Well, I’ll say this about “Out” magazine, its editors are ballsy. The (primarily) gay men’s mag put Jodie Foster and Anderson Cooper on its The Power 50 issue cover. OK, that’s not entirely true. The editors put models wearing Jodie and Anderson masks on its cover, with the headline “The Glass Closet: Why the Stars Won’t Come Out and Play.”
Now, don’t get me started on the irony of a magazine called “Out” putting celebrities who aren’t out on its cover. Should we start call the glossy “Outed” now instead? But more significantly, the move signals a dramatic shift in the long-standing policy in the major gay (not to mention mainstream) press of not outing closeted celebrities.
The ethics of outing are always tricky and intensely personal. I’m willing to bet that none of us would have wanted to be outed on the cover of a national magazine. Still, there is a strong and important tradition of outing people whose private sexuality poses a direct contradiction to their public policy (i.e. the Ted Haggards of the world). So do the same rules apply to public figures like Jodie and Anderson who are openly supportive of the gay community, but steadfastly refuse to address their own sexual orientation?
Regular readers here will note that I’ve mentioned Ms. Foster frequently and also made not-so-veiled reference to her orientation, her longtime partner and her need to go ahead and publicly accept the toaster oven already. But I draw a distinction between what I do on this little blog and what a huge, national magazine does (aside from, you know, the much bigger budget). My blather on this site is akin to water cooler talk. It’s glorified gossip with a heaping dose of snark and (hopefully) a little dash of insight. But what a magazine like “Out” does is public record which also requires public responsibility.
In our effort to hasten society’s acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, are we sacrificing those among us who simply aren’t ready, or willing, to have their private lives become public spectacle? Then again, in refusing to be open with their lives are these stars undermining the largely unspoken political statement regular Janes and Joes make every day by simply living their lives honestly?
Right or wrong, publicity stunt or earnest discourse, “Out” should definitely get people talking. Let’s just hope it’s not cheap.
p.s. As long as we’re picking bones here, hey “Out,” why only 13 women in a list of 50 powerful gays? And only two (no-brainers Ellen No. 3 and Rosie No. 6) in the Top 10? Plus, Anderson ranks No. 2 and Jodie only No. 43? Must everything be a boys club?