While promoting her new film Celeste and Jesse Forever in an interview with Spinning Platters, co-writer/star Rashida Jones spoke out of line—some might argue. The conversation between her, co-writer/star Will McCormack, and the interviewer at one point turned to LGBT stars coming out of the closet, since lately we’ve seen Frank Ocean and Anderson Cooper admit their sexual orientation. Rashida is in strong support of a big star coming out, so she blurted out,
“A movie star. Like John Travolta? Come out! Come on. How many masseurs have to come forward? Let’s do this.”
That comment got her a lot of flack on Twitter from users who said that Rashida, not being part of the LGBT community, had no right to try and force someone out of the closet. So, she hastened to tweet out an apology:
Made a thoughtless comment about John Travolta. I sincerely apologize. Nobody’s personal life is my business.
But I don’t think she should have had to make such a public mea culpa! It’s not like she targeted a star like Zachary Quinto or Sean Maher, who both faked at being straight for over a decade while trying to make it in Hollywood and who tried to not bring attention to their true lifestyles. Travolta’s sexuality has been a punchline for as long as we can remember, and it’s not as if he’s done much to dispel the rumors. Plus — and maybe this is bad to say, but — I think that him being such an ardent Scientologist makes us more antagonistic toward him. To that end, she could’ve made the same comment about Tom Cruise, and it wouldn’t have been some sort of revelation.
Plus, Rashida was actually coming from a constructive place in making that comment. If those angry Twitter users had read the entire review, they would have happened upon Rashida’s immediate follow-up to her Travolta quote, where she makes the difference between groundbreaking announcements and expected ones:
“Sure, but let’s be honest: Anderson Cooper is a TV personality. Like Neil Patrick Harris — okay, yes, it’s great that he came out, but (A) these are both men who have lived in the gay community for a long time and I think everyone suspected, and (B) there’s something about these iconic stars, people who are almost godlike. Because with someone like Frank Ocean, yes, it’s fantastic that he did what he did and his letter was so beautiful, and he’s in such close proximity to all these rappers so he’s battling homophobia just by being honest. But big stars need to come out. Ricky Martin was huge. That was big; I was really happy about that.”
Even if Travolta goes to his grave saying he’s straight, we’ll never believe him; the doubt is already planted. So Rashida’s comment was, in my mind, a “no harm, no foul” kind of situation.