Actors’ union to ask gay members about homophobia

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Equity, the union for actors and performers, is to ask its LGBT members whether they feel safe being out and if they have suffered prejudice.

According to The Stage, an online survey asks members about harassment, discrimination, safety and whether they were advised to stay in the closet.

The survey was drawn up after a request from Equity’s LGBT committee.

Martin Brown, assistant general secretary for communications and membership support, told the magazine: “The LGBT committee’s experience of working in the entertainment industry is not the one that is commonly assumed, which is that it’s easy to be straightforward about your sexuality.

“They have the opposite experience – that within training it’s difficult or feels difficult to reveal you may be gay or lesbian, or that, at the start of careers, people think [being out] might damage them. The obvious example is that if a young male actor reveals he is gay, he may fear that he will not be cast in the romantic leads.”

Rupert Everett, who starred in My Best Friend’s Wedding, has suggested that his career was damaged by coming out in the 1990s.

In 2009, he told the Observer: “The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business or even the Italian film business.

“It just doesn’t work and you’re going to hit a brick wall at some point. You’re going to manage to make it roll for a certain amount of time, but at the first sign of failure they’ll cut you right off… Honestly, I would not advise any actor necessarily, if he was really thinking of his career, to come out.”

Other stars, including Cutting It’s Ben Daniels, have rejected Everett’s comments.

He told The Stage earlier this year: “I would never advise anyone to stay in the closet to further their careers – I’m sure it leads to big fat gay ulcers.

“There are actors I know who won’t come out, and I can see it crippling them as human beings. It’s a great shame that people can’t be who they are in the 21st century, and people won’t let them be who they are.”