Star Trek‘s Dr. Spock, Zachary Quinto, 34, also known for his roles in the television series Heroes and So NoTORIous, has come out “as a gay man.” I have that in quotes because he refers to himself that way – “as a gay man” – at least twice in an interview published in New York Magazine and on his personal blog, ZacharyQuinto.com.
While discussing his eight months playing a character who abandons his AIDS-stricken boyfriend in the New York City revival of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Quinto told the magazine:
“[The role was] the most challenging thing I’ve ever done as an actor and the most rewarding. And at the same time, as a gay man, it made me feel like there’s still so much work to be done, and there’s still so many things that need to be looked at and addressed.”
Further down the interview, talking about the legalization of gay marriage in New York and the recent suicide of bullied gay teen Jamey Rodemeyer, Quinto added:
“And again, as a gay man I look at that and say there’s a hopelessness that surrounds it, but as a human being I look at it and say ‘Why? Where’s this disparity coming from, and why can’t we, as a culture and society, dig deeper to examine that?’ We’re terrified of facing ourselves.”
Quinto’s acting gigs supporting gay causes include, both back in 2009, a one-night presentation of Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood (fellow play readers included Dan Futterman, Debra Messing, Timothy Olyphant, and Alfre Woodard) and a reading of The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later at the Hollywood United Methodist Church.
Quinto’s latest release was the gigantic flop What’s Your Number?, starring Chris Evans and Anna Faris. Next comes J.C. Chandor’s thriller Margin Call, on which Quinto doubled as actor and producer and which opens Oct. 21. The film’s extensive cast includes Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci.
J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek sequel is currently in pre-production. Quinto will be back as Dr. Spock, along with fellow Starship Enterprise live-in crew members Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Antony Yelchin, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, and John Cho.
At ZacharyQuinto.com, Star Trek‘s Zachary Quinto explains (all in lower case) that the suicide of a gay 14-year-old, Jamey Rodemeyer, in a Buffalo suburb last September prompted him to go public about his sexual orientation. See below. (I’ve added paragraph breaks to facilitate reading Quinto’s text.)
“when i found out that jamey rodemeyer killed himself – i felt deeply troubled. but when i found out that jamey rodemeyer had made an it gets better video only months before taking his own life – i felt indescribable despair.
“i also made an it gets better video last year – in the wake of the senseless and tragic gay teen suicides that were sweeping the nation at the time. but in light of jamey’s death – it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it – is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality.
“our society needs to recognize the unstoppable momentum toward unequivocal civil equality for every gay lesbian bisexual and transgendered citizen of this country. gay kids need to stop killing themselves because they are made to feel worthless by cruel and relentless bullying. parents need to teach their children principles of respect and acceptance.
“we are witnessing an enormous shift of collective consciousness throughout the world. we are at the precipice of great transformation within our culture and government. i believe in the power of intention to change the landscape of our society – and it is my intention to live an authentic life of compassion and integrity and action.
“jamey rodemeyer’s life changed mine. and while his death only makes me wish that i had done this sooner – i am eternally grateful to him for being the catalyst for change within me. now i can only hope to serve as the same catalyst for even one other person in this world. that – i believe – is all that we can ask of ourselves and of each other.”
According to an ABC News report, Rodemeyer’s fellow high-school students had been posting anonymous hate comments – bullies, young or old, are invariably cowards – on his Formspring account, e.g., “JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND [sic] UGLY. HE MUST DIE!” and “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!”
The “It Gets Better” campaign was initiated by Dan Savage “to inspire hope for young people facing harassment.” Savage is a columnist whose essays for years were preceded by the salutation “Hey, faggot!” He later explained that was “in joking reference to this lively debate about reclaiming hate words” taking place at the time he began writing in 1991.
Of course, here’s wondering how many gay kids – and adults, for that matter – have been saluted with “Hey, faggot!” thanks to Savage’s “joking reference.” In fact, twenty years later the “lively debate about reclaiming hate words” continues; a lively debate that should be a no-brainer, for hate words, whether or not some gay guys choose to refer to themselves as “faggots” and “queer” and “queen” and “girl” and “mary,” remain just that: hate words, carrying the same vicious – at times deadly – load. Rodemeyer, for one, was relentlessly taunted with gay slurs. Just recently, a devoutly Christian New Jersey teacher called homosexuality a “sin” that “breeds like cancer.” (Her pastor says she’s not homophobic, but was merely using the Bible as her source.)
As for the “It Gets Better” campaign, all I can say is that if I were a gay or bisexual child or teenager, and some adult, however well-intentioned, came tell me that “it gets better,” I’d tell them to go to fucking hell – in other words, to step into my shoes for a day or a week or a month. And then I’d like to see their reaction while watching a brief online video featuring some well-intentioned adult promising that “it gets better” sometime in the distant future. If you live long enough.
Zachary Quinto image via the Quinto website.