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Willam Is Not Here For Straight Actors Playing Gay Roles

In F*ck Our Drag News: Willam, the former RuPaul's Drag Race firecracker and co-host of the popular podcast Race Chaser is making it clear that she isn't here for straight actors continuing to snatch up gay roles.

Willam shared her thoughts on an Instagram post about Happy Valley actor James Norton playing queer character Jude in the upcoming stage adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara’s critically-acclaimed novel A Little Life.

Norton had expressed in an interview with the BBC that he needed an intimacy coordinator to take on the role of Jude, as the character has several sex scenes and also experiences sexual abuse.

“Oh good, another straight guy telling gay stories. F**k our drag,” Willam commented on the post.

Drag Race UK alumni Jonbers Blonde also chimed in by making reference to the Brenda from Bristol meme, writing: “Not another one.”

After someone responded to Jonbers asking “another what”, Willam added: “Another straight dude playing gay cuz straight actors with names get dibs on the gay roles over actual gay people so often.

“Did everyone catch Eddie Redmayne in Cabaret? A gay shoulda and coulda played that, but they went: NAME.”

The question of whether LGBTQ+ characters should be played by LGBTQ+ people has been explored endlessly over the past few years.

While LGBTQ+ representation on-screen is undoubtedly improving, many fans of queer media argue that it’s also important that representation extends to behind the scenes.

Everyone from Cate Blanchett to Tom Hanks, Russell T Davies to Stanley Tucci has shared their thoughts on the debate.

Blanchett was nominated for Best Actress at this year’s Oscars for her role as lesbian conductor Lydia Tár in Tár, as well as playing a lesbian in 2015 film Carol.

Earlier this year, she said she doesn’t “think about [her] gender or [her] sexuality” when choosing her roles, and that she doesn’t understand the “obsession with labels”.

Brendan Fraser, meanwhile, has inadvertently made a case for LGBTQ+ actors playing LGBTQ+ roles, after he said the sexuality of his character Charlie in The Whale was “immaterial”.

Fans of the film were quick to note that Charlie’s sexuality is inherent to the plot, and an LGBTQ+ actor may have been more likely to understand why.

Some LGBTQ+ actors though, like Lord of the Rings legend Ian McKellan, have defended straight people playing gay roles.

Speaking about Clive Owen’s performance as Max in the devastating Holocaust film Bent, McKellan said: “Nothing wrong with that performance. For those of you who think only gay people should be allowed to play gay parts.”

I feel depending on the story queer people can take the material to a place where straight people really wouldn't understand.

In a perfect world it shouldn't matter what someone's sexual orientation is. However sexuality does matter when you're tellig stories that may involve queer trauma. When I saw A Knock At The Cabin, the story was based on a book and featured two gay men at it's center. The story for me was more believeble because two gay actors portrayed those characters.

I think the frustration is also that when straight people play queer parts, they're also rewarded for being "brave" taking on those roles, with Brendan Fraser winning a Best Actor Oscar this past Sunday.

If an openly gay actor were to portray that same part, some probably feel that they would have never been nominated simply because by someone who's really gay playing a gay character, they think the actor isn't really acting, as if being queer is some simple, monolithic trait.

We are a complicated bunch, and our stories need to be told and created for us by us. There's enough roles for straight actors to fight over.

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