True Blood Character Left Because of Gay Part
I just finished an e-mail discussion with a straight male friend who wondered why gay people always seem to be on a crusade. Unfortunately, he caught me at the wrong time and I told him it’s easy to use words like crusade in a glib way if you’re coming from a place of privilege…in his case the world of straight white men. And this article I’m linking to now seems to speak loudly on this topic. Allegedly, according to some sources, actor Luke Grimes left the hit series, True Blood, when he learned his character would be getting a gay storyline. In another article I’m linking to below Grimes’ representative claims the allegations are false and he didn’t leave for that reason. But even that article mentions alleged creative differences, without detail.
Here’s a quote from the piece that claims he did leave because of a gay storyline:
According to BuzzFeed, “Grimes objected to the first few scripts he received [of season 7], once it became clear that his character would become romantically involved with Lafayette. He countered that he would be willing to play the role if Lafayette were attracted to him, but not if the attraction was mutual. He also did not want to do any same-sex kissing or sex scenes. The writers were unwilling to change the scripts on his behalf.”
Grimes’ publicist says that his departure had to do with scheduling and cited several projects to BuzzFeed like his role in Fifty Shades of Grey. In addition, the publicist said Grimes did not know what was in the scripts prior to leaving the show.
It’s an interesting side note that this article mentions Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie. If you recall, Matt Bomer was up for the lead and the fact that an openly gay man was in the running to play Christian stirred up shitstorms of epic proportions in some places. Frankly, the more I read about Fifty Shades the less inclined I am to watch it when it’s released.
Here’s the piece that says Grimes did not back out of True Blood because of the gay storyline:
The “Taken 2” star joined the supernatural series in the sixth season and unexpectedly quit the role of vampire James in December, blaming creative differences with the show’s producers over his character’s direction.
He was replaced by Nathan Parsons and in the series seven premiere, which aired on Sunday, it appears James is heading towards a romantic relationship with gay character Lafayette.
Reports suggested the plot prompted Grimes’ departure, but his representative has now denied the claims, insisting the exit “had nothing to do with storylines, which he had not been privy to at the time of that posting.”
First, to be completely honest, I have followed True Blood since season one and I didn’t even know they’d replaced Grimes. I never thought he was anything more than just another face with long hair. Second, in this post my focal point is NOT about why Grimes left the show. I don’t care that much about him. It’s more general… about the topic of a straight actor playing a gayface, or a gay actor playing a straight role.
Evidently, Hollywood has a long way to go in spite of all their concern for the LGBTI community.
Brendan Fehr on Gayface Kiss
In an even more insulting article about a straight actor playing gayface, Brendan Fehr is talking about how hard it was for him to play a gay doctor and kiss a man. This isn’t the first time Brendan Fehr has played gayface. He got paid well to play gayface in something else I’ve never bothered to watch. But this time he actually had to kiss another man, which left him feeling uncomfortable. I think Rock Hudson must roll over in his grave at least a few times a day. You never heard HIM complaining about kissing Doris Day. Ah, but he wasn’t able to be openly gay.
“It was the challenge of portraying Drew. I think it was the risks involved as well. To play a homosexual on network television, what are the risks? There’s a whole bunch of them. What are the rewards? Not as many. I just felt like I had something to offer.”
He played a “homosexual.” Yes, he used the H word. He fails to mention how well paid he is for doing this.
Here’s what he had to say on kissing a guy:
“It was uncomfortable for me. In Episode 106, my boyfriend comes and I don’t like kissing guys, it doesn’t do anything for me. It’s really uncomfortable, but you gotta get past that, his story is bigger than that. The emotion behind that is so much bigger than that. I was scared, petrified in a lot of ways, but I wanted to push myself and see if I could do it.”
Aside from the fact an actor isn’t supposed to get aroused from kissing anyone during a scene, he doesn’t seem concerned that there are thousands of gay actors in Hollywood who would have killed to get this part. But, aside from the fact that hundreds of famous closeted gay actors have been kissing women for many years and not commenting on that in public, Fehr is honored to play gayface.
Well, we’re honored you are doing that, Mr. Fehr. Thanks for all of your support. But you might want to rethink a few things the next time you’re giving an interview that may or may not have something directly to do with your meal ticket. The fact that you are playing gayface is probably the best thing that has happened in your life to date. And think about the gay actors who are not privileged enough to play straight roles and aren’t lucky enough to get freaked out by kissing women…or for that matter they aren’t even playing gay roles.
I really needed something to back me up with the first two articles I mentioned above. And Queerty came through for me once again with this piece about how homophobic Hollywood really can be sometimes. The article begins with a comment about how some will tell you there’s no need for gay pride anymore…how so much has changed for the LGBTI community. And, even though I didn’t realize it until after I wrote the post above, Queerty talks about Brendan Fehr, too.
Ask any struggling actor if they think there are any rewards to taking a gay role on network television. I expect they’d be able to find one or two.
To his credit, Fehr did end up taking the role, stepping outside his comfort zone along the way. And that’s great. But he clings to the idea that he’s doing something risky, dangerous and brave.
The article also mentions Grimes and True Blood. You can read more here. At least I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way.
But what this article doesn’t mention is something that bothers me the most. When will be see more openly gay actors playing straight roles? That’s when equality is really going to be put to the test.