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Richard Chamberlain, star of the 1983 miniseries The Thorn Birds, officially came out in his 2003 memoir but recently warned other actors from following suit.
“It’s complicated. There’s still a tremendous amount of homophobia in our culture. It’s regrettable, it’s stupid, it’s heartless, and it’s immoral, but there it is,” he told The Advocate. “For an actor to be working is a kind of miracle, because most actors aren’t, so it’s just silly for a working actor to say, ‘Oh, I don’t care if anybody knows I’m gay’ — especially if you’re a leading man.”
At 76, Chamberlain continues to enjoy a thriving career: though he currently plays an HIV-positive love interest for Ron Rifkin’s character on Brothers & Sisters, he has also had a slew of straight roles on Will & Grace and his new film We Are The Hartmans.
Despite it all, he believes it is still dangerous for a lead actor to reveal his homosexuality.
“Personally, I wouldn’t advise a gay leading man–type actor to come out.”
Chamberlain points to California’s Proposition 8 (which sought to define marriage as being between opposite-sex couples only and was eventually overturned though new same-sex marriages in the state are stopped pending appeal) as a sign that the gay community still has a long way to go in terms of acceptance,
“I have no idea [when a leading man can come out]. Despite all the wonderful advances that have been made, it’s still dangerous for an actor to talk about that in our extremely misguided culture. Look at what happened in California with Proposition 8,” he added.
“Please, don’t pretend that we’re suddenly all wonderfully, blissfully accepted.”
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