More actors are coming out of the closet

...but Equity study says homophobia continues to cause problems.

by Jennie Kermode

"I have never felt that being gay has worked against me but the finding in Equity's own survey that just under half of all gay performers are not out to their agent in the UK is worrying," said Equity president Malcolm Sinclair today, commenting on a study commissioned by the actors' union. "But then work is scarce and, whether sexuality is a barrier or not, people may just err on the side of caution."

Broadly positive, the results of the study suggest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender actors have come a long way since the days when Rupert Everett lamented that coming out had wrecked his career. 81% of respondents said that they are now open about their sexuality or transgender status in their professional lives, with 73% saying they had found the decision to come out easy.

That bad news is that 35% still say they have experienced homophobia in their professional lives and 57% are not out to their agents. This reflects a fear that openly gay actors will not be cast in straight leading roles, whilst comparatively few gay leading roles are available (and many of these are taken by straight actors). Some of those surveyed say they decide whether or not to come out on a job by job basis and refrain from drawing attention to their sexuality or transgender status even if they are not willing to hide it.

Despite the continuing problems, Equity equalities officer Max Beckmann said he found the results encouraging.

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