 81% said they had come out in the professional lives, over 94% said they are open about their sexuality to other performers.  However, the process of revealing their sexuality is still an emotionally difficult challenge.  Because of the way the theater industry functions, actors are constantly surrounded by new people, thus increasing the number of times they have to come out to people they don’t know. 

However, the survey, reported by The Guardian, does address the difficulties gay actors face when dealing with their agents and casting directors.  One actor interviewed by The Stage said, “A previous agent of mine once told me to keep quiet about my sexuality and though I am out, I do not broadcast it.”  More than half of the gay actors surveyed said they ‘feared being offered only stereotypical roles if they came out, while being denied romantic leads in particular.’  One actor said, “It’s okay for a straight actor to play gay roles but harder, if not impossible, the other way around.”

When actor Rupert Everett spoke with The Observer last January, he stated that he regretted coming out.  He said, “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.”

The Equity equalities officer, Max Beckmann, still believes the survey’s results to be generally positive, since most actors stated they would encourage others in the industry to be open about their sexuality.

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