In a survey of how “safe” it is to be out in the entertainment industry, Equity found a disprarity between actors who are out in their personal lives but not their professional ones. Whilst 81% said they were out professionally, only 57% were open about their sexuality to their agent. It’s this last statistic that is the interesting one and makes sense of the others. To be out professionally in the survey did not mean to be out to the public.
Max Beckmann, the Equity equalities officer, had this to say: “What is troubling is the finding that only 57% of respondents are out to their agents and it’s particularly concerning 35% of respondents have experienced homophobia in their professional lives. This goes some way to explaining that many respondents say they weigh up whether or not to come out on a job by job basis, and while not hiding their orientation often do not ‘broadcast it’. Comments also suggest that actors remain fearful that coming out will hinder their prospects of being cast in certain roles such as romantic leads.”
It is an odd thing that an actor can play a murderer, a mechanic, or a superhero, but if they are openly gay their ability to play a straight role is suddenly an issue. And it’s easy to assume that the entertainment industry would be a safe place to be out, but 57% of respondents reported that other performers were homophobic, 20% point to producers and 37% to backstage crew members.