I think Matt Damon is a terrific actor, and not an awful person, but he keeps getting himself into trouble, most recently with his awkward, misguided remarks about gay actors. He said, essentially, that gay actors should remain closeted, because the personal lives of all actors are better left private and mysterious. Following an internet outcry, he went on Ellen to explain himself and insist that he’d been quoted out of context and misunderstood. He said that when he and Ben Affleck won Oscars for writing Good Will Hunting, some people assumed they were lovers; Matt said that he hated having to “throw his gay friends under the bus”, by announcing his heterosexuality. In a list of life’s agonies, a movie star having to publically confess that he’s straight doesn’t seem all that painful.
Matt has a history of concerned liberalism, but what his remarks demonstrated was not just an offhand case of straight-guy privilege, but movie-star distance. Matt’s been famous and applauded for a long time, which may have influenced his sense of everyday reality. Above all, his remarks are a classic example of the difference between straight people and gay people: I don’t think it occured to Matt that for a gay actor, words like privacy and mystery are code for homophobia.
Matt played Scott Thorson, Liberace’s boyfriend, in Behind the Candelabra. Liberace sued a magazine for insinuating that he was gay, and he died of AIDS while denying he had the disease – which is what can happen when a performer is desperate to keep their privacy and mystery intact.