Discrimination | News

Straight Actor Confronts Discomfort With Playing Gay

FeemalesIn 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?

Feed This post's comment feed

Comments

  1. Then don't audition for gay roles. Problem solved. The only time I would see this becoming a problem is if the writers do an about face and decide to suddenly push the character is a "gay" direction. When that happens, ask to be let out your contract.

    Actors have a right to pursue - and decline - certain roles...just like regular people have the right to pursue certain jobs, or to not. The growing mood of late is that all actors should be willing to play gay characters, or embrace a gay-related storyline...and that's totally ridiculous. As if it's some kind of measuring stick of how authentic an actor is. That's like saying every actor should be willing to play a murderer, a nerd, or thug. No. If these aren't the kind of roles an actor wants, then so be it. Don't act as though said actor isn't being true to his craft if he refuses certain themes.

    Posted by: Tony | Dec 28, 2012 2:30:52 AM


  2. I admit, I don't want to kiss women. I just don't, makes me uncomfortable, but then I am not an actor and I don't need to.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Dec 28, 2012 3:23:56 AM


  3. I applaud his honesty but I agree with the one who said he shouldn't take gay roles if he is uncomfortable. Personally, it is a disappointment to me to find out that an actor who I thought was gay actually turns out to be "gay for pay". Kind of like what's his name on Will and Grace at the show's end that turned out to be a married man with five kids. What a let-down. I do so love Sean Hayes, though. He's my hero.

    Posted by: Bill Michael | Dec 28, 2012 3:43:54 AM


  4. @MOLC: You homo-fascists sure like to throw the charge of homophobe at everyone with whom you disagree. Eventually people will realize that it is like the race card, used by people with no other good explanation for their position.

    Posted by: andrew | Dec 28, 2012 3:48:40 AM


  5. Belonsky just made this story up, like he makes up most stories, so he can pretend we're still in the 1960's.

    Posted by: Yupp | Dec 28, 2012 6:56:01 AM


  6. Kudos for being honest about the discomfort but your chosen profession requires you convince the audience you are what you portray, your friends and family are the only ones you should care about what they think.

    Posted by: DC Arnold | Dec 28, 2012 7:49:06 AM


  7. Someone being honest: let's get him.

    Posted by: mastik8 | Dec 28, 2012 9:25:41 AM


  8. I have a hard time believing that most of the people posting negative comments even read the actual article, as it directly addresses most of their criticisms. This actor is genuinely shocked at the discomfort he feels, and writes about that shock. He is a supporter of equality, and is bothered by the fact that he has this discomfort. Recognizing what makes us uncomfortable when we don't want to be, and learning to address that discomfort is how we grow as human beings.

    Posted by: Chris | Dec 28, 2012 9:34:42 AM


  9. I think the more notable aspect isn't that he doesn't want to portray a gay character, it's that he had a visceral reaction to people thinking he's gay. That's indicative of prejudice that is far more ingrained than basic discomfort with kissing someone of a gender you're not attracted to, which - as several commenters here have demonstrated - is not confined to heterosexuals.


    Posted by: Nat | Dec 28, 2012 10:19:47 AM


  10. Here's the problem I have with his statement;
    "I don't want people to think I'm gay"
    So he's saying he doesn't want to be labeled "GAY" because he as an actor played a gay role. He's worried people will think he's GAY. There's one thing saying "I don't feel comfortable kissing another man", same as I would feel having to kiss a woman...but to be worried people will think he's gay does mean he has real issues.

    Posted by: Spikee | Dec 28, 2012 11:06:34 AM


  11. Honest or not.. if he is not comfortable, don't take on the role. simple.

    Posted by: Poof | Dec 28, 2012 11:17:04 AM


  12. Actually I find his brave honesty about this rather refreshing.

    And let's remember, folks, that's we're still dealing with gay men who are actually gay who have the same response he has!

    Only without any self-aware dollops of nuance.

    The gays who dont' want people to know that they're gay. At least this actor has an excuse in actually being heterosexual. His comments are wonderful in that they show an honesty about insecurity and willingness to learn.

    Take note, trolls. This man's expression of his own learned insecurities could one day free your from your own self-imposed internet exiles.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Dec 28, 2012 11:20:28 AM


  13. Interesting discussion. But I have a question:
    What does that book cover, Fee Males by Bert Shrader, have to do with anything being discussed here? What am I missing?

    Posted by: walter b | Dec 28, 2012 11:24:38 AM


  14. @Walter B: I'm guessing that it has something to do with getting paid to play gay, but I agree, it's obscure and, methinks, lame.

    Posted by: Mort | Dec 28, 2012 11:33:05 AM


  15. I think he's just being more honest than most. Whenever you read an interview with str8 actors playing a gay role they always make sure to emphasize how straight they are, what their WIFE and KIDS think about them playing gay. Now some of that emphasis may be from the interviewer and, if it's in print, how the quotes are arranged.

