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How can straight actors be more authentic when playing gay characters?

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I've been meaning to start a thread about this topic, and it's kind of a tricky tropic but I will go ahead and share some of my basic impressions.

 

First I watch several daily British soaps and most of them have gay male couples front and center among the straight couples. One show, Coronation Street, had a gay male couple plus a lesbian couple on the frontburner until last fall when one of the actresses was written out. So it's a little easier to discuss British representations of gay characters on the soaps since they're a bit more numerous and seem less like "token" storytelling than American soaps. American soaps are prone to treat gay characters the same way they treat black and latinos, by keeping them sidelined.

 

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On Coronation Street recently there was an episode where the now single lesbian character (Kate Connor) went to a lesbian bar and took two straight female coworkers with her. One coworker is married. It was filmed on location in a real lesbian bar and the authentic atmosphere was kind of fun to watch on screen. We'd never see that on an American soap.

 

But anyway, getting to the topic here. On Emmerdale there are two very prominent gay male characters-- Aaron and Robert. They're in their late 20s/early 30s and have grown up on the show, as part of two respective core families. In a groundbreaking storyline Aaron, who was always presented as straight until a few years ago, was revealed to have been sexually abused by his father. After all that came out, Aaron fell in love with Robert and a few weeks ago they finally were married, the night before Aaron was sent to prison for a crime.

 

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In recent weeks Aaron is being beaten up in prison because the other inmates figured out he was gay (he was trying to pass as straight while incarcerated). All of that is still playing out, and Robert is just starting to learn his husband Aaron is being abused in prison.

 

There have been comments on various websites where fans have complained these two are not "gay enough." Part of the issue is both actors who play Aaron and Robert are straight-identified in real life. They've given interviews where they talk about not being gay off camera but feel they are part of an important storyline. Internet posters who do not find them convincing in any of their kissing scenes or where they have to touch or be more intimate on camera, have begun to say these two actors are "gay for pay." That expression usually refers to straight men who do gay porn; but in this case, it is being applied to two soap actors.

 

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My impression is that the actors are still not comfortable with some of what the writers want them to do on camera. I think they are playing it like buddies who love each other instead of them being passionate lovers who can overcome anything (sexual abuse and prison bullying for example). 

 

This all goes back to casting and whether straight actors should be attempting gay characters. Obviously when the guy who plays Aaron was hired, he thought he was going to play a heterosexual but then the new orientation storyline was introduced. A straight actor can always quit if he doesn't want to play a gay character, but I would assume the money is too good to walk away from the role. Since Aaron and Robert are designed to be long-term characters it is obvious the writers will continue to keep them in major storylines for years to come, even if the current actors ever leave and the roles have to be recast. They are a huge "supercouple" and the recent wedding they had was a big deal on the show.

 

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I really love watching this storyline because it's gutsy on so many levels, in ways American soaps are too afraid to approach. But I think the actors are still not totally comfortable with each other (though this fluctuates in various episodes, probably because there are different directors guiding them through the episodes). I want the actors to totally get into all of what the writers are handing them so it will be believable. Just like filming inside a lesbian bar, these stories have to be authentic or else they're nothing more than ratings gimmicks. 

 

Thoughts...?

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The Brits tend to be more comfortable with this than the Yanks (of all races and religions living in the US of A). First of all, I define a heterosexual as one with ZERO and only a tiny bit of attraction to the same gender. Everybody else is somewhere in between heterosexuality and homosexuality regardless if they marry the opposite gender and pump out ten kids.

 

Aside from the two straight stars in Brokeback Mountain, we have Andrew Haigh's Weekend (filmed 2010) with one gay star (Chris New) and one straight star (Tom Cullen has been with actress Tatiana Maslany for several years, according to wikipedia). What makes that one work may be the fact that both guys have good chemistry on a friendship level and are not uncomfortable expressing affection. Maybe it is astrological? Tom is a Cancer, a water sign that is OK with expressing his emotional feminine side? Your guess is as good as mine.

