Gay Newsweek Writer Says Gay Men Can’t Play Straight, Other Offensive Things


Newsweek writer Ramin Setoodeh “examines” why straight actors can play gay but “audiences” (or, more accurately, Ramin Setoodeh) have difficulty buying gay actors playing straight, citing Sean Hayes on Broadway in Promises, Promises (which just started this week, and we’ve heard it was AMAZING! GO see it! Seriously, great great great great things!) and Glee‘s Jonathan Groff (during his five minutes of screen time):

While it’s OK for straight actors to play gay (as Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger did in Brokeback Mountain), it’s rare for someone to pull off the trick in reverse. De Rossi and Harris do that on TV, but they also inhabit broad caricatures, not realistic characters… As viewers, we are molded by a society obsessed with dissecting sexuality, starting with the locker-room torture in junior high school. Which is why it’s a little hard to know what to make of the latest fabulous player to join Glee: Jonathan Groff, the openly gay Broadway star. In Spring Awakening, he showed us that he was a knockout singer and a heartthrob. But on TV, as the shifty glee captain from another school who steals Rachel’s heart, there’s something about his performance that feels off. In half his scenes, he scowls—is that a substitute for being straight?

BTW in Spring Awakening, Groff played the heterosexual lover to Lea Michelle‘s character… and they even had sex on stage! So, Ramin, how exactly did that coupling work out so hearthrobby… but in GLEE, it’s no longer believable (to you)?  And I’m sorry, but did you even see Promises Promises? Have you seen ANYTHING on Broadway, Ramin? ‘Cause there’s a lot of gay men playing straight, just saying. They’re also playing lions, phantoms, and cartoon characters. Crazy! Acting is sooooo funny that way, huh?

The article also selects Cynthia Nixon, Kelly McGillis and Anne Heche as examples of actresses who were with men during the height of their popularity and therefore the audience “accepted” them in their hetero screen roles. This is factually inaccurate, but does that even matter?

If an actor of the stature of George Clooney came out of the closet tomorrow, would we still accept him as a heterosexual leading man? It’s hard to say. Or maybe not. Doesn’t it mean something that no openly gay actor like that exists?

Riese’s Special Comment: This Newsweek writer, Ramin Setoodeh, is a mysoginistic self-loathing asshat who also coincidentally loves ass-sex. I know! Weird, right, that an out gay man would be such a ‘phobe? Setoodeh has a serious job at a respected newsmagazine and he is talking the conservative crazy. And you know who reads Newsweek? Everyone. Because they always have it at the gym, the dentist, and in the waiting rooms of America. Children, teach your parents well – Ramin’s agenda is not our agenda.

Let’s look at some of Ramin’s prior work for Newsweek!

In this piece Ramin enlightens us about the real reason we lost the same-sex marriage vote in Maine last year: Adam Lambert‘s mascara & lip gloss, Kurt’s soprano solo of “Defying Gravity” on Glee and the “flaming fashion assistant” Marc from Ugly Betty. The article is so kindly titled Kings of