Actor Darryl Stephens is the cover feature of the October Instinct. At six pages, Jim ver Steeg's profile is probably one of the magazine's more in-depth recent cover features. There is also a smart fashion (and shirtless) editorial lensed by photographer Peter Brown. Kudos to Instinct for its third major cover feature in the past 18 months that featured black gay personalities.
In addition to promoting the limited theatrical release of Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom, for the first time Stephens responds to critics who questioned his reluctance to come out as openly gay gay during the broadcast run of Noah's Arc.
“We had seen other gay shows where the straight actors who were playing gay got a lot of the credit for doing all the work and for being braver actors. We were all just trying to avoid that,” Darryl says. But they were also trying to avoid adding to the challenges already felt by many in the industry. “I think as black actors we are all aware of the fact that the roles we are allowed to play are very limited. To step up and say “I’m gay” makes a lot of other doors close, too.”
It would be interesting to hear if publicly coming out has helped or harmed Stephens' career. Judging from the roles he has chosen—Noah's Arc, Boy Culture, Another Gay Movie, Ugly Betty etc—there doesn't seem like the potential for a career backlash. It may actually have helped. Stephens says his sexuality "has never been any big mystery or secret" and takes particular aim at "gay bloggers" who tried to make it an issue.
[C]ritics have wasted little time and a great deal of bandwidth to point out that Darryl has not shouted his sexuality from rooftops. “I’ve read a lot of very negative responses, not necessarily to my work, but to my choices, from gay bloggers,” he says. “There is a lot of hypocrisy in the criticism from the people who just don’t know what it’s like to put yourself out there. It’s fucking scary. It’s not like sitting at home on your computer.”
Darryl Stephens makes a valid point about privacy and self-identity, but, the larger point remains unanswered: Was it ironic that for a show that was considered "groundbreaking" for its portrayal of black gay characters and issues, with the exception of Doug Spearman, the black gay actors refused to come out? What message did that send to the "community? Perhaps we should pose these questions to actor Rodney Chester who "hosted" several black gay awards events and still denies he is gay.
Darryl Stephens: Stepping Up, Standing Out [Instinct]
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