 

This is not a porn film, but there is some brief full frontal nudity (primarily Chris, not Tom) and one key tastefully shot sex scene (i.e. you just know the guys are naked but nothing is explicit, just implied) which is dimly lit and supposedly shot by a female cinematographer. (Usually nude scenes, including the one covered as the earlier much-discussed "essential" Romeo & Juliet '68, were handled with only one or two crew members on the set to maintain as much privacy as possible.) Editing makes the scene more provocative than it is, but could the fact that only a woman was involved on that set helped? Maybe Tom was more turned on by her than his co-star? At least he was more comfortable with her as the chaperone.

 

It really boils down to how comfortable the actor or actress is with sexuality as a whole. You certainly would not expect, say, strongly opinionated-about-gays Mel Gibson to do a gay scene. Yet even he was bathing buck naked with other guys in Gallipoli with no issues.

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The Brits tend to be more comfortable with this than the Yanks (of all races and religions living in the US of A). First of all, I define a heterosexual as one with ZERO and only a tiny bit of attraction to the same gender. Everybody else is somewhere in between heterosexuality and homosexuality regardless if they marry the opposite gender and pump out ten kids.

 

Aside from the two straight stars in Brokeback Mountain, we have Andrew Haigh's Weekend (filmed 2010) with one gay star (Chris New) and one straight star (Tom Cullen has been with actress Tatiana Maslany for several years, according to wikipedia). What makes that one work may be the fact that both guys have good chemistry on a friendship level and are not uncomfortable expressing affection. Maybe it is astrological? Tom is a Cancer, a water sign that is OK with expressing his emotional feminine side? Your guess is as good as mine.

 

This is not a porn film, but there is some brief full frontal nudity (primarily Chris, not Tom) and one key tastefully shot sex scene (i.e. you just know the guys are naked but nothing is explicit, just implied) which is dimly lit and supposedly shot by a female cinematographer. (Usually nude scenes, including the one covered as the earlier much-discussed "essential" Romeo & Juliet '68, were handled with only one or two crew members on the set to maintain as much privacy as possible.) Editing makes the scene more provocative than it is, but could the fact that only a woman was involved on that set helped? Maybe Tom was more turned on by her than his co-star? At least he was more comfortable with her as the chaperone.

 

It really boils down to how comfortable the actor or actress is with sexuality as a whole. You certainly would not expect, say, strongly opinionated-about-gays Mel Gibson to do a gay scene. Yet even he was bathing buck naked with other guys in Gallipoli with no issuI

I agree that it all depends on how comfortable the actors are with their sexuality- a straight actor like Heath Ledger was so memorable in his role- even thought I have my suspicion that late  Heath ( who was a bit method mad) did have sex with Jake ( I don't think Jake needed to much convincing) at least once ;)

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I agree that it all depends on how comfortable the actors are with their sexuality- a straight actor like Heath Ledger was so memorable in his role- even thought I have my suspicion that late  Heath ( who was a bit method mad) did have sex with Jake ( I don't think Jake needed to much convincing) at least once 

 

That's an interesting idea-- not those two actors possibly having an off-camera fling, but the idea that a straight actor playing a gay character almost has to have some sort of point of reference, and what better way to get it than through experience.

 

The actors on Emmerdale are not guys who seem to be into method acting (at least I don't think so). The dark-haired one who plays Aaron is roommates with another actor from the show and they are best mates. But I think if there was some real-life experience to draw from, a straight-identified performer would have more understanding for the characters' situation. In the meantime they are just simulating a romance, simulating the passion, but while it has great tenderness it lacks a real sexual energy that is needed for Aaron & Robert's story. 

 

By comparison in the recent prison scenes, one of the men inside the correctional facility (named Jason) is taunting Aaron-- blowing kisses at him and pretending to be physically close, almost rubbing up against him all the time to tease and frustrate Aaron. There is a lot more sexual energy going on during the prison scenes, because the guy playing the other inmate is not afraid to explore what the material is suggesting. I bet we will find out Jason is a closet gay and that is why he's fixated on Aaron.

 

It's a very intriguing storyline. Today Aaron was beat up again but then he was whisked off to talk to a priest-- and he talked to the priest about his dad sexually abusing him when he was younger. There are many layers to it, and I commend the producers of Emmerdale for covering it all so in-depth.

