Jonathan Groff Says ‘Playing Gay’ is in the Eye of the Beholder

Glee actor Jonathan Groff says he was not fazed by Ramin Satoodeh's article saying he was unconvincing as a straight character, in a new interview with the L.A. Times:

GroffTo be honest, I feel the same way now as I did then. Here's the deal — I go to my auditions and plug away and try and do my best. People are going to say whatever they're going to say about your performance, and at the end of the day, you can't let that stuff affect you. Everyone is entitled to his opinion, and it started a lot of good conversations probably. All I can do is laugh and keep moving forward. Sexuality is such an interesting thing. Unless you're playing a very effeminate person, a stereotypical queen, it's hard to say what it means to play gay.

Groff also says he's fine with actors staying in the closet if that makes them more confortable:

Ultimately everyone has their own journey. The more people that come out the better, because it makes it easier for the next generation of people coming out, and it makes [straight] people more comfortable with it, the more people they know. But at the end of the day, if people don't want to come out, it's their personal choice. I feel really blessed to be living in 2012. Certainly there's a long way to go, but I feel really positive about how, even in the last 10 years, being gay has become more accepted.

Groff is starring alongside Alfred Molina in the play 'Red' and Kelsey Grammer in the TV series 'Boss'.


  1. Jmac says

    He wasn’t at all convincing as a straight character on Glee. Actors should know their limitations. We all have them, there’s nothing wrong with it but you need to be aware of your own.

  2. GregV says

    I don’t think he necessarily IS a “straight character” on GLEE. His flirtation with Rachel was eventually revealed to be a ploy to lure her into his social sphere so that he could secretly scheme to reconnect her with her birth mother. Whether Jesse Saint-James is actually gay, straight or bi has not yet been revealed in the dialog and, since he was faking his romantic interest in Rachel in any case, his orientation has not yet even been relevant to the storyline.

  3. Mykelb says

    Please. If anyone has watched SNL they know the “effeminate heterosexual” skit. As we all know the Kinsey scale is 0 to 6. I don’t know any 0s or 1s and I have lived around the world with military men.

  4. says

    I’m certainly getting to like this man. He’s insightful, well spoken and certainly enjoyable to watch perform.

    The Ramin Satoodeh’s of the world make such a clear point; that without the false elevation of negative critiques, of which, he and so many others are hardly masters, they would have no career at all.

  5. Soledad says

    I do not care if he is gay, it’s beautiful.I’m in love with him, sex is not important to me, I just want to fall in love every day

  6. Patoodeh says

    Wasn’t that the same article where Satoodeh jumped Sean Hayes for not being convincingly masculine in “Promises, Promises”? Because that happened more than two years ago. It’s not exactly a recent occurrence.

    If it were, if Satoodeh were continuing with that meme here two years later, I’d say he deserved some kind of kicking, the fact that he’s a homosexual Iranian-American from Texas notwithstanding.

  7. Molc says

    All Ramin Satoodeh did is show what a bigot’s attitude to the entertainment industry looks like. Jonathan Groff is very

  8. aneas taint says

    Not only can he NOT play straight in Glee, for whatever reason, he barely plays in anything at all.

    Shouldn’t someone being quoted on this issue have more on his resume than a handful of TV cameos scattered across three years and theatre career that has fizzled (to put it nicely)?

  9. says

    He’s actually 100% correct. It *is* in the eye of the beholder – no matter who the actor is, nor matter what kind of performance they give, the audience brings with them whatever baggage or preconceived notions they have about that actor.

    that’s why many box-office stars experience the career slump when their “public persona” becomes distasteful to the public – see: the Crazy of Tom Cruise, Travolta et al.

    people go to the film and “crazytomcruise” is what they see, as that’s what’s on their minds. truly. not the character, and not any of the skills being employed by the actor.

    it’s, alas, the same with Gay these days. people see GAY.

    ever notice how actors can “play straight” until they come out and then suddenly they “can’t” anymore? Exactly. It really has nothing to do with them and everything to do with what the viewing audience brings with them, in terms of preconceptions. they’re now seeing THE GAY GUY ACTING – thus any of his ‘isms’ that were previously just ‘his own isms’ are suddenly GAYisms.

    deniro, pacino, nicholson – all actors with their own “isms” – when you pay to see them in a film you’re actually paying to see those isms. are theirs, however, patently “straight” or simply just part of their thing?

    as for “playing gay” – he’s right there, too. there actually is no “playing gay” – there is only playing a specific character. same with “playing straight” . it’s all about the specific makeup of the characters.

    once someone comes out this still-lagging society we’re in focuses on it with an almost ridiculous intensity. and the “i could still tell he was gay!” reaction is a reflection of that. that’s all people see. that’s why we need to be Out. when it’s only a few of us, it seems like a big deal. when it’s a whole damn lot of us, it aint.


  10. says

    1) @ JMAC and other blind people: He was fantastic on Glee and had TONS of chemistry with the Leah Michelle. I had no idea he was gay when he was first on the show, and didn’t until the rumors of his relationship with Quinto was reported on this site.

    2) He’s demonstrating today that anyone talented can come out and still succeed. He’s certainly not suffering from lack of work.

    Hollywood still hasn’t seen the A-list movie star out yet, but TV and theater is already there, and the movies will come, too. (Quinto seems well poised to break that glass ceiling.)

  11. Commeca says

    I really hate reading comments on this site because the stereotype of sharp-tongued acid-spewing queer harpies is made so manifest. I made an exception because unlike Howdy Satoodeh, I saw Groff in Spring Awakening and I had NO sense that he was anything more than a straight young actor with a load of talent.

  12. Markt says

    It’s PC to call the Boys in the Band a “minstral show” for gays but reading the comments on Towleroad does bring to mind the last speech: “If only we could learn not to hate ourselves quite so much.” Really, straights are better to us than we are to ourselves at this point.

  13. Bill says

    When Jonathan was on TV performing Spring Awakening before he came out I thought he was heterosexual.

  14. andrew says

    I like Jonathan Groff. He is not only a good actor but a stand up guy and a straight shooter.

  15. Gabe R L says

    @Aneas Taint – nothing worthwhile to say, eh?

    Anyhow, in my humble opinion no man with a serious desire to act is really straight, only-straight-identified. Acting requires too much sensitivity for that.