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How they handled
the gay rumor

How they handled
the gay rumor


Marcia Cross is not alone: Many celebrities have had gay rumors swirl about them.

If you're an attractive, successful, and famous singer, actor, or athlete, someone somewhere will eventually insist that they "know" you are gay. Do you risk giving credence to the rumors by publicly discussing them? That's exactly the risk some celebs take. Here are some famous examples of straight talk--sometimes defiant, sometimes wry and amused, but always intriguing.Clay AikenRUMOR: After the American Idol finalist came in second to Ruben Studdard on May 21, 2003, he pointedly ignored a polite question from at the press conference: "A lot of your fan base thinks you're gay. Any comment on that?" RESPONSE: He appeared on the cover of an issue of Rolling Stone that hit newsstands one month later--with the headline "Growing Up Clay"--and said he wasn't gay.Troy Aikman RUMOR: In September of 1996, sportswriter Skip Bayless published the book Hell-Bent: The Crazy Truth About the Win-or-Else Dallas Cowboys, which examined the rumor that the quarterback was gay. RESPONSE: Aikman publicly threatened to punch him out and later married a Dallas Cowboys publicist in 2000.Tom CruiseRUMOR: The box-office hero has fought against gay rumors throughout his career. RESPONSE: Lots of multimillion-dollar lawsuits, which he tends to win in court, including judgments against the Star and London's Express. One legal victory prompted this Los Angeles Times headline on December 4, 2001: "Cruise Not Gay, Court Rules in Actor's Lawsuit."Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford RUMOR: Gossip that their marriage was only for show dogged the couple for years. RESPONSE: On May 6, 1994, the couple spent a reported $30,000 on a full-page ad in the Times of London stating emphatically, "We are heterosexual and monogamous and take our commitment to each other very seriously. Reports of a divorce are totally false. We remain very married. We both look forward to having a family. Marriage is hard enough without all these negative speculations." They separated within a year and later were divorced.David Gest RUMOR: A childhood friend of Michael Jackson and his brothers who then married Liza Minnelli? Yes, it would be strange if there hadn't been rumors about the concert promoter-artist reviver. RESPONSE: Gest told the London Evening Standard at one point, "I guess it [the gay rumors] sells papers. I know who I am. That's the most important thing."Whitney Houston RUMOR: Speculation about the singer's sexuality dates back to the 1980s. RESPONSE: In December 1990, Houston told Essence she was not gay and not sexually involved with her best friend and executive assistant, Robyn Crawford, despite rumors to the contrary. She endeared herself to gays and lesbians by claiming, "Half the time we'd say, 'F--- it, if they think we're gay, let 'em think we're gay.'" In May 2000, Houston was still answering "the question" in an Out cover story.Helen Hunt RUMOR: Despite being married to actor Hank Azaria, Hunt has been the subject of many lesbian rumors. RESPONSE: Hunt finally addressed the gay question by wondering who cared: "What is people's obsession with whether people are gay or not? Why doesn't someone sit me down and explain that one day?"Liberace RUMOR: The London tabloid the Daily Mirror in 1956 suggested he was gay. RESPONSE: He sued. The case went to trial three years later, and Liberace won a victory on June 18, 1959. He received $22,000 and court costs--at the time the largest libel-case settlement in British history.Ricky Martin RUMOR: The Latin star shook his bon-bon so well on the 1999 Grammys that questions quickly arose. RESPONSE: Gracious avoidance. A July 6, 1999, Advocate cover story reported a typical Ricky quote: "It's something you don't talk about." On Barbara Walters's Oscar night 2000 special, he politely refused to answer her pointed questions."Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to express, the rumors," he said. "But, Barbara, for some reason, I just don't feel like [saying what my sexual orientation is]. You know, it's, it's something so mine. I give it all when I'm onstage. I give it all in interviews, but you've got to keep something for yourself sometimes, and that's for me."Kelly McGillis RUMOR: Married with children, McGillis nonetheless has been rumored to be gay for years. RESPONSE: She addressed the rumor amusingly after playing a bisexual femme fatale in The Monkey's Mask. "I knew this movie would start all that lesbian thing up again, and it doesn't bother me," she said in October of 2001 while promoting the film. "It isn't about me coming out, but if people want to think that, that's fine. I don't care. If anyone has a problem with the [steamy love] scenes, they can kiss my big, fat butt." In the 1990s, longtime Key West resident McGillis happily endorsed the annual Women's Flag Football Championship, which has attracted teams from all over the world.Mike Piazza RUMOR: A May 20, 2002, New York Post blind item suggested a major player on the Mets was going to come out. RESPONSE: The New York Mets' catcher called a press conference, telling the world "I'm heterosexual and I date women." The All-Star trumped that by marrying onetime Playboy Playmate and Baywatch star Alicia Rickter on January 30 of this year.Kevin Spacey RUMOR: In October 1997, Esquire put Spacey on the cover in front of a mostly pink background with the headline "Kevin Spacey Has a Secret." Writer Tom Junod led with the information that even Junod's mother had heard Spacey was gay. RESPONSE: Spacey refused to be baited and said the question was insulting. In She magazine in February 2000, he spoke about a long-term girlfriend, wanting kids, and wishing he'd denied the rumor outright.Jonathan Taylor Thomas RUMOR: Rampant Internet speculation in 1998 held that his managers wouldn't let him come out in The Advocate.RESPONSE: None, immediately. After playing a number of gay roles, he said in a February 1, 2000, Advocate cover story, "What startled me was how willingly people accepted it."Oprah Winfrey RUMOR: Appearing on Ellen's landmark April 1997 coming-out episode fueled speculation. RESPONSE: Winfrey finally sent out a press release on June 4, 1997, saying, "I am not in the closet. I am not coming out of the closet. I am not gay." Proving the courage of her convictions, Oprah has yet to make an honest man out of Steadman.

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Michael Giltz