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I agree that it all depends on how comfortable the actors are with their sexuality- a straight actor like Heath Ledger was so memorable in his role- even thought I have my suspicion that late  Heath ( who was a bit method mad) did have sex with Jake ( I don't think Jake needed to much convincing) at least once ;)

 

They didn't do much aside from kissing though. The famous tent scene left a lot to the imagination. I remember being in a theater in December 2005 and a very talkative lady behind me getting all outraged over the tent festivities. Apparently she figured out exactly what was going on simply in her mind.

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Harry Hamlin worked on Making Love in 1981 after Clash of the Titans. His career did suffer for a little while before having more success on TV a few years later.

 

 

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Thanks Jlewis and Jaragon for the great examples you've been providing. 

 

I realized that I am talking about British soaps a lot here, because these shows inspired the thread-- but perhaps people have not had a chance to ever watch Emmerdale. 

 

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The story with Aaron in prison is truly revolutionary-- I've never seen anything else like it on a continuing serial before. They have been doing all the incarceration scenes inside a real prison, and it has a very film noir feel to it.

 

I will probably continue to reference Aaron & Robert, because I think the actors are being handed incredible material to play-- and they will obviously go way beyond the current prison stuff-- but I keep thinking they need to really lower their inhibitions and explore it more completely.

 

It cannot be fully satisfying if it is not fully authentic.

 

screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-6-08-00-pm.png

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I had to read up on this show and watch some sample clips. Fortunately there is plenty of material on YouTube. Just not enough to get good grasp. The actor playing Aaron, Danny Miller, comes off a bit stiff overall. He does well enough when being attacked in prison and has a good cry scene.

 

Maybe he's uncomfortable in his role, but he doesn't seem like the romantic type even if a woman is involved. He probably does better in fight scenes and action than intimacy.

 

Not all performers are good with romantic scenes. They may show affection in real life in a less, shall I say, cinematic way. Maybe they keep their emotions to themselves and require a partner that is better at subtle reading, not a typical film or TV viewer who requires more facial expression. Good examples are Henry Fonda, John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino, Johnny Depp (unless he is an eccentric character whom the girl feels sympathy for) and I never thought Tom Cruise was all that great either (being better in Mission Impossible material or doing macho fly maneuvers in Top Gun over his whooing scenes with Kelly McGillis). These stars became romantic because of strong direction and good camera angles rather than acting. Buster Keaton pulled off his "stone face" very well, but that was because he was a silent star who couldn't just talk through the romance. Usually you saw Keaton as a romantic because of HER reactions to him.

 

This brings me to Jimmy Stewart who was, on the surface, a very bad romantic. However two directors, Frank Capra and Alfred Hitchcock, pulled it off successfully with him thanks to careful selection of leading ladies. Jean Arthur, Donna Reed and Grace Kelly had a maternal quality to them that made Stewart more of a gullible "boy". Although VERTIGO is a critic's darling, it is a very demented psychological romance-gone-wrong and, even though they were nice friends off camera and did at least two movies together, Kim Novak was hardly a good match since both she and Stewart have rather aloof personalities. Barbara Bel Geddes seemed like a better match in my opinion since she was another "mother" for him, only Hitchcock threw us a curveball by making Novak the object of his obsession instead. Although ROPE focused on two others having a gay relationship, Hitchcock also succeeded in making Stewart more attached emotionally with his ex-students (suggesting some gay feelings under the surface or, perhaps, a past relationship with them) thanks to getting Stewart passionate in his performance.

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A perfect example of straight actors who ruin a gay text - Rex Harrison and Richard Burton in "Staircase".

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I had to read up on this show and watch some sample clips. Fortunately there is plenty of material on YouTube. Just not enough to get good grasp. The actor playing Aaron, Danny Miller, comes off a bit stiff overall. He does well enough when being attacked in prison and has a good cry scene.

 

Maybe he's uncomfortable in his role, but he doesn't seem like the romantic type even if a woman is involved. He probably does better in fight scenes and action than intimacy.

 

Not all performers are good with romantic scenes. They may show affection in real life in a less, shall I say, cinematic way. 

 

I'm glad you had a chance to look at some recent clips of Emmerdale. I agree that Danny Miller did an awesome job with the crying scenes in the episode yesterday where Aaron was beat up. Not sure if you watched the entire thing but the scenes with him and the priest were interesting-- not just because they went in-depth about Aaron's childhood abuse by his father, but it also gave us insight into the other guy (Jason) who was beating him up behind bars. 

