While Hadleigh’s books are undeniably fun — and in person, he’s happy to dish (“You have a young gay actor who is playing a superhero from a comic book, and he’s pals with another big movie star, yet they each have beard girlfriends”) — he’s unwilling to deem them or the media trivial. “Holly-wood impacts not only on our lives in this country, but around the world.” (His books have been translated into 14 languages.) He is dismayed by the tendency to resist the truth, particularly when that resistance persists at the expense of identity, when a false idol is worshiped over one’s own cultural heritage, say, or religious or sexual orientation. Hadleigh has come under fire repeatedly for outing celebrities, not only from obvious antagonists such as Fox-network blowhard Bill O’Reilly, who took him on over a quote from Marlon Brando, but from gays themselves, who don’t want to see the images of their cherished icons ruffled. That, to him, is proof of the insidiousness of celebrity myths, and he doesn’t find that entertaining at all.
“It’s self-hatred,” he says firmly. “When you grow up in a culture that is anti-this, anti-that, you internalize it, you buy those myths that you’re not as good.” Such a purchase seems never to have crossed Hadleigh’s mind, and it’s his self- assurance that positions him as one of our breezier and more accessible Hollywood truth tellers. And that’s no lie.