While Hollywood is often presented as some sort of progressive paradise, the politics are often as restrictive as anyone else. In a new interview with The Sunday Times, Titanic actress Kate Winslet explained that many gay actors are afraid to publicly come out of the closer due to concerns over how it would affect their career. "I cannot tell you the number of young actors I know — some well known, some starting out — who are terrified their sexuality will be revealed and that it will stand in the way of their being cast in straight roles," she explained. "Now that's f----- up."
"I'm telling you, a well-known actor has just got an American agent and the agent said, 'I understand you are bisexual. I wouldn't publicize that,'" Winslet revealed. "I can think of at least four actors absolutely hiding their sexuality. It's painful. Because they fear being found out. And that's what they say. 'I don't want to be found out.'"
Winslet explained that she thinks that this affects "men more than anything" due to preconceived notions of masculinity rooted in homophobia. "It's bad news," she said, "Hollywood has to drop that dated crap of, 'Can he play straight because, apparently, he's gay?'"
"That should be almost illegal," Winslet asserted. "You would not believe how widespread it is. And it can't just be distilled to the question about gay actors playing gay parts. Because actors, in some cases, are choosing not to come out for personal reasons. And it's nobody's business. Perhaps privacy. Perhaps conditioning and shame.
Winslet recently drew some criticism as a straight actor playing a lesbian in Ammonite opposite Saoirse Ronan, and she acknowledged that there is a discussion to be had over who should play queer roles. Representation is certainly a complicated issue to unpack, and Winslet is willing to engage with the conversation."We could have had a conversation about how I feel about playing a lesbian and possibly taking that role from somebody," Winslet replied. "But I'm done with not being honest about what my real opinions are, and I know the part was never offered to anybody else. In taking this part I had an opportunity to bring an LGBTQ story into living rooms."