Open Letter To Matt Damon

Subject: Open Letter To Matt Damon
From: Me
Date: 15 Oct 2015

Dear Mr Damon,
Recently I read quite a few articles that made references to your comments about gay actors keeping their personal lives private and how coming out will most likely have a negative effect on their careers. (Because who wants to see a gay actor as a leading man right?)
Now I need to firstly clarify that I am a massive fan of your work. Good Will Hunting was an amazing, well written, brilliantly acted and ultimately thought provoking film. I have studied and performed some of the scenes myself. It’s a masterpiece. I am a fan. But I need to say after reading your comments and then watching your ‘retraction’ interview on Ellen (the most beautiful cover girl there ever was) with all due respect Mr Damon – you broke my heart.
Here’s the lowdown on me; I am twenty-four years old, I live in Melbourne, Australia, all I’ve ever wanted to be was an actor and I am a gay male.
When I was 16 I thought being gay was the worst thing in the world. I thought I was going to live a life of unhappiness. I could never be an out actor because ‘gasp’ the world was constantly telling me it was hard to be an actor but it was a MILLION times harder to be an out gay actor. Nearly ten years later I’m thinking maybe things haven’t changed as much as I thought.
No-one will hate you more then you hate yourself. I know this. I have lived this. But I thought in 2015 things were changing. People (Networks/Production Companies) are telling us ‘Hey it’s okay you’re Gay/Black/Asian/Latino/Transgendered let’s tell your story, give you a part, let’s not make you a punch line or a caricature.” It’s okay to be different let’s celebrate it. But let’s not talk about it. Let’s not bring your partner to the premiere. Appear ‘single’ it’s better for your image (us). Also people might think you’re gay but maybe don’t tell them you are. Be mysterious. Yeah because that’s not slowly killing my soul.
(I should probably add as a footnote or whatever that I am not someone who goes to ‘premieres’ or even sets that much. I am an actor who so far this year has done an un-paid web series for 4 months, some educational films and been put on hold for 2 commercials. I sell jeans in a shop to pay my rent but I’m trying my darn hardest to become a working actor who just happens to be gay)
We are meant to be this open accepting society. Unfortunately, Mr Damon is correct in some of his assumptions. While severely lacking in most films- diversity seems to be primarily present in Television. We have complete diverse (or as I like to call it ‘accurate depictions of people in real life’) programs like Orange is the New Black, Empire and Grey’s Anatomy (Continue your total word domination Shonda). Also Laverne Cox deserves all the awards and Viola Davis you seriously inspire me every day.
For me personally as a gay man I have the effervescent Matt Bomer, Jussie Smollett, Andrew Rannells, Neil Patrick Harris and many more to keep me fighting and inspiring me to live my dream. I would happily go to the cinemas and pay to see any of these men as the leading man.
I know we have a lot more pressing issues to talk about. Some of the most amazing female directors need to be making more films (Ava Duvernay- just four of your amazing films a year that’s all I’m asking)
The current discussion about fair wages and equal pay for women- in all aspects of film/TV/LIFE (I mean seriously? It’s disgusting. How is this even a conversation we are having in the 21st century) But I’ll leave that to the beautiful and brilliant Jennifer Lawrence’s of the world to argue.
We are so lucky to work in this industry. An industry of storytellers and creators. We make people happy and we make them cry. We make people feel. And in return we get to be somebody else, if even for a moment. I might never play a ‘straight’ character. I’m okay with that. I signed up for this to tell stories. To educate. To enlighten. My sexuality should not define my life let alone my career. But I will no longer be afraid of it, or even worse hide it. I am who I am.
So Matt (I feel I can call you Matt- we’ve connected through this letter I can tell) instead of discouraging or telling people to hide their lives. Encourage us. Tell us it’s okay to be who we are. Tell that sixteen-year-old kid who is completely alone and scared of being gay, who just wants to be a working actor. Tell him it’s okay. Tell him It gets better. Tell him to be brave. Tell him things are changing. Tell him he can walk the red carpet holding his incredibly hot footballer boyfriends hand (this is my fantasy Matt) and people will still love, and respect you, may be even more so for it.
All the best for your future endeavors Matt I mean no disrespect to anyone in this letter especially you.
Hey maybe one day we can work together. You can teach me all you know. Like how to win an Oscar at 27 or how to grow potatoes in Mars.
But who cares what I think I’m just a struggling Aussie actor trying to make it in the big city.
Kind Regards,
Ajay Banks