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Phil O'Hearn

The Theatre, Sexual Orientation, and Chewing Tobacco
by Phil O'Hearn

June 2003

Even filmmakers think that theatre people are gay. I knew that people in general thought that theatre people were gay. And I only started working with filmmakers recently, so I did not know that filmmakers held the opinion of the general public regarding theatrical types. But several of the filmmakers with whom I work at UT commented on the gayness of the Theatre Department.

I am a theatrical type and I am straight. However, it does not bother me if someone thinks that I am gay. Why should it? I have met some gay men in the theatre and they seemed to be "good people." I mean that in the Southern sense of the word, as well as otherwise.

Once when I was playing the role of King Henry in THE LION IN WINTER, I was conversing with some of the fellow actors. We were commenting on how one of our gay theatrical friends looked young for his age. I said, "Of course he looks young. It's clean living." This comment provoked an unintended laugh, even from our young-looking gay friend. But he did not smoke or drink or have any vices of which I knew.

But, I am not gay. And I will tell you why. I chew tobacco. Not one gay man on the planet Earth chews tobacco. This is an astonishing fact that merits a federally funded study to be headed up by me and for which I will deserve an inordinate amount of compensation. Nevertheless, I chew tobacco, which might also explain why I wear dentures. But I think that chewing tobacco is better than smoking.

When people smoke, they expose the people around them to secondhand smoke. But there is no such thing as secondhand chewing tobacco; unless you French kiss someone while chewing tobacco. And what are the odds of that happening?

If a gay man desires to remain in the closet, he should simply carry a can of chewing tobacco around in his back pocket

And, if you are wondering what the point of this story is, there is none. I write it simply to help keep Austin weird. Lord knows I am doing my part.

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