Lily Tomlin: I might not have been as successful if I’d been publicly gay

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Actress Lily Tomlin has opened up her life in the transparent closet – joking that “everyone” already knew she was a lesbian.

The star, who shot to fame as a comic in 1969 before later finding success with cult hit films like Nashville and 9 to 5, never publicly came out as gay.

However, she has quietly spoken about her sexuality for a number of years – and married her long-term partner Jane Wagner on New Year’s Eve 2013.

Speaking to HuffPo Live, the actress remarked on the impact on her career.

She said: “I was on Carson one night [in 1971], and he [asked if I wanted kids], and I said no… the audience was deathly still. That was a hot subject to bring up to a straight audience.

“I wasn’t totally forthcoming. Everybody in the business knew I was gay, and certainly everybody I worked with and everything like that. I just never had a press conference to announce it.

“In 1975, [TIME magazine] wanted to put me on the cover just for being gay! I was making my third album at the time.”

However, Tomlin did not agree to do the cover – and kept her sexuality off-the-record until years later.

She said: “I wonder if I had come out on that ’75 cover on TIME, if I would have had as long a career as I’ve had.

“It would have been an inoppertune time to make such a grand statement. I mean, Ellen [DeGeneres] didn’t really come out until 20 years later.

“It’s been a long life… I’ve been really lucky.”

Tomlin is set to re-unite with her 9 to 5 co-star Jane Fonda next month for comedy series ‘Grace and Frankie’ – a show about two women who are left dangling when their husbands declare their love for eachother.

The women strike up a friendship when their husbands (played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) announce their plans to marry at a dinner.

The 13-part Netflix series, which was created by Friends creator Marta Kauffman, is set to air from May 8.

Watch the interview below: