October was National Coming Out Month, and looking back over the past few weeks, I can't think of a single person who took the opportunity to tell me that he or she was queer. I sat here waiting, but nothing happened. My e-mails were still only spam promises to enlarge the size of my penis. The fax machine didn't whir with any incoming "I'm a homo" title pages. No previously butch acquaintance rang to say he'd secretly been watching Smallville with the sound off.
I may be going out on a limb here, but I think this tight-lipped nonobservance is because people still don't want anyone to know they're gay. Radical thinking, I realize, yet it's something worth pondering for gays and straights alike. I know this goes against current notions that being gay is hip; that it's no big deal anymore; that because of one Supreme Court ruling and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, you can now cornhole on the sidewalks of Main Street, U.S.A., and little old ladies will walk by with crinkly-eyed smiles chirping, "Well, good for you!" I just don't think we're quite ready to move on to snazzy buzzwords like "metrosexual" until we get this nagging homo thing under control.
Why, for instance, is everyone still so defensive about the supposed heterosexuality of all Hollywood celebrities? Given that the arts are full of raving pansies, is it really plausible that there isn't a single male movie star who openly squealed when he heard that Madonna and Britney would be recording together? Why is it so hard to believe that an immaculate, hard-bodied thespian prefers a little sausage on the side? Trust mewhen you're talking about actors, it's far easier to find a screaming queen than it is to locate a fella who's actually seen a clitoris. (Have you ever been in a regional production of Pippin? I rest my case.)
Worse are the platitudes from those who claim that if, say, someone like Kevin Spacey is gayand I know just how completely ridiculous that idea ishe can keep his Oscar-winning mouth shut if he damn well pleases, because he doesn't owe anybody anything. Doesn't he though? Doesn't a powerful woman need to continue to battle the sexism attacking her less privileged sisters? If a black man reaches the summit of American success, shouldn't he still be worried about his brothers suffering racism at the base of the mountain? Privacy aside, shouldn't the big boys show half a concern for the little guy?
If any Usual Suspects star is occasionally banging his beefy personal trainer, he needs to be honest about it for the sake of the effeminate 12-year-old getting his ass kicked by some playground goons who think Keyser Soze is really cool. Nervous studio executives continue to feed celebrities' fears that Middle America will stop plunking down box-office dollars for a performer who dares to out himself, but the point would be rendered obsolete in a world where those who had power and influence kicked down the closet door en masse. Maybe we'd no longer need a month devoted to the act of coming out if our Hollywood heroes quit hiding in plain sight.