When last we saw the intensely private Tom Cruise, as you may recall, he was dissing modern psychiatry as a "fraud" and jumping on Oprah's furniture declaring his love for Katie Holmes. Cruise's sister/publicist, Lee Anne De Vette, responding to the raised eyebrows concerning her brother's behavior, maintained in The New York Times last week that we are "looking at someone who is genuinely happy. The response we've gotten back is complete enthusiasm and exhilaration for his enthusiasm and exhilaration."
OK, this is going to be tricky, so let me say that I would never claim that Tom Cruise is gay. In addition to the obvious reason why no one of right mind would even consider suggesting that Tom Cruise is gay—he's a hypermasculine 42-year-old who takes good care of his body and is so eminently desirable he can't be held down to one lady (well, until this terrifically romantic bit of luck lately)—I wouldn't say that Tom Cruise is gay because Tom Cruise Inc. would come shooting after my paper, me, and the horse I rode in on without so much as a "But thanks for defending Jerry Maguire all these years, pardner."
Yet someone of Tom Cruise's stature in Hollywood is gay, right? Consider: We've all been in high school and/or to some institute of higher learning, and made at least passing acquaintance with the various homosexuals who make up a large percentage of drama clubs and theater departments. We've all watched a sensitive woman friend puzzle over the inattentions of that tousled, sweet, slender boy who had the lead in a hometown production of Pippin and patiently thought, "Oh, well, Melanie will figure it out soon enough." The halls of America's fine-arts organizations are practically on fire with fairies, n'est-ce pas?
Where, then, I'd like to know, did all those tousled, sweet, slender boys go? Did all the laughing, lonely ranch hands from your senior-year staging of Oklahoma! head for Broadway, swearing a solemn oath that never would they deign to strive for celebrity status in L.A. (since we all know how unappealing television and the movies are to homosexuals)? Or perhaps they're all construction workers now, opening their lunch boxes high on some girder somewhere and thinking, "God, I'm so much happier up here than I ever would've been on Days of Our Lives."
We are well into this new century, and maybe—just maybe—we need to take a moment to look around and consider the harm it does for a country to live in a culture of fearful, frozen-smiled obliviousness. Let's stop being so vehement about the fact that someone of Tom Cruise's stature cannot be gay, especially when the public actions of someone of Tom Cruise's stature occasionally suggest the nervously imploding behavior of a man forced by lucrative societal position to remain in the closet.
If no one of Tom Cruise's stature is gay, it's because no one of Tom Cruise's stature has the balls to stop being someone of Tom Cruise's stature. Hollywood is a money town, and America is a money nation, and the money still says that no man who wishes to come home after a busy day on the set and fall into a pair of hairy waiting arms may make millions of dollars to appear in, say, Mission: Impossible XIV. I feel neither enthused nor exhilarated by that.