Michael Urie Plays Early Gay Activist, Won’t Discuss His Own Sexuality

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Ugly Betty actor Michael Urie, who is starring in a play right now called The Temperamentals, about the formation of the nation's first pre-Stonewall gay rights organization, The Mattachine Society, refuses to discuss his own sexuality with New York magazine:

In the context of this play, it's almost impossible not to ask
you about your own sexuality. You've never really publicly declared it, but on your own website, you identify yourself as "a member of the LGBT community" and say that organizations that help people with HIV/AIDS or people who are LGBT are "A-Number 1 in my book!" So what's the deal?

Well, that's my M.O. I'm interested in keeping — you know, actors have to be able to do lots of different things, and while I'd say there's an ongoing theme [to the parts I play], I'm also not interested in having any real publicity about who I am and what my private life is and things like that. I'm an actor and I don't want to be a [fill-in-the-] blank actor.


Do you really think that saying "I'm gay" would stop you from getting an array of roles?

That's not really the point. By using publicity to say something like that, it could become a person's M.O, and I'm not interested in that. I really think this article should be about The Temperamentals. I understand where you're coming from and why you think this is important and that this is a play about being true to yourself. But artists and activists are not quite the same thing, and I feel like support can come from lots of different ways.

Do you get sick of reporters asking you about this?

They don't ask about it as much as you might think. Actually, it's been a long time since anyone asked it. I don't think it's really newsworthy if the gay guy from Ugly Betty is gay or not.

Except, of course, if he's playing a character "who left before he could be outed to become a fashion designer so influential he made the cover of Time in 1967" in a play about gays who stood up for themselves by coming out. 

Comments

  1. says

    ok, this was sort of the problem i had with “Milk”

    that film was a necessary story to be told & i thought everything about it was pretty much great & timely

    however, none of the Hollywood actors who played in it could really be out irl (if they wanted to be – assuming at minimum one of the actors in it is gay)

    there’s a strange veil in the mainstream acting community, despite the message of the source material

    anyway, that’s Urie’s prerogative, but again this is the same conundrum that “Milk” posed when i was watching it

    i think you have to keep track of the bigger picture & the overall epression of the production

  2. brian says

    While I understand his point of view (the desire to be a blank canvas for “artistic” purposes) — it’s rather sad that he doesn’t have the personal (professional?) confidence to just be honest about it.

  3. Jay says

    Whatever. . .I’ve seen him out and about in Hell’s Kitchen with a cozy male companion. ‘Nuff said. He can admit his truth without making it a big scene (i.e., Neil Patrick Harris’s non-chalant outing). Besides, even if he did admit it, I doubt it’d be considered that newsworthy. By refusing to confirm the obvious, however, he’s attributing shame to gay sexuality, which is really at odds with this role and the message of the play.

  4. Kyle Sullivan says

    What I find sad is people who feel it’s their prerogative to determine what a person should and should not do with their own life. Whether Michael Urie’s gay, straight or gelded makes absolutely no difference to me, nor should it make any difference to anyone else. He’s not passing laws against gay people. He’s not condemning us. He’s not saying we shouldn’t have rights like some self-loathing fags in both Washington and Hollywood have. That sort of hypocrisy DOES need to be screamed about.

    But Michael’s just an actor playing a role in a play and a TV show and is building his career as best as he sees fit, and for anyone on either side of the issue to tell him how he should do that is nosy, obnoxious and just plain wrong.

  5. says

    Sundog, this isn’t just a problem in the acting community. It’s a problem in the real world.

    The greatest weapon religious extremists and homophobes have is not the Bible or fearmongering. It’s closeted homosexuals.

    Every poll taken on the subject has proven that people who have a gay friend or family member are far more likely to support gay rights than those who don’t – or at least think they don’t. The battle for respect is not going to be won with laws or executive orders – though we need those – it’s going to be won in the hearts and minds of individuals, one person at a time.

    Harvey Milk said it best: You must come out. You must tell your doctor. You must tell your lawyer. You must tell your friends – if indeed they are your friends. you must tell your family. And when you do, you will feel so much better.

  6. says

    This is just so damned silly. He’s palyed all sorts of gay roles — including a marvelous little indie called “WTC View”

    Acknowledging the fact you’re gay doesn’t mean anyone has to know anything about your “personal life.” Look at Cheyenne Jackson. His boyfriend (lucky bastard!) doesn’t want to be in the spotlight and Cheyenne has kept him out of it. Simple as pie. NPH and David are all over the damned place together. But what do we REALLY know about their “personal lives” ? Not much. The live in Studio City and collect modern art.

