And hey, before you think I’m getting all judgey – thou shall not speculate on another’s sexuality – on you, rest assured I’m not. I love a good, juicy piece of Hollywood gossip as much as the next guy. I have managed to ween myself off my daily Perez Hilton / TMZ addiction. But I do like to scroll through the entertainment section of news sites every once in a while too.
I just find it really interesting how certain celebrities seem to attract a higher level of interest in and a greater degree of speculation about their sexuality than others. Zac Efron is one of them, so is Hugh Jackman, James Franco, Ryan Seacrest and the list goes on….
So, let’s explore this sexuality speculation a bit more and see if we can figure out why we care so much about certain celebrities’ sexual orientation.
Projection & fantasy
There’s definitely an element of projection and fantasy at play here. Zac Efron is young, attractive and successful, so as gay guys, of course we’d like to claim him as one of our own!
The commonality between a lot of male celebrities whose sexuality is the subject of speculation share these traits – they’re attractive, mainly young, wealthy and good at what they do. These are all qualities that we’d like to have, so it’s logical that we’d project a common sexuality to people who display those qualities.
I’m sure there are million underlying reasons why we’d want to do this. I’m not a psychologist so I won’t be going in to them here. One reason though could be as simple as representation. While more and more celebrities from all forms of the entertainment and sporting industries are coming out (which is a great thing!), there still isn’t a lot of gay male representation at the top of the top, A-list level in Hollywood.
So maybe we just think ‘surely, there has to be someone gay’ and so we look around at these good looking, successful guys in Hollywood and ask – is it him, or that guy, or that one?….Maybe (and this is a big maybe) once a big, above the marquee name actor comes out, the speculation will stop. Or at the very least, lessen. Only time will tell I guess.
1 + 1 = Gay
There’s also an element of stereotypical criteria checking going on here.
Is Zac Efron gay-friendly? Check. Has he appeared in a musicals? Check. Has he done drag?Check. So when you add all these things together, the only logical conclusion has to be that he’s gay. Except of course, that’s a complete crock.
Absolutely none of those things have anything to do with sexuality. On some level, we all know this. Yet perhaps in combination with each other, we look at these factors and think that when seen together, they indicate something about his sexual orientation.
Again, I think this is a case of projection, fantasy and just plain ol’ wishful thinking.
Where there’s smoke
But surely, if he’s 100% straight, there wouldn’t be any rumour about his sexuality at all. The fact that he isn’t (100% straight) is why there are rumours, or questions, about his sexuality in the first place.
This is another common line of thinking to explain why some actors’ sexuality is more closely scrutinised than others. I admit I have no idea how the Hollywood machine works, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t a very accurate reflector.
I mean, anyone can start a rumour for any number of reasons. Maybe his team started it because hey, it generates more press for him. Or maybe someone started it maliciously to try and hurt him. Who knows? But just because there’s a rumour about someone, doesn’t mean it has any basis in reality at all.
The same factors that start a rumour, can also explain why it stays around. If let’s say it is a tactic to get more publicity, it makes sense for him to do things that feed into the story, such as appearing in gay media, making gay-friendly remarks and appearing shirtless in public. It gets him more media attention (which is a form of currency) which he then leverages into his career.
It could be as simple as that.
Guess what? The media lies
I know, I know it’s hard to accept. But it’s sadly true. Unlike other forms of journalism, I’m pretty sure “celebrity journalism” doesn’t get fact checked or scrutinised at all really. Hence why so many outlandish stories exist. I mean, how many times can Jennifer Anniston be pregnant, really? If you believed the press, she’s spending her entire life trying to procreate.
In an age of social media, a 24/7 news cycle and click baiting to generate more traffic (another term for attracting advertising and sponsorship dollars), the media can’t always be trusted to bring us accurate and honest reporting unfortunately.
The flip side of this is that we, as consumers of media, seem to be lapping it up. Is the media responding to our interest in these matters, or is it creating the interest in the first place? It’s the age old ‘chicken or egg’ question, but it does bear to examine our own role in this. If we weren’t interested in whether Zac Efron is gay, would there be as much media speculation about it as there currently is?
It’s easy (and hey, fun) to blame the media, but the media exists because of people like us who tune it, click and buy into it.
Like I said at the start, I’m not interested in being judgemental about this. There are obviously a number of different factors at play that lead us to be interested in the sexuality of celebrities like Zac, Hugh and James. And that to me is the interesting part – not whether Zac Efron is gay or not – but why we care so much in the first place.