It is hard to believe that being gay still matters in sports and entertainment. This is extremely odd considering Hollywood is 100 times stranger than being gay will ever be. At any given time, just out on Hollywood Boulevard, a tourist, fresh off the plane from anywhere in the world, can see a grown man outside of the studio for Jimmy Kimmel Live! singing Taylor Swift songs in tiny shorts and a sequin shirt. Hollywood is also the land of WeHo. For the uninitiated, this is West Hollywood. West Hollywood is notoriously, unflinchingly, and unabashedly prideful in its roots as a haven for gay men and women. Also, never forget that Hollywood is the mecca for men and women to wear make up and put on costumes to sing, dance, and act in front of the cameras. If Hollywood is not gay, then the term itself needs to change.
The problem is that being gay in entertainment still matters. This is especially true for actors and musicians. The people who really make all of the decisions like the producers and studio heads, there is still a strong prejudice against anyone that is anything but heterosexual. The theory is that it is fine if the entertainer is gay, but the issue is that middle America and the rest of the world may care if one of their favorite actors is gay. This could cause a drop in the box office and prevent these same producers and studio heads from buying that second helicopter they so deserve.
Never mind the fact that coming out as gay is extremely difficult for most people. Sprinkle in an industry that discriminates against being gay and it creates a recipe for disaster that has kept singers and actors in the closet for years. Some actors have been brave enough to open up about who they are, but they have paid the penalty as a result.
To prove that show business has been up to no good for some, check out the 15 people whose careers have been ruined since they came out of the closet.
15 Rupert Everett
Rupert Everett’s most notable film was his breakout role in the film My Best Friend’s Wedding starring along Julia Roberts. If the name does not ring a bell, just find any woman over 30 and she will tell you all about it. Just try to stay awake.
Anyway, Everett came out of the closet in the late 80s and he says his career has not necessarily been bad, but his being openly gay has definitely tarnished his career. Despite his acting chops, he says he has had trouble finding any kind of work to match his skills. In fact, he has been quoted as saying that he has been outright been denied roles because he is gay. He said he would even advise young actors in Hollywood and Europe to just avoid coming out of the closet if they want to reach their potential.
Fortunately, he does not regret the decision. He says he’s free to be himself while having enjoyed a successful acting career.
14 Lance Bass
For anyone younger than 25, Lance Bass is probably just a poster in their older sister’s old room at home. For a time, Bass was one of the most famous men in the world. He is a former member of the band N*Sync that was insanely popular during the 1990s. The band was so popular, even the asterisk in the name had its own agent.
For Lance, he came out of the closet about 10 years ago. The problem is that doing so hurt his career. He even admits as much. Bass made mention that after he came out of the closet, a lot of projects he was working on were cancelled. Presumably, the reason is because those with whom he had business were either being outright prejudiced against Bass for this or they hid behind it being a “business decision” in that America may not be ready for one of its heart throbs to like men.
For now, Bass is doing fine financially. He cannot shed any tears about that. In just a few short years, Bass got rich like LeBron James did after his first shoe contract. However, he claims coming out set him back years, limiting his earning potential.
13 Adam Lambert
Adam Lambert has more talent in his left thumb than most people have in their entire bodies. He showed the full range of his talent as a contestant on American Idol back when people actually watched the show. He can sing better than most people can do anything in their lives. His presence onstage is like the soul of Michael Jackson has been reincarnated. Even his hair and makeup routine would make most stars completely jealous.
The problem for Lambert is that his sexual orientation dominates nearly every discussion about him. Admittedly, he can be super flamboyant, but the fact he is gay comes up in nearly every discussion about him, including this one.
The biggest issue for Lambert is not necessarily on the domestic front, but touring internationally can be especially difficult. In many countries, simply just being gay is against the law and that can put a ceiling on his capabilities. For Lambert, the fact he came out may not have killed his career, but it certainly has created its own baggage.
12 Ellen DeGeneres
It may be easy to believe, “Ellen DeGeneres? Her career was ruined? That’s impossible. She’s richer than God and everyone knows who she is.” Although that’s technically correct, it misses the bigger point of this article. Keep in mind how talented and funny Ellen is. She has turned her talent into a multimillion dollar empire. She probably runs into people on the street and says things like, “Here, poor person, go by yourself some more money.”
What’s most impressive about Ellen is how far she has had to come to get people past the fact that she is gay. Ellen came out of the closet, on national television no less, during the run of her hit show, Ellen. Unsurprisingly, Ellen was cancelled not too long after that. So, for a number of years, this super talented, super funny person had to figure out what her next step was going to be. While she was trying to figure that out, the networks pumped out classics like My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, thinking the American public was more ready for a terrible, terrible show than someone who actually knew what they were doing. Those lost years for Ellen DeGeneres are years worth of money she may never get back.
