If Richard Burton was gay we’ll probably never really know for certain. And that’s because anything homosexual in Hollywood has always been kept quiet. To a certain extent it’s still going on right now. After reading and reviewing a biography about Merv Griffin and writing several blog posts about the book, I came to the conclusion that everything in the book either could have been exaggerated or it very well could have been absolute truth. No one screws gays over more than Hollywood or Washington, D.C.
Two things happened earlier this week that prompted this post. One, Tony and I were watching the made for TV movie about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s complicated love affair and Tony said Richard Burton was gay. I’ve read a lot of celeb bios over the years and I just didn’t remember reading anything about Richard Burton being gay so I argued the point and we agreed to disagree. Then later that night I looked Burton up in the most basic of searches and read that there were, indeed, rumors of homosexuality linked to him. He even talked about it himself in an interview.
In a February 1975 interview with his friend David Lewin he said he “tried” homosexuality. He also suggested that perhaps all actors were latent homosexuals, and “we cover it up with drink“. In 2000, Ellis Amburn’s biography of Elizabeth Taylor suggested that Burton had an affair with Laurence Olivier and tried to seduce Eddie Fisher, although this was strongly denied by Burton’s younger brother Graham Jenkins.
The second thing that prompted this post was when one of my readers with whom I correspond on a regular basis talked about his situation. He’s married with children, living completely in the closet, he’s always known he was gay, and he thinks a lot of that has to do with the fact that he comes from an extremely concentrated, strict religious background and lives in an isolated area. I can’t go into details about that because it would violate his privacy. However, I did try to explain to him that his situation isn’t that much different from thousands of other gay men just like him who don’t come from his strict background. Some are Catholic and live in New York City. Some are Jewish and live in big cities like Chicago and LA. The point I tried to make to him was that his situation might be unique in many ways because his lifestyle is so strict and he is so isolated, but he’s not the only one who is in the closet for some very valid reasons.
Men like Richard Burton were victims of their times and their circumstances. This article backs up the basic search I did.
Munn disappears unconvincingly down the trail of trivial titivation. Was Richard Burton gay? You’d have thought you might as well ask if the Pope’s a Muslim. It turns out that John Gielgud assured Munn that Philip Burton, the teacher whose name the actor adopted, was a bit of a screamer on the quiet. “His mentor,” moans Munn, “had more on his mind than mentoring.”
It’s no secret that Liz Taylor had more than a few gay fans, or that she had more than a few gay friends…and possibly husbands. A lot of this info is backed up in other bios I’ve read, like the one about Merv Griffin.
But soon Hunter dumped the gorgeous actress in favor of Tony Perkins. Wilding and Taylor tied the knot and had two sons. But Wilding continued an affair with bisexual actor Stewart Granger. As her marriage to Wilding fell apart, Liz found consolation in the arms of yet another homo- sexual, according to the bio. Elizabeth and Rock Hudson became intimate, the book asserts, but the affair wasn’t a memorable one. “After several more between-marriage affairs, Elizabeth, then 24, landed in the arms of WIFE-BATTERING Hollywood producer Michael Todd, 47, who became her third husband,” said the insider.
This article is about as insulting to gay people as it gets.
But Burton’s brother Graham Jenkins described the claims as ridiculous.
He said that nobody who knew Richard would give it any credence because his brother was “the most heterosexual man most people had ever encountered”.
Whether or not Richard Burton was gay isn’t even the point. When a biography came out a few years ago suggesting that Burton might have been gay and that he had an affair with Sir Laurence Olivier, Burton’s family came out in protest and tried to dispute it as if being gay were an outright crime. They were vicious about it. In other words, no one ever comes out in protest about a man having too much sex with women. But God forbid a man should be linked to gays in any way at all and they all come out with their claws. And ironically, if Burton was gay he never would have told his family, so his family are not reliable sources. In fact they would have been the last people who would know for certain. In those days homosexual men remained in the closet mostly BECAUSE of family. But more than that, his family’s reaction to the possibility that he might have been gay is a perfect example of why he wouldn’t have come out of the closet if he had been gay. As a side note, imagine if Richard Burton had been keeping it a secret that he was half African American. He wasn’t doing that. I’m just showing an example. Would his family have come out in protest so viciously in that case? I don’t think so.
The facts are sketchy and no one will ever really know for certain if Burton was gay or not. For that matter, no one will ever know if any of these alleged gay film stars and celebs were gay either. I’ve always been against things like National Coming Out Day and events that put pressure on gay people who are in the closet. I don’t think it’s fair and I believe that coming out is a personal choice only the individual should make when he or she is ready. In the same respect, I also think it’s a little sad that if there were (or still are…lol) gay men like Richard Burton who have the power to change the world and give other gay men hope, they didn’t/don’t come out. I do think that’s going to change in the future, thanks to men like Matt Bomer and Neil Patrick Harris. But what a shame it is to think that someone as talented and powerful as Richard Burton might have been gay and never admitted it. Burton was a heavy drinker…some say alcohol ruled his life. They say that most heavy drinkers drown their problems in alcohol for a reason. And I can’t think of a reason better to drink than not being able to admit who you really are.