When he was a hot, young leading man on television’s Dr. Kildare then later on such classic miniseries as The Thorn Birds and Shogun, actor now openly gay actor Richard Chamberlain remained firmly in the closet.
In a new interview with Brandon Voss for The Advocate, the now 76-year-old Chamberlain surprisingly advises gay actors who are leading man types to do in 2010 what he did in the 60s, 70s, and 80s: stay in the closet!
“It’s complicated,” he says. “There’s still a tremendous amount of homophobia in our culture. It’s regrettable, it’s stupid, it’s heartless, and it’s immoral, but there it is. For an actor to be working is a kind of miracle, because most actors aren’t, so it’s just silly for a working actor to say, “Oh, I don’t care if anybody knows I’m gay” — especially if you’re a leading man. Personally, I wouldn’t advise a gay leading man-type actor to come out.”
Brandon follows up by asking: “When can a leading man come out – when he’s 69 and promoting a memoir?” (As Chamberlain did in 2004 with Shattered Faith)
“I have no idea,” the actor says. “Despite all the wonderful advances that have been made, it’s still dangerous for an actor to talk about that in our extremely misguided culture. Look at what happened in California with Proposition 8. Please, don’t pretend that we’re suddenly all wonderfully, blissfully accepted.”
Arrrg! With the success of such openly gay stars as Neil Patrick Harris, John Barrowman, Alan Cumming and others who can play straight or gay roles, this is exactly the kind of attitude that will never change things.
I wish Chamberlain, who will be guest-starring on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters as a love interest for Saul (Ron Rifkin), were more encouraging of actors coming and working to help change this viewpoint. Maybe Brothers & Sisters cast member, the openly gay Luke Macfarlane, can talk some sense into him!
To read the rest of Brandon’s interview with Chamberlain, go to Advocate.com.