 

It seems fairly obvious Miller is a straight actor playing a gay character, but I think he's investing a lot of sincerity and emotional realism in the story. The romantic scenes between Aaron and Robert are always a bit 'off' to me, because they telegraph that a kiss or a hug is coming by the way they pause in the dialogue getting ready for the next 'gay' moment in the script. 

 

Even if Miller never had kissed a man in real life before this storyline started, he is gaining experience on the job. LOL So after a decent amount of time playing the romantic scenes, it should become a more comfortable thing for him and Ryan Hawley who portrays Robert. In some episodes they do seem relaxed. During the wedding they had to be considerably affectionate in front of their cast mates, and I thought most of it was well-acted. The wedding was a bit different, because like a typical soap wedding for a supercouple it was interrupted but then they went off to a barn and said their vows in private. So I think we will find out they are not technically married and there will probably be a more "official" wedding later on, after the prison story has finished.

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A perfect example of straight actors who ruin a gay text - Rex Harrison and Richard Burton in "Staircase".

 

Burton suggested in one interview that he experimented in his sex life. Yes, we also know that Liz Taylor definitely had his mojo up more than any guys he hung out with. Nonetheless boys will be boys and curiosity can take hold.

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A perfect example of straight actors who ruin a gay text - Rex Harrison and Richard Burton in "Staircase".

 

It's been a while since I've seen this film, but Harrison definitely seemed out of place. The whole production is a bit too stagey. Though I think if TCM ever did a hairdressing theme one evening, they could easily show it with SHAMPOO and STEEL MAGNOLIAS.

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I'm glad you had a chance to look at some recent clips of Emmerdale. I agree that Danny Miller did an awesome job with the crying scenes in the episode yesterday where Aaron was beat up. Not sure if you watched the entire thing but the scenes with him and the priest were interesting-- not just because they went in-depth about Aaron's childhood abuse by his father, but it also gave us insight into the other guy (Jason) who was beating him up behind bars. 

 

It seems fairly obvious Miller is a straight actor playing a gay character, but I think he's investing a lot of sincerity and emotional realism in the story. The romantic scenes between Aaron and Robert are always a bit 'off' to me, because they telegraph that a kiss or a hug is coming by the way they pause in the dialogue getting ready for the next 'gay' moment in the script. 

 

Even if Miller never had kissed a man in real life before this storyline started, he is gaining experience on the job. LOL So after a decent amount of time playing the romantic scenes, it should become a more comfortable thing for him and Ryan Hawley who portrays Robert. In some episodes they do seem relaxed. During the wedding they had to be considerably affectionate in front of their cast mates, and I thought most of it was well-acted. The wedding was a bit different, because like a typical soap wedding for a supercouple it was interrupted but then they went off to a barn and said their vows in private. So I think we will find out they are not technically married and there will probably be a more "official" wedding later on, after the prison story has finished.

 

I still haven't seen the priest scene. To be fair, I think David does an adequate job as an actor. I just don't think he is that animated in the romantic role regardless of what gender is the object of his affections.

 

I don't know if it ever is "obvious" if an actor is straight playing a gay role unless it is porn. Personally I don't believe "gay for pay" because a guy who has zero interest in other guys has to really use a LOT of imagination and pretend his partner is a woman in order to, um, get a rise and perform explicit acts for the camera. More likely actors in this field have attractions towards both genders and favor women more off camera when not working. However we are just talking straight-forward (oh my choice of words... straight-forward... lol!) drama that usually doesn't require more than kissing and brotherly affection for the cameras.

 

Again, a film like Weekend succeeds because the straight and gay actors are very comfortable with each other. Both actors have a sensitivity and respect for each other comfort level. I don't think Brokeback Mountain was as successful but Heath and Jake do seem like good buddies who are OK playing their roles. One thing that bothered me about that film was that the stars were too rough in their actions. This may be because the characters weren't all that communicative with each other (especially Heath and his four word sentences). Actors Chris and Tom do a lot of TALKING about FEELINGS in the other film. Tom, in particular, really gets into this when he mentions how Americans are fighting for their right to marry and you can sense he is thinking of love in general regardless of the genders involved. No doubt that adds to him being immersed in his role. Also Chris, the actor who is gay off camera, is very patient and understanding. You know he did not push Tom into doing anything he wasn't comfortable doing.