11 Wentworth Miller
For anybody that watches The Flash on the CW, Wentworth Miller may be best known as Captain Cold. He is the guy that invested a cold ray gun that somehow causes more havoc than the other meta humans in Central City. Whatever the plot holes may be, Wentworth Miller is playing the role extremely well and has appeared in a number of episodes. He is working it.
This was not always the case for Wentworth. Wentworth had to dodge gay rumors for years. Part of the reason is because Wentworth was coming off of another very successful television show, Prison Break, that was sweeping the nation. Because it was his breakout role, it is understandable why Wentworth would want to keep the secret. But alas, in 2013, Wentworth eventually came out of the closet.
Keeping this secret cost Wentworth a number of opportunities up until The Flash. Because of his secret, he struggled with depression and he admits that this cost him a number of opportunities he could have otherwise taken advantage of.
10 Jason Collins
If it is bad for actors to come out as gay, it is probably 10 times worse for a professional athlete to come out as gay. Now, many people do not look at athletes as entertainers, but there is too much evidence to the contrary. They star on television, they wear costumes, they give interviews, they have award shows, they participate during seasons, and everything culminates in a season finale where the good guys (usually) win. But just like Hollywood, being gay comes with a stigma.
For Jason Collins, he had to bury a secret for years while he was making it as a basketball player. The Stanford University graduate and his twin brother, Jarron, were stars for the Cardinal and both of them ended up in the National Basketball Association. The thing is that Jason was in the closet for almost his entire career. It was not until 2013, after over a decade in the league, that he came out. After that, he played only one more season in the NBA.
9 Anne Heche
It is safe to say that Ellen DeGeneres has extremely good taste in women. While most heterosexual men could only hope that an actress even looks in their pitiful direction, Ellen managed to pull Anne Heche like it was nothing. The two appeared on the red carpet together at awards shows, did joint interviews, and spent years together. This was their story for about four years until they broke up in 2000. It is likely because Ellen snores and hogs the covers in bed, but that cannot be confirmed.
Anne was an up and coming actor during the 1990s and appeared to be on the fast track to Hollywood stardom. This was until Anne started appearing in less than awesome movies like the Psycho remake and a film called Prozac Nation. Don’t worry, nobody else saw them either. Combined with age, which is just poison in Hollywood, and the fact that studio executives did not believe that she could be a leading lady with a male love interest, Heche’s career stalled.
To combat this, Heche ended up actually marrying some dude just after her and DeGeneres broke up. She would probably claim this was out of love, but it was likely out of survival for her career. Despite her abilities, Heche has never been able to sidestep the stigma that comes along with liking the same sex.
8 Jodie Foster
Film buffs and everyone’s grandpa remembers the film Taxi Driver. A young Robert De Niro was definitely the star show, but looking closely reveals one star that stole the show. Jodie Foster played a 12-year-old sex worker who De Niro’s character paid to give him the time of his life. His character never went through with it and basically sought to save her. This was the big start to Foster’s career.
The problem for Foster is that unless someone is a film buff or a grandpa, they really only think of her as a gay actress. This is despite her capabilities not only in front of the screen, but behind it as well. Foster has a number of director credits to add to her mantle, but the stigma has followed Foster forever. Rarely does she even get a role where she has a male love interest. She is usually cast as the workaholic scientist or single mother. All things that can be played by someone regardless of their sexual orientation. So, using Hollywood logic, casting someone as a 12-year-old prostitute is ok, but casting someone who is gay is not? Very odd.
7 Daniel Franzese
Mean Girls is not exactly the kind of movie a group of “bros” will go to see on a Friday night. If they had their choice between jumping off a bridge and watching Mean Girls, at least a couple of guys would say, “Well, how high is the bridge exactly?”
However, although the movie is about mean girls, it is really about how women tear each other down from even as early as high school. It is an interesting sociological look at the way women interact with each other and how rumors and innuendo can really damage a girl’s reputation. For anyone lucky enough to see it, they will recognize Daniel Franzese. He played one of Lindsay Lohan’s friends. In the movie, he played a flamboyantly gay outcast for reasons only Hollywood will understand. Franzese, who is out of the closet says that he has had trouble finding work since then.
He says that he feels he could play strong, masculine types, but the feminine stereotype of gay men keeps that from happening.
6 Michael Sam
Michael Sam is one of the most heralded linebackers to ever come out of the University of Missouri. At Missouri, a team that has to go up against super powers in college football like Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida, and Auburn, having standouts can be extremely difficult. Keep in mind that only a handful of even the best players in college sports can even consider a shot at playing in the National Football League. For Michael Sam, he worked his butt off to make sure he got a shot.