    Of course what I’D like to know would necessitate three-way.

    AS IF!!!!

  7. jtramon says

    Jesus-what a bunch of bitchy assholes we have here!

    “By refusing to confirm the obvious, however, he’s attributing shame to gay sexuality…” WTF?

    Jay-have you ever thought -IT’S JUST NOBODYS FUCKING BUSINESS???

    If the guy is (or isn’t) gay, I really don’t care. It’s the belief foisted on others that every “gay” person has to come out to meet our expections that makes us sound like a pack of morons. Get overyourself.

    By the way, I’m out, always have been, and have a fairly public life. BUT, I don’t insist on everyone stating their sexual orientation. Kudos to gay men/women who choose to come out, but I’m not going to badger anyone else to do it.

  8. says

    Sweet Jesus ! Where is the rule that anyone has to come out ? Freedom to come out or not is the important point. If there is an issue that he would suffer artistically by coming out then that’s another day’s work.And the artistic/Hollywood world may be at fault. But why should he tell anyone anything ? Whatever happened to;
    “Mind your own fucking business” as a perfectly balanced response ?

  9. Terry says

    He’s in a play about…the Mattachine Society, for fuck’s sake. These were people, like Harry Hay, who were working, back in the 1950’s, for the rights of gay men and lesbians. Hell, in the 1950’s, your life could be destroyed if you were publically indentified as gay or lesbian. This was the time of Joseph McCarthy.

    Given that context, I’m absolutely confused about Michael Urie’s attitude. Yes, I guess it could be “nobody’s fucking business!” whether he identifies himself publically as gay. But that’s a contradiction, to me, about the theme of the play he’s in.

  10. JeffRob says

    “Freedom to come out or not is the important point.”

    No, I’m pretty sure only the freedom TO come out is the important point. Not coming out is cowardly and destructive to you personally and to us societally, and hiding it behind your “need for privacy” is just pathetic. It means your view of your own sexuality is the same view held by every homophobe who tells us to keep it in the bedroom. It means you don’t give a damn about how easy or hard it will ever be for people like you to be comfortable in our own communities. I have no sympathy for silence.

    Coming out is our only form of integration, so if you’re out to yourself but to no one else, you’re part of the problem.

    Be proud, be out, or be straight.

  11. Jeff says

    I think this is just a case of a particular dance with the media. He’s clearly Out, he’s a Pride, he’s at Broadway Bares, he says he’s a member of the LGBT community. So he’s out, but I think as an actor what he’s avoiding is an “I’m Gay” story happening, which he feels could damage his career trajectory. Who knows if he’s right or not. Perhaps “I’m an LGBT member” is the new way to come out without necessarily making headlines.

  12. says

    I agree that the issue young actors face these days isn’t so much whether they’re out or not but how you keep the headlines on the career and not the bedroom. He seems to be doing his part to support the community.

  13. Gregsy says

    His publicist came and talked to my PR class in college. She told us outright that he is straight, but she asks him to be coy about it so he can get some attention for it. Very bizarre. It’s very perculiar when someone is pretending to be gay, instead of the other way around.

  14. Rann says

    Here is my opinion, and it is not required anyone else agree. It is one thing to “come out” and quite another when you are asked a direct question to be unwilling to answer it- especially when it is obvious! That is what to me implies he is not fully proud of who he is or at least that part. And that is just crazy for someone playing these parts. It reminds me of Jack from Will and Grace slightly. I have less repsect for him due to this. Does that matter to him? Of course not. But it tells me a lttle bit more about him and I don’t like that part.
    This does not help all of those teens trying to come to terms with themselves and who kind of looked up to him as a gay, oh sorry, not declared, actor. Can you say Ricky Martin?

  15. Willie says

    If he is actually pretending to be gay by the “member of the LGBT community” bs — still even more of a Lame Ass Punk.

    You can be a friend of – but not part of -the LGBT community if you are straight.

    Sorry – it’s a gay thing.

  16. Rann says

    “His publicist came and talked to my PR class in college. She told us outright that he is straight, but she asks him to be coy about it so he can get some attention for it. Very bizarre. It’s very perculiar when someone is pretending to be gay, instead of the other way around.”
    Then why does his website say he is a member of our community?

