Lily Tomlin understands why some actors choose to stay in the closet
Out actress Lily Tomlin has said she doesn’t hold gay actors to a “strict expectation” to come out, and understands why some choose not to.
The Grace and Frankie star, who shot to fame as a comic in 1969 before later finding success with cult hit films like Nashville and 9 to 5, never had a grand ‘coming out’.
However, she has quietly spoken about her sexuality for a number of years – and married her long-term partner Jane Wagner on New Year’s Eve 2013.
Speaking to the Guardian, the actress explained of actors who stay in the closet: “I don’t hold anybody to some strict expectation because I don’t know what that person’s circumstance is.
“The one reason I didn’t come out more fully, really, is because I knew it would hurt my mother.
“She was so southern, so Methodist, she believed so much in Jesus.
“Most of my relatives? Same thing. That generation would be horrified, 20, 30 years ago, if I’d announced it to them. So I never did.”
She added that her younger brother Richard is also gay, and lives with his partner – but their sexuality was never discussed.
The star also spoke about being offered the chance to come out on the cover of TIME Magazine in 1975, but turning it down because it would be “career suicide”.
She explained: “t would have been suicidal career wise at that point.
“Also, it’s sort of like… they didn’t want any specific gay person for the cover, they just wanted a gay person.”
Matt Damon caused controversy over the summer when he suggested gay actors who come out are less successful – but later insisted he was not advising them to stay in the closet.