I met my friend MJ last week at Bathtub Gin on 9th Avenue (after trying to get in through Hot Sichuan next door, which did not have a bathtub OR gin). After ordering a Blonde Ambition (do blonde drinks have more fun?), I asked MJ how his boyfriend was doing.
MJ’s boyfriend booked a movie last year, set to premiere this month, with several notable stars backing up his first lead role. MJ smiled behind his Dutch Bramble. “I get to go to the premiere in LA with him.”
I practically spit my drink all over the bar. “That’s so fucking exciting! Are you guys getting matching tuxes?”
“No,” he answered casually, “I won’t be going IN to the movie with him. His agents say he can’t be out.”
I had an immediate thought: Dump him. I am an out and loud gay male, and we are not in a time of equality—Bianca Del Rio’s new movie, “Hurricane Bianca,” reminded me of that just a few weeks ago. We have to stand up, be visible and fight for what we know is right. How could MJ stay with someone who was in the closet?
“That’s fucking awful,” I finally said. I couldn’t help it. What if my boyfriend and I couldn’t hold hands in public, or be Facebook official? Is anything real if it isn’t on Facebook?
“This movie is a really big deal for him. His agents say he won’t book any jobs that aren’t ‘the gay kid’ if he’s out.” That’s exactly what Colton Haynes said—and he faced a lot of adversity from the gay community when he finally did come out. Fucked if you do, fucked if you don’t.
All the same, I was appalled. MJ could tell I was conflicted, and didn’t have anything nice to say, so he said, “What wouldn’t you do for your writing?”
It’s a fair question. I’ve been lucky enough to have been swooped up and babied by the gay community—from Get Out! magazine offering me this column to all of the gay men and connections who have helped me over the years. I was given the opportunity to use my gay pride as a springboard to become a writer.
But what if things were different? What if, back when I had a gay-themed blog in 2013, someone said, “We love what you write. Make it into a book. But make the love interests female, so it’s heterosexual. We’ll publish the book, and sign it with a movie deal. If you stay in the closet, you’ll be the next Nicholas Sparks.” (I cringe comparing him to myself, but you get the idea.)
Would I do it? As MJ said, what wouldn’t I do for my writing? Furthermore, what if my boyfriend got the same deal as MJ’s? What would I do for love?
We sat and stared at each other for a while, not speaking. I wasn’t upset at MJ, or even at his boyfriend—I was upset at myself, for not knowing the answer.