Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Zachary Quinto Comes Out

Zachary Quinto, inheritor of the iconic Mr. Spock role in JJ Abrams' "Star Trek" reboot and the star of the upcoming film "Margin Call," reveals that he is gay in a new profile in New York Magazine. The star, 34, credits his role in the Broadway play "Angels In America," in which he plays a gay man who leaves his AIDS-afflicted boyfriend, for helping to put him further in touch with the hopes felt and struggles faced by both gay and straight Americans, and discusses his political outlook for the rights movement.

While Quinto's sexuality hasn't exactly been a big Hollywood secret, he's been pretty clear in the past that he'd rather focus on his advocacy for gay rights than his personal life. Last year he told the New York Times,
The fact that these things are such hot-button issues right now, socially and politically, I would much rather talk about that than talk about who I sleep with. I would love to be a voice in this maelstrom of chaos and obsessive celebrity infatuation that says, ‘Let’s talk about something that matters.’
So it was a bit surprising to some people when he seemed to casually refer to himself as a gay man to New York magazine recently. Quinto was talking about his role in the Broadway play "Angels In America," in which he plays a gay man who leaves his AIDS-afflicted boyfriend. He said,
Doing that play made me realize how fortunate I am to have been born when I was born. And to not have to witness the decimation of an entire generation of amazingly talented and otherwise vital men. And at the same time, as a gay man, it made me feel like I -- there's still so much work to be done. There's still so many things that need to be looked at and addressed.
In the interview Quinto also mentioned the recent suicide of bullied gay teen Jamey Rodemeyer, saying "as a gay man I look at that and say there's a hopelessness that surrounds it."

Last night, Quinto posted a blog entry on his own website that explained some of the thinking that had led him to publicly announcing his orientation:
In light of [Rodemeyer's] death - it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it - is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality. I believe in the power of intention to change the landscape of our society - and it is my intention to live an authentic life of compassion and integrity and action. Jamey Rodemeyer's life changed mine. And while his death only makes me wish that I had done this sooner - I am eternally grateful to him for being the catalyst for change within me.
To me, the power of what he's saying goes beyond the issue of sexuality—when I read those words I am touched by the passion in his belief, and the bravery of choosing to come out, and yet not make a huge deal of it. Who among us isn't striving for a life of authenticity?  A large part of what I discussed in my post about Emerson's "Self-Reliance" is that we should strive for a life of authenticity. How many of us would be willing to so publicly state our intent to live with compassion, integrity, and action?  I would hope that we all are. I imagine the hard work it took for him to get to this place, and the courage it took to say it.  I am very proud of Zachary Quinto for coming out and for being an inspiration to others.

In an industry that's so often focused on surface pursuits, I think Zachary Quinto is an absolutely amazing man who should be commended not for disclosing the details of his personal life, but for taking an enormously difficult step to make a difference in the lives of others.

With Quinto's coming out, we are living in an exciting time.  We actually have celebrities coming out in the prime of their careers as opposed to the end of their careers.  The more celebrities that take this courageous step, the easier it will be for others to accept us as real people, not reject us for our sexuality.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I find it very strange that you a closeted gay man.. writes so beautifully about someone's comming out.

Writer said...

I think it is very important for us to say "what" we are, but it is equally important to find a safe space to be "who" we are. Both the mainstream media and the gay media make the latter difficult for people in Quinto's position, so I wish him the best.

And, Anonymous, don't be harsh.

JoeBlow said...

Anon, though this blog is called The Closet Professor, I am actually only closeted when it comes to my high school teaching job. My college job and all of those in my life who need to know, know that I have been an out and proud gay man for nearly ten years. I have gone through the struggle of coming out myself and understand the difficulty. If you click on the "coming out" tag you can read more about my coming out and where I currently am in my life. Thanks for your comment.

JoeBlow said...

Writer, I agree with you. It is important for us to say what we are, but in my situation it is not so cut and dry. Quinto never denied that he was gay, he just did not discuss it openly until now. If I thought that by coming out at school would accomplish anything more than the loss of my job, I'd have no problem doing so. However, I needed a job and took what I could find in this economy, which happened to be at a very conservative private school. By teaching here though, I hope that I am able to change some attitudes even without being completely out of the closet.

silvereagle said...

"Who among us isn't striving for a life of authenticity?"

I agree that we all strive for this. And your editorship of this post each day certainly affirms that authenticity in your own life. The fact that you are not "out" publically to your highschool students does not diminish that. Your example each day in the leadership of the classroom, your presence as respected teacher on the campus, the example you set each day affirms that as well. The fact that you do not carry a banner "I am gay" is of no importance.

I apprecate your articles so very much, Joe Blow...and as with the other readers, we all gain strength and insight from them and from you.

Thanks!

Silver Eagle

JoeBlow said...

Thank you, Silver Eagle. What you wrote means a tremendous amount to me. I do strive each day to teach tolerance and acceptance. Moreover, I have never felt that my high school students should really know that much about my personal life because it undermines a teachers authority with the students and what I see as a proper teacher/student relationship.

fan of casey said...

Joe: You have it right to be careful especially in your field. In my previous jobs I was never out (altho people always wondered why I remained single) except to a few peers and never bosses, while I was out to friends and immediate family.

It would be nice to think that people would look past that and concentrate on just job matters, we all know from a practical standpoint that being gay could undermine one's promotion and advancement potential.

Even in Hawaii, which has job protections for sexual orientation is not safe because people can behind the scenes manufacture an excuse when in reality it might be homophobia. And in your case, it's survival.