Andrew Scott argues that people shouldn’t be described as ‘openly gay’ anymore

Andrew Scott is enjoying his awards season. Scott is currently enjoying great reviews and lots of awards-season-attention for his role in All Of Us Strangers. It feels like Scott is old enough and been around long enough to know that’s not going to win anything, so he’s just enjoying the party. At the Golden Globes, he was dancing in his seat and hanging out with his new actor buddies. In AOUS, Scott is playing a character who is gay, and Scott is himself an out gay man. Note my use of “out” and not “openly.” Scott has taken issue with how people have described him and his performance, and during a roundtable discussion, he talked about just that in a clip which has gone viral:

All of Us Strangers actor Andrew Scott has been applauded for delivering his take on why the term “openly gay” should be dropped.

The actor, 47, recently took part in The Hollywood Reporter’s annual roundtable discussion series. He appeared alongside fellow actors Colman Domingo, Robert Downey Jr., Paul Giammati, Mark Ruffalo, as well as Jeffrey Wright.

In a clip that has been shared widely on social media in the last few days, Scott said he wanted to “make a pitch” for dropping the phrase.

“Hear me out, it’s an expression that we actually only ever hear in the media. You are never at a party and you say, ‘This is my openly gay…’ You never say it. Why do we put ‘openly’ in front of that adjective? We don’t say you’re ‘openly Irish,’ you don’t say you’re ‘openly left-handed’…”

He then clarified: “There’s something in it that’s a little near shamelessly.” Scott then said he would opt for just saying someone is “out” or “just don’t say anything at all.”

[From Attitude]

While this isn’t brought up in the discussion, I’m reminded of the use of “unapologetically” in the same vein. People used to say/write that a lot – What’s His Face was “unapologetically Black/gay/Irish/whatever.” People stopped using “unapologetically” and then replaced it with “openly.” Scott is right, built into that word, there’s something like a shock that someone would be OPENLY gay. You mean you’re NOT in the closet? You mean you don’t apologize for your existence??

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Photos courtesy of Getty, Avalon Red.

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16 Responses to “Andrew Scott argues that people shouldn’t be described as ‘openly gay’ anymore”

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  1. Macky says:

    In his cirles that’s fine but in regular life it helps. There is a difference. Openly means open. It means you can acknowledge. Where some people don’t want it acknowledged at all. When you say someone is openly gay it means they don’t mind talking and showing.

    • Ameerah M says:

      I think that’s where the difference between “out” and “open” come into play. He is speaking specifically in regards to how the media talks about it.

      • Square2 says:

        There are some actors are out to their family & friends but not “out” in their professional field. I guess that’s why media use “openly”.

  2. Minority Report says:

    My favorite Moriarty! I’ll have to watch his new project.

    • Libra says:

      Ah!! I knew I had seen him somewhere and just couldn’t place him. Sherlock, of course.

      • Deering24 says:

        Man, he was terrific in that. An absolute hoot. 🥰😈 I’ve always suspected the writers were forced to bring Moriarty in too soon–a face card they probably wanted to play way later. Sherlock never really recovered from him checking out so soon…

  3. AD says:

    I agree with Hot Priest.

  4. Slush says:

    Thanks for writing about this – I had missed it otherwise.

    Really great commentary from AS and something I hope the media considers. As he rightly points out, people (that I know, anyway) dont make the distinction in day-to-day when talking about someone, unless specifically talking about them NOT being out to family or whoever.

    I will give the media one break on this, though, because they may want to make the distinction that the person is out so the writer isnt accused of outing them.

  5. Emme says:

    Like a lot of casual expressions people toss about, my pet peeve is “practising Catholic”. You don’t hear practising Methodist/Jew/Buddhist/Hindu/Muslim etc etc etc.
    So over the years my tart reply has been “Yes, and I’ll keep practising till I get it right!” The dumbfounded expression on the faces of those who’ve said “Are you a practicing Catholic?” makes me hope they’ll think about their choice of words in the future……but I don’t hold out much hope.

    I really feel for Andrew Scott and understand where he’s coming from. “Openly gay” isn’t an expression I would even think to either ask or comment on. It’s a loaded phrase and I can empathise with him in wanting to eradicate it.

    • Kim says:

      Eh, I refer to myself as a retired Catholic because I was raised so but had no choice in the matter. That being said, being raise Catholic….it was a very specific experience so I’ll ask someone if they’re practicing because even though I don’t consider myself religiously Catholic, it was such a part of my childhood I feel as though I’ve earned the merit badge that I survived it. But to each their own.

    • LizzieB says:

      People also say practising Jew or practising Muslim for sure. It’s not just for Christians. All it means is that while many of us are born into various faiths, those who uphold the rituals of religion in their lives are said to practise those rituals.

      • Kim says:

        Exactly I have friends of other religions who describe it as practicing or not practicing because we don’t really get a say in the Faith we are born into and some choose to continue while others don’t.

  6. Anya says:

    I think “openly gay” is useful when referring to the first person to win an award or set a sports record because it acknowledges the possibility of previous closeted winners, but I agree it’s a weird choice when talking about a specific person who’s publicly out!

  7. Bandito says:

    I agree with him. Out is a word with specific meaning tied to LGBTI+ history, it’s currently used in our community and straight people know what it means. ‘Openly’ is vaguer in meaning which is why can it can be used in a variety of descriptions ie I’m openly pansexual, I’m an openly neurodivergent womxn, I’m openly disabled etc… and that vagueness means that ‘openly’ lacks precision of meaning whereas ‘out’ has a precise meaning that speaks directly to the reality of navigating the world as an LGBTI+ person.