The recent revelations of the terror in which actor Brad Davis had to live his last years, fearing exposure of his medical condition, and the stories of other AIDS victims and HIV-positive persons living similar lives in the entertainment industry point up a clearly related issue that seems even more fundamental: Not only is it devastating to one's employability to go public with either of the above mentioned medical conditions, but it is still dangerous to go public with one's sexual orientation if it is other than heterosexual.
We all know that the closet is still the repository for most gays and lesbians in law enforcement, teaching and the armed forces, but show biz? Apparently and sadly so.
In the case of Brad Davis, by all news accounts his AIDS was the result of drug use in the past. But the fact that AIDS-related illnesses befall people other than gays does not diminish what is here observed: For all the public demonstration of the gay and lesbian life styles in our community, the entertainment industry closet remains crowded.
Significant numbers of even the most powerful members of the entertainment community--from stars to CEOs-- can't acknowledge their homosexuality without fear of personal or economic reprisal.
Let there be no misunderstanding; this is not a call for outing anyone. I appreciate the torment and frustration these individuals feel in not being able to openly express their sexual orientation; to straights, imagine for a moment having to live your life in constant fear that public knowledge of your sexual nature could thwart if not ruin your career.
Those brave people who are so active in the struggle to overcome the prejudice of this industry toward AIDS victims must not forget that there is an even larger struggle to create a climate in our industry where people can feel free to offer their talents and abilities and points of view without fear of reprisal or prejudice.
Until that happens, don't be surprised by what is primarily a homophobic reaction to a public-health tragedy. If show business is still too dangerous for a healthy person to leave the closet, how can it be less dangerous for someone who comes out an AIDS victim as well?