Billy Porter is Sick of Straight Men Getting Gay Roles
“Because straight men playing gay, everybody wants to give them an award. That gets tiresome.”
Hollywood doesn’t just whitewash roles, it straightwashes them too — and Billy Porter is sick of it.
The "Pose" star told The Hollywood Reporter he wouldn’t mind so much if gay men were frequently being cast in straight roles… but they aren’t.
Discussing the difficulties he faced landing roles while taking part in the publication’s Drama Actor Roundtable, he said: "Being black and gay and out came with a lot of unemployment."
"It’s a double layer, the layer of being a person of color in this industry then the layer of being a queen. Nobody can see you as anything else," he said. "If ‘flamboyant’ wasn’t in the description of the character, no one would see me, ever, for anything, which wouldn’t be so enraging if it went the other direction, but it doesn’t."
"Because straight men playing gay, everybody wants to give them an award: ‘Thank you for gracing us with your straight presence.’ That gets tiresome."
He’s not wrong; Tom Hanks in "Philadelphia", Jared Leto in "Dallas Buyers Club", Sean Penn in "Milk" and Rami Malek in "Bohemian Rhapsody" all won Oscars for portraying gay characters.
Indeed, Darren Criss, who recently won an Emmy and Golden Globe for playing the serial killer Andrew Cunanan in "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story", subsequently vowed to refuse future gay roles so that more openly gay actors will be considered.
"So here I sit, I can’t get the gay parts, I can’t get the straight parts," Porter continued.
"The theater was a bit kinder, but I’d go in and put myself on tape and, ‘Y’all said be flamboyant,’ then not a callback, not a nothin’. ‘He’s too flamboyant.’ I was going to kill somebody."
Sharing the roundatable with Porter was Richard Madden, Stephan James, Diego Luna and Sam Rockwell, as well as Hugh Grant… who rather awkwardly was there to discuss his role as gay politician Jeremy Thorpe in "A Very English Scandal".
Speaking of awkward, Grant described watching his first gay sex scene with his 89-year-old father.
"Oh yes, ex-military father, who I have dinner with on Sunday nights," he recalled. "To my horror, I went around when the show was just coming out on the BBC and he said, ‘Now wait a minute, isn’t your [gay] film on TV tonight? Let’s watch it.’
"And I said, ‘No, no, it’s not up your alley, you wouldn’t like it, really.’ And he said, ‘No, nonsense, I’ve got a television upstairs, if you show me how to work it, we’ll watch it together.’
"So I then had to sit there with my old dad and watch this [scene] where I bring Vaseline into the room and spread it on Ben Whishaw. And it was at that point that my father said, ‘Well, I think I might go to bed now.’
Madden revealed he had similar awkward moments watching himself get intimate on screen.
"A sex scene with mum watching is never great fun," he said. "I usually [try to prepare her], but sometimes you forget. And then it’s tea spat out or ‘Cover your eyes!’ And you’re like, ‘Well I’ve seen it, I was in it.’
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