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Is it safe to be out in the entertainment industry?

26 January 2012

A new Equity survey on whether it is safe to be out about your sexuality in the entertainment industry has raised serious questions about how safe it is to be honest about your sexuality as a performer. Almost half of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transexual actors have not come out to their agents and more than a third have experienced homophobia at work, according to Equity's survey.

The survey, which was undertaken in the Autumn of 2011 by Equity's Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender Committee, was open to any Equity member and the majority of the respondents were performers.

The key findings are:

  • 81% are out in their professional lives
  • 94% are honest about their sexuality to their fellow performers
  • Only 57% are open about their sexuality to their agent
  • 35% have experienced homophobia in their profesional lives.

Max Beckmann, Equity's Equalities Officer, commented: "The findings that 81% of survey respondents are out in their professional lives and that 73% found the decision to be out easy is hugely encouraging and suggests an industry in which it is safe to be out. What is truubling is the finding that only 57% of respondents are out to their agents and it is particularly concerning that 35% of respondents have experienced homophobia in their professional lives. This goes some way to explaining why many respondents say they weigh up whether or not to come out on a job by job basis and while not hiding their orientation often do not 'broadcast it' ".

Malcolm Sinclair, actor and President of Equity, told The Stage: "I have never felt that being gay has worked against me but the finding in Equity's own survey that just under half of all gay performers are not out to their agent in the UK is worrying. But then work is scarce and, whether sexulaity is a barrier or not, people may just err on the side of caution. They don't want to test the water to see if it's all right.

"I think the great issue today is the nightmare problems facing gay teeenagers in coping with vicious bullying in schools."

Actress Sophie Ward, who describes her experience of coming out in 1994 as a "raw time" commented to The Stage: "I don't think coming out in our industry is an issue any more. Yes, there is homophobia, as there is in any industry. People who worry the most would be those up for leading male or female parts, where the audience is wanting to identify with and follow the story of those people."

The objective of Equity's campaign is to encourage members to be out at work. Equity will campaign to raise the issue of being out among members and in the industry and challenging the perception that the entertainment industry is completely tolerant of different sexualities and that there are no problems.

For more information about the campaign or to find out more about the work of Equity's Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender Committee, email lgbtcommittee@equity.org.uk  or visit the Committee on Facebook at  www.facebook.com/EquityLGBT.

You can download a summary of the survey here.

Union Learn has published Out at Work about the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people at work and in the trade union movement.

HOW THE MEDIA REPORTED THIS

EXCLUSIVE: SURVEY REVEALS EFFECT OF BEING OPENLY GAY ON ACTORS’ CAREERS
THE STAGE
Almost half of all gay performers have not come out to their agents, with more than a third admitting they have experienced homophobia in the industry.
http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/35033/exclusive-survey-reveals-effect-of-being
 
IS ACTING AS GAY-FRIENDLY AS WE THINK?
THE STAGE
In the week that Equity publishes the findings of its survey asking performers whether it safe to be ‘out’ as an actor, two performers share their experience of being openly gay in the industry.
http://blogs.thestage.co.uk/newsblog/2012/01/is-acting-as-gay-friendly-as-we-think/index.html
 
GAY ACTORS SAY COMING OUT AFFECTS ROLES THEY GET
GUARDIAN
Equity survey finds only 57% of gay actors feel they can be open about their sexuality to their agents
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/26/gay-actors-coming-out-equity-survey
 
GAY ACTORS SHOULDN'T WORRY ABOUT COMING OUT
GUARDIAN
I've never had a problem being frank about my sexuality and never felt I've been turned down for a role because I'm gay
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/29/gay-actors-worry-coming-out?newsfeed=true
 
GAY ACTORS POLL: HOMOSEXUAL STARS FEEL COMING OUT CAUSES DISCRIMINATION
MOVIEFONE
When Zachary Quinto came out to New York magazine he was shocked to find that his sexual preference had become "global news."
http://news.moviefone.com/2012/01/27/gay-actors-poll-homosexua_n_1237059.html
 
GAY ACTORS CLAIM SEXUALITY AFFECTS ROLES
NEXT MOVIE
There's power in numbers—the actors' union numbers, that is. In a recent survey conducted by Equity, only 57% of gay actors feel they can be open about their sexuality with their agents. But why the secrecy?
http://www.nextmovie.com/blog/gay-actors-roles/
 