Before the draft, Michael Sam decided to come out to the public. His teammates and friends knew and supported him, but he knew that the general public may have a more difficult time dealing with it. Sam was not shy about being gay once he did come out. When he was drafted, he gave his boyfriend a giant kiss on national television.
To the surprise of no one, Michael Sam was never able to get an NFL contract. For those that are unfamiliar with how pro sports drafts work, just because a player is drafted does not automatically mean that they get a contract. In Sam’s case, he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams, but he never even got off the practice squad. Currently, he is playing pro football in Canada.
5 Amanda Bearse
Amanda Bearse is not a name that comes up in random conversation. It is probable that those who are reading this article right now are wondering who the hell she is and why she has ended up on this list. The reason is simple, a quick Google search will reveal that she played Marcy in the show Married with Children.
To help understand how being gay has hurt Amanda’s career, just take a look at the careers of the other stars. Ed O’Neill has found massive success on the show Modern Family, playing Jay, a cantankerous old guy married to a woman, Sofia Vergara, who is as hot as the sun. Katey Sagal has done a ton of voice over work and has even put out several albums in addition to her acting work. She even has her own star on Hollywood Boulevard. Christina Applegate has appeared in numerous television shows and even done both of the Anchorman movies, making her millions.
Bearse? Not to be heard of except for a few behind the scenes credits.
4 Amber Heard
Life can be difficult for any actress trying to make it. Usually, an actor has to have some sort of amazing talents, amazing looks, amazing luck, or amazing connections. If all of the stars align, they will be able to have careers like Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, or Jennifer Aniston. Those actors have had some combination of all of those things which allows them to have a big enough bank account where they could seriously inquire about the price of importing a gorilla to play hopscotch in their front yards. They also are privileged enough to either be straight or have a team of people help keep them in the closet.
For Amber Heard, she has enjoyed a ton of success, but her success can probably be attributed to at least two different things. The first is that she is married to Johnny Depp. The second is that she went right back into the closet when there was no work available to her when she was out. For those out of the know, Amber came out a few years ago, but when she went back in after marrying Johnny Depp, her career “magically” took off. Now that she is splitting up from him, time will tell whether Hollywood will hurt her career because of who she loves.
3 Rosie O'Donnell
To understand how incredibly talented Rosie O’Donnell is, one has to go back into the history books a bit. Back in the day, there was this show called Star Search. It was basically American Idol and America’s Got Talent, all rolled into one. The only exception is that there were 100% fewer English people as judges.
Anyway, Rosie got on the show and started winning week after week. Her humor was sharp and biting, but it was done all in good fun. Rosie’s career really started to take off throughout the 80s and 90s, ultimately landing her a television show all of her own that was on the air for about seven seasons.
This was naturally before she came out of the closet. Since then, Rosie despite her massive talent and larger-than-life personality, has appeared in bit parts in television, usually only for one episode.
2 Greta Garbo
Nearly a century ago, movies screens were definitely not what they are today. Modernly, any screen, at home or in the theater, that is anything less than “ULTRA 5K HD 3D 4D SHARP CRYSTAL PLATINUM” is going to be looked at like an ancient artifact. But, back in the day, screens actually had silver in it so it could project images a bit better.
Greta Garbo is one of the stars of the silver screen from Hollywood’s early years. The big problem for Garbo was that she was heavily rumored to be involved with another star of the silver screen, Marlene Dietrich. Now, keep in mind not only was it terrible for anyone to be gay, Garbo was a gay actress when Hollywood was trying to become a legitimate industry to a German-born woman during Germany’s less-popular time.
During the late 30s, Garbo’s career not coincidentally started to take a nosedive after it was becoming apparent to those in the industry that the never-married, childless woman during that time period just might be gay. Eventually, her and some other actors, including Dietrich, were called “Box Office Poison” by a bunch of jerks people have long forgotten.
1 Zachary Quinto
Not a lot of actors have quite the range that Quinto has. When he played a villain on the hit television show Heroes, Quinto made his character extremely believable as he was scary. Quinto has continued to show his acting prowess by starring in the Star Trek films as the lovable, affable, joyous. Ok, so maybe the terms described for Spock are a bit overblown.
Regardless, Quinto is a very, very accomplished actor. He has done work in movies, on television, and even on stage. He is becoming one of the entertainment industry’s most recognizable stars. His range and ability to sell the audience on his character is hardly matched.
Although Quinto’s career is one most people would envy, it is probable that he has not reached his full potential not only because he came out of the closet, but also because he is an active supporter of gay rights. To help prove this point, just go to the numbers. The number of awards that Quinto has won for his acting? 12. The number of times he has starred as the dashing, sexy, leading man in a movie? Zero.