Tony winner and sometimes controversial Christian celebrity Kristin Chenoweth has always been a defender of gay rights – even when it has cost her support in the Christian community- and now she is speaking out against an article in a recent issue of Newsweek magazine. She wrote a particularly heated reply to a writer who believes that many gay actors can’t pull off heterosexual romantic leading roles, even while it seems to be no problem for straight actors to play gay roles. One of the examples the writer picks on is Sean Hayes, Chenoweth’s co-star in the current Broadway production of “Promises, Promises.” Now the Broadway pixie with a powerhouse voice is calling him “horrendously homophobic.” And that’s just the beginning of her tart-tongued comeback.
Not only does Chenoweth gush about Hayes’s talent as her leading man in the musical in her letter but she correlates the archaic theory presented by the article’s author with treating gay people similarly to the way Jews have been treated by society in the past. In her letter she states, “For example, there was a time when Jewish actors had to change their names because anti-Semites thought no Jew could convincingly play Gentile.”
I appreciate that Chenoweth, in her own spunky way, tries to move the dialogue forward regarding gays and the evangelical community from time to time.I am just not sure I would have made this particular argument in doing so. With Neil Patrick Harris, Hayes, and many other “out” gay actors having successful careers, it’s getting harder and harder to argue Hollywood might be going out of its way to discriminate against gay actors who are looking for work – or that audiences aren’t finding their portrayals of straight characters convincing.
The era of anti-Semitism that Chenoweth is referring to was decades ago, and perhaps a stronger case would have been made if she had made the comparison instead to all of the Hollywood Christians in the 80s and 90s , pre-“Passion” era who worried about keeping their faith on the down-low for fear it would hurt their careers.
Either way, the writer of the Newsweek article has had a history in the press of what some might refer to as gay-bashing and doesn’t seem to be taken too seriously, so, Kristin, relax, and let’s not give this man any more free publicity.