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'Big Bang Theory' Star Jim Parsons is Gay, By the Way

Jim Parsons Horizontal - H 2012
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Could the casual reference to his 10-year relationship mark a new era in how same-sex-loving celebrities acknowledge their personal lives?

Jim Parsons, the lanky, Texas-born actor who has won two Emmys and a Golden Globe award for playing persnickety genius Sheldon Cooper on CBS's The Big Bang Theory, acknowledges that he is gay and in a 10-year relationship, the New York Times reveals.

But blink and you may have missed it: The information is buried towards the end of the 1,800 word profile -- which focuses mostly on Parsons' lauded stage work in Broadway revivals of The Normal Heart and, now, Harvey -- and doesn't even contain a direct quote from Parsons himself.

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"The Normal Heart resonated with him on a few levels," the Times' Patrick Healy writes. "Mr. Parsons is gay and in a 10-year relationship, and working with an ensemble again onstage was like nourishment, he said."

Whether or not this constitutes a "coming out" for the popular TV star seems to be a topic for debate. Some industry and online chatter today has argued that Parsons was never really "in," openly and matter-of-factly addressing his relationship whenever it came up in his daily life and work. And it's not the first time a reference to his sexuality has been made in a print publication. (That honor would go to Antenna magazine, which folded shop earlier this year, Parsons gracing the final cover.)

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But compared to other primetime stars who identify as gay -- take Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson, for example, who has been tireless in his vocal support for same-sex marriage rights -- there's no denying that Parsons has been extremely quiet on the topic.

If anything, the news marks what could be a new chapter in the evolution of the celebrity "coming out" story. Unlike the old-school approach --  the magazine-cover-route followed by a string of "revealing" TV interviews, a method trailblazed by the likes of Ellen DeGeneres and later mimicked by everyone from Lance Bass to Neil Patrick Harris -- the new method stealthily embeds the personal information in a larger piece on the "work."

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Credit Zachary Quinto, another in-demand gay actor straddling both Broadway and Hollywood, with having forged the template: In late-2011, the Star Trek and American Horror Story star gave an interview to New York magazine, ostensibly about his performance in another New York theater revival with gay themes -- Tony Kushner's Angels in America. Four paragraphs into the piece, the crucial clause found its way into a sentence

“And at the same time, as a gay man, it made me feel like there’s still so much work to be done, and there’s still so many things that need to be looked at and addressed.”