NEWS > ENTERTAINMENT > NEWSWEEK MAKES IT OFFICIAL: GAYS ARE OUT
NEWSWEEK MAKES IT OFFICIAL: GAYS ARE OUT
May 12 2010
New York, NY – John Gielgud. Roddy McDowall. Richard Chamberlin. Anthony Perkins. Ian McKellen. Nigel Hawthorne. At first glance seeing all those names listed one might think that this was the cast of some revered film that
truckloads of awards. They are not however, they are a list of just a few of the many openly gay actors that have graced the silver screen. Though many came out of the closet well after their prime they have, to a person, produced some of the greatest performances ever on film irrespective of their sexual orientation.
Perceptions being what they are however these actors and dozens of others like them have struggled with being gay in Hollywood. The long held assumption that a gay person can never play a straight person, or at least not be taken seriously in such a role, has limited the number of people who have publicly declared their orientation. Whether fairly or not the fear that the masses will not accept a gay actor in a straight role has limited the acceptance of homosexuality, and understandably caused great personal strife for the people themselves. However it appears that their fears were well founded after a Newsweek article declared definitively that while straight actors may be able to play gay, the opposite can never be true.
“For decades, Hollywood has kept gay actors—Tab Hunter, Van Johnson, Anthony Perkins, Rock Hudson, etc.—in the closet, to their own personal detriment. The fear was, if people knew your sexual orientation, you could never work again. Thankfully, this seems ridiculous in the era of Portia de Rossi and Neil Patrick Harris,” wrote Newsweek’s Ramin Setoodeh. “But the truth is, openly gay actors still have reason to be scared. While it's OK for straight actors to play gay (as Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger did in Brokeback Mountain), it's rare for someone to pull off the trick in reverse. De Rossi and Harris do that on TV, but they also inhabit broad caricatures, not realistic characters likes the ones in Up in the Air or even The Proposal.”
A number of major actors such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta have long been rumoured to be gay but are still officially heterosexual, though not much in terms of acting.
“There was a time when homosexuality was widely accepted, when it was even
celebrated but that hasn’t been for a long time and certainly hasn’t been the case in the era of mega celebrity. Hollywood has long worked to keep homosexuality deep in the closet, even going so far as to marry off people like Rock Hudson or Charles Laughton. It’s certainly improved in recent years but it has never been totally normalized,” said Scrape TV Sexual Identity analyst Maria Kant. “This article, though not definitive by any stretch, means a great deal. It voices the opinions of the vast majority of people who read articles and though it may come up against some resistance, it has been written down and people don’t just write things down and not mean them.”
The author is apparently gay himself and also an excellent writer.
“It would be nice to live in a world where such bias didn’t exist but that simply isn’t the case. Actors of colour have had the same problem for years and it has really only been in the last two decades that people like Will Smith and Denzel Washington have been able to play roles that weren’t tied to their race in any way,” continued Kent. “It appears now that that simply isn’t the case for gay performers. They simply have no shot at being taken seriously in a straight role. Newsweek has written it and they wouldn’t have done that if it weren’t true.”
In response to the article, 20th Century Fox has put Neil Patrick Harris’ show ‘How I met your Mother’ on the chopping block. Harris plays a straight character in the show.
Samantha Dryden, Entertainment Correspondent