Scrumptious jake gyllenhaal, who will be seen this December in director Ang Lee's gay-cowboys-in-lurve film "Brokeback Mountain," can be seen right now on the October cover of Out, a gay magazine. Inside he talks the talk about playing the role, sharing just enough tantalizing bits about his wild sex scenes with also-scrumptious co-star Heath Ledger that readers won't be too let down by the article's general theme, which (always) is: Sorry, fellas, he's straight. Avowed heteros who've appeared on the cover of Out include: Christopher Meloni, the Rock, Colin Farrell, Jesse L. Martin, James Van Der Beek and that irresistible hottie (though probably noncompliant) Newt Gingrich.

As with some of the other male celebs who've done this promotional dance, Gyllenhaal in the Out interview expertly bats aside any notion that he himself could be gay while praising everything about gays -- a common Hollywood variation on "Seinfeld's" not that there's anything wrong with that. Through Hollywood's prism of PR paranoia (hello, Tom Cruise; hello, Richard Gere), the male celebrity who puts himself on the cover of Out can be seen only as especially brave and open-minded; Out (now owned by its once-rival the Advocate) more than feeds that premise, lavishing newsstand allure on the star and teasing readers with cover lines that are essentially a come-on. (Alas, again -- sorry, fellas.)

Out was founded in the early 1990s with ambitions to be a sort of gay and lesbian Vanity Fair or Esquire, with hard-hitting political and cultural journalism made more palatable here and there by celebrities and fashion. But the magazine quickly seized on an odd, counterintuitive fact: It would never survive unless editors started putting straight movie stars on the cover and more articles inside about $50 shaving lotions. This has seemed particularly egregious to uppity, activist gays, who, in the Whole Foods checkout line, strain to recall the last time they saw a gay person on the cover. (It happens, frequently: Tom Ford, the Queer Eyes, Ellen, Melissa and countless nameless swimsuit models to whom we'll give the benefit of fabulousness.) Over time, Out has made one thing clear: Pretending to be gay is kinda cool; actually being gay kills not only showbiz careers but circulation numbers, too.

E-mail: celebrity@washpost.com.