Author Topic: The Curious Case of Gayface: Should straight actors play gay roles?  (Read 7630 times)

Offline oilgun

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Re: The Curious Case of Gayface: Should straight actors play gay roles?
« Reply #30 on: August 25, 2013, 11:20:23 pm »
One big reason people join churches, though, is for the community and social support. My aunt, a single woman in her 70s, advised me to consider joining one for that reason. And I may take her advice.

tt would be Unitarian, in my case. I'm not Christian, and I'm agnostic. But Unitarians are OK with both of those.

My mom was involved in the Unitarian church, and when she started showing signs of Alzhemer's, her pastor stepped up and got ahold of me to try to help her. When she died, years on years later, having not been involved in the church for years on years (she had moved out of state), the new pastor, who had never even met her, delivered an amazing eulogy, and the church ladies helped put together a really nice memorial service for her.

That's how I realized that churches, even relatively heathen ones like the Unitarians, serve a really important social function.

Sometimes I feel like I have enough friends. But as an aging single person, I also feel like never enough friends, never enough.




I was raised as a catholic but became an atheist in my late teens. I was actually a militant anti-theist for a long time. But then a a pansexual queer friend of mine joined a fucking Baptist church which really freaked me out but it turned out that this particular Baptist Church was incredibly inclusive, there was even a transgender member in the choir.  That made me much more accepting of churches.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: The Curious Case of Gayface: Should straight actors play gay roles?
« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2013, 04:25:28 pm »
When Pope Francis says that gays should not be marginalized he means IF they give up actually having sex.

That is certainly what I understood him to mean, and I'm a practicing Protestant with one foot in the Lutheran camp and one foot in the Anglican/Episcopalian.

Quote
One day I woke up and asked myself, "Why do I want to belong to an organization that believes I am sick and sinful for something that goes to the core of my being."  So I just left, and I don't look back.  I do shake my head to wonder why I put up with it for so long.  I am bitter about so many missed opportunities for love and sex that will never come again.  My advice to you younger folks is get as much love and sex as you can NOW.  Don't let anyone try to stop you.

"Get as much ... sex as you can. ..." Interesting. I won't disagree with that, but at age 55 I find myself becoming increasingly bitter that I've wasted my life in the pursuit of sex. I am not saying the sex is wrong, only that I'm growing increasingly bitter because I'm feeling that spending so much time in pursuit of same was a waste of my life, that I could have been doing other, more productive, things with my time.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2013, 09:17:19 am by Jeff Wrangler »
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline brian

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Re: The Curious Case of Gayface: Should straight actors play gay roles?
« Reply #32 on: August 27, 2013, 01:04:47 am »
I regret that as a teenager and young adult I spent so much time dating girls, dreading the farewell kiss and seeing psychaitrists to cure me. It was only after I broke an engagement to a lovely girl (the psychiatrists had told me to find one) that I had my first sexual encounter at age 27 and discovered how wonderful a kiss could be. Then I went berserk until I was terrified by AIDS in the early 80's.
I wrote on my blog in 2008 about being depressed after watching a video of 2 young men at school being open about their sexuality.


My blogpost  is at
http://brianaralph.blogspot.co.nz/2008/09/personal-feelings.html

I ended my post:
The next day at church the sermon was about the labourers in the field and the preacher at one stage said we should not hold regrets about the past. I am often amazed at how God speaks to me.

I get depressed but from observation of friends who suffer from depression, I know I do not. None of them would find a cure by playing a Broadway musical CD.
And this is the reason I become so angry with the fundamentalists today who would turn us back to those times of repression.

Online CellarDweller

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Re: The Curious Case of Gayface: Should straight actors play gay roles?
« Reply #33 on: August 27, 2013, 08:00:06 am »
This conversation has definitely taken a turn, and made for very interesting reading.


Tell him when l come up to him and ask to play the record, l'm gonna say: ''Voulez-vous jouer ce disque?''
'Voulez-vous, will you kiss my dick?'
Will you play my record? One-track mind!

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: The Curious Case of Gayface: Should straight actors play gay roles?
« Reply #34 on: August 27, 2013, 09:25:33 am »
This conversation has definitely taken a turn, and made for very interesting reading.

It sure has, hasn't it?

I was raised as a catholic but became an atheist in my late teens. I was actually a militant anti-theist for a long time. But then a a pansexual queer friend of mine joined a fucking Baptist church which really freaked me out but it turned out that this particular Baptist Church was incredibly inclusive, there was even a transgender member in the choir.  That made me much more accepting of churches.

