Straights Actors Playing Gay Characters, and vice-versa, in Popular TV & Movies

Sara Gilbert is a lesbian and played Darlene Connor (Roseanne) and Leslie Winkle (The Big Bang Theory), both straight.

Adam Pally did this on HAPPY ENDINGS, where the gag was that Max is the archetypal frat guy – kind of a slob, a little on the heavy side, loves watching sports and drinking beers, and so on – if you swap out ‘sleeping with chicks’ for ‘sleeping with dudes’.

It doesn’t make much sense to me to need to list gay actors playing straight characters in popular TV and movies. Is there a single gay actor that hasn’t played straight characters after finally making it big enough to be in popular shows or movies?

I would guess if so that only actors who recently made it in the business fit the bill. Gay characters just weren’t common enough until recently for gay actors not to play straight characters, plus it would severely limit their choice of roles even today.

Edit: I guess my point is, name a gay actor and he or she has surely played a straight character.

In the past plenty of closeted gay actors played straight. Because they were mostly all closeted. The fear was that if they were known as gay they would never be able to play straight again. Especially in romantic roles. Hollywood thought the audience could not get past the fact the they are gay in real life to believe them in a hetero romance. A lot of these examples show that the attitude is changing.


Chris Colfer has not, although he’s had only two significant roles outside Glee: a gay character in the play 8 and a character whose sexual orientation is never specified in the movie Struck by Lightning (which he wrote himself). I don’t know whether he’s not being offered other roles or if he’s just busy with other projects; aside from writing and producing Struck by Lightning he is the author of two bestselling and pretty well reviewed children’s novels.

When he first began getting attention for his work on Glee there were a number of critics who said basically “This kid is really talented, so it’s a shame he’s going to be typecast as the sassy gay boy and never get a decent role again.” Colfer has mentioned this in interviews and said he found it frustrating to hear this kind of thing when he was just starting out (he had no professional experience prior to Glee), but that it did help inspire him to produce his own screenplay.

No, it was definitely Morrison I read about. I remember thinking it was no big surprise that the lead character on the show was played by a gay actor. But then quite a while later, I read that Morrison is straight. So the early article I read must have been speculating - you can always find articles claiming some actor is gay based on the flimsiest of reasons.

I was surprised to learn that the actor who plays the very flamboyant Felix in “Orphan Blaxk” is straight (and also not British).

I think Cynthia Nixon’s famous SEX AND THE CITY role counts.

Robert Reed playing Mike Brady, the kids’ father and Carol’s husband on The Brady Bunch

He came out publicly in 2011, after he decided that keeping his private life private was helping to perpetuate the culture which leads to LGBT kids being harassed and committing suicide.

Mathew St. Patrick and Michael C. Hall on ‘Six Feet Under.’

Wasn’t she in a very long relationship with a man that produced a child? At least during the show. I don’t know, but I took the topic to refer to people already settled into their sexuality playing opposite and not bi-sexual or those with late awakenings to another sexuality. I think she even identifies as Bi, and that her relationships with men were not acting or part of some struggle to come to terms with her sexuality. She just happened to be with a man then but is in love with a woman now.

Yes. Every actor has gay rumors, especially ones with musical theater backgrounds who tend to hang out a lot with other actors who are gay or have the same rumors. If you believe rumors, pretty much every actor in the history of Hollywood is gay or traded gay sex for roles/money. While I’m sure there are many more closeted gay actors, I’m sure it’s far from the extent rumored.

That’s why I hedged the comment: she has, as far as I can tell, self-identified as gay, based on her current relationship – which dates back to before the SATC movies, where she kept playing the same heterosexual role on the big screen that she’d played on television while, y’know, married to a guy.

I’m not sure what the actual “score” is for the now defunct Showtime series The L Word, but if I remember correctly, at least Jennifer Beals was a straight actress playing as a lesbian.

Off topic, but…when she appeared on Big Bang Theory, were there any jokes/references to her and Johnny Galecki’s sitcom past together? I guess I’m aging myself, but to me Galecki will always be David Healy from Roseanne.

Back to the topic: Billy Crystal in “Soap”.

Also, anyone interested in this topic - or any movie fan in general, really - should watch the documentary “The Celluloid Closet.” It’s fascinating. The whole thing is on YouTube.

Huh. Nobody mentioned BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN yet?

Neil Patrick Harris also played a straight character, Neil Patrick Harris, in the Harold & Kumar movies. Since the last movie came out after Neil did it even had his husband, David Burtka, do a cameo as a straight version of himself (the gag was that the whole gay thing was an act to get chicks, and him & Neil were repulsed by each other). It was a weird scene.

There are those who would say that Sulu was not necessarily straight in Star Trek: The Old Stuff, but George Takei played Hiro Nakamura’s straight father in Heroes.