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It's been a while since I've seen this film, but Harrison definitely seemed out of place. The whole production is a bit too stagey. Though I think if TCM ever did a hairdressing theme one evening, they could easily show it with SHAMPOO and STEEL MAGNOLIAS.

 

I dunno... but I certainly want to see the whole thing NOW.

 

 

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I still haven't seen the priest scene. To be fair, I think David does an adequate job as an actor. I just don't think he is that animated in the romantic role regardless of what gender is the object of his affections.

 

I don't know if it ever is "obvious" if an actor is straight playing a gay role unless it is porn. Personally I don't believe "gay for pay" because a guy who has zero interest in other guys has to really use a LOT of imagination and pretend his partner is a woman in order to, um, get a rise and perform explicit acts for the camera. More likely actors in this field have attractions towards both genders and favor women more off camera when not working. However we are just talking straight-forward (oh my choice of words... straight-forward... lol!) drama that usually doesn't require more than kissing and brotherly affection for the cameras.

 

I think you meant Danny, not David. In a way you are tapping into the notion about whether actors are just more comfortable in certain genres and with certain types of material in general. 

 

On Coronation Street there is a gay reverend who recently had an affair with an out gay man that was in a committed relationship with another male. So it was a different type of story. But the sex scenes were quite explicit when their affair was heating up. One of the actors in that triangle (Bruno Langley) is married with children off screen, and he was earning all kinds of praise for not being afraid to really get into the sex scenes. But on Emmerdale I don't think Aaron & Robert are meant to be that explicit-- Aaron's past abuse and issue trusting people makes him a bit more withdrawn and less outward with his behaviors. Yet I think we do have to see the sparks a bit more, to know there is a reason Aaron has been falling in love with Robert and decided to marry him.

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Yeah... Danny.

 

I think we all forget that movies are put together like puzzles, often with scenes not even shot sequentially in time. Although initially just animated cartoons had storyboards, they have long become a part of live-action films as well. To the actor, it is all about *The Scene*, especially since few movies are shot in one day. Only the viewer can determine if the actor is convincing in the role throughout the picture, which is really just a composite of different scenes with individual rehearsals and shot on different days with planning ahead of time.

 

Any discussion about straight actors playing gay romance must also remember how many straight actors have to play straight romances with co-stars they aren't always gaga over. Perfect example: Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh who couldn't stand each other on GWTW, but great editing did wonders with THAT film in order to make it the blockbuster of all blockbusters. Also, as reported in a blog over in Streamline, Frederic March and Verona Lake hated each other enough in I MARRIED A WITCH that Fred wanted to use the "B" word in the title instead.

 

I do sense a "connection" between Rex and Richard in THE STAIRCASE.... or at least a shared sense of humor.

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Oh Topbilled, you are forcing to go through YouTube to see what you are discussing here. Oh yeah... Coronation Street featuring Dirk Bogarde and Bruno Langley. I went through a couple of their scenes. They remind me, in the way they hold shoulders before kissing, of Elizabeth Montgomery with Dick York (the straight one) and Dick Sargant (the gay one). She got along great with both Darrins, although she hung out more with the second Darrin, joining him on Pride Parade after he came out. OK... the scene on the bed was not something you saw in 1960s ABC TV. I am not sure which one is straight, but Bruno looks like he is just going with the flow and hoping he doesn't get injured while Dirk is the one really enjoying himself.

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Oh Topbilled, you are forcing to go through YouTube to see what you are discussing here. 

 

Since we may continue discussing Aaron & Robert on Emmerdale (as well as the acting of the two gents who play them), I thought it might be helpful to mention how to find the episodes.

 

I use Dailymotion. If you register with an email address, it's fairly easy. A user named DocumentaryTV uploads the British serials each weekday. Emmerdale actually produces six half-hour episodes per week-- on one of the weekdays, can't remember which one, they have a two-parter. The user DocumentaryTV uploads the best quality HD versions without commercials. Britain is ahead of North America in terms of time zones, and I find the uploads are usually available by 5 p.m. Arizona time. They are taken down when the newest episodes are uploaded.

