Fundamentally effeminate gay actors like Sean P. Hayes (who may actually just have an exuberant, lively personality and an unsuppressable lifeforce, but the two are hard to distinguish) do in fact have a hard time being taken seriously playing heterosexualist roles. True, it’s a question of acting skill – but only to some degree, because you can’t overcome your own animal impulses. What else distinguishes stars from actors? It isn’t just charisma; it’s something ineffable and unchangeable but quite detectable. Straight-guy charisma is nothing like gay-guy charisma. (Ask a gay guy who pines and yearns for straight guys.)

I note that we never discuss, at all, which obviously heterosexualist actors are just too manly to play any identifiable form of gay character. The phenomenon is exactly parallel. But scaredy-cat effeminate gays, and their liberal apologists and faghag girlfriends in the press, never want to admit that gay males fall into certain types and straight males into different types. It will take nothing short of a miracle for the man with the perfect life, Mr. MATT DAMON, to convincingly portray Liberace’s spurned boytoy.

The topic is actually 50 years old and has nothing to do with outing gay actors. Shocking True Story: The Rise and Fall of Confidential, “America’s Most Scandalous Scandal Magazine” by Henry E. Scott describes the juicy, ruthlessly fact-checked behind-the-scenes stories that midcentury scandal sheet published on name-brand actors, including the gay ones. The lessons (from pp. 117–118) are applicable today:

The fan magazines, long supported and encouraged by the studios, also felt pressured by Confidential. “You can see the fix they were in,” wrote [Jack] Olson…. “They would come out with an article entitled ‘the Happy Homelife of Peter Screenstar,’ and on the same newsstand would appear an ‘exposé’ magazine whose cover screamed ‘Peter Screenstar’s Other Woman.’ ”

…Olson spelled out the dangers to Hollywood, and made it clear that [Confidential editor Robert] Harrison knew what he was doing. “Overnight, some of Hollywood’s biggest stars have been tagged as deviates, rakes, nymphomaniacs, lunatics, drunks, and hopheads,” Olson wrote. “Theat[re] bookings have been cancelled because of certain ‘exposés’… [An] actress, heretofore cast as a sweet-young-thing type, will never again play such a role because of ‘exposé’ publicity about her nighttime escapades. Other actors, similarly tarbrushed, have silently slipped away.”

Mr. QUENTIN CRISP wrote at length of the urgent need for movie stars per se to maintain their so-called private lives as state secrets lest their superhuman value be tarnished. Perhaps our error all along was pretending that ordinary journeyman actors should maintain the same kind of secrets. Effeminate actors really should never even bother attempting to play masculine roles, which end up as unintended reënactments of La cage aux folles.

What stands to be lost in the inevitable trend of never-closeted gay actors is the delicious retrospective reinterpretation of a decloseted actor’s work from before he was outed. Who can really take Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies seriously even as light comedy? Now we know he knew what he was doing.

If anything, Sean P. Hayes’ tour de force is his role as an almost-masculine gay male in Billy’s, an oft-maligned signature piece of ’90s gay cinema that only benefits from its intertextuality with the core text of that genre, Parting Glances.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.05.17 13:48. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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