Is It In to Out?

ByABC News
November 6, 2006, 5:54 PM

Nov. 7, 2006 — -- "Come out. Come out NOW! Come out in droves!"

When Neil Patrick Harris was forced to announce last weekend that he was "a very content gay man living my life to the fullest," he was responding to a recent onslaught of online speculation about his sexuality.

The actor, best known for his role as teenage doctor "Doogie Howser" in the late '80s, had been relentlessly targeted by bloggers who have posted photos of Harris with his boyfriend and who exhorted the star to out himself.

The experience mirrored that of Lance Bass, the former 'N Sync singer who outed himself in a People magazine cover story last July after years of online innuendo about his sexuality.

And just two weeks ago, "Grey's Anatomy" star T.R. Knight revealed that he's gay after he became the target of months of rumors spread on and other gossipy blogs and Web sites.

Among the most visible online gossips has been Mario Lavandeira, who runs After Harris declared his sexuality, Lavandeira crowed on his blog: "And we are not done yet!!! We are throwing down the gauntlet and issue a challenge to all the closeted celebrities out there: Come out. Come out NOW! Come out in droves!"

In addition, he posted a list of stars, including a cable news anchorman, an actress, two singers and some TV stars, declaring that they were his next targets.

The so-called mainstream media is only too happy to eat up the headlines, but it appears that Lavandeira's quest is a lonely one. After posting his missive, hundreds of his readers angrily took to their keyboards to express their outrage at the outing of Harris.

One fan commented: "Why are you picking on this guy? I don't think anyone has the right to out anyone else! It is up to the individual if they want to divulge their sexual orientation." Another one fumed: "So what if they choose to be closeted. Maybe their dad would have a heart attack if he knew -- you don't know."

Online gossip columnists were just as outraged. E!Online's Marc S. Malkin says it was "spiteful" to out Harris.