In “Straight Jacket” which was posted on Newsweek.com on April 26, writer Ramin Setoodeh criticised Sean Hayes' latest leading-man performance in Promises, Promises on Broadway, writing that the openly gay actor "comes off as wooden and insincere, like he's trying to hide something, which of course he is."
The writer added that while it is acceptable for straight actors to play gay roles, "it's rare for someone to pull off the trick in reverse."
“Whether he intended it to or not, Ramin Setoodeh’s article in Newsweek sends a false and damaging message about gay actors by endorsing the idea that there are limits to the roles they are able to play.” Jarrett Barrios, president of GLAAD, said in a statement published on its website.
“If Setoodeh wanted to start a discussion about the work of gay performers, he undermined his own premise by affirming stereotype after stereotype, such as gay actors being ‘insincere’ or unbelievable when playing romantic leads, and dismissing or disregarding the work of actors like Neil Patrick Harris, Cheyenne Jackson, Cherry Jones, Wanda Sykes, Jonathan Groff and Alan Cumming, among others.
Creator of the hit Fox series Glee Ryan Murphy and several actors have spoken out against the article.
Murphy has called for a boycott of the magazine until it apologises to its gay readers, Hayes and "and other brave out actors who were cruelly singled out in this damaging, needlessly cruel and mind-blowingly bigoted piece."
Kristin Chenoweth, who stars opposite Hayes in "Promises, Promises" on Broadway, defended her co-star and denounced the Newsweek article in a letter to the editor.
"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," she wrote on Newsweek's website.
Afterelton.com reported: Cheyenne Jackson and Michael Urie straight-out called the Newsweek entertainment writer an ''asshole'' who's ''unconscionable.'' The two out actors were speaking at a talkback after Monday's performance of The Temperamentals, Jon Marans acclaimed Off-Broadway play about early gay rights activists in the 1950s.
“Everytime we go forward, some asshole like this takes us back a bit,” Jackson said.
Urie, who stars in The Temperamentals as Viennese designer Rudi Gernreich, added: “Look, I'm not from f*cking Vienna. We're all actors, and the audiences get it… No straight critics accuse Sean Penn of not being able to play Harvey Milk or [criticise] Tom Hanks in Philadelphia.”
Setoodeh, who's openly gay, responded to the criticism in a post on Newsweek.com on May 10 saying:
"Instead of hiding behind double entendre and leaving the obvious unstated, I wrote an essay in the May 10 issue of NEWSWEEK called 'Straight Jacket' examining why, as a society, it's often hard for us to accept an openly gay actor playing a straight character. You can disagree with me if you like, but when was the last time you saw a movie starring a gay actor? The point of my essay was not to disparage my own community, but to examine an issue that is being swept under the rug.
"I realize this is a complicated subject matter, but the Internet sometimes has a way of oversimplfying things. My article became a straw man for homophobia and hurt in the world. If you were pro-gay, you were anti-NEWSWEEK. Chenoweth's argument that gay youth need gay role models is true, but that's not what I was talking about. I was sharing my honest impression about a play that I saw. If you don't agree with me, I'm more than happy to hear opposing viewpoints. But I was hoping to start a dialogue that would be thoughtful—not to become a target for people who twisted my words. I'm not a conservative writer with an antigay agenda."
GLAAD is however unconvinced, and said in a statement published on May 12:
“Since the article’s publication, Setoodeh has attempted to reframe his opinion piece as an analysis of the lack of gay men in leading roles, however, he continues to posit that gay male actors are not believable. In his May 11th interview with Joy Behar, Setoodeh claims about Neil Patrick Harris’ television role: ‘He’s not really a romantic lead where women are actually supposed to believe him as a heterosexual character.’
“Whatever Setoodeh’s intentions or beliefs, Newsweek is ultimately responsible for having published this deeply problematic essay and consciously or not, promoting and encouraging Setoodeh’s discomfort.”