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Richard Chamberlain urges gay actors to stay in closet

NEW YORK - JUNE 5: Actor Richard Chamberlain

NEW YORK - JUNE 5: Actor Richard Chamberlain promotes his new book "Shattered Love: A Memoir," at The Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center June 5, 2003 in Manhattan, New York. Credit: Getty Images

Richard Chamberlain, who came out as gay in a 2003 memoir after having starred as '60s heartthrob Dr. Kildare and the romantic lead of "The Thorn Birds" (1983) and other TV movies and miniseries, says in a new interview that, "Personally, I wouldn't advise a gay leading man-type actor to come out."

Speaking to The Advocate, in a Q&A posted on the magazine's website last week, Chamberlain, 76, said, "Despite all the wonderful advances that have been made, it's still dangerous for an actor to talk about that in our extremely misguided culture. Look at what happened in California with Proposition 8," the state amendment in 2008 that banned gay marriage. "Please, don't pretend that we're suddenly all wonderfully, blissfully accepted."

Some gay stars do successfully play straight romantic parts - among them Sean Hayes with his Tony Award-nominated male lead in Broadway's "Promises, Promises," and Neil Patrick Harris as skirt-chasing Barney Stinson on the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother." But Chamberlain says, "It's complicated.

"There's still a tremendous amount of homophobia in our culture," he continues. "It's regrettable, it's stupid, it's heartless and it's immoral, but there it is. For an actor to be working is a kind of miracle, because most actors aren't, so it's just silly for a working actor to say, 'Oh, I don't care if anybody knows I'm gay' - especially if you're a leading man."

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