Do We Have the Right to Know a Celebrity’s Sexuality?

Confession: Like so many others in this society, I love celebrities. Gossip blogs are my morning newspapers and evening procrastination, but Twitter is definitely the best because they publish almost every single meal that they order. The entire Hollywood scene is practically like high school in a sense that everyone is always talking about each other, but it’s better: the people being discussed are much easier on the eyes, and the juice that flows between them is much more interesting than topics like prospective prom dates and who has access to (good) alcohol.

But not every celebrity reveals their daily details on the Internet for their fans, and despite society’s obsession with celebrities and my hunger for more, some celebrities still don’t share anything beyond their work in interviews. Earlier this week, interviewers sat down with actor Kevin Spacey to uncover news about his new film, but things quickly heated up when they accused him of lying (by omission) about his sexuality.

“I don’t live a lie,” said Spacey. “You have to understand that people who choose not to discuss their personal lives are not living a lie. That is a presumption that people jump to.” Sure, some of us may have our speculations about his sexuality, just like some of us did about John Travolta, Elton John and Ricky Martin, and just like some of us still do about Keanu Reeves and Tom Cruise. But confirmed information has brought mixed reviews in the past: it has been said to ruin some careers and fuel others to new heights, empowered by accepting audiences, gay and straight.

But as fans, do we have a right to know, or to even guess?

These days, it’s practically part of an actor’s job description to not only work in films and television, but also to accept their new role as a famous personality: make appearance on late-night shows, tell a few jokes, and share some intimate details about your life so that an audience can identify you and appreciate your work, let alone pay to see it. They aren’t only selling their talents anymore – they’re selling themselves, and we’re buying into it. It’s not bad, it’s entertaining and profitable, really. Plus, it potentially lends more power to their causes and charities, which can save lives and improve harsh conditions all over the world. Do we listen more attentively now that Lady Gaga has passionately spoken at a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rally?

But should sexuality, or any other unscripted information, simply remain a private matter of a public figure? It’s not as if Americans normally guess strangers’ sexual orientations on the street (oh, I hope this isn’t your hobby…), so there’s no reason to do so on the red carpet. They go to acting school and train for years to become great in their abilities to tap into their emotions and portray them in roles, not to cause controversies with who they date – male or female, famed or otherwise. Just because someone aims to create art on film doesn’t mean their personal lives must be dissected by tabloids and Twitter feeds while off screen, to the point where Spacey parallels his interview to bullying:

“I think what we have seen in terms of gay teenagers committing suicide because of bullying is anguishing. I think young people, if they are feeling like they are confused, need to know that there are people to talk to and that there are places they can go and not feel alone. But I feel that they have just as many rights as I do to not be bullied. And I don’t understand people who say, ‘Well, this is a terrible thing that is happening to this young person whose life is being exposed,’ and then turn around and do it to another person. People have different reasons for the way they live their lives. You cannot put everyone’s reasons in the same box. It’s just a line I’ve never crossed and never will.”

So what do you think? Is celebrity commodification part of the modern contract for any anticipated blockbuster and new hit sitcom? Or are we all too obsessed with celebrities that we’ve unfairly cornered them in a fishbowl, watching their every move? Duke it out!

For the record, Spacey smoothly forced a topic change in the interview with his opinion on the matter:

“Look, at the end of the day people have to respect people’s differences. I am different than some people would like me to be. I just don’t buy into that the personal can be political. I just think that’s horsesi*t. No one’s personal life is in the public interest. It’s gossip, bottom line. End of story. “

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    1. Rose says:

      This is the sort of thing which is only a "debate" if you're straight – if you've never experienced the process of coming out of the closet yourself. As a bisexual woman, I have experienced that, and I know how difficult it can be to tell some people. It's not just difficult to come out to people who are homophobic. Even with people who I know will probably be supportive – like my close friends and my parents – it was still really difficult for me to spit out "I like girls." If it's that hard for us ordinary people, imagine what it's like if you're famous!

      So no, I don't think anyone has the right to know unless that person decides you have the right. It's up to the gay/bi/trans/etc. person to decide their own comfort level.

      Would I like it if more LGBTQ celebrities came out? Yes. I think every voice counts to raise the profile of the LGBTQ community. There are also studies showing that having out celebrities and movie/TV characters come out can help their fans to become more accepting of LGBTQ people. That's not to mention how having more out celebrities could help students who are being bullied for their sexuality or gender expression to see that it's possible to be queer and happy.

      At the same time, though, we need to acknowledge that coming out is ALWAYS difficult, even in more accepting communities, and not pressure anyone to come out who isn't ready.

    2. Commentor says:

      Tom Cruise? Leave him alone. The LGBTQ or whatever demonstrates it's hostility to heterosexuals by refering to him. Look, some people find homosexuality repugnant, i.e., filthy, perverse, and nauseating. That is legitimate and natural. Some people don't like mustard. It's not predjudice if you don't discriminate against homosexuals – or mustard enjoyers. That being said, it is horrible slander to accuse someone of homosexuality who is not homosexual. To them it's a horrible lie to have to chase around denying. Stop it. Be happy with freedom, but don't be mean to others.

    3. i think we have just as much right to know theres as we know everybody else's…if they want you to know…you will know..if not..you want…simple. Stop treating celebrities like their not regular people when they are..

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    4. Firstly, no. I'm straight and I can still appreciate how big a part sexual orientation is of someone's identity. "Celebrity" has nothing to do with whether or not a person has an obligation to share that with anyone else, even despite the best efforts of fuckwads like Perez Hilton, because that obligation does not exist. End of story.

      Secondly, why the fuck does the public need to know or care? Are you ever realistically going to get a shot at getting in the pants of the celebrities that just happen to swing your way? No? Then have some class and back the fuck off long enough to get a life. What are you, in goddam high school (and it isn't a defense if you are)?

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    6. it seems the public think they have a right to know somebody's sexuality in the first place is sort of….ugh… ignoramus

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    8. Annemarie says:

      No one deserves to know someone's sexuality. If someone feels like coming out, they will come out. I think it's best for celebrities to wait until they're much older to come out if they have any desire to at all. After you've made a name for yourself in Hollywood and you've gained people's respect, that's a good time to say, "I'm gay/bi/pansexual/whatever." But that's just my opinion, I guess.

    9. thebrokesoul1 says:

      Why are we as a society still bantering about someones choices in love and life. The media has nothing else better to do than feed us more of this irrelevant crap. I go to movies to escape life, what the people on screen do after they finish the movie is none of my business. I dont care who is gay, straight or bi. Just as its no ones business about your own personal life or even mine….. We have all shifted our values in life, we have all succumb to these media idiots who spoon feed us the daily dirt…. On another note, i do want to say this and I pray this is not taken out of context, i do feel that whatever one person choses in life should not intitle them to any more rights than the next person. I keep hearing of gay rights, I feel the only right that the Gay and Lesbian Community has been kept from is the right to marry the same sex, i dont care its a FREE country ( Well least thats what they teach and tell us ), We all need and have a desire to be happy. We should all have THAT right, now however, i dont feel just because someone is Gay they should have any special rights over anyone else…. Live your life Your Way, be free , live long and enjoy everything we can…………. Peace !!!!!!!!!

    10. intoyourblueeyes says:

      Every people have some privacy values and have personal life…
      According to me, one should watch his/her skill and performance on stage…
      But not in personal life…

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