Kelly McGillis: A Mature, Out Maverick Talks To Advocate
Kelly McGillis is all about keepin’ it real (to borrow a cliché phrase) sicne coming out to SheWired (first!) in 2009. She recently spoke to the Advocate about her new film, her Hollywood reception post coming out, entering a civil union with her longtime partner, and why “life is too short” to read her own press or be anybody’s role model.
McGillis chatted up the Advocate’s Brandon Voss about her new film coming to theaters this year, Stake Land, her Hollywood reception post coming out, entering a civil union with her longtime partner, and why “life is too short” to read her own press or be anybody’s role model.
Here are a few of the standouts from the new interview on Advocate.com:
As you get back into films, you’re approaching the Hollywood machine as an out gay woman for the first time. Does it feel different? Does Hollywood look at you differently?
I have no clue and I really don’t care. I’m not a part of that world at all. If I cared, I wouldn’t have ever said anything. If all that was important to me, I would’ve kept my mouth shut.
You had a very low-key coming out in 2009. In lieu of a “Yep, I’m Gay” People cover or a Today show interview, you made a casual comment about “being done with the man thing”in an interview for SheWired.com. Is that what you imagined it would be like?
I never imagined it happening. I never thought it would happen at all, so I didn’t have any scenario in my head. It was one of those beautiful moments that happen in life where a question was posed and I responded as honestly and openly as I possibly could, because the time was right in my life. I had no image of how it should be, because I don’t live my life like that now. I spent most of my life being miserable thinking that things should be a certain way, and they aren’t.
The thought of coming out never crossed your mind in 2008 while you were playing a closeted Army colonel on The L Word? Or when you filmed those steamy lesbian sex scenes for The Monkey’s Mask in 2000?
No, because I had children I had to care for. We lived in an area where people were scared of any differences. My priority has always been my children.
Even with an empty nest, you still live in the small town of Collingswood, N.J. Has there been any negative response?
I’m sure there was, but I didn’t pay attention to it. I didn’t pay attention to the negative or the positive. It’s none of my business or concern what other people think of me. I spent a lot of my life worrying about that, and it’s a big waste of time. It’s what I think of me and how I live my life that matters.
But once you came out, you became a role model whether you like it or not.
Yeah, but what a terrible burden and a huge responsibility that is. Listen, my life has been screwed up. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and dumb choices in my life. I’ve had some really crazy things happen, mostly of my own doing. Do I really want to think of myself as a role model? I don’t think so. The truth is, if anything, I would like to be seen as a human being doing the best I can with what I’ve been given, and as someone who muddled through somehow and didn’t kill anybody.
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Any pressure from the gay community to lead a pride parade or film a gay rights PSA?
No. I do believe in the Human Rights Campaign’s efforts, and I’m a part of that, but it’s not as if I’m standing on a soapbox. This is my fundamental belief: I have no right to use my public popularity to sway people to think as I do. I have my thoughts, beliefs, and values, but those are mine. I came to those conclusions after living a long life, trying different things, asking questions, and finding out what worked and what didn’t. Those are my conclusions, and I would hope that other people can come to theirs on their own. Maybe I can lead by example, by living a whole, honest life, but not by telling people what to believe.
Whether it’s overcoming rape in 1982, battling substance abuse, or struggling with your sexuality, your story has the potential to help and inspire many people. Have you ever considered writing a memoir?
Listen, darlin’, I’ll definitely do a memoir at some point, but nobody will believe it. And I’ve got to wait until quite a few people have left us first.
You and longtime girlfriend Melanie Leis entered into a civil union in September. Why was it important for you to take that step in your relationship?
She had been asking me for 10 years. It never really mattered to me, but it became really important for her as something that would make her feel reassured, so I did it. I can’t say that it was a political move. I did it out of respect for somebody that I loved very much.
Political statement or not, you invited The New York Times out to Collingswood to cover the ceremony.
That wasn’t my intention to begin with, but when they asked me if they could cover it, that’s what I chose to do, because I do believe in equality for everybody.
That Times feature was very revealing, and both you and Melanie were surprisingly candid about your rocky relationship and shared history of substance abuse. Were you happy with the piece?
I never read it. I don’t read those things, so I don’t know.
Does that mean you won’t read our interview?
Probably not. [Laughs] Life is too short.
To read more about McGillis’ upcoming feature films, her laidback life philosophy, why she's waiting to write her memoirs, and her plans for the future, read the full article on Advocate.com right now.
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