Hollywood has a wonderful history of starting off as being an exclusive club for straight, handsome white guys, and there are a ton of straight guys who have played gay guys and will continue to play gay guys.
Now, I do understand that statistically, there are more straight actors then gay actors. When you want to cast a character, you have to cast the best actor you find. If that character is gay and the best actor is straight, so be it.
It used to be that the same could not be said for straight characters. It seemed impossible to viewers that gay people could play it straight. However, many gay actors are famous for doing just that, sometimes to the point that they become icons.
One of the more famous examples of this is geek culture god George Takei, the actor behind Star Trek’s Hikaru Sulu. While Sulu didn’t really ever act overtly straight or gay, the Star Trek Generations revelation that Sulu had a daughter showed that Sulu had the mojo.
However, it is famously known that during weekend cast parties, Takei would bring his boyfriend around. Until his public reveal in 2005, Trekkies heard rumors but that’s about it. When he finally came out publically, Trekkies and gay activists looked to him as a spokesperson and a bridge between science fiction and the LGBT community.
While Takei is maybe the best-known example of gay playing straight, Neil Patrick Harris is quickly catching up to Takei. Harris originally played Doogie Hawser, but earned my respect from his work as Toby in several productions of Sweeney Todd. He shared the stage with some of the most well-known stage actors of all time, and hung in there.
From there, Harris took part in my favorite thing ever. Harris played Billy/Dr. Horrible in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. A down-on-his-luck super villain who, in the process of attempting to eliminate his nemesis, also kills Penny, the girl he loves (played by my one true love, Felicia Day). I cannot say this next statement enough: if you love musicals, you must listen to Harris’ version of “Everything You Ever.” It makes me cry every time. Without fail. I can’t avoid it.
Harris is also known for playing Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother. Stinson is a womaniziing playboy hell-bent on sleeping with every girl ever. Harris is a family man complete with two beautiful children raised by Harris and his husband. Needless to say, there is a bit of of a difference.
In my mind, Takei and Harris are number 1 and number 1a in terms of gay actors playing straight guys right now. And Harris is inches away from taking over.
I know there are more actors out there that deserve recognition. Jim Parsons is one that springs to my mind instantly. However, when it comes to this topic, Takei and Harris are the two you have to think about before all else.
The point I’m trying to make is that the idea of homosexuals playing straight characters is not something that should raise eyebrows. An actor’s job is to play a character. Why can’t a gay actor play a straight character? It’s acting. They’re actors. Seems like they were born to play characters, regardless of their sexual preference.