The Ovation channel has been honoring Gay Pride Month by running ten evenings' worth of programs featuring gay themes and characters. I've so far seen the UK "Queer as Folk" episodes, of which there seem to be precious few, and a truly pretentious movie called Velvet Goldmine that centers on the bygone British glam-rock craze (of all the wonderful GLBT movies out there, why, I wonder, did they run this dud?)
Aside from the fact that American TV is pathetically bereft of good GLBT programming, and the equally annoying fact that naughty words are still siphoned out by censors, no matter what the demographic of a show's audience (for shit's sake, this isn't 1952!), I realized how much I dislike seeing straight actors in gay roles.
This isn't the same as objecting to straight women writing GLBT fiction. I don't give a rip who writes the stories. But I do give a rip about the players who bring the stories alive for me.
Imagine reading a book marketed as m/m romance that's full of straight characters who are only pretending to be gay. Yeah. That's how I've been feeling about the shows I've been watching this week. Strange as it sounds, I feel a little cheated. Maybe a lot cheated. Why? Because straight actors destroy the illusion.
We all know that most of the time, heterosexual actors in heterosexual movies aren't really falling in love or even in lust. But, through convincing performances, they can at least persuade us to suspend disbelief. Moreover, that crackling chemistry we see on the screen is often real -- temporary, perhaps, but genuine.
HOWEVER, as I'm watching the insanely beautiful Charlie Hunnam get it on with the wickedly intense Aidan Gillen in "QaF," or the obscenely sensuous Jonathan Rhys Myers share a kiss with grungily handsome Ewan McGregor in Velvet Goldmine*, all I can think is, Damn it, I'll bet they're straight. They're not IN this; they're somewhere else. They aren't moved by the touching, aren't feeling anything -- unless they're feeling revolted and can't wait for the sequence to be over.
Then, when I find out my assumption is correct, my reaction goes something like this: It isn't right! How can they not have been excited? How can men with blowjob lips not want to give blowjobs? How can men with superior asses not want to share them? It goes against nature! ARGH!
Don't get me wrong. I greatly admire the courage and talent of these actors. But the fact remains, I don't want to Google them after I've been carried away by their performances . . . and see them with their wives and girlfriends. Pffft! Illusion punctured; satisfaction drained away.
I didn't know squat about Heath Ledger or Jake Gyllenhaal when I saw Brokeback Mountain, but I sure as hell knew about them afterward. To this day it galls me that neither one was genuinely attracted to the other. Gah, how could it be? How could "Ennis" and "Jack" not have had some sexual and romantic feelings for one another?
Answer: Because they actually liked girls. ARGH! Say it isn't so!
All this verbal teeth-gnashing and hair-pulling brings me back to my original point: For me, straight actors in gay films destroy the illusion of romance and sexual chemistry.
Am I the only person who's nutty this way?
* These descriptions fit how the actors looked when the shows were made, not necessarily how they look now.