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Kristin Chenoweth Slams Newsweek's Homophobic Article

Kristin Chenoweth Slams Newsweek's Homophobic Article

Kristin Chenoweth is defending gay actors and speaking out against Ramin Setoodeh‘s homophobic article that was printed in Newsweek (it argued that gay thespians shouldn’t play straight).

The 41-year-old actress writes, “As a longtime fan of Newsweek and as the actress currently starring opposite the incredibly talented (and sexy!) Sean Hayes in the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises, I was shocked on many levels to see Newsweek publishing Ramin Setoodeh‘s horrendously homophobic “Straight Jacket,” which argues that gay actors are simply unfit to play straight. From where I stand, on stage, with Hayes, every night – I’ve observed nothing “wooden” or “weird” in his performance, nor have I noticed the seemingly unwieldy presence of a “pink elephant” in the Broadway Theater. (The Drama League, Outer Critics Circle and Tony members must have also missed that large animal when nominating Hayes’ performance for its highest honors this year.)

“I’d normally keep silent on such matters and write such small-minded viewpoints off as perhaps a blip in common sense. But the offense I take to this article, and your decision to publish it, is not really even related to my profession or my work with Hayes or Jonathan Groff (also singled out in the article as too “queeny” to play “straight.”)

“This article offends me because I am a human being, a woman and a Christian. For example, there was a time when Jewish actors had to change their names because anti-Semites thought no Jew could convincingly play Gentile. Setoodeh even goes so far as to justify his knee-jerk homophobic reaction to gay actors by accepting and endorsing that “as viewers, we are molded by a society obsessed with dissecting sexuality, starting with the locker room torture in junior high school.” Really? We want to maintain and proliferate the same kind of bullying that makes children cry and in some recent cases have even taken their own lives? That’s so sad, Newsweek! The examples he provides (what scientists call ‘selection bias’) to prove his ‘gays can’t play straight’ hypothesis are sloppy in my opinion. Come on now!

“Openly gay Groff is too ‘queeny’ to play Lea Michele‘s boyfriend in Glee, but is a ‘heartthrob’ when he does it in Spring Awakening? Cynthia Nixon only “got away with it” ’cause she peaked before coming out? I don’t know if you’ve missed the giant Sex and the City movie posters, but it seems most of America is ‘buying it.’ I could go on, but I assume these will be taken care of in your ‘Corrections’ this week.

“Similarly, thousands of people have traveled from all over the world to enjoy Hayes’ performance and don’t seem to have one single issue with his sexuality! They have no problem buying him as a love-torn heterosexual man. Audiences aren’t giving a darn about who a person is sleeping with or his personal life. Give me a break! We’re actors first, whether we’re playing prostitutes, baseball players, or the Lion King. Audiences come to theater to go on a journey. It’s a character and it’s called acting, and I’d put Hayes and his brilliance up there with some of the greatest actors period.

“Lastly, as someone who’s been proudly advocating for equal rights and supporting GLBT causes for as long as I can remember, I know how much it means to young people struggling with their sexuality to see out & proud actors like Sean Hayes, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris and Cynthia Nixon succeeding in their work without having to keep their sexuality a secret. No one needs to see a bigoted, factually inaccurate article that tells people who deviate from heterosexual norms that they can’t be open about who they are and still achieve their dreams. I am told on good authority that Mr. Setoodeh is a gay man himself and I would hope, as the author of this article, he would at least understand that. I encourage Newsweek to embrace stories which promote acceptance, love, unity and singing and dancing for all!”

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  • t

    good for her

  • Cruz

    Booya!! tell em Kristin!

  • teri

    I love Sean Hayes he’s not only cute but very funny. Thank you Kristin for speaking out.

  • marissa

    Team Kristin!

  • Ava

    It’s great to someone stand up and do the right thing. Go Kristin!

  • Anonymous

    I think Jonathan Groff is super hot opposite Lea Michele in Glee!

  • Lexi

    I can’t believe his article was published in the first place. Well written, eloquent letter.