  17. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) says

    This isn’t AA. “Hi, my name is Michael and I’m a ________.” If he says he’s out on his web-site, why does he have to say more?

  18. says

    I think it was an error for Michael Urie to do a play about gay activists. If he doesn’t want to answer questions about his sexual orientation, it is an odd choice to do work which is inherently critical of that decision.
    It forces him to either be more an activist than he is comfortable being or look dishonest.

  19. J. J. says

    Too bad that he, like Sean Hayes, feel they have to play this stupid game. They would be so much more admired if they didn’t, like the terrific Neil Patrick Harris.

  20. Trick says

    I’m neither defending nor condemning him, but as an actor, there is something to be said about not knowing too much about the personal life of an actor. Knowing so much about Angelina Jolie never allows you to truly see her as anyone other than.

  21. MCnNYC says

    @ Rann and you BELIEVED his PUBLICIST?
    LOL

    Look we all know he’s gay.
    He knows he’s gay.
    His Friends and Family (probably) knows he’s gay.
    His Publicist sure as HELL knows he’s gay.

    I wished he’d come out years ago when he first started the LGBT funraising circuit (which btw Thank you Michael still much appreciated)

    I think it is sad he feels he has to do this crap nowadays.

    He’s kidding himself if he thinks “the industry” will cast him in anything other than the “roles” he has been type casted in already….(David Hyde Pierce anyone)

    He continues this closet dance and it’s just plain SAD. there are many more worthy open and out actors who can put him to shame as an actor and as a person.

    Kind of puts a real “aunt tom” sheer on his perfomance on Ugly Betty.

  22. dc8stretch says

    Kudo’s to Mr. Urie for just being himself. Any 12-year-old struggling with identity could read his website or the aformentioned interview were he talks about his dog and ‘get it’. And these 12-year-olds are the important ones to be a role model for. The rest of the ‘gay community’ would claim him as their own for a fashionable minute then chew him up and spit him out like they’ve done to Lance Bass and countless others.

    Face it- he’s smarter than most.

  23. patrick nyc says

    While I can see why many are upset, I came out in 1980 when I was 20, from a very religious Irish Catholic family. I talked to my college room mate and her husband, he is a writer and producer in LA, and he said there is a big difference being out there and here on the East Coast.

    While NPH was brave to do so, how many others are out, such as Kevin Spacey. The reason my friend said was that many are told to stay closeted by their agents, who are afraid of losing a buck. If that is the case, Urie should be given some slack, after all he’s not like Cruise or Travolta.

    My friends told me that people would be shocked at how many queers are married just to keep the light of them. Sad but true. We live in a time where even our President just gives us lip service.

  24. bobbyjoe says

    Funny that Neil Patrick Harris is getting all sorts of work, like hosting the Tonys and being a well-advertised guest judge on “Top Chef” this week, while Urie’s lucky someone’s even did a feature on this play, and… where’s Sean Hayes again, these days? And, BTW, how’s Kevin Spacey’s career coming along right now compared to Ian McKellen’s?

    Yeah, coming out is a real career killer.

    And NPH and McKellen have certainly been pigeonholed into only doing “gay” roles, eh? Too bad they came out; it’s really limited their opportunities.

  25. Cameron Johnson says

    He’s quite obviously, and openly gay. I thought it was just something people knew and assumed — he wants to talk about his work, not his private life. Is there something wrong with that?

  26. Gianpiero says

    Gay or not, he was shown up in his support of “his” LGBT community by his co-stars America Ferrera, Tony Plana and Ana Ortiz, who spoke out in those wonderful No on 8 ads last year, in English and Spanish.

  27. sean says

    Wow. Nasty post – and nastier comments. Maybe, just maybe, he’s not comfortable coming out at this point in time. Wgho knows? Shouldn’t that be his decision?

    Must he be a poster-boy for gay causes? Must he answer every dumb question from journalists? Must he endure self-loathing criticism from gay bloggers who don’t believe he’s living his life “correctly?” Talk about hypocritical!

    I mean, this blog trashes Urie, but won’t even dare talk about this: http://www.tabloidprodigy.com/?p=2933

  28. David in Houston says

    I think he’s made it very clear that he is gay. The reality is that if he were ‘publicly’ open, his job prospects could be severely impacted. To say otherwise is naive. I don’t think anyone has the right to harm this man’s ability to make a living, just because they want everyone to be ‘out’. Public perception is critical in the entertainment industry. Just ask Anderson Cooper, Kevin Spacey, and all the gay men playing straight on soap operas. They don’t want their ‘orientation’ to be a constant distraction from their performance.

