In perhaps a sign of how far society has evolved in regards to the integration of homosexuals into the mainstream, a rising star in Hollywood played a gay role in a major theatrical release and it didn't cause a stir. The movie was Valentine's Day, which opened on February 12, 2010. What's curious, however, is why this relationship was invisible in the movie's previews.
Starring an ensemble cast, including Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway, Emma Stone, and Taylor Lautner, the movie at first blush appeared to be a typical Hollywood celebration of heterosexual romance. However, it had an under-publicized gay subplot involving characters played by Bradley Cooper and Grey's Anatomy heartthrob, Eric Dane. Dane is a closeted NFL quarterback who Cooper is preparing to break up with because of his impatience with the secretive life he is forced to lead with his boyfriend.
(In a case of life imitating art, rumors began circulating in 2013 about Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers being gay and living with a male "roommate" who was also his personal assistant.)
Despite being panned by most critics and moviegoers (it got an awful 18 rating on "Rotten Tomatoes"), the film had a huge opening weekend and ended up grossing more than $200 million worldwide. I didn't see the movie and didn't hear about its gay storyline until last year when a friend told me about it after he rented it on Netflix.
This unpublicized subplot brought to mind last year's movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It also had a gay character (played by Tom Wilkinson), but you would never have known it from watching the trailers for the movie.
So how has playing gay impacted Bradley Cooper's career? Well, in 2011 he was named People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive"; in 2013 he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role in the movie Silver Linings Playbook; and he's on the cover of January 2014's issue of GQ. So it seems not to have been an impediment - which is another welcome development.
Interestingly, this wasn't the first time Cooper played gay in a movie. Nine years earlier he was cast in another ensemble movie, Wet Hot American Summer, about counselors in a summer camp. In his first movie role, he has a gay make-out session with another counselor, played by Ian Michael Black. The movie was a big flop at the box office, but has since developed a huge cult following (Amy Poehler, Christopher Meloni and Paul Rudd also appeared in it).