Never Too Late

Ghost screenwriter comes out as gay in new memoir

The screenwriter of the iconic 1990 film Ghost—which most of us recall for the horniest supernatural scene in modern cinema—has come out as gay at 81 years old. Writer Bruce Joel Rubin explained that he came out late in life because he “didn’t want to leave this world with any secrets.”

“I’ve never not been gay,” Rubin told The Guardian following the publication of his recent memoir It’s Only a Movie. “I am fully gay, and I always knew it.” His wife has also known it for over 50 years. But while Rubin has come out to his family, he has not been out publicly. “I don’t like that I was closeted for so long,” he said. “But it would just have confused people.”

Not only has his wife Blanche known throughout their marriage, he told her shortly after they met in 1970. Why not go through life as an out gay man? Mostly, it sounds as though Rubin was largely ignorant of the gay community in a time when Stonewall riots were still fresh. “There were no clubs I knew about, no way to announce that part of my sexuality,” he explained. “I had no idea there were so many people who were invested in the same ride.”

He and Blanche were happy all the same. “She and I had a good sex life,” he said, adding that they maintained openness in their relationship. “We had a conjoined relationship with a guy I liked in our ashram. She had a private moment with him, and so did I. Also, I had a few other things along the way, which I didn’t write about because they might embarrass people.”

Rubin credits his experience as a gay man with inspiring his screenwriting career. “Being ‘other’ is what led me to be a writer,” he said. “I had to step out of the mainstream of life and look at it from a different angle. Finding yourself on the fringe of human experience is a gift rather than a torment. A movie like Ghost reached hundreds of millions of people, and it’s my little hidden lifestyle that gave me a voice to speak to them.”

All of a sudden, a lot about the movie Ghost makes sense. In particular, there’s a moment when the titular ghost (Patrick Swayze) enters the body of a fraudulent medium (Whoopi Goldberg) in order to reunite with his wife (Demi Moore). As the two women caress hands, Moore’s character recognizes the touch of her departed husband. 

“It occurred to me but it didn’t matter,” Rubin said of the clear gay subtext. “What I tried to emphasize was that even though it was Oda Mae’s (Goldberg’s) hands, it felt like Sam (Swayze). I didn’t think of it as lesbianism but I knew there would be people who would go: ‘Hmm.’”

These days, Rubin is very much enjoying life as an out, proud 81-year-old gay man. “​​It’s not like I’ve been dead to that world. But I’m happily gay,” he said. “And I’ll tell you something you’ll find out: when you hit your 80s and you think your libido is gone, it comes flying back. So big! Male beauty for me is overwhelmingly powerful. Just seeing someone in the supermarket, I feel this explosive joy.”

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