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CLUTCHING PEARLS: Disney Picks Straight Actor to Play Gay in “The Jungle Cruise”

Oh the faux outrage! Oh the faux drama. Oh for faux sake!

Yesterday it was announced that “straight” 30-year-old comedian Jack Whitehall (pictured above) will play a “hugely effete, very camp and very funny” young man in Disney’s new blockbuster The Jungle Cruise (I’ll wait until everyone’s got the cruising “jokes” out of their system). Well pearls were clutched and Twitter blew up.  Not because of Whitehall playing the stereotypical “fun, effete” gay man.  But because Disney had the nerve, the unmitigated gall to cast a straight man in the role!   

I know we are supposed to be happy about this but the second outreach to the LGBTQ community is another camp character played by a straight guy. Why must we always take our spoonful of sugar with a lemon? https://t.co/sUM012YbWg

— Daniel Franzese (@WhatsupDanny) August 12, 2018

It’s too bad there weren’t any out actors who are regularly called some euphemism for “too camp” by casting directors, studios, networks, executives etc. for literally any role who were available for this Disney “first.” https://t.co/LfCkpUvnRV

— Emerson Collins (@ActuallyEmerson) August 12, 2018

How about an openly gay actor/comedian playing the first openly gay “very Camp” character in a Disney film. Baby steps I guess. FUCK BABY STEPS. THIS IS BULLSHIT.https://t.co/yZMq8y4CAl

— Mario Cantone (@macantone) August 12, 2018

Such a dam shame it’s so hard to find gay actors to play gay roles in hollywood . Do better @disney@jackwhitehallhttps://t.co/QUQ3qbb8NZ

— Chris Salvatore (@CSalvatore) August 12, 2018

Of course we need not point out the obvious that all the above tweets were made by openly gay actors. (Sour grapes?) who are more concerned about getting work than the fact that media representations of gay men too often portray stereotypes, rather than reflecting the full diversity of the gay male community.

Character actors Edward Everett-Horton and Franklin Pangborn made careers out of playing “efette” characters in the 1940’s. Later characterizations include that of Hollywood Montrose in Mannequin, Hank Azaria as Agador Spartacus in The Birdcage, and of course Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) from Will and Grace. Not a “butch” bone in the bunch. (Well maybe “in” them.)

Instead of the outrage over a straight man playing a gay part we should be outraged that once again a gay character is carrying the long Hollywood tradition of being a sissy for laughs.

And as for the whole “gay actors should only play gay roles”.  Then that would mean that straight actors should only play straight roles and that is not a road the gay acting community wants to go down.

There are just so many revivals of the Boys in the Band.

 

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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