7 Ugly Implications Of Matt Damon’s Comments About Gay Actors Coming Out

7 Ugly Implications Of Matt Damon’s Comments About Gay Actors Coming Out

In an interview with The Guardian, Matt Damon managed to say a lot of discouraging stuff about the lives and careers of gay actors in just a couple of quotes.

Here’s the first dubious moment.

“I think you’re a better actor the less people know about you, period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play.”

And here’s the second, a strange review of out actor Rupert Everett’s recent career.

“I remember thinking and saying, Rupert Everett was openly gay and this guy — more handsome than anybody, a classically trained actor — it’s tough to make the argument that he didn’t take a hit for being out.”

It’s only been a couple of weeks since the term “Damonsplaining” was coined to describe Matt Damon’s dubious opinions about minorities in the entertainment industry, and it feels like we just found another opportunity to use that portmanteau again.

Here are seven unfortunate implications from just two brief quotes.

  1. Saying “I’m gay” warrants a “TMI” response.

Is anyone really surprised that an entertainer could be gay? Is it truly off-putting? Damon is suggesting that owning one’s gayness makes a gay actor unable to play “mystery.” He’s suggesting that gayness onscreen is best experienced as an affect, not as an actuality.


  1. Straight actors have inherent legitimacy.

Everybody is assumed straight. Before an actor comes out, we assume he/she is heterosexual, especially if he/she says nothing to the contrary. You can’t be passively gay because “straight” is the default. Ellen Page called it “lying by omission.” When Damon claims it is better that we know nothing about actors, he forgets that in place of knowledge, we as curious people make assumptions.


  1. Gay visibility doesn’t lead to dialogue and positive change.

When celebrities talk about gay issues, more people talk about gay issues. When celebrities talk about any issue, more people talk about that issue. Period.


  1. Straight actors can talk about anything and it’s never too much.

It’s wild that Matt Damon pretends straight actors suffer at all from overexposure in their private lives. As Queerty noted, he once shared his own “marriage and family secrets” and gave examples from his home life. Being a celebrity requires some candour; putting pressure on gay celebrities to shut up indicates that they’re not invited to the same fame as their straight contemporaries.


  1. You can make a case about gay actors based on the career of one gay actor.

Rupert Everett is one of literally a half-dozen out gay actors from the ’90s whom most people could name offhand. Pinning his career downfall on being out seems a tad rich. We don’t have anything close to a sample size that can confirm that. Even if Everett himself claims his gayness led to his downfall, it’s possible there are many contributing factors. (And by the way: Everett is still acting on the London stage; he hasn’t been forced into retirement.)


  1. Rupert Everett’s decline has everything to do with audiences and nothing to do with Hollywood itself.

“He took a hit” is not exactly an argument. It’s like saying, “Mistakes were made.” Who is responsible for his decline in popularity? Only audiences? Or could it be that Everett’s own team abandoned him, and part of the reason was that he’s out? As Dustin Lance Black once noted, actors often resist coming out because agents and managers tell them not to come out. Where’s Damon’s criticism of those people?


  1. There’s nothing we can do to reshape homophobic biases.

Damon implies that people begin to disbelieve an actor’s versatility when he reveals he’s gay. That’s some soft, gentle homophobia, and it should probably be upended whenever possible. How will we know whether audiences can handle knowing about out gay actors if we don’t have more of them? Before Damon jumps to conclusions, we need many more years of progress and welcomed change before we can dismiss the personal decisions of gay performers so roundly.

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  1. ken
    September 30, 08:00 Reply

    What is a Matt Damon, sorry???

    • Mandy
      September 30, 08:09 Reply

      Oh come on, that’s a lame attempt at being derisive. The guy’s a movie star. You know it. I know it. And the world knows it.

  2. Sinnex
    September 30, 08:11 Reply

    What is this one saying?


  3. kacee
    September 30, 08:57 Reply

    wwarrisdis, Omg i’m so dizzying. MM where are u? mama is missing u…. LMAO…

  4. Eggsy
    September 30, 09:10 Reply

    He didn’t say anything that isn’t the truth, sad though it may be. Straight privilege is a thing.

  5. Chizzie
    September 30, 09:19 Reply

    Actually I agree with Matt Damon and I get what he’s trying to convey.
    If you are a professional in your craft, your main focus should be what you do, not who you are. Some people, not just actors, fall into the trap of allowing their sexualities over shadow them. The news of coming out completely deters from the fact that they are good at what they do and suddenly all people remember them for is thier sexuality.

    For entertainers, I think its wise to just do a ‘Queen Latifah’ ie don’t officially come out but keep the world guessing by living and frolicking suggestively with a member of the same sex.

  6. Keredim
    September 30, 11:22 Reply

    As far as I can see, whoever wrote this, just twisted Matt Damon’s words.

    Just another gay writer/journalist/activist incapable of handling the truth.?

    • Tiercel de Claron
      September 30, 11:59 Reply

      If one talk now,one will be accused of ‘stunting sapiosexual’.
      Whatever that mean.

      • Keredim
        September 30, 12:09 Reply

        ???? . You still dey vex? No take am personal. See me now, wetin dem never call me. I don die??

        “Stunting sapiosexual” e be like say na TB wey sabi write oyibo pass Queen, come dey use am do stunt like trapeze artist for hia. ???

        • Tiercel de Claron
          September 30, 12:34 Reply

          Nna,the thing tire me.
          It does irk,this us v them narrative being foisted on us.
          Not every comment,every suggestion,opinion or what have from the heterosexual world is borne out of homophobia.
          Everyone,opinion,outbursts should be examined and then judged on its/their merit.

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