Through The Static

June 2, 2008

Are gay-for-pay actors socially progressive or gayfacing it?

Filed under: Culture,Entertainment,Musings,Queer,Sex — Tranimal @ 3:37 pm

There’s always been the protest of blackface (and even yellowface) when Caucasian performers played ethnic roles.

Should there be a similar outcry when it comes to straight actors playing gay roles? When straight actors play “gayface”?

I have mixed feelings about this. A commenter on this story posed the rationale any one of any race or gender can be gay but no one can be another race(s)…

This poses more complications and deeper thought then just placing the rationale of no “blackface or yellowface” means no “gayface” either. By going critically with this issue of how it affects actual gay actors and actresses who need to play straight roles to make it and straight actors playing gay actors to be “different”. I don’t have huge offense currently to straight actors putting on “gayface” when it’s done a real way grounded in actual personalities and issues (not just for gay-bashing purposes).

The experiences of being gay spans and crosses all races and genders. While race affects white people deeply just as they deeply affect people of color the experience of being a person of color cannot be emulated by a white person. A white person can never be black but a straight person can be gay. Sexuality is fluid. Many people do not fit into the polar opposites of the Kinsey scale, especially people in Hollyweird.



  1. Interesting topic. I’m not that familiar with gay porn, but if it just consists of homosexual sex without much else happening, then I think it would be different from Blackface/Yellowface/etc in the sense that Blackface’s origin lies in the degradation of Blacks…whereas my impression is that gay for pay is just about straight actors trying to make money or further their career in porn.

    “A white person can never be black but a straight person can be gay.”

    Can a straight person really be gay? I consider myself to be straight; I’ve never been sexually attracted to a male. So how would it be possible for me to be gay? Even if I was curious and decided to have sex with a guy, would that make me gay, given the fact that I am not attracted to men, but just did it to try it?

    Comment by disciplepete — June 2, 2008 @ 6:08 pm | Reply

  2. I just read the article u linked to, and it brings up the topic of straight actors getting to play gay roles in mainstream movies/TV instead of openly gay actors…that does seem like a legitimate issue, and is reminiscent of the Blackface issue.

    Comment by disciplepete — June 2, 2008 @ 6:21 pm | Reply

  3. I agree with Tranimal that this issue is more complicated than Yellow, Black, or Brown facing and really underscores the problems with equating gender/sexuality with race.

    Race is an oppressive social fact based upon the concrete details of so-called phenotype. Sexuality is based upon choices and sexual behavior/leanings — the abstract.

    At the same time, the idea of “playing gay” can bring to question a load of issues that run parallel to the gamut of em that come up with Color-facing by White folks, esp in terms of the reinforcement of that dreaded word — the Stereotype, the reduction of a humanoid — I mean, human being, to a rigid category of social behaviors that are determined and labeled by outside anthropologists. Ish!

    Comment by Aliiiiiiice — June 3, 2008 @ 2:54 am | Reply

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