Your experience with this Baptist congregation is a very good illustration of why I tend to get angry at people who want to lump all Christians together. Some are, indeed, downright horrible--Pharisees, I call 'em--and others are like this Baptist congregation.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: The Curious Case of Gayface: Should straight actors play gay roles?
« Reply #35 on: August 27, 2013, 10:31:13 am »
Your experience with this Baptist congregation is a very good illustration of why I tend to get angry at people who want to lump all Christians together. Some are, indeed, downright horrible--Pharisees, I call 'em--and others are like this Baptist congregation.

I get angry at this, too, and I'm not even a Christian. Progressives/lefties/liberals sometimes use "Christian" as almost synonymous with "conservative' or "right wing."

Obviously there are plenty of progressive and/or open-minded, enlightened, inclusive Christians. To me, social liberalism seems more in line with what Jesus himself would think (as liberals are fond of pointing out).

I have this friend -- he's very leftist and very outspoken to the point of being obnoxious and annoying even if you happen to agree with him. At a party recently, he started going off on Christians, how they're all this, or they're all that, they're all close-minded blah blah blah. It particularly upset me because I knew there was a couple in earshot who attend a Christian church. I said, "Oh really R-----, is that because you feel Christians aren't ... tolerant of other people's beliefs?" I think he got my point but of course I didn't change his mind about anything.

What I wish, though, is that those open-minded, enlightened, inclusive Christians would make themselves a bit more visible and audible to try to combat that stereotype. Every now and then I'll run across a newspaper column or late-night-show appearance by a liberal clergymember, or meet people like you guys who are happy in their Christian churches. But those voices are so overwhelmed by the ... well, the Westboro Baptists are freakish by anybody's measure -- by protesting at soldiers' funerals they even turn off plenty of conservative Christians -- but they get their point across. And then there are all those less outright crazy but still homophobic, intolerant, close-minded Christians -- name just about any famous minister short of Martin Luther King, or any famous self-proclaimed-Christian right-wing political figure -- and they seem to dominate the public conversation.


Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: The Curious Case of Gayface: Should straight actors play gay roles?
« Reply #36 on: August 27, 2013, 10:52:58 am »
Obviously there are plenty of progressive and/or open-minded, enlightened, inclusive Christians. To me, social liberalism seems more in line with what Jesus himself would think (as liberals are fond of pointing out).

I think that's part of the answer to your "wish" right there, even if it's a tad stereotypical: The rest of us are too busy trying to emulate what we believe Jesus would want us to do to get involved in pissing contests with social conservatives masquerading as "real Christians."

That and we are the ones who really believe in the separation of Church and State and practice what we believe.

I think perhaps also, with some exceptions such as the Baptist congregation Oilgun writes about, we tend to belong to the older "Mainline"--even WASPy--Protestant denominations, and my observation, with, as I said, feet in two of those "camps," is that maybe we don't get taught to be vocal about our beliefs as well as conservative denominations do.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: The Curious Case of Gayface: Should straight actors play gay roles?
« Reply #37 on: August 27, 2013, 10:58:09 am »
Sex is interesting. When you're doing it, you just want more of it. But when you stop doing it, you find that you really didn't need it that much after all and you're just fine without it.

As for the "Pharisees", I have been studying the parable of the prodigal son all summer long with a small study group. The audience for the parable was both the flock of ordinary sinners and the Pharisees who looked on in criticism of Jesus and his disciples eating with the common people. The real prime character in the parable is not the younger son but the older son, who was just as lost to God as his younger brother. He dooms himself by refusing to go into the feast as his father bids him to do.
May 2019 be better for us all.

Offline x-man

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Re: The Curious Case of Gayface: Should straight actors play gay roles?
« Reply #38 on: October 20, 2013, 09:06:22 am »
This essay mentions Brokeback Mountain only in passing, unfortunately, but it explores some fascinating issues.

The Curious Case of Gayface
Should straight actors play gay roles?

By J. Bryan Lowder|Posted Thursday, June 6, 2013, at 10:26 AM

This topic site began with an interesting article posted by serious crayons for people to use as a jumping off place to explore the issues it raised.  This might have happened if I had not thrown a bomb into the room (for which I have profusely apologized) and diverted people.  The dust has settled; perhaps we can start again.

The main issues the article raises are partly obscured by its confusing structure and the campy rhetoric which is fun to read, but ultimately not helpful.  Also, he limits his treatment to Hangover III and Behind the Candelabra, which many people have not seen, and thus cannot bring to the topic.

Lowder wonders about what "gay" actually means in the context of who plays a gay character..  He tries and rejects two definitions: 1. a person sleeping with and perhaps loving another person of the same sex, and 2. a set of behavioural traits that will set off gaydar.  Lowder finally does accept 3. that ""gay' is really a specific cultural attitude that one must study and ultimately choose to wear atop ones innate homosexuality."  He says that it shouldn't matter one way or the other who plays gay roles since, as "A sort of cultural elaboration on biological same-sex desire, gayness is really a full-time acting gig, and...if you're a straight actor getting paid to do it, you're simply subjecting yourself to the same critical gaze."  Lowder concludes that it doesn't matter who does it as long as they do a creditable job.

