Straight Actor Confronts Discomfort With Playing Gay
In a piece that explores the darkest crevices of prejudice and ingrained discrimination, Nicholas Brown writes about his own discomfort playing gay for pay and being perceived as gay by strangers on the street.
Here is an excerpt from the piece, published at The Atlantic:
I am not gay. I have no shortage of gay friends. My uncle is gay. I've marched in a gay pride parade. More than half of the roommates I have lived with are gay. I support marriage equality.
So it comes as a shock to me when I realize that, actually, if I am honest with myself, I'm not comfortable with kissing another man on camera. I really don't want to book this part.
I don't want people to think I'm gay. And I'm even more uncomfortable because that isn't a thought that I want to have.
The article is not a man trying to justify a discomfort; rather, Brown goes on to study his own implicit prejudices and how we are all programmed with insidious messages and ideas about people, places and things.
"Psychologists at Harvard created a series of tests that measure your reaction time when you associate positive and negative concepts with different social groups," Brown writes. "The results give you an indication of how racist or sexist or ageist or generally prejudiced you are on a subconscious level."
"If you ever want to feel really wretched about what a big jerk you are, there are worse ways to do it than logging onto Harvard's Project Implicit." Maybe save that for a sunny day when you're in a really good mood?
Why in this day and age do we have to put up with straight actors playing gay? Are there not enough gay actors to play gay roles?
I agree with that in theory, R2, but then should gay actors be limited from playing straight? It seems to work much easier for straight to play gay, but not the other way around.
Project Implicit is bad science. They train you to make certain associations, then change the rules. If you don't follow the new rules, then you are judged to be racist or homophobic or whatever you are testing for. They do not take into consideration the lack of cognitive capability to adjust to the switching of categories. In other words, you train your brain to do one thing and it takes a while to train it to think another way. For instance, in the racial test, they start by forcing you to associate black/bad and white/good, then judge you as racist because you were not quick enough to retrain your thinking. This does not demonstrate a difference indicating bias, but a difference indicating how the human brain trains itself to easily recognize patterns.
And yet when I took those tests, it seemed obvious what they were doing and I showed no biases at all. Even if I were a fearful bigot I could have easily passed because it was all so obvious.
Ciaran is right. They also start with the result they want, white=good, black=bad. If they ran the test the other way, starting with black=good, there would be far less bias as people clued into the game.
The whole point is to time your reactions and view your choices when you are confused. These reflect your unconscious thought patterns. The other sections are to establish a pattern so you are confused when it is changed and to provide a baseline.
[quote]Ciaran is right. They also start with the result they want, white=good, black=bad. If they ran the test the other way, starting with black=good, there would be far less bias as people clued into the game.
The order is random for each participant.
I think the odds are pretty slim that anyone here is going to find a legitimate flaw in this test which has been worked on for 14 years by researchers from multiple major universities. So spare us the armchair research criticisms and focus on the results because they are almost certainly accurate.
He should talk to James Franco. He plays gay all the time and pretends to be straight when we all know he's really gay.
R10, we don't know that at all.
Many "straight" actors are uncomfortable playing gay because they are, in fact, secretly gay and don't want it known.
Most actors are gay; no lie. Or at least a HIGHLY disproportionate amount. Both midwestern fraus and tween fangirls alike would cry tears of disappointment if they knew just how many of their guycrushes are only into other guys.
[quote]Most actors are gay
Most are actually straight, but by all means continue to believe what you will.
[quote]Both midwestern fraus and tween fangirls alike would cry tears of disappointment if they knew just how many of their guycrushes are only into other guys.
Stupid, antiquated, false assumption that perpetuates the 'perceived' need for the closet.
R13 and R14 are both idiots. Who do you think makes up the majority of actors in high school drama clubs across the nation? Apparently, your high school drama club was made up of football-playing, lady-loving straight guys.
Acting is (almost) as gay as fashion design and interior decorating. Or do you also wish to falsely believe that most male fashion designers and interior designers are straight, too? Hmmmm?
This is not baseless conjecture or wishful thinking. Come look around the acting schools in Hollywood and get an actual taste for just how many struggling actors are gay vs. straight.
M-O-R-O-N-S, both of you.
I think most actors who make it are straight, though. Hollywood still hates gays.
Is anything forcing this guy from auditioning for parts he doesn't want? Straight people are so whiny!
It's an interesting test. It said my data suggests I have a moderate automatic preference for gay people compared to straight people, which I won't quibble with.
Most actors who make it are closeted. To make it, gay sex is very very often in the equation. The casting couch very much still exists. I have a friend who is a rent boy (not lying, you can believe what you want) and he flat out told me, yes, the rumors about Hollywood are true. A lot of these guys presumably don't identify as gay because they don't carry same-sex relationships. But there is definitely gay sex happening. Straight in Hollywood terms isn't straight in the way most people think.
Hollywood doesn't hate gays. Hollywood loves gays because without us, there is no Hollywood. It's the bank rollers of films, of production crews, many directors, that hate gays and don't want their product tainted by us. And it's fear of societal backlash.
You're the M-O-R-O-N, R15. Learn to read. My comment was questioning the perceived notion that women will not accept leading men who are gay. I never said anything about how many actors are gay. We all know it's a very high number. Not exactly a brilliant revelation, genius.
Well, fuck him if he feels that way.
I'd say more actors than not are autosexual - they love themselves most of all by far.
Most actors in Hollywood are straight!
From the time I was in grade school, I knew most Hollywood actors were gay. It doesn't take rocket science to figure that out. Like R15 said, just look at the kids who did the plays...gay, gay, gay!
I fully believe the straight actor in Hollywood is rare. Of course, HW takes these actors and transforms their fey mannerisms, or interests into characteristics of solid mainstream masculinity.
They get new masculine histories. All of a sudden they're captains of their football teams instead of flaming cheerleaders. They learn how to talk like a tough guy from Brooklyn, and strut instead of prance.
My god, look at John Wayne. Who talks like that in real life? He probably couldn't master Heterosexual voice 101 so instead fooled everyone with that exaggerated Hollywood parody of masculine speak. Talk about camp.
r24 is a delusional nelly! Hollywood is a billion dollar industry. watch what happens when an actor comes out
This really is interesting.
Gays are cater waiters and supporting backgrounds players in Hollywood. For the most part, they seem to be weeded out quite early. Of course, some with undeniable talent make it (Spacey, although guess what? he's closeted!) but the action heroes and romantic leads are straight, straight, straight.
R27 is a stupid, wishful flyover frau. Hollywood can't even manage to weed out gay leading man actors. Look at Cruise, Will Smith, James Franco, Hugh Jackman, Leo Dicaprio, Tobey Maguire. And this is just today, as it goes without saying how many actors of the Montgomery Clift/Cary Grant era were closeted gay men. Hell, look at the generation of up-and-comers: Taylor Lautner, Robert P., Zac Efron, Kellan Lutz. Oh yeah, real strapping straight men Hollywood's got there.
But I agree, Hollywood might as well bubble-wrap genuine straight actors, because they're more rare that you think.