The Evolution of the Gay Celebrity
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While we were applauding the San Francisco Giants for creating an "It Gets Better" video, another gay pride campaign was taking shape. The Trailblazer Campaign is calling on actors, musicians, and other celebs to come out of the closet. Stars are often terrified that coming out will hurt their careers, but as actor Steve Callahan says in one of the videos, "It doesn't matter...Hollywood doesn't get a pass anymore."
Here we've chronicled the evolution of the gay star, from Hollywood's silent era to the slightly less, but still too silent, modern-day celebrity landscape.
Billy Haines was one of the most successful silent film stars in the 1920s and 1930s—until he was arrested in 1933 for picking up a sailor. Rather than choose a phony marriage, he opted to end his career to stay with his lover, Jimmy Shields.
Joan Crawford was married four times and had affairs with men, but rumors swirled that she got it on with women, too. She was even said to have had a one-night stand with Marilyn Monroe!
Rock Hudson (here with his buddy Doris Day) was the reigning Hollywood dreamboat throughout the 1950s, but kept his sexuality under wraps. His announcement that he was dying of AIDS in 1984 sparked a very public conversation not only about the disease itself, but of being gay in show business.
On the Joy Behar show last year, Betty White nearly outed Cary Grant, who lived with actor Randolph Scott for 12 years but never admitted to having a relationship with him.
New York magazine called the grown-up Doogie Howser "Hollywood's First (Openly) Gay Star" in 2009. What seemed to distinguish Neil Patrick Harris was that he could still "play a womanizer"—something that Rupert Everett and others had claimed was not possible.
In a move that shocked no one, Ricky Martin came out last year in kind of a hilarious way: He wrote on his website that he was "proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man" and "very blessed to be who I am." A few months later, he released an album that was just as embraced by his gay fans as ever before.