GAY ACTORS STILL WORRY THAT COMING OUT WILL HURT CAREERS
IMPERIAL VALLEY PRESS
Gay actors are far more open about their sexuality with friends and co-workers, than their agents, according to a new survey by the British trade union Equity.
http://www.ivpressonline.com/entertainment/sns-rt-us-gayactorstre80p224-20120126,0,3310151.story
 
UK SURVEY: 81% OF ACTORS ‘OPEN ABOUT SEXUALITY’
PINK NEWS
In a new survey of the acting industry, eight in ten actors said they were ‘out’ professionally and three quarters of respondents said the decision to come out had not hindered their career.
http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/01/26/uk-survey-81-of-gay-actors-open-about-sexuality/
 
NEARLY HALF OF GAY ACTORS REMAIN CLOSETED TO PROTECT CAREERS, STUDY CLAIMS
PINK PAPER
A study conducted by acting organisation Equity has revealed that almost half of gay performers are not open about their sexuality with their agents.
http://news.pinkpaper.com/NewsStory/6799/26/01/2012/nearly-half-of-gay-actors-remain-closeted-to-protect-careers-study-claims.aspx
 
GAY ACTORS STILL WORRY THAT COMING OUT WILL HURT THEIR CAREERS
REUTERS
There’s still a celluloid closet in Hollywood.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/26/idUS384719103120120126
 
MOST ACTORS OUT ... TO A DEGREE
GAY NEWS NETWORK
A survey of gay actors in Britain has found most of them are open in their professional lives - except when it comes to telling agents.
http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/#
 
JO CAIRD: THE TROUBLE WITH STATISTICS
WHATS ON STAGE

Last week the actors' union Equity published the results of an online survey on being 'out' in the entertainment industry. It was picked up by The Stage and The Guardian among other publications in articles that quoted positive statistics on the percentage of gay, lesbian and bisexual actors 'out' in their professional lives (81%) and the percentage of actors who are honest about their sexuality to their fellow performers (94%).
http://www.whatsonstage.com/blog/theatre/london/E8831328112707/Jo+Caird%3A+The+trouble+with+statistics.html
 
IS THE ACTOR’S ROAD TO SUCCESS A STRAIGHT LINE?
INSTINCT MAGAZINE
Next to serving drinks or booty in the local gay watering hole, acting seems to be the last occupation you would find homophobia running its course. That doesn’t stop a high percentage of actors who say they are not out to their agents for fear that their career will pay the price. So why are these actors playing the role of hetero the moment the power players walk by?
http://instinctmagazine.com/blogs/blog/is-the-actor%E2%80%99s-road-to-success-a-straight-line?directory=100011

81% of British gay actors are open about sexuality
When sally met sally
A recent survey of gay British actors has revealed that 8 in 10 are ‘out’ professionally, and 7 in 10 said the decision to be open had not held back their career.
http://www.whensallymetsally.co.uk/entertainment/music-and-performance/81-of-british-gay-actors-are-open-about-sexuality/
 
THE BIG SHOWBIZ SECRET: ACTORS IN THE CLOSET
MIDDAY
A charter to protect the rights of gay actors and actresses is to be created after it emerged that many still worry about the effect of coming out on their careers and professional relationships. The entertainment trade union Equity said it hoped to agree a charter that will enshrine the rights of its gay members at a meeting of global unions in Toronto later this year.
http://www.mid-day.com/opinion/2012/feb/050212-The-big-showbiz-secret-Actors-in-the-closet.htm
 
POLARI MAGAZINE
In a survey of how “safe” it is to be out in the entertainment industry, Equity found a disprarity between actors who are out in their personal lives but not their professional ones.
http://www.polarimagazine.com/news/equity-survey-out
 
MANY GAY ACTORS EITHER TOLD TO STAY IN THE CLOSET OR SCARED TO COME OUT –EVEN TO OTHER GAYS
DIVINE VAROD
Last night at the National TV Awards the entertainment industry for once looked like a gay friendly and tolerant place.
http://divinevarod.com/2012/01/26/many-gay-actors-either-told-to-stay-in-the-closet-or-scared-to-come-out-even-to-other-gays/
 
GAY ACTORS WORRY THAT COMING OUT WILL HURT THEIR CAREERS
YAHOO
There's still a celluloid closet in Hollywood.
Gay actors are far more open about their sexuality with friends and co-workers, than their agents, according to a new survey by the British trade union Equity.
http://tv.yahoo.com/news/gay-actors-worry-coming-hurt-careers-195302028.html

 

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