He then moves on to what he sees as the more interesting question of "what kinds of gay roles are being written for anyone to play in the first place."  Gay characters heretofore have been limited to cultural stereotypes, and "it would be nice to see more complex gay roles...if only to allow the gay characters...(to be)...more individual than symbol (i.e. "to serve as a Commentary on the Entire LGBT Community")."

What I have written is by no means a complete summary of Lowder's article and it bears rereading more than once.  I only tried to isolate the two main points of his answer to his own question.

Lowder has little to say about his second question--the kinds of roles being written for LGBT characterrs.  I believe this is the crux of the matter.  I think to answer it, it would be useful to distinguish three kinds of films and TV: first straight ones that do not touch on the gay world at all.  These are by far the majority of cases.  I don't care whether the actors are gay or straight in real life; the erotic/love elements do not speak to me at all.  (I know I am in small company here, but I am writing this about my take on the issue at hand.)  Second are "gay-theme" movies and TV.  These are the ones that seem to generate all the reaction.  These are the ones, although talking about gay subjects, are written, produced starring, aimed at straights and at that portion of the gay 5% of the population that will go to see them hoping against hope that they will portray gay life as it really is.  They are usually disappointed.  Occasionally a good one will pop up (Maurice is my favourite example), but usually they are, as Lowder writes, "mainly a series of variations on 'the nance'...the tragedy case or the 'post-gay' type who is boringly histrionic in his own 'I'm conflicted about gay culture' way."  The vast majority of the straight world has no idea of what being gay is all about.  They think that when they see these "gay-theme" movies they are actually seeing something about real gay life.  Well, they aren't,  I say further that this is the place where  homophobic stereotyping is reinforced.  In my more paranoid moments I even wonder if this is not an intentional move on the part of the straight movie making industry to warn of the perils of being gay.  Don't bother telling me I am being adversarial.  The question is not my attitude, but that "res ipsa loquitur"--the thing speaks for itself.  Most gay people do not walk away from these films feeling good about themselves, and I suspect most straights walk out thinking "Tsk, tsk.  Being gay must really be tough.  I hope my children never have to go through it."--And this is the more enlightened part of the straight world.  Amongst the right-wing crazies these movies are "suspicions confirmed."

Finally we come to the category of  "gay movies."  These are films made by gay movie makers, and aimed at the gay world.  They range in subject matter across a wide spectrum from mysteries, to comedies, to vampire movies, to love stories, etc., like general release films do.  It is the gay romance films that catch my eye because they treat of gay relationships more than do, say, gay vampire movies.  I did not say that gay films have gay actors--many are, but many are straight.  These films seem to have a lot of actors just starting out, and coming out of stage work in the legitimate theatre, and thus very good actors.  When watching films like these you do not notice whether your gaydar is set off, but how good a job they are doing as actors.  And the parts themselves, as concerns Lowder, are not cultural stereotype, tortured victims, or gays trying to deny their gayness and melt into the straight background.  Nor do the characters try to be symbols of the entire LGBT community; they can be individuals with goodguys and badguys amongst them.

Most, if not all, gay BetterMostian men are acquainted with gay movies, as distinct from gay-theme movies.  Where I probably differ from most of them is my unwillingness to look kindly on gay-theme movies that are covered by Lowder's criticism of them.  I can only think of three others, besides Maurice, that I will watch: Christopher and His Kind, Milk, and I Love You Philip Morris.  (Perhaps you can suggest more?)  These do treat gay characters as individuals.  Keep away from me Cruising, Boys in the Band, and that old chestnut Tea and Sympathy (young man just needs a real woman to show him he's straight).

I'll end by pointing out two straight actors playing gay characters that endorse Lowder's comments about the issue being acting quality not the gaydar or who they sleep with in real life.  The first is Gale Harold playing Brian in QAF.  The most noteable part of his performance is when Brian is playing off of Justin, his younger lover (played by Randy Harrison who is gay in real life).  Watching them together it is difficult to believe Harrison who said in an interview that the love scenes were in reality not erotic as they were being filmed.  Gale Harold can make love, gay love, with just the expression on his face.  The second is Hale Appleman playing Josh (Mercutio and Juliet's father) in Private Romeo.  Appleman takes a "best friend" role and transforms it into that of an at first jealous, then increasingly embittered, enraged and rejected would-be lover, who goes out of control when he realizes Romeo will never be his.  The homoerotic, white-hot energy he brings to the part is astonishing.  You certainly do not ask, "Wouldn't it be better if he were really gay?"
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.  Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth. ---- Oscar Wilde