Gay representation has certainly come a long way from Patrick Stewart and Steven Weber in the classic 1995 gay film, “Jeffrey.” That same year, Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo, and Wesley Snipes shocked audiences with their hilarious and stunningly relatable performances as urban drag queens taking a long road trip across middle America in “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.”
And of course, who could forget Robin William’s heartfelt comedy performance in “The Birdcage”the following year? These movies were promises of societal acceptance as big-name, straight actors played proud gay characters for straight audiences who laughed, cheered, and empathized with them.
As acceptance and normalcy have rained out the gay pride parade and “coming out” no longer requires a party or the prospect of never speaking to one’s parents again, the appreciation for sharing LGBT culture has significantly dwindled. Where we once tearfully cheered on our straight allies, today we see LGBT writers and actors smugly lecturing them on the appropriate distance to keep between themselves and sacred artifacts of LGBT culture and identity.
If a straight actor plays a gay role today, the movie is likely to be boycotted by LGBT activists. If a gay actor plays a transgender role, the same can happen. Although we were once thrilled by mainstream representation, we now find LGBT people complaining that even the first openly gay candidate running for president just isn’t queer or diverse enough.