I didn’t know that it was possible for The National Enquirer to do “feel-good gossip,” but that’s exactly how I’d sum up their new story about Chris Evans being spotted at a gay club. Despite the scandalous headline Captain America Chris Evans Wild Gay Party, it turns out that the reason Chris visited West Hollywood club Eleven recently was to celebrate his gay brother Scott‘s 29th birthday. An eyewitness reported seeing Chris come in right before midnight: “The guys there swooned. And when he came up behind Scott, hugged him and shouted ‘Happy Birthday,’ it made his brother’s night.”
Aww! Assuming this anecdote is true, it’s especially impressive because of how Chris has had to keep the LGBT community somewhat at a distance over the past few years. He’s been nothing but supportive of LGBT folk, telling Playboy earlier this year, “It goes without saying that I’m completely in support of gay marriage. In 10 years we’ll be ashamed that this was an issue.” He grew up in a liberal household and was so used to his brother being out since the age of 19 that he accidentally outed Scott (who played a gay cop on One Life to Live at the time) publicly in a 2009 interview with The Advocate. Scott told WeLoveSoaps that Chris called him upset and apologizing, but that “I’m glad that he’s comfortable enough to talk about it and he’s not ashamed.”
But in that same interview — which isn’t listed on The Advocate‘s site but has been reproduced on various blogs — Chris explained why he couldn’t go to gay clubs with Scott and his friends:
“They’ve invited me to gay bars before, and I said, ‘Look, guys, I’ve got to draw the line there.’ That’s where a photo will get taken, it will run in magazines, and before you know it, I’ll be living down the gay rumor for the rest of my life.”
That’s a frustrating but completely realistic fact, so it’s not surprising that Chris has stayed away. (Similarly, he mentioned that his publicist warned him away from too many shirtless photo shoots so that he could cultivate a classier image.) So why show up at Eleven now? I can’t help thinking that it has to do with Chris’ big summer movie The Avengers. He was reprising the role of Captain America, a.k.a. Steve Rogers, but it wasn’t until he did this ensemble film that more fans began seeing Cap as a romantic lead—a gay lead. Mainstream fans discovered the “Stony” fandom, which ‘ships Steve and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.).
Before I get my head bitten off, yes, I realize that people have ‘shipped Stony since at least 2007. But that was more in fanfiction and LiveJournal, i.e., niche communities. Personally, I judge something as becoming a lot more mainstream once it’s on Tumblr, which is where I see all of the fans of the Avengers movie talking about how Steve and Tony are in love. So, that’s the perspective I’m coming from.
As far as I know, the men of The Avengers don’t really address how the fans think they should all sleep together, but they do seem to have had quite the bromance promoting the film. Suddenly Tony/Steve fanart starring Chris and Robert is popping up on people’s Tumblrs, and Chris does bits like this on late-night TV:
I can’t presume to know how much Chris, or any of the other Avengers cast, actually checks Tumblr. Maybe they don’t know that diehard fans ‘ship them in various pairings. But I’d like to think that the actors have a sense that fans are open-minded enough to say, “Hey, I can imagine Cap gay, but that doesn’t mean that a) he’s any less of a hero, or b) that I think Chris Evans is actually gay.” And I’d like to think that in turn, that knowledge allows them to be more freewheeling and do things they want to do — like Chris celebrating his gay brother’s birthday — without fear of awful tabloid gossip.
Photo: Marvel Studios