9 Careers Where It’s Still Not Okay To Be Gay

Some are hailing Anderson Cooper’s decision to come out as a smart career move, but many fields have yet to see their first openly gay man or woman.

DANNY MOLOSHOK / Reuters

Anderson Cooper in February 2012.

1. Hollywood superstar

In 2009, Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman told the LA Weekly that the day when an A-list actor would come out was likely fast approaching. Three years later, openly gay actors like Cheyenne Jackson and Jesse Tyler Ferguson have built successful TV careers. But none of the actors or actresses on Vanity Fair’s list of 40 highest-paid people in Hollywood has come out.

2. Major rapper

While some young hip-hop artists — like Sissy Rich — are openly gay, no big stars of the genre have yet come out. Last fall, the Game and Fat Joe both urged gay rappers to come out of the closet. “I’m pretty sure I’ve done songs with gay rappers,” said Fat Joe. “In 2011 you gotta hide that you gay?”

Openly gay former NFL player Wade Davis.

3. NFL player

Former football players — most recently Wade Davis — have come out of the closet, but no current player has. Several rookies this year said they’d be supportive of a gay teammate, though, so maybe this will change sometime soon.

4. NHL player

Like the NFL, the NHL has never had an openly gay current player. But Patrick Burke, son of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke and brother of Brendan Burke, who was killed in a car accident shortly after coming out, wants to change that. He’s started the You Can Play Project to combat homophobia in hockey, and says, “I believe we’re closer than a lot of people think. We’re within about two years or so in the NHL from having a player come out.”

5. Major League Baseball player

No Major League Baseball player has yet come out, though Twins pitcher Carl Pavano was recently the subject of rumors when a high school classmate claimed to have had a relationship with him. Last fall, the league added language to its collective bargaining agreement banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but some players still weren’t sure they could really accept a gay teammate. Said one Mets player, “Most of us are still Neanderthals.”

6. NBA player

Charles Barkley said last year that “every player has played with gay guys,” but no current player has yet come out. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has said it will happen in the next three to five years.

7. Fortune 500 CEO

In 2007, Malcolm Lazin of the Equality Institute told Reuters that more openly gay executives were on the horizon: “What you are seeing, is the next generation is unwilling to live in the closet. Those capable young executives will choose only to go to these places where they believe meritocracy prevails.” But still, no CEO of a Fortune 500 company has publicly come out. Tim Cook, now CEO of Apple, has been rumored to be gay, and some activists have urged him to come out if he is.

8. Boy Scout leader

Despite a petition urging them to reconsider, the Boy Scouts of America said last month that they would not repeal their ban on gay troop leaders. In March, a mom was removed from her position as leader of her son’s Cub Scout troop because she is gay.

President James Buchanan, rumored to be gay.

9. Governor, Senator, or President

No openly gay person has ever been elected as a U.S. Senator, governor of a state, or President. Former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey came out when he resigned. If Tammy Baldwin is elected to the Senate this November, she would be the first openly gay Senator. President James Buchanan, who served from 1857 to 1861, was rumored to be gay.

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