    So did any of you take the Harvard "Project Implicit" tests?

    I read this last night and took two of the tests linked to the article, one about sexuality and one about race/African Americans. Basically it has you associating good/bad words with black/white faces and gay/straight symbols, then reversing the association. The theory is that if you have a harder time associating words, positive or negative, with certain groups that's a reflection of ingrained bias.

    I don't know. While taking it, it seemed to me that after getting comfortable with the way you were separating words then reversing it caused some coordination difficulties of their own. But it was... interesting. According to the tests I have a [i]slight[/i] preference for European-Americans over AAs and a [i]slight[/i] preference for gays over straights. (There is "neutral" and 3 categories above and below that, with "slight" being the closest to neutral.)

    But because the "gay" test is arranged the same as the race test, black and gay being in the same 'places,' yet I scored a slight preference for gays, it made me question whether coordination was really the problem or if the test really was detecting bias. I don't know. Maybe.

    Posted by: Caliban | Dec 28, 2012 11:46:53 AM


  16. The price on the book cover is $1.25 so it must be about a hundred years old!

    As for the guy finding in himself some deep seated homophobia and fears of being thought to be gay, well, that's honest enough, and not hard to understand.

    It's the ones who don't understand that who wear their homophobia on their sleeve who do the gay bashing.

    Posted by: Merry & Gay | Dec 28, 2012 12:18:49 PM


  17. Kiwi is right as usual. I don't get some of the knocks on this guy. He's not saying anything a lot of non-heterosexual men haven't said, who do not want to be seen as gay because they don't want to be out. Nicholas has his insecurities, yes, maybe he shouldn't take a gay role, but maybe taking a gay role is also a sign he really connects with our community and wants to break free of said bias, hence he wants to take gay role(s) and will treat them with the same respect and professionalism he would otherwise and immerse himself in the plot and action. There are a lot of men, gay and straight, who are insecure regarding homosexuality, if not legitimately homophobic. It's good he was honest. We can start a conversation and knock down that bias.

    Posted by: Francis | Dec 28, 2012 12:56:39 PM


  18. The "i don't want people to think i'm gay" thing is actually common among (usually...) younger actors.

    To them I can only say "Do you think people believed Dennis Hopper actually was a murdering madman since he played so many?"

    the reality is that GAY is something worry about playing more than "Insanely Violent Sociopath". why? well, i think we all know the answer to that.

    there are so many grown-adult gay men who still walk around every day hoping that people "can't tell" that they're gay. So it shouldn't be a surprise that a non-gay person may have the same insecurity. At least this actor in the article has the cojones to admit that it's a failing on his part.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Dec 28, 2012 1:04:52 PM


  19. The "i don't want people to think i'm gay" thing is actually common among (usually...) younger actors.

    To them I can only say "Do you think people believed Dennis Hopper actually was a murdering madman since he played so many?"

    the reality is that GAY is something worry about playing more than "Insanely Violent Sociopath". why? well, i think we all know the answer to that.

    there are so many grown-adult gay men who still walk around every day hoping that people "can't tell" that they're gay. So it shouldn't be a surprise that a non-gay person may have the same insecurity. At least this actor in the article has the cojones to admit that it's a failing on his part.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Dec 28, 2012 1:04:57 PM


  20. I don't think most male actors are really straight anyhow, just straight-identified. I prefer to call them non-gay/other.

    Posted by: Gabe R L | Dec 28, 2012 1:51:04 PM


  21. @Andrew Homo-fascist?? The only people who use that term is the religious right. You and the little idiot your defending are about as progressive as Bryan Fischer.


    Posted by: Molc | Dec 28, 2012 2:30:56 PM


  22. Again, how can anyone compare this actor to those people (Kirk Cameron, Brian Brown) working against equality. He admits that he knows his discomfort is wrong, and is trying to figure out where that discomfort comes from. One important nuance that people clearly miss here is that the author's concern about being perceived is gay is not because he feels there is something wrong with it, but that he is concerned about how that perception will impact his career. I don't see how anyone who has taken the time to read the source article can come to the conclusion that this man is acting from a place of hate.

    Posted by: Chris | Dec 28, 2012 3:19:30 PM


  23. "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."

    Your many gay friends can relate, having had to play gay parts in movies, theatre, etc. for the past several hundred years.

    Posted by: darkmoonman | Dec 28, 2012 3:50:20 PM


  24. I really wish people would stop saying that others have not read the article just because we aren't terribly sympathetic to the actor's position.

    Its really childish to decide that we must address every nuance to find the argument to be b.s.

    Posted by: nonapologies | Dec 28, 2012 8:20:47 PM


  25. @Molc: This guy has more character and honesty in his little finger than you have in your whole homofascist body.

    Posted by: andrew | Dec 30, 2012 10:06:10 AM


  26. « | 1 2 3 »

Post a comment







Trending


« «Towleroad Guide to the Tube #1273« «