Actor Lee Pace merely reignited a dormant debate in Hollywood.
Should LGBTQ celebrities feel a responsibility to live out and proud? Or should they have the same right to privacy when it comes to their sexuality and identity as anyone else?
The actor( known for “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Hobbit”) once played a lesbian character on Broadway in “The Normal Heart, ” a narrative reflecting the ache and injustice of the AIDS crisis of the 1980 s.
He recently spoke with W magazine about his return to the stage in the revival of “Angels in America.”
Pace said he thought it was important for LGBTQ actors to play LGBTQ characters — yet called interview the issue of his sexuality “intrusive.”
In the Feb. 28 article, Pace seems to fire back at the interviewer, Brian Moylan, who wrote 😛 TAGEND
“[ Pace] seemed a little bit flustered and surprised by the question. ‘I’ve dated men. I’ve dated girls, ‘ he explained. ‘I don’t know why anyone would care. I’m an actor and I play roles. To be honest, I don’t know what to say — I find your topic intrusive.'”
Pace’s response both raised eyebrows and rallied defenders.
To many, it felt hypocritical for Pace to note the importance of LGBTQ performers playing LGBTQ roles only to take offense to a journalist asking about his sexuality.
what lee pace could have said: i’m bisexual. i’m pansexual. i’m fag. sexuality is more fluid. i identify as gay but i have had relationships with women in the past.
what he did say: how dare you ask me about my own sexuality right after i said gay actors should play gay roles
— character actress georgie rae (@ georgiemorvis) February 28, 2018
On the other hand, anyone — famous or not — is entitled to keep their sexuality private, Pace’s defenders argued.
Saw this interview and thought it was really unprofessionnal to ask such question. That’s your private life and shouldn’t interfere with your career. Gay, bi, straight … you’re an amazing performer and we all love you for who you are. FOCUS ON LOVE YOU’RE RECEIVING NOTHING ELSE
— LoveLee Angelique (@ cottonmouth2 51) March 5, 2018
Pace’s statements added to an ongoing and often knotty debate over actors’ sex orientations and their right to privacy.
It’s seducing to brush aside the issue and argue that the best performer should always get the role, regardless of sex orientation. But such an attitude dismiss widespread problems that systematically decrease the value of LGBTQ performers.
In an entertainment industry oversaturated with straight( and white) roles, it’s still relatively uncommon that queer characters take centre stage . When those characters do appear, Hollywood tends to give those parts to straight, cisgender performers — and then reward them mightily come award-show season.
On the flip side, actors are often penalized when they come out as LGBTQ because their casting potential seem to be weakened to many executives who are hesitant to place a “riskier” bet on their hire. The industry has evolved vastly for the better since Ellen DeGeneres famously lost her sitcom — and, at the time, her entire career — after coming out as a lesbian in 1997. But anti-LGBTQ discrimination is still pervasive.
While the new movie “Call Me By Your Name” has been celebrated by critics and LGBTQ fans alike, many also panned its casting of two straight humen in the lead queer roles while homosexual and bisexual actors struggle to find work.
In lieu of the backlash to his statements, Pace took to Twitter to clarify how he feels on the issue.
“My privacy is important to me, so I protect it, ” he wrote. “When interviewed by the media, I keep the focus on my work.”
In a recent phone interview, I was asked questions that I wasn’t expecting and seen myself momentarily at a loss for the right terms. My privacy is important to me, so I protect it. When interviewed by the media, I keep the focus on my work.
— Lee Pace (@ leepace) March 5, 2018
But Pace does, however, understand the value in living openly and honestly as a faggot human in the spotlight, he wrote.
Pace’s statements fell perfectly into the crosshairs of this thorny debate.
His hesitation to discuss his sexuality openly — whether it be because he’s simply a private person or he fears his queerness could hurt his career( or both) — is understandable. But his call to cast openly LGBTQ performers in LGBTQ roles also recognizes the importance of representation in our media and why it’s so critical ample possibilities be provided to faggot entertainers.
Pace has been — and will continue to be — part of the solution.
…just as it’s been important to me to portray faggot characters with dignity for my entire career: A Soldier’s Girl( Showtime. 2003 ). The Normal Heart( Broadway. 2011 ). Halt and Catch Fire( AMC. 2014 -2 017 ). Angels in America.( Broadway. NOW .)
Onward, with Pride.
— Lee Pace (@ leepace) March 5, 2018
“It’s been important to me to portray queer characters with dignity for my entire career, ” he said. “Onward, with pride.”
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