  • caxposed

    Amen, sister!
    No wonder celebrities, or regular people in general, for that matter, are afraid to “come out”. Once they decide to do so, dumb sh!t like this happens. In a different note, I thought whatshisface was gay himself. So, in the words of Ms. Chelsea Handler, “Why you gotta hate… girl?!”

  • Nic

    OMG i just love her even more after reading this, wow!!

    She is one cute cookie, and boy did she let it out on this one. First of all everything about that artricle in Newsweek was RIDICULOUS, and hypocrite. Kirstin im there with you, as a fellow straight woman who has seen her gay friends struggle being accepted, i sign under this 100%!!!

  • Cheery

    Preach, sister!

  • Gerianne


  • Kate

    Thank you Kristen. You said what millions of us are thinking! It’s a horrible article to begin with and they should be ashamed, but it’s also just wrong! Umm hello? Barney Stinson?? NPH is a god!

  • Rocky


    Two of the sexiest actors of their time and on the planet who were gay — Rock Hudson and Montgomery Cliff had no problems playing straight men even though they were gay. I can’t believe Newsweek would print such crap! I sure won’t be buying another issue that’s for sure.

  • vickie

    Kristin Chenoweth may be height challenged but she is 10 feet tall when it comes to doing the right thing. Heroes come in all sizes, Kristin. You are beautiful.

  • cubedweller

    GO Kristen! Thanks for saying it so well.

  • Iffy Miffy

    For me, it’s not so much that the article was written – there are so many people out there, unfortunately in this day and age, who have issues with homosexuality that stem from their own personal problems in quite a few cases, and from faith mostly in others.
    The problem for me is that it got published. There is no way nobody saw this before it was published and this is where the bigger problem is imo. This pretty much means that at least someone if not more than one person in the editorial staff also agrees, is aware – you cannot not be – of the reaction it will cause and yet is printing it anyway. Bigots. They should all be fired.

  • Rachel

    Good for her!!!

  • billie

    I saw Promises, Promises on broadway last month.
    Before then I hadn’t really known who Sean Hayes was.
    This is the first I’ve heard that he’s gay.
    That should say something.

  • Taylo

    Sheesh Jared. Was that concern worth all that space? No. We’re here to be entertained, not preached to!

  • Gia

    You go ahead Kristin.

  • Taylo

    Lighten up Jared! Go back to being a pap, not a social engineer.

  • Lauren

    Anyone who thinks a gay man can’t play straight just needs to watch Neil Patrick Harris as the womanizing Barney Stinson and tell me he isn’t convincing.

  • Holliday

    She did a good job in the letter but as an avid glee fan and gay-friendly gal, I must admit that Groff isn’t really convincing as a straight man or boyfriend on the show. This is the first I had heard that he was gay for sure but he is “queeny” on the show. He didnt do himself any favors when he performed as the male ballerina last week.

  • BA

    Well said!

  • Jaye

    Agree with the article or not, it’s the writer’s opinion and he’s entitle to it. Life is full of things that are not fair or that are biased; people deal with it on an individual basis, but we can’t stop others from stating their opinion.
    Just like there are readers who disagree with him, there are those that agree; I’m not one willing to stamp out free speech just because I don’t agree with someone. Your own free speech might be taken from you down the road, think about that. No one should lose his job when he is a journalist stating his opinion as long as he is not preaching death, hate or physical harm. Having an opinion hasn’t been outlawed, not yet. Besides , what makes YOUR opinion more relevant than his?
    Part of a writer’s job is to create controversy and make people think; as far as that is concerned, he’s done his job. What is disturbing about some people in this country is that they’re too thin skinned; they have no tolerance for opinions that are not their own; those people scare me. The core of the matter is that we are a nation of people with opinions; your opinion isn’t right or better than mine, it’s just YOUR opinion. He’s not advocating that Gays not have jobs in film or theater or that they should be killed off, harmed physically or otherwise banned from society. He merely states that he doesn’t feel they can play straight roles.
    Personally, I don’t want to know if an actor is Gay. It’s none of my business. Some people may not feel the same about a Gay actor playing a straight role as you do; maybe they don’t want real life intruding on their movie, theater or television viewing experience. Maybe some of the realism of the role is tarnished for them. If it is, they are entitled to their feelings and I don’t think they need permission from anyone to have them.
    Understand, the Gay Cause isn’t everyone’s cause and never will be and others, respectfully, have the right to disagree in any way that their conscious tells them. The writer has made his point and achieved his goal; the article is getting publicity and people are talking about it. While Gays are always talking about tolerance, they are many times intolerant of other people’s opinions. You can’t have it both ways.
    Having differing opinions doesn’t preclude us from living in the same space and treating each other as valuable human beings, no matter your sexual preferences or differences. It is a measure of our love for Neighbor ( those in the human race with us) that we can love each other as people even while not agreeing with a certain opinion or behavior. In the final analysis it’s not up to everyone in the world to make Gays feel good about themselves or to agree with their lifestyle. Life is difficult for a whole lot of people, not just Gays, for a number of reasons; a whole lot of people whose opinions are just as important as yours or mine.

  • Jen

    @Holliday: Agreed. Groff is not that convincing as a straight boyfriend on Glee. When I first saw him in Glee I was wondering if he was gay and now I know, I was right.

    When it comes to Cheno, I agree with her. I think it’s ridiculous to prohibit someone to play a certain role because of their sexual orientation. There is a reason why they are “actors”, they play different and various roles. So many straight people, play gay characters in movies and plays and no one says anything.

  • Ralene

    on the picture it looks like someone just cut the headshot of Kristine’s head and glued it to a body.

  • Katie n

    Good for you! Great to know some people have guts to speak out against injustice.

  • So Judgemental

    Kevin Spacey is convincing as straight..

    Rock Hudson. James Dean. If you believe the rumor about Randolph Scott and their shared bachelor pad.. then add Cary Grant. Rupert Everett in the early years. Montgomery Clift. The Brady Bunch dad. Roddy McDowell. David Hyde Pierce.

    Newsweek is attempting to change a long standing hollywood tradition.. gay men playing straight roles.

  • In The Know

    The fact is there is a serious pink mafia in Hollywood, and everyone knows this. The article in Newsweek may be far reaching however particularly in theater its just calling the kettle black. Neil Patrick Harris and Hayes are as effeminate as one can get without having a vagina.

    Chenoweth knows her bread is buttered on stage. What else is she going to say. Her viewpoint is skewed by having too many girlfriends that happen to be theater men.

  • ryan

    blimey what an overreaction. Calm down chatterbox.

  • Mary

    Thank you Kristin Chenoweth !

  • Village

    Newsweek is not profitable. it is on the market for sale. Isn’t that special.

    Anyway, I’d never have guessed Groff was gay. I just thought he looked like a young Tom Cruise, who could sing.

    It doesn’t matter the sexuality of actors. WHO CARES? On Modern Family, the straight guy plays gay, and the gay guy plays straight, and I never would have guessed. It is called acting for a reason.

    We just want to be entertained. This type of thinking has no place in a 21st century America. We are marching away from that type of discrimination.

  • mickey

    The writer of the article has ALWAYS been a tool. I’m glad someone finally called him on it. I’ve read so many things this guy has said on different subjects and always end up cursing him for being such moron.

  • The Straight Cause

    @Jaye: The gay CAUSE?! Do you realize how horrifically ignorant you sound?!

  • III

    Fierce <3

  • G is for Giggles

    @The Straight Cause:

    PLEASE DON’T–you sound ignorant for not reading what she said–SHE IS ENTITLED TO HER OPINION.

    And you statement was very well written Jaye, and I quite agree with it

  • ++Logan++

    good on her!

  • lucas

    you raise a good point. how many times has there been an actor or actress that no one saw it coming when they came out. Or even folks that it was debated. Heck one of the biggest points brought up to refute Robsten is that he’s gay (no, she is. wait no they both are). If either of them are, they are doing a heck of a job ‘playing straight’ on and off screen
    and if we are going to say that gays can’t play straight, jews play gentiles, etc then it goes the other way. No more of this straights playing gays (and getting freaking Oscars for it), only jews can play jews (and you better have the papers to prove it), Iranians playing Iraqis etc.
    lets add to it that you can’t change character ethnicity if you are remaking or adapting something. Lets put M Night on the firing squad can burn the film cause he dared to make the the characters in Last Airbender non Asian and even the one token Asian is being played by a halfie from South Texas. Shameful.

  • Michael Lassell

    I got a kick out of Ramin Setoodeh’s wrong-headed article in Newsweek suggesting that gay actors can’t pull off straight roles (so to speak). The whole controversy brings up lots of issues, from minor to major.

    One: Sean Hayes may not be the ideal choice for the male lead in Promises, Promises, but did Ramin ever see Jack Lemmon in the original, the film called The Apartment? Far from a pillar of machismo, our Jack. Remember him in drag in Some Like It Hot? I thought Jack Lemmon was gay for most of my life. Then I met him… and his wife… and his son. I still wasn’t totally convinced, but the evidence was pretty stacked against my notoriously inept “gaydar.”

    Two: Rami thinks Jonathan Groff is too gay in real life to play a straight high school boy in Glee. Huh? How butch is the average high school glee clubber? Since I was one, I can tell you: NOT very. Ironically, I had always assumed Matthew Morrison, the actor who plays the bad-haired straight teacher on Glee, was gay in real life. How could he not be? Like, he’s such a good dancer! Wrong again.

    Three: Many, many gay actors have been perfectly convincing in straight roles, because they were not “out.” So it’s not about being gay, it’s about being out. That’s important.

    Four: We all have our prejudices. Ramin mocks people who think he’s an Arab because of his name, when he is a Texan of Iranian descent. Well, here’s my New York bigotry showing: I assume that most Texans are homophobic. My bad. Actually I know some Texans who are not homophobic, so I’m just playing with you, Rami.

    Five: “Straight” news organs like Newsweek LOVE it when they can get gay writers to do their homophobic dirty work for them. Remember Roy Cohn? Okay, I overstate.

    Six: I wonder how the same principle applies to other disciplines, like politics and religion: Are gay politicians and evangelical preachers unconvincing as senators and clergymen? The issue is not acting talent, it’s homophobia. We live in a homophobic country. It’s an epidemic disease. Newsweek has it. Ramin Setoodeh has it. I probably have it at some level, too. That doesn’t make it right. When Ramin sees a gay actor play a straight man, he fixates. Other people don’t.

    Seven: The Constitution grants Ramin and Newsweek the right to be homophobic in print. That doesn’t make it right to BE homophobic. Or to call the homophobes to account. I’m sorry Ramin Setoodeh does not wish to accept any responsibility for his own internalized homophobia, but that’s what he should be doing, not whining about being attacked on the internet. He is the aggressor here. The rest of us are just responding in self-defense.

  • Jaye

    The Straight Cause @ 05/10/2010 at 9:03
    @Jaye: The gay CAUSE?! Do you realize how horrifically ignorant you sound?!
    The phrase is one used by many Gay activists and sites. You can Google can’t you? Anyway, thanks snookums for your support of my statement regarding being intolerant of other people’s opinions. Toodles!

  • Kim

    That is one gay man who happens to play it off as straight but normally it dos not happen nor is it believable. I prefer straight men who play straight men it is MUCH more believable. You can put the femininity in a man but it is really hard to take it out.

  • Alberto Ramos

    Read in my blog Imitation of Life MY ANSWER to the HOMOPHOBIC ARTICLE published in NEWSWEEK claiming that gay actors cannot play straight characters.

  • a.

    Thank you very much for this article and supporting LGBT. This is much appreciated, especially from the “closeted” people.