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EW on 'The New Art of Coming Out': Blink and You'll Miss It; Remembering DeGeneres' 1997 Outing

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood June 21, 2012 at 1:56PM

When Jim Parsons of "The Big Bang Theory" publicly came out as gay on May 23, the news was treated with matter-of-fact understatement by the media -- a far cry from the heavily publicized self-outing of Ellen Degeneres fifteen years ago...
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EW's cover art for "The New Art of Coming Out"
EW's cover art for "The New Art of Coming Out"

When Jim Parsons of "The Big Bang Theory" publicly came out as gay on May 23, the news was treated with matter-of-fact understatement by the media -- a far cry from the heavily publicized self-outing of Ellen Degeneres fifteen years ago (complete with Time magazine's Yep, I'm Gay cover and her appearance on Oprah, video below). This week's EW looks at why casual and to-the-point is the increasingly preferred method for celebrities' mediated out-of-the-closet moments.

From Mark Harris' "The New Art of Coming Out" in this week's EW:

"That new blink-and-you’ll-miss-it style is an important hallmark of changing times. Fifteen years further into the evolution of gay equality than DeGeneres was, Parsons could make his decision with the comfort of near certainty that The Big Bang Theory, which just ended its fifth season as TV’s most watched comedy, wouldn’t even feel a ratings twitch as a result. He could also be confident that he wouldn’t have to carry the rainbow flag for an entire profession.

"But the approach Parsons took was also about changing tactics—a strategic shift for an era in which confessionalism has been replaced by a kind of well-choreographed offhandedness. Quinto came out publicly last October in the middle of a New York magazine profile just by using the four words "as a gay man." Bomer did it by thanking his partner, veteran publicist Simon Halls, and their children while accepting an award.

"So although the drip drip-drip steadiness of coming- out news can seem inconsequential, cumulatively the stories serve as the very quiet herald of a major tectonic shift. What was impossible 60 years ago and dangerous 40 years ago and difficult 20 years ago is now becoming no big deal."

This article is related to: Entertainment Weekly, News


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.