Back on April 26, Newsweek went and posted an absurdly homophobic article on their website that essentially stated that while straight actors play gay roles all the time, gay actors cannot play straight roles. You guys just pray about that ridiculous statement for a minute.
The article mentioned actors like Sean Hayes (formerly Jack on Will and Grace, currently the lead in the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises) and Jonathan Groff (Rachel’s new boyfriend on Glee, also a pretty big deal on Broadway) come off as “wooden and insincere” while playing straight. I have not seen Promises, Promises, but I watch Glee like it’s my job, and Jonathan Groff could seduce the fuck out of anyone, male or female, so you better open your eyes, Newsweek.
Kristin Chenoweth, Sean Hayes’ costar and a guest star on Glee, had some strong words to say about this article:
“This article offends me because I am a human being, a woman and a Christian. For example, there was a time when Jewish actors had to change their names because anti-Semites thought no Jew could convincingly play Gentile. Setoodeh [the author of the article] even goes so far as to justify his knee-jerk homophobic reaction to gay actors by accepting and endorsing that ‘as viewers, we are molded by a society obsessed with dissecting sexuality, starting with the locker room torture in junior high school.’ Really? We want to maintain and proliferate the same kind of bullying that makes children cry and in some recent cases have even taken their own lives? That’s so sad, Newsweek!”
Ryan Murphy, the creator of Glee, has taken this a step further by inviting the president of GLAAD to boycott Newsweek until apologies are made to all actors mentioned in the original article. The author hasn’t apologized, but he has attempted to explain his reasoning and point of view on the issue, and nobody even cares.
I’ve seen all sides of this issue in action, and it seems to be more of an individualized thing. I’ve seen straight actors play gay and vice versa with no problems whatsoever. I played a lesbian once, and nobody told me I was wooden and insincere. I’ve also seen gay boys struggle to butch up as required by certain roles. However, my favorite experience with this issue by far is watching a straight man be completely unable to play a flamboyant gay man. If you have never seen a somewhat insecure straight man attempt to do an elaborate drag routine involving a stripper pole to “Proud Mary” in a gold minidress, I highly recommend it.