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Gay actors in gay roles?!
by Donalevan Maines
Photo by Nino Muñoz/CBS
The theme of the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards could be “The Year that Gay Actors Got Nominated in Gay Roles.”
Oh, it’s highly unlikely, but then who would have guessed that 2013 would see a majority of Americans supporting marriage equality, the Supreme Court throwing out DOMA, and the pope embracing gay priests?
What’s more likely is that host Neil Patrick Harris will proclaim that Internet television has officially arrived, with Netflix scoring nine Emmy nominations for its exclusively online drama series House of Cards and five each for the resurrected comedy Arrested Development and the horror series Hemlock Grove.
Those nods also portend that, this time next year, we’ll be assessing Emmy odds for Netflix’s current Orange Is the New Black.
But back to actors we know are gay. It used to be, as Harvey Fierstein complained in 1989 when he was denied an Academy Award nomination for Torch Song Trilogy, that an actor who isn’t gay could expect laurels for playing a gay character, but a gay actor playing a gay role? Not so much.
You see it again this year with A-list movie stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon duking it out in the Best Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries race for Behind the Candelabra. On the other hand, out actor Dan Bucatinsky, playing a gay Washington insider in Scandal, gets nominated as Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series; out actress Sarah Paulson, portraying lesbian journalist Lana Winters in gay producer Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story: Asylum, wins a nod in the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category; and out actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson is back in the comedy supporting actor race even though his Modern Family onscreen husband, previous winner Eric Stonestreet, was overlooked to make room for the likes of Tony Hale (Buster in Arrested Development) as Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s “bag man” Gary on Veep.
Another out actor nominated for American Horror Story: Asylum is Zachary Quinto, who’s currently claiming the role of Tom Wingfield (the alter ego of Tennessee Williams) in The Glass Menagerie on Broadway.
I don’t watch Glee, but when I see that Dot-Marie Jones, nominated again as guest actress in a comedy series, is a former All-American shot-putter and fifteen-time world arm-wrestling champion—much less that she plays a high school football coach—I’m thinking she merits a mention in The Year that Gay Actors Got Nominated in Gay Roles.
I mean, there’s the rub. In the years it took Emmy voters to nominate Project Runway’s Tim Gunn alongside Heidi Klum for best reality host on Project Runway, he’d already revealed three decades of celibacy.
If he wins, we won’t even see it, as his category has been bumped to the non-televised Creative Arts ceremony so that host NPH can perform a dance number created by the nominees for best choreography, whose work was cited on So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, and the stage musical Carousel on a broadcast of Live from Lincoln Center.
To see the full list of nominees, visit emmys.com. Among the finalists are Jim Parsons, Lily Tomlin, Jane Lynch, John Benjamin Hickey, Nathan Lane, Kevin Spacey (is he or isn’t he?), Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, and Will Forte and Jane Krakowski as 30 Rock’s cross-dressing couple (but no RuPaul).
What: The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards
When: 7 p.m., Sunday, September 22
Donalevan Maines also writes about Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical in this issue of OutSmart magazine.