(My job at Daily Xtra is to examine sexuality, including the difficulties some celebrities still face in openly discussing the topic with a sometimes less than supportive audience, writes Graeme Coleman, above.)
Over the past couple days, I’ve watched the most awkward moment of my career make international headlines and trend on social media. The way the internet reacted made me feel as if I had committed a crime. Now that I’ve processed the situation, I know better.
I’m an associate producer at Daily Xtra, Canada’s leading gay media organization. At a Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) press conference for Legend on Sept 13, I asked Tom Hardy a question about sexuality: “In the film, your character Ronnie is very open about his sexuality. But given interviews you’ve done in the past, your own sexuality seems a bit more ambiguous. Do you find it hard for celebrities to talk to media about their sexuality?”
“What on earth are you on about?” replied Hardy, who plays an openly gay gangster in the film. The crowd laughed uncomfortably.
I explained that I was referring to an interview he did with Attitude magazine in 2008, where he reportedly said, “I’ve played with everything and everyone.” He later said his words were taken out of context.
Hardy again asked what my question was. I repeated: “I was wondering if you find it difficult for celebrities to talk about their sexuality?"
“I don’t find it difficult for celebrities to talk about their sexuality. Are you asking about my sexuality?” he asked, with a level of frustration that took me aback, especially since several other actors at TIFF had, just a day earlier, welcomed my questions and even appreciated the opportunity to discuss sexuality and its presentation on- and off-screen.
Into the Forest co-stars Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood willingly shared their difficult decisions to come out as lesbian and bisexual respectively — the warnings they received from peers in the industry, and the weight lifted by telling the truth and being themselves.
To be clear, I wasn’t asking or expecting Hardy to out himself, no matter what his personal truth may be. My job at Daily Xtra is to examine sexuality and how it’s dealt with in society. That includes shining a spotlight on the difficulties some celebrities still face in openly discussing the topic with a sometimes less than supportive audience.
The hostile reaction and personal attacks I’ve endured online, combined with Hardy’s apparent reluctance to talk about the issue, leads me to believe that I have my answer. Yes, clearly it is still difficult for some celebrities to talk about sexuality in the media.
All the more reason to keep asking the questions to make room for a more open, comfortable discussion of sexuality in society.