Andrew Garfield, queer-baiting and the perils of ‘playing gay’

The actor was criticised over commentaries he made about preparing to play a lesbian male, meeting actors such as James Franco whove toyed with the notions of sexuality

In an interrogation about his capacity as Prior Walter in the National Theatres current production processes Angels in America, Andrew Garfield became the latest male fame to suggest that he might be gay. Asked about playing a homosexual subject living with Aids, the actor laughter that its own experience had essentially induced him a homosexual worker himself, merely without the physical act.

Every Sunday I would have eight very good friends and we would just watch Ru[ RuPauls Drag Race ], Garfield said in a discussion at the National Theatre. This is my life outside of this toy. He went on to clarify that, as far as he knows, hes not a gay serviceman, but included, perhaps Ill have an awakening subsequently in “peoples lives”, which Im sure will be wonderful, and Ill get to explore that the members of the garden.

When Garfields remarks uttered their practice on to Twitter, they were widely scoffed as silly and vacuous. Situate in framework, though, its not quite as bad as it sounds.

Garfield added that when he was offered the capacity, he felt he had no right to play gay in one of the 20 th centurys single most important operates of LGBT art. Angels in America, of course, is a two-part epic that recounts the lives of several gay subjects as they steer Reagans America and the Aids epidemic. Garfield is clearly not oblivious of the magnitude of the undertaking and what the frolic has meant to queer folks for the last quarter-century which ought not to be discredited by an deplorable soundbite.

But Garfields just the latest in a long position of entertainers who have playfully swum the possibility that they descend somewhere in the middle of the Kinsey scale, as if queerness is a dress one tries on for width. This even has its own internet neologism: queer-baiting, practiced by the likes of James Franco and Nick Jonas, who in their half-hearted outreach to the homosexual society are traditionally been received with indifference.

Nathan Lane( Roy Cohn) and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett( Belize) in Angels In America. Photograph: Helen Maybanks

For Jonas, this consisted mainly of frisking a gay wrestler on Tv, indicating up at Manhattan gay golf-clubs to bare his abdominals( and promote a new, edgier album ), and acknowledging to watching Mariah Carey on the Home Shopping Network. In Francos case, it comes down mainly in the form of disingenuous non-answers to questions about his virility, which to even a minimally discerning see saw as attempts to add a little subversion to his offbeat schtick. I like to think that Im gay in my art and straight in “peoples lives”, he told FourTwoNine magazine. Although, Im too gay in “peoples lives” up to the point of copulation, and then you are able respond Im straight-shooting. So I guess it depends on how you characterize gay.

Sometimes queer-baiting is done in earnest as a exhibition of honest or allyship Garfields explains, demonstrated his history of homage to the community, appears to land on this side of the barrier. Other experiences, its a cynic is making an effort to accrue whatever cultural fund or fanbase may come with being lesbian although, if any of these straight performers had actually grown up relating as LGBT, theyd know that its not all merriment and drag.

I didnt was of the view that that was a speciman of queer-baiting, Christopher Racster, the executive director of Outfest, an LGBT film festival in Los Angeles that kicked off Thursday, told me. I think that we, all levels of society, in our hopeful fancies that maybe someday Andrew Garfield may come out and want to be in a relationship with a somebody, took it and ran away with it.

Racster, a film-maker, longtime fundraiser and LGBT liberties advocate, went on: But I do agree that there are actors and both producers and studios and publicists who are looking to gain an audience, to determine a taste, that do have taken part in a bit of queer-baiting and are trying to suitable or to capitalize on a community. But I am glad that theyre called on it and it obstructs us in this eternal dialogue so we can continue to move forward.

Straight actors have all along been frisked lesbian, with often spellbinding reactions( Sean Penn, Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, et al ). The difficulty is the notion that being gay is a kind of method acting, a lifestyle into which actors dip their toes and then immediately baked off. Of course, in playing queer characters these performers seek out the resources necessary to empathize with an experience of which theyre not familiar, but personifying a queer party for a persona no more offsets them gay than representing Temple Grandin induced Claire Danes autistic.

TV presents such as Sherlock and Riverdale have been criticized for queer-baiting very, although in these fictional situation, it shows principally as the ambiguou, often unrealized suggestion that a courage are liable to be gay or heteroflexible, and it serves to court a subset of LGBT followers and then eventually disappoint them. This is only aggravated by the fact that, for as long as theres been cinema, television, and theater, faggot folks have wanted for image and visibility. And despite significant strides, a lesbian gender vistum on American Gods, the television adjustment of Neil Gaimans novel, was considered groundbreaking, demonstrating how rarely were proven depictions of lesbian friendship. That name-brand actors of Franco or Garfields stature so wantonly flirt with this potential while ever refraining from actually came to see you as lesbian or even bisexual recommends they do it primarily to get a rise out of their admirers.

Garfield should have known that a theatrical bend as Prior Walter and a Drag Race binge-watch with pals does not a gay worker make. Far more abhorrent follies ought to have stimulated, but its still important to improve straight actors about these grievances, which are ultimately inessential yet still are worth study. As the angel that pummels through Priors hospital room ceiling answers: The great work begins.

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