  29. Harrison says

    I find it very interesting that we seem to be coming into the age of the “I’m out to the people that I care about and will tell other people when it is appropriate to do so” famous people … since isn’t that how the rest of us got to come out?

    You have to continuously come out in every facet of your life – to your family, your friends, your coworkers, etc. etc. etc. – not everyone gets a People magazine cover to tell the entire world at one time.

    I don’t think we have a right to tell gay celebrities how they should come out (or out them) just because they are in the public eye, just like we wouldn’t someone to tell us how to come out (or out us).

  30. Zach says

    Wow, a community full of hateful, self-righteous lunatics who have no respect for privacy, personal lives, or individuality. All supported by a blogger who has devolved from reporting the news to adding his whiny misbegotten two cents.

    Urie is clearly nuts to not take part.

  31. paul c says

    Who’s he trying to “fool”? He’s openly LGBT. If he doesn’t want to discuss his lesbianism, that’s his right. He’s not hiding anything, he’s just not discussing his personal business.

    I know that’s a difficult concept for all the facebooking twtterers out there, but some people have boundaries and enjoy whatever privacy they can maintain — all while being completely honest about who they are.

  32. jay says

    Man, leave the guy alone. This isn’t 1985. Telling a nosy reporter about his personal life has no impact on the gay rights movement. He obviously has made no effort to hide his sexuality, he just doesn’t want to be the next Lance Bass, with paparazzi hounding him and splashing pictures of every guy he tricks with across the blogosphere. Actors are entitled to a PERSONAL life just like everyone else.
    What’s next? Protesting gay folks for not ticking off the “gay” box on their Myspace page?

  33. Anastasia Beaverhausen says

    Leave him alone. His isn’t being a hypocrite, and for all you know his leatherdaddy Master has forbidden him to talk about it.

  34. GregV says

    I don’t know what his sexual orientation or his personal situation is, and it is no more my business than it is his business what my situation is.
    When I am having a discussion about my professional life (for example, at a job interview or a staff meeting or in a company newsletter), I don’t necessarily want to talk about my personal business, either.

    For all I know, Michael Urie may be bisexual, and he knows that there will be a whirlwind of debates about who he really is and whether he’s lying, and he doesn’t care to put it out there.

    For all I know, he has a husband who goes home periodically to a country that is not safe for gay people (there are many), and he knows that if he starts opening doors to questions, one leads to the next until his husband is not safe going back home to visit, say, Jamaica (or Dubai).

    For all I know, he may be straight but has always felt an affinity to gay men because he believes in equality and has experienced discrimination for being presumed to be gay. he may feel he contributes more to progress by just considering and proclaiming himself a “member of the LGBT community” instead of explaining that he is straight.

    For all I know, he could be the next Chaz Bono, and knows (probably correctly) that he will endanger both his professional and personal life by coming out as transgendered right now.

    He could be about to inherit millions from a homopohobic and naive great uncle who thinks LGBT is Michael’s favorite sandwich. Maybe michael wants to donate some of that to the fight for equal rights rather than losing it all for saying one word a few months too soon.

    His reasons could be anything. But he is an actor, not a spokesman. He is on our side and he is doing work in acting that supports greater understanding. That work is all that is our business and we have no business second-guessing his personal life or desire to discuss his personal business or not.

  35. lis says

    First – the exclusive sense of entitlement to the LGBT community so many people find here is appalling. It’s the same sense of “bisexual males don’t exist, PICK ONE” and I see both here far too often. Sure, he may not be exactly like you in his preferences and choices. Deal.

    Second – I actually see what he’s saying here and I’m surprised others do not. What’S wrong with being against the idea of having to be an advocate for something? He’s an ACTOR, he wants to continue to be an ACTOR. Just because he is in the public eye does not mean he has to be a GAY RIGHTS ACTOR. Too many people have been forced into advocacy when they didn’t want it or weren’t prepared for it. It’s this sort of behaviour that keeps people in closets.

  36. Paul R says

    I would love to know how many of you critical bitches are out to everyone you work with, everyone you’re related to, and everyone you meet. Oh, maybe you’re not? Because of where you live, or because of your career, or because you want to maintain the status quo because it’s “just not the right time”? Go to hell.

    And Sean, ENOUGH with the tabloid story. It’s dead. You’re obsessed in a strange, sad, fanatical way, and you need to get over it.

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