“Ghost” screenwriter comes out as gay at age 81

Bruce Joel Rubin at the ShoWest 2007 Awards Ceremony. Paris Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada
Bruce Joel Rubin at the ShoWest 2007 Awards Ceremony. Paris Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada Photo: Shutterstock

Bruce Joel Rubin, the screenwriter who penned 1990’s Ghost, has come out publicly as gay.

“I’ve never not been gay,” Rubin, 81, told The Guardian. “I am fully gay, and I always knew it.”

The Oscar winner recently published a memoir, It’s Only a Movie, in which he revealed his sexuality publicly for the first time. “I don’t like that I was closeted for so long,” he told The Guardian. “But it would just have confused people.”

That’s because Rubin has been married to a woman for close to 50 years. His wife, Blanche, has known that he was gay since shortly after they met, and Rubin says the couple have had what he describes as a “conjoined relationship” with another man.

“She had a private moment with him, and so did I,” he says. “Also, I had a few other things along the way, which I didn’t write about because they might embarrass people. It’s not like I’ve been dead to that world. But I’m happily gay.”

Rubin and Blanche remain married, and he says he’s recently come out to their children and grandchildren. “I didn’t want to leave this world with any secrets,” he explained.

As The Guardian notes, Ghost has long been read as a stealth queer classic. Queer audiences and film scholars point to a scene in which the Oscar-winning film’s lead character Sam, a ghost played by Patrick Swayze, inhabits the body of medium Oda Mae (Whoopi Goldberg) to have a moment of physical contact with his living girlfriend Molly (Demi Moore). While we only see Swayze and Moore interacting onscreen, queer audiences have always been aware that it’s actually two women touching each other in the world of the film.

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

Rubin also reveals that another famous scene from the film, in which Swayze’s character simply replies “Ditto” when Moore’s says “I love you,” was inspired by his life. “Ditto” was how Rubin responded to a college girlfriend’s declaration of love, which he couldn’t reciprocate because he knew he was gay.

Part of the reason Rubin didn’t pursue a life as an out gay man for so long was, he says, because of his interest in S&M. “There were no clubs I knew about, no way to announce that part of my sexuality,” he explains. “I had no idea there were so many people who were invested in the same ride.”

But Rubin doesn’t seem to have much in the way of regret. “Clearly, I held back my sexuality. My sexual life was always very internalized. Of course, one wants orgasmic life, but I had orgasms with Blanche. She and I had a good sex life,” he says.

And that part of his life isn’t over. “When you hit your 80s and you think your libido is gone, it comes flying back,” he says. “Male beauty for me is overwhelmingly powerful. Just seeing someone in the supermarket, I feel this explosive joy.”

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