An in-the-know fashion industry source tells us he heard Jason Wu, the 26-year-old designer of Michelle Obama's much-admired inaugural gown, alleging that the NY Times outed him to his extended family this past weekend.
The first paragraph of writer Eric Wilson's glowing profile this past Sunday includes a blithe mention of Wu's boyfriend, Gustavo Rangel, who was present when Wu and a neighbor bought a Domino's pizza and sat down to watch the inauguration that would feature Michelle Obama making a dramatic entrance in one of Wu's gowns. Rangel oversees Wu's company's finances; Wilson includes at the end of the article the tidbit that Rangel is waiting for Milk actress Alison Pill to wrap up a dress fitting so he can take his boyfriend to a celebratory dinner. It's a sweet touch, but if what the tipster writes is true, Wilson's article was also the first Wu's extended family had heard of his sexual orientation.
The tipster explains that he overheard Wu saying that while his parents knew he is gay, some of his other relatives did not, and that the frank revelation has caused some awkward conversations. The tipster says the Taiwan-born designer's parents were "disappointed" their son couldn't have been more "discreet."
If true, this has to be a beyond awkward situation for Wu. Who wants to get outed, even accidentally, by the New York Times? Two years ago, Wu founded his business with money from his family; their "disappointment" would weigh heavily. Wu should be feeling on top of the world; he's young, talented, apparently happily coupled, and coming into professional success. My heart goes out to him if some in his family don't see it that way. It would be nice if this rumor wasn't true.
Other people have been outed in the media, and it must be deeply unpleasant. In October 2006, Isaiah Washington called T. R. Knight a "faggot" during an argument on the set of Grey's Anatomy; Knight wasn't commonly known to be homosexual prior to that. He later told People, "I hope being gay isn't the most interesting thing about me." And even a casual reader of Perez Hilton knows that gossip's penchant for viciously pursuing stars he perceives to be closeted. What's rare is that a publication as august as the New York Times would be the venue to have unwittingly marred Wu's moment.
The Spotlight Finds The Designer Jason Wu [NY Times]