Sean Hayes – Straight For Pay

All the buzz this week 
about  gay actors playing straight,

is all over the news it seems. NEWSWEEK first stirred things up May 10 in an article called “Straight Jacket , Heterosexual actors play gay all the time. Why doesn’t it ever work in reverse?”   in which gay writer Ramin Setoodeh complained that it’s “distracting” and a “big pink elephant in the room” when gay actors play straight roles.

His primary example was Sean Hayes, the former Will & Grace costar who recently came out  (GASP! SURPRISE!) and is now a Tony nominee for the Broadway musical Promises, Promises. Setoodeh griped that Hayes’ performance turns the show into “unintentional camp” because he “seems like he’s trying to hide something.” As opposed to all those years on TV, when he apparently wasn’t trying to hide something, even though back then he actually was.

I do agree he is  HALF right, I think it’s very hard, to see an actor who is straight OR gay, play a gay character for 10 years, and they try to accept them as straight. 10 years is a long time! You feel like you know this person so well.  Now seeing them in a new role, it’s kind of like a friend being changed. or  Brainwashed! I think it is very different, say in the case of Jake Gyllenhaal, who played  gay one time.

On the flipside, you have actor Eric Stonestreet, who is straight, playing  gay  on  Modern Family.  I never knew Stonestreet  from  CSI, so I only know him as gay. Let’s say Modern Family goes on for a number of years, I think I would have a very hard time accepting him in a straight role as well.

I think this is an issue of typecasting – not so much gay or straight for pay. 

Actress Kristin Chenoweth Blasts Newsweek on their website.

 She  says, “I’d normally keep silent on such matters and write such small-minded viewpoints off as perhaps a blip in common sense. But the offense I take to this article, and your decision to publish it, is not really even related to my profession or my work with Hayes or Jonathan Groff (also singled out in the article as too ‘queeny’ to play ’straight.’)

This article offends me because I am a human being, a woman and a Christian,” she continued. “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 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!”

She goes on  to defend Hayes and Groff’s acting work, also name-checking How I Met Your Mother womanizer Neil Patrick Harris and Sex and the City’s Cynthia Nixon as examples of gay actors who play straight quite convincingly. BUT THEY NEVER PLAYED BIG SCREAMING QUEENS  FOR  YEARS   ON  TEVELVISION!

NEWSWEEK  followed up with – At NEWSWEEK, we’re used to reporting the news, not being news. But in the last few days, our story “Straight Jacket” has become something of a sensation, and not, for the most part, in the good sense. The piece examined the difficulty gay actors can have in being cast as straight romantic characters. We’d hoped to stir discussion of why there are still so few openly gay performers in Hollywood, but that message was overwhelmed by readers who thought we were being hurtful and small-minded in our assessment. When a story is so widely misinterpreted, it’s obvious we failed at making our point.

So in an effort to clear some smoke away from this fire, we spoke to Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning and openly gay screenwriter of Milk, and Jarrett Barrios, the president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), to get their assessment of the larger issues surrounding sexuality in Hollywood .