Life is a Performance, Ramin


Salute.jpgMaybe Newsweek‘s Ramin Setoodeh meant to stir up the controversy he did about gays being unbelievable in straight entertainment roles, and maybe he didn’t. But the topic has been busted open, and he and others should use this as a learning moment.
While the real world is not Broadway and filming Sex in the City sequels, the fact is that there are tens of thousands of gay men and women who perform in “straight roles” every day in the US military. If they out themselves, they have a high chance of losing their jobs and being discharged by a military court of justice.
Setoodeh may not have meant to convey insensitivity and ignorance — ignorance in that there are numerous gay actors performing in straight roles in the entertainment industry and insensitivity in the sense that throughout American society, there are men and women who adequately “perform” each day in the straight roles ascribed to them while shifting to their real gay identities when they can afford to.
When I watched a number of good “gay” friends unable to salute in uniform their Commander in Chief at last year’s Human Rights Campaign dinner in fear of being expelled from employment, I saw the opposite of what Ramin Setoodeh describes.
I don’t want to pile on much. I am a pundit as well and get things wrong on occasion — and sometimes have to step back. This is one of those times when I think Newsweek‘s columnist should reconsider the empirical realities about gays in the entertainment industry vs. his own homosexual issues filter.
He would be wise to acknowledge that everyone is performing, and with his casual disregard for gays who constantly perform straight roles in life, he took a whack at a group far more numerous and significant than the talented Sean Hayes.
— Steve Clemons


3 comments on “Life is a Performance, Ramin

  1. WigWag says:

    By the way Steve, your friend Andrew Sullivan, has created quite a stir by asking the question about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, “So is she gay?”
    There is no evidence that anyone has been able to cite one way or the other about any intimate relationship, gay or straight, that Kagan has had.
    The only reason Sullivan mentions for asking the question is the fact that Kagan, though middle aged, has never been married.
    Sullivan has been roundly criticized by numerous ethics experts and journalism professors for raising the question based on no evidence at all. Sullivan has defended himself by announcing what we already know; he says the regular rules don’t apply to him because he’s a blogger not a journalist. Of course Sullivan forgets to mention that he blogs for one of the most venerable and repected journalistic enterprises in America (The Atlantic).
    In light of your criticism of Ramin Setoodeh it would be interesting to know what you think of Andrew Sullivan’s behavior.


  2. WigWag says:

    The idea that gay actors can’t play straight parts successfully is as dumb as the proposition that straight actors can’t play gay parts in a convincing fashion.
    I think a perfect example of this is the actor Justin Kirk. He played incredibly convincing gay characters in “Love, Valour, Compassion” (on Broadway) and in the film version of “Angels in America.” He also plays a preternaturally convincing straight character on the Showtime series, “Weeds.”
    As an actor, Kirk is a perfectly convincing heterosexual and a perfectly convincing homosexual; I don’t have a clue what his sexual preferences are in real life, assuming of course that his sexual preferences are all one way or the other. Perhaps Steve Clemons’ “gaydar” is sufficiently fine-tuned to inform us.
    By the way, it’s not just gay military personnel who have to play “straight” in order to serve in America’s armed forces. What about politicians?
    While Larry Craig’s, Charlie Crist’s or Ed Koch’s dissembling about their sexual preferences has been the subject of ridicule (including ridicule by Steve Clemons in the HBO show, “Outrage”) it seems to me that despite their hypocrisy these politicians are entitled to a modicum of sympathy.


  3. Don Bacon says:

    Gays unbelievable in straight entertainment roles?
    How about Roy Harold Scherer, Jr. AKA Rock Hudson who was recognized as a romantic leading man during the 1950s and 1960s, most notably in several romantic comedies with his most famous co-star, Doris Day.


Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *