Jane Lynch Opens Up About (Not) Coming Out And Closeted Hollywood

The reasons people stay in the closet are varied just as the reasons people come out of the closet and then sometimes there is no personal choice for either activity.  One of my last blogs reported on the U.S.'s most forward thinking businesses in regard to trans employees.  At the end of the article, there was a GLAAD.ORG chart showing if people were out at work or not.  It made me think of my own experiences.

Many of us disliked our times in high school.  I was foolish enough to go back, but this time as an educator.  In all my years of teaching, I do not remember if I ever came out and told any fellow teacher or student for that matter that I am / was gay.  I'm not the type where it is broadcasted without my control.  I can fit into any environment or so I am told and at my 20th high school reunion, that was one of the traits fellow classmates said I had. 

I think me being gay just came out in the wash.  It was not a point I felt I needed to make or want to make.  Many have said I could be a great role model in the school system for being out as a teacher. I thought I could be a better role model for just being me in a non-sexual way.  Students knew, students found out, or students put two and two together and they as well didn't know or thought I was straight. 

“I didn’t have a coming out moment,” Jane Lynch said matter-of-factly when I spoke with her. The openly lesbian actress had her big career breakthrough at the age of 50, in her role as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester in “Glee,” for which she won an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe.

 “I’m an actor and when people started taking an interest in me, where they wanted to write about me, I didn’t say I wasn’t gay, so — I never had that,” she continued in interview with me on SiriusXM Progress. “And I have to give kudos to people like Melissa Etheridge and K.D. Lang and Ellen Degeneres and Rosie O’Donnell, all of those people who came before and at the height of their career, when they had a lot to lose, stood up and said this is who I am. And the world kind of went [gasps]…and then, nothing happened. That was really great and they kind of cleared a path for me to just stroll down.” – huffingtonpost.com

I think me being gay just came out in the wash.  It was not a point I felt I needed to make or want to make.  Many have said I could be a great role model in the school system for being out as a teacher. I thought I could be a better role model for just being me in a non-sexual way.  Students knew, students found out, or students put two and two together and they as well didn't know or thought I was straight. 

Lynch relishes the fact that she and other out actors — many of whom, like Zachary Quinto and Jesse Tyler Ferguson have been contestants on “Hollywood Game Night” — offer visibility to so many young people who are struggling, just by being out.

“There are still parts of the country where it’s hard, when you realize you’re gay, it’s like a death sentence,” she said. “And to give those kids some hope, I love that.”

Asked why many actors are still closeted, Lynch replied, “Everybody has their own way to deal with it. I don’t concern myself with other people’s — whether or not they want to come out, it’s not something for me think about.” – huffingtonpost.com

I recall one time during my teaching career, I was called down to the principal's office and was told that the 6'3" 300 lb principal was a little scared for his well being and mine.  Apparently the father of a female student I gave a detention to came in to see him.  The father was larger and much more fit than the principal and told the principal that the only reason his daughter received a detention was because she refused to be my date for a kegger I was throwing for some of my senior students.  There were so many things wrong with that statement.  I believe the principal knew about my sexuality, but didn't come out and say it and neither did I.  The town was 3,200 citizens large in little backwoods Maine.  Would it be better to be out or better to be a young single male accused of finding one of the female students attractive.  I think remaining neutral was the way to go and that's how I was throughout my teaching career.

Later I would find out that two male straight married very virile macho educators, the gym teacher and the vice principal, would have more gay sex with current students than I did. Me zero, them much more.

Here's what Lynch has to say about why she thinks many in the industry feel they need to remain in the closet.

"I don’t know what it says,” she responded.  “That says more about them than it does about anything, [or], I think, a meta statement to be made. Everybody has their own psychology, their own issues, their own subconscious material. For me to make a broad statement — it’s like outing people. I think that was a horrible thing. You might be dealing with a very fragile part of someone’s psyche. So I think everybody has to go their own path.”

Lynch says she for one wasn’t ever advised that she should stay in the closet for the sake of her career.

“No — never came up,” she said. “And also, you know, it wasn’t the ‘50s and it wasn’t the ‘60s… That’s ridiculous, in this day and age, if somebody’s telling somebody not to [come out]. I know that there are some people who are religious [who stay in the closet]. Perhaps they have issues. Like I said, everybody’s subconscious material is their own stuff.” – huffingtonpost.com

I think Jane has done it right, and when I say it, I mean everything.  She is a great role model, example, and of what I know of her, a great human being.  Keep up the great work!

For more of Michelangelo Signorile's  story about Lynch, go to huffingtonpost.com

What do you think?