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 contract 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)