Wednesday, May 12, 2010


In a recent article written by openly gay columnist Ramin Setoodeh, Mr. Setoodeh asked the question, "Can the public accept gay actors playing straight roles in theatre, television and film?"  He pointed out the Tony nominated performance in Promises, Promises of Sean Hayes and several other actors on TV and film.  Of Mr. Hayes's performance Mr Setoodeh wrote in part, "...his emotions often seem pale to the point of colorlessness...his relationship with his costar Kristin Chenoweth feels more like that of a younger brother than a would-be lover and protector."

Can the public accept gay actors playing straight roles in theatre, television and film?  My answer is a resounding yes. Most gay people have been playing straight in a much tougher venue for several Milena.  Life.  I'm sure Mr. Setoodeh has played this intolerable role and pulled it off quite well.  It is good to live in a time of revelation where many people can feel free to be themselves.  The LGBT community is enjoying the option to live openly as a person with gender variance.  I'm one of them as a transgendered person.  But with that openness comes consequences.  Not just the obvious backlash from the straight community often armed with their few Bible quotations but a more insidious and ultimately destructive force.  The shame of an openly gay person being gay.  I have seen this too many times in my life.  When LGBT individuals stand up and let the world know they are gay, they may find support in the LGBT community and close friends, but that is simply not enough.  

When you announce to the world such a statement you reject all you believed at one point to be true.  You can only live the new lie for so long without it affecting you.  You have stated that you are gay and proud to be so and I do not doubt for one moment that is what you believe.  But loving yourself, after stating this to the world, is hard to do especially when you have been told all your life that you can't.  Repeatedly I have seen gay people create a new persona that is not them but a protective shield from themselves.  When you are in this place of self loathing and self detachment you may say and do things that are destructive not only to yourself but also many others as well.  I fear that Ramin Setoodeh is suffering from this.  He is lashing out not at Sean Hayes or any other gay actor but himself.  Perez Hilton does the same.  Their words and actions are the manifestation of their own denial that they don't love themselves because they are gay and other gay people should suffer the same false notion about themselves.  

First of all, let's getting something straight and I know this to be true. God loves you as you are.  You are created by God as you are and there is nothing that can change that.  Accepting this is impossible for many gay people but it simply is the truth.  Once you know that it is true it doesn't matter what anyone says or does. You are allowed finally to love yourself.  Do you have to find a faith community to have this realization?  No. But you do need some people that can represent all orientations, station and status to reflect this for you to see your own worth.

Gay actors playing straight roles has been going on for the same time as gay people playing straight in real life.  I can't tell you how many thousands of times I have had to endure straight actors playing straight characters supposedly hopelessly and passionately in love with each other and simply failing with every syllable, kiss, embrace and other nuance of their lifeless interpretations.  As a director I have likewise known that one or both actors are gay and they have been viscerally real in their portrayals as straight lovers.  Perhaps the problem for Mr. Sedooteh is that knowing some performer is gay and  not being able to allow himself to see them as anything but gay.  That is sad but this will pass.

One of the magic qualities of performance, be it on stage, TV or film or whatever medium is coming, is that we as a audience watch it with our own prejudices and pre-concieved notions.  That contributes to our enjoying or being repulsed by it.  That's not going to go away or should it.  But when we allow ourselves to suspend disbelief and let ourselves get lost in the fiction that enfolds in front of us we can be rewarded with enchantment.  That alchemy is what elevates the rare performance to the exalted level of art.  

At some point (perhaps a near future generation) a child will know from the very moment of their own consciousness that they are what God has made and it is good.  We all will reflexively honor and respect this even in ourselves.  We must hasten that day.  Till then we need to get lost in the fiction.

With hope for healing in us all,

Marie Fairman

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