Today, Tom Hardy was questioned about comments regarding his own sexuality which he made on the record to a gay publication at the beginning of his career. These comments apparently do not serve the career path on which he now finds himself, despite the fact that in his latest film he plays an openly gay historical figure. So instead of providing an answer, he unleashed a series of reactions most would have described as bullying and hostile had the subject been something other than his potential bisexuality. As a result, he publicly shamed a reporter for asking him a legitimate question about comments he had previously made on the record. Worse, he was largely enabled in this endeavor by fawning Internet headlines praising him as having “expertly shut down” the reporter in question, as if any inquiry into his sexuality from the press was on par with his having been falsely accused of a crime.
Enough of this. Enough of allowing actors once they reach a certain threshold of fame to act like they’ve been violated or shamed by any question that suggests they might not be one hundred percent heterosexual. Asking a handsome young male actor if he’s gay is not in any way indecent. To pretend as such deepens the stigma around homosexuality on a vastly public level, in a manner that does damage to gay people who don’t have access to media platforms and who aren’t regularly provided with a press conference in which to air their views.
Trying to protect one’s stardom is a far different thing than trying to protect one’s ability to work in a creative profession. Openly gay actors work all the time. Striving for a spot on the A-list, however, is a much more complicated endeavor, entailing enormous compromises and personal sacrifices. People on such paths are asked and encouraged by their handlers and employers to present drastically altered versions of their personal lives to the public and to either silence or moderate their true political views. If this is the path they chose, then so be it. But when questioned about those parts of themselves they’ve chosen to conceal, these actors should learn how to navigate the process with some level of humility and class. To do this is to accept responsibility for the compromises they’ve chosen to make as they strive for an extraordinary level of recognition and success. At they very least, they should practice some graceful dodges to those questions they know they won’t answer.
Instead we’re now being greeted with bristling false outrage and brittle sanctimony, like what we saw just last year from How to Get Away With Murder’s Jack Falahee, and now from Tom Hardy, (and too many actors before them to even mention), a reaction that pretends that it is the question (and by extension, the questioner) that is the real problem and not the actor’s unwillingness to answer it (or their fear of answering it). There’s no way around it. This reaction advances the idea that to be considered gay or bisexual remains a shameful thing, as utterly and deeply personal as an extramarital affair for which one tried to make amends or a colonoscopy gone so wrong the recovery process required years of physical therapy, something never to never be spoken of in a public setting by respectful people, and it does this solely to protect a single actor’s personal ambition.
This doesn’t seem like an acceptable trade off to me, but if most of the Internet’s reaction to Tom Hardy’s behavior this morning is any indication, I’m alone in that belief.
Fine. I’m kind of a loner anyway.