Bil Browning

Verizon Guy Comes Out: Can You Hear Him Now?

Filed By Bil Browning | April 14, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Living
Tags: coming out of the closet, Paul Marcarelli, Verizon

Remember Paul Marcarelli? He's the actor who starred in all of the Verizon commercials and kept repeating the tagline, "Can you hear me now?" Now that his contract with Verizon is winding down, the actor's verizon guycontract restrictions are being lifted and he's finally able to let the world know that he's a gay man.

His job concerns and a very strict contract that specified a certain amount of anonymity forced Marcarelli into the closet professionally although he'd been out before he got the job as Verizon's pitchman.

Marcarelli has a home in Guilford, Connecticut, and five summers ago, kids in an SUV began driving past at night, yelling, "Can you hear me now?" Later, says Marcarelli, "they started screaming 'faggot' up at my house. It got progressively more profane as the years went by." One night, it happened while some friends were over, and he decided to call the police. "As soon as I hung up the phone," he says, "I realized that in order for them to do anything about it, it would have to become a report that would go into a police log." Worried about the publicity--and the questions that might ensue if it came out that the actor playing Test Man was gay--he declined to file a report.

I can't imagine being forced into the closet for a job - especially after having the freedom to work in the world of LGBT activism and journalism. Marcarelli has been the face of Verizon for nine years. The company told him last September in an e-mail that they were going to go in a different direction with their commercials. Between that and the forced closet, don't they sound like a great company to work for? They score a 70 on the HRC Corporate Equality Index. (img src)


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Max Vincent | April 14, 2011 8:15 PM

WE hear you...loud and queer!

I never noticed it before, Bil, but there's a striking resemblance between you two. Now that I think about it, you guys have never been seen together in public. Hmmm... Mild mannered activist/blogger by day, Verizon Wireless pitch man by night. No wonder it's been kept hush hush.

You think? He's better looking (and much younger!)

I never thought about the Verizon guy's sexuality. But now that he mentions it....

My wife works for Verizon and they offer same-sex partner health benefits which is more than many other companies offer us...his sexuality had nothing to do with his job and thus was not important to be known. IMHO

Rick Sutton | April 15, 2011 11:02 AM

If Verizon were so damned open-minded, why did they insist on a muzzle clause in his contract?

I'm so damned tired of companies/folks who mouth all the right words, but whose walk does not match their talk.

I would have to think that his sexuality had nothing to do with the job, also. He did last all those years, after all. Given his exposure over the years, he ought not to have much difficulty in finding a new, well-paying gig.

wow. this is about as shocking as James Earl Jones announcing he is black.

i'm ... whelmed.

now, back to my nap ... hold my calls, please ...

Steve Collier | April 15, 2011 7:25 PM

The muzzle clause in his contract was cruel and homophobic.

But I find it difficult to muster up too much sympathy for him.

He could have ignored it.

Verizon is not the only job in the world he can do.

He could have chosen to live an honest life and exposaed Verizon for its homophobia.