The following is a transcript of Diego Rubio from the Colombian magazine Semana, interviewing Celebrity Life Coach and Human Behavior Expert, Patrick Wanis Ph.D. about the reasons many gay artists choose to try and hide from the public their sexual orientation.
Diego Rubio: Even in the 21st Century, it seems that it’s still difficult for an artist to accept publicly his or her homosexuality. Why?
Patrick Wanis PhD: The best way to answer this question is to consider the example of Ricky Martin, who recently came out and told the world he’s gay by saying “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man.” Now, the interesting thing about this is that obviously, within the music industry, many people already knew that Ricky Martin is gay, and there are many people in the public who already suspected the same thing. After all he adopted two children but on his own – no partner – male or femaile.
But why did Ricky Martin keep it quiet and hidden for so long? For two reasons: One, in the music business, more so than in Hollywood, being gay seems to be frowned upon. Second, being gay is particularly frowned upon or a bad thing within the Latin community. The same applies to the African-American or the Black community. Homosexuality is not something that’s welcomed nor accepted.
So, first, we have to look at this from a cultural perspective and that is, that regardless of whether you’re an artist or not, in the Latin community, in the Black community and even generally speaking, in the American or the Western community, being gay is not yet something that’s fully or widely accepted. Even in Australia, where Sydney alongside San Francisco boasts the largest gay population in the world, homosexuality is still not fully accepted and Australian television is still very conservative and wary of what it portrays in the form of gay characters.
The other concern for many artists is that if and when you announce to the world you’re gay, it will affect your record sales or the tickets you sell at a movie.
For example, Ricky Martin was also a big idol for many women. He was seen as a sex symbol to many women. So, if he was to publicly announce 10 years ago or 15 years ago that he was gay, he would have destroyed or deeply affected his record sales, unless he was singing obvious gay songs. The same might also apply to a TV or movie actor; if that TV or movie actor is what we call, in English, a heartthrob. (A heartthrob is a person that makes girls and women go crazy – a sex and romantic idol.)
So, for an artist, it’s a very difficult choice to make to go public about being gay, because first, the choice is on a personal and professional level i.e. “Will all of my business friends and my colleagues accept me?” Second, “Will society accept me, specifically my culture?” And third, “Will my fans accept me for being gay?” Now, having said that, we still need to acknowledge that even in the 21st Century, society has not fully come to openly and widely accept homosexuality, and I think it’s even a case that we, the public, have certain expectations of artists.
And as I said a moment ago, if an artist appears to be a very sexy man, a kind of heartthrob, we don’t want to see him as a gay person because we want to imagine him as being straight. Another example might be taking a very beautiful and sexy woman, say, Britney Spears, and then hearing, “Well, she’s a lesbian. You know, she’s not into men. She doesn’t like men,” then that affects the way that we perceive her, the way that we fantasize about her. It changes our image of her and it changes the image and emotions we associated with her.
So, for an artist, he or she has to also consider that once they announce their sexuality, their sexual orientation, it will affect the image that the public, and the image his or her fans have of him or her.
Diego Rubio: “Is it true that managers and other people in the industry push gay artists to lie about their sexual orientation in order to keep the interests of the fans and to maintain sales?”
Patrick Wanis PhD: Yes, that’s very, very true. It’s very common for publicists, managers, agents and the entourage of these artists (singers, dancers, performers and other celebrities) to lie about their artists’ sexual orientation in order to hold the fans so that they don’t, turn off or push away the fans, so they don’t destroy or affect record sales, or for all of the reasons that I mentioned above.
So, yes, to give you the inside scoop, it does happen. And sometimes, it’s publicists and managers and agents who’ll even try and pretend that this person, this artist has a special girlfriend or a boyfriend or that they’re married. And there are examples of artists who have been seen in public with dates and specifically, those dates were to hide the fact that he or she was gay.
For example, in 2006, a sexually suggestive video of Clay Aiken, the American Idol runner-up, leaked from a gay dating Web site. But that same year, Clay Aiken gave a lengthy interview to People and he made it quite clear via his implications that he was straight. Clay Aiken even tried to provide an alibi for the video, saying it wasn’t him in the video; it was just somebody who looked exactly like him. Finally, two years later, in September 2008,at age 29, after hiding his sexuality for years from the public, Clay Aiken admitted to the world that he is gay saying, “It was the first decision I made as a father…”I cannot raise a child to lie or hide things. I wasn’t raised that way.”
So yes, the artists and their entourage will try to cover up the artist’s sexuality.
And on this point of the lengths to which publicists, managers, agents, and even the record labels will go in order to ensure the success of their investment, their artist, they will not only do this for gay people to try and hide their sexual orientation, but even with their straight clients, meaning their straight celebrity clients, the straight artist; they’ll deliberately go out of their way to ensure that they’re seen walking alongside the right person, on a right date, or even actually dating the right person that will boost each other’s career.
So, for example, many people have often questioned whether Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise are actually in real love or whether or not it was just a ploy so that they could help each other’s career by boosting each other’s image and generating more positive publicity for both of them. And it is easy for us to become cynical about this because it does actually occur on a much bigger scale than we think. And what I am saying here is that it does occur that the people invested in celebrities and artists will do whatever is necessary to convince the public that this person is one way or another according to what they believe the public wants to hear and see.
In other words, they’ll go out of their way to create a special kind of image for the public, an image that they believe the public will welcome and embrace, an image that will help to ultimately do one thing, and that is sell records, sell music, sell tickets, sell clothes, and make money. Remember, for all of these artists money can also comes from sponsorship, fashion lines, perfumes and other ancillary avenues.
And those artists that do come out and admit to the world who they are often wait till it is safe: Lance bass came out but only after N Sync days were already over. Ellen DeGeneres came out when she was on a sitcom but that worked against her because she was selling herself as a gay actress, rather than an actress who happens to be gay. And actress, Lily Tomlin hid it for years. Currently, some artists are trying to sway the movement towards public acceptance. Ellen openly speaks of her lesbianism as does Rosie O’Donnell but it works against O’Donnell; and Lance Bass is involved in a gay-friendly school prom in Mississippi following a controversy where a school cancelled its prom because a girl wanted to show up to the prom dressed in a tuxedo along with her lesbian girlfriend.
And, Diego, just before closing, to give you an idea of how frightened some artists are of exposing their sexual orientation to the music industry and to the public, I know of one woman who writes songs for one of the biggest female musical performers in the world. And this woman doesn’t tell her community that she is gay because the Black community wouldn’t accept her. She doesn’t tell her Black community that she’s gay, and she’s not yet ready to tell the world.
So, that’s just another example whereby so many artists are afraid to tell the world that they are gay because they fear that they won’t be accepted by their community, by the music community, by their culture, and by their fans, in general. And it doesn’t matter how rich, famous or powerful you are, rejection is a painful experience.
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.