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Majority of people think straight actors should be able to play gay roles

Majority of people think straight actors should be able to play gay roles

Jack Whitehall

A new poll has found a large majority of people believe straight actors should be able to play gay roles in movies.

The YouGov poll surveyed 3,276 adults residing in Great Britain and found 70% of respondents believed playing gay is fine.

The poll comes about after Disney announced straight actor Jack Whitehall will play its first openly gay character.

But many reacted negatively to the revelation the character will be ‘hugely effete, very camp and very funny’.

Comedian Jack Whitehall
Comedian Jack Whitehall. | Photo: Amanda Benson / Flickr

Interestingly, the data break down suggests older respondents are less fussed about straight actors playing gay roles.

60% of 18-24 year olds believe it’s fine, while 19% said it should be a gay actor – 21% didn’t know.

This compares to 71%, 73% and 71% for the remaining age groups (25-49, 50-65 and 65+) saying it’s okay to play gay.

Interestingly, Labour voters are less likely (69%) to think it’s okay, compared to Conservative voters (78%).

But all results still say it’s okay to play gay for straight actors.

Should straight actors play gay roles?

The news of comedian Jack Whitehall being cast as Disney’s first openly gay character became hugely divisive.

Many called out Disney for using tired tropes of gay men as ‘camp’ in being comedic punchlines.

While others insisted straight actors who play gay have a role to play in Hollywood.

They cite actors like Tom Hanks in Philadelphia and Mark Ruffalo in The Normal Heart. But more recently, Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name, as well as Nick Robinson in Love, Simon.

Jack Whitehall
Jack Whitehall. | Photo: jackwhitehall / Instagram

One critic of the decision said: ‘‘I ain’t mad about a straight guy playing a gay guy, I’m mad that a straight guy is playing an old fashioned super camp comedic stereotype of a gay guy and Disney are peddling that shit as positive representation.’

Another said: ‘Straight people playing gay camp characters is offensive. Period.’

One fan of the decision tweeted: ‘Could it just be that Jack Whitehall auditioned better than anyone else for the part that Disney were casting?’

Meanwhile, another argued: ‘It’s acting. Pretending to be someone else. Matt Damon isn’t an astronaut. Benedict Cumberbatch isn’t a sorcerer. The Rock isn’t a lifeguard.’

Whitehall is yet to respond to the backlash.