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For the longest time, on the American soap, "Days Of Our Lives", there was a very enjoyable storyline that involved two gay characters, who fell in love, Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis.

 

In fact, Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis made television history when they decided to get married.

 

It was the first male-male wedding ceremony in television history.

 

It lasted four and a half days - in screen time.

 

Will Horton was played by Guy Wilson and Sonny Kiriakis was played by Freddie Smith.

 

Both of these actors did not seem particularly "gay", but they did play very well together on the soap.

 

Later, a former boyfriend of Sonny was brought into the storyline and turned Will and Sonny's relationship into a triangle - Paul Norita, a closeted baseball player.

 

Paul Norita was played by Christopher Sean.

 

Again, Christopher Sean did not seem particularly "gay", but he did give a excellent performance as a gay man.

 

Paul Norita was also pursued by a sexually-liberated young man who worked at the hotel where Paul Norita was staying.

 

This actor gave an extremely convincing performance.

 

When he was on-camera, the TV screen "blazed".

 

Was this actor "gay"?  I don't know.  Was he only "acting"?  I don't know.

 

For some strange reason, when a new team of writers was brought onto the show, they decided to "kill off" the character of Will Horton.

 

He became a victim of the necktie killer, who was terrorizing the town of Salem.

 

This kind of disrespect for two legacy gay characters, who had made television history, turned me off the show.

 

I have not watched it again.

 

All of the actors who were involved in the gay storyline were certainly more than competent in rendering the complexities of a gay man's life - whether they were gay or not.

 

But the new writing team obviously was terrified of continuing this ground-breaking daytime gay storyline.

 

Shame on them!

 

 

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How long ago was this storyline (without me having to check)?

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This kind of disrespect for two legacy gay characters, who had made television history, turned me off the show.

 

I have not watched it again.

 

All of the actors who were involved in the gay storyline were certainly more than competent in rendering the complexities of a gay man's life - whether they were gay or not.

 

But the new writing team obviously was terrified of continuing this ground-breaking daytime gay storyline.

 

Shame on them!

 

I know TopBilled probably knows more about this than I do, but I have a family member who watches Days and I recall her telling me that the reason for Will and Sonny's storylines disappearing was that the new head writer was very religious and disapproved of any homosexuality. Days has been a real merry-go-round of head writers over the past few years, and every time a new one comes in, everything gets upended.

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I know TopBilled probably knows more about this than I do, but I have a family member who watches Days and I recall her telling me that the reason for Will and Sonny's storylines disappearing was that the new head writer was very religious and disapproved of any homosexuality. Days has been a real merry-go-round of head writers over the past few years, and every time a new one comes in, everything gets upended.

 

And it is all about to change again, because there is yet another "new" regime taking over. The recently hired headwriter (Ron Carlivati) is a very out gay man and he's written gay stories in the past on One Life to Live and General Hospital. But with varying degrees of success. The American soaps just are not consistent when it comes to storylines for what they consider minority (token) characters. 

 

One of the key problems with Days' going forward in this area is the headwriter who was more religious and did not want to write a frontburner gay couple had killed off Will Horton. So they have had to reconstruct the storyline by having his surviving husband Sonny take up with Paul who had broken them up. I don't think the viewers are exactly buying it, and my guess is once Carlivati's material begins airing in mid-July we will see a shift away from Sonny & Paul, with either Will coming back from the dead or another new gay character for Sonny to fall in love with. The actor who plays Paul is popular and he will probably stay on contract but I don't see the show building to a Sonny & Paul romance the way it did with Sonny & Will.

 

I could wrong, but we'll see what happens. In the meantime NBC did renew the show for ten more months. Previously Days was set to run until September 2017, now the network's deal with Sony has been extended to next July. This means Carlivati has exactly one year to bring the ratings up or it will likely (and finally) be cancelled.

 

Going back to the thread topic, the actor who plays Paul is gay in real life. But the actor who plays Sonny is not, and quite frankly I don't find him all too convincing. The dialogue is often trite and the couple is stagnating. They are definitely a token couple at this point, with occasional hugging, a New Year's kiss and that's about it. They have been used more as sounding boards in the straight characters' stories than in their own romance. It will probably stay this way until the new material starts airing in mid-summer.

 

In short Days' gay couple is currently quite boring. By comparison, Aaron & Robert on Emmerdale are much more interesting and central to their show's storylines. They drive the main plots as much as the straight couples. And they have different types of interaction with the other core characters, and within their own story, there are multiple issues that are being explored.

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And it is all about to change again, because there is yet another "new" regime taking over. The recently hired headwriter (Ron Carlivati) is a very out gay man and he's written gay stories in the past on One Life to Live and General Hospital. But with varying degrees of success. The American soaps just are not consistent when it comes to storylines for what they consider minority (token) characters. 

 

One of the key problems with Days' going forward in this area is the headwriter who was more religious and did not want to write a frontburner gay couple had killed off Will Horton. So they have had to reconstruct the storyline by having his surviving husband Sonny take up with Paul who had broken them up. I don't think the viewers are exactly buying it, and my guess is once Carlivati's material begins airing in mid-July we will see a shift away from Sonny & Paul, with either Will coming back from the dead or another new gay character for Sonny to fall in love with. The actor who plays Paul is popular and he will probably stay on contract but I don't see the show building to a Sonny & Paul romance the way it did with Sonny & Will.

 

I could wrong, but we'll see what happens. In the meantime NBC did renew the show for ten more months. Previously Days was set to run until September 2017, now the network's deal with Sony has been extended to next July. This means Carlivati has exactly one year to bring the ratings up or it will likely (and finally) be cancelled.

 

Going back to the thread topic, the actor who plays Paul is gay in real life. But the actor who plays Sonny is not, and quite frankly I don't find him all too convincing. The dialogue is often trite and the couple is stagnating. They are definitely a token couple at this point, with occasional hugging, a New Year's kiss and that's about it. They have been used more as sounding boards in the straight characters' stories than in their own romance. It will probably stay this way until the new material starts airing in mid-summer.

 

In short Days' gay couple is currently quite boring. By comparison, Aaron & Robert on Emmerdale are much more interesting and central to their show's storylines. They drive the main plots as much as the straight couples. And they have different types of interaction with the other core characters, and within their own story, there are multiple issues that are being explored.

The decision to "kill off" Will Horton was rampant homophobia.

 

Jarrod -

 

What makes you think that Christopher Sean, who plays Paul Norita, is gay?

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The decision to "kill off" Will Horton was rampant homophobia.

 

Jarrod -

 

What makes you think that Christopher Sean, who plays Paul Norita, is gay?

 

I thought there was an article/interview where he came out. Maybe I'm mistaken. Maybe he's "bisexual." 

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Much of this analysis does amuse me on account of how many gays and lesbians played in "straight" romances since the dawn of narrative film, in addition to stage. After all, they didn't have a choice. You rarely saw romances of the other kind unless the character was a depraved villain like Dracula's Daughter.

 

Some of them pulled it off well. Ramon Novarro looks quite frisky and ferocious in The Pagan with Dorothy Janis. He reminds me of the future Rock Hudson and Neil Patrick Harris in the way they over emphasized their heterosexual characters. He seems more into Greta Garbo than Garbo is into him in Mata Hari.

 

The 1960s, the decade of James Bond and Alfie, was probably the first in mainstream Hollywood/British cinema in which stars had to hop-in-the-sack in addition to kissing and singing to Gershwin tunes. That was when your "orientation" suddenly became important. You notice the change with the two Darrins with Samantha in Bewitched, since they were the first married TV couple to share a bed on a frequent basis in primetime (if wearing clothes). Now that show is lots of fun with its cast. One episode that is a must-see is "The House That Uncle Arthur Built" (1970) with Paul Lynde thinking he found the woman of his dreams.

 

It is interesting how Bruno Langley, whom you, Topbilled, said is "married with children off screen, and he was earning all kinds of praise for not being afraid to really get into the sex scenes". What exactly was he afraid of, unless this was 1981-82 when Harry Hamlin took the risk in Making Love? It is not like he has to slit his wrists.

 

Yet I do think you have a point. Actors who identify as heterosexual are often less comfortable playing gay than the other way around because American society still has a long way to go in acceptance. Europe is more urban than rural, while America is rural with a few big cities sprinkled throughout and the more spread out the population, the less accepting the population is of diversification.

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