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When the article “Straight Jacket” came out in Newsweek’s May 10 issue, its author questioned whether gay actors could – or should – take on straight roles. Actress Kristin Chenoweth was so disturbed by its perceived message, she sat down at her own keyboard to address Newsweek’s decision to publish the piece, and to defend her gay onstage co-star, Sean Hayes, and gay actors in general.

“I was shocked on many levels to see Newsweek publishing Ramin Setoodeh’s horrendously homophobic ‘Straight Jacket,’” wrote Chenoweth, "which argues that gay actors are simply unfit to play straight. …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 [gay actors].

“This article offends me because I am a human being, a woman and a Christian… Stoodeh 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.”

A number of such responses to the article prompted the author, who is himself openly gay, to defend his piece: “What all this scrutiny seemed to miss was my essay’s point: If an actor of the stature of George Clooney came out of the closet today, would we still accept him as a heterosexual leading man? It’s hard to say, because no actor like that exists. I meant to open a debate – why is that? And what does it say about our notions about sexuality? For all the talk about progress in the gay community in Hollywood, has enough really changed? The answer seems obvious to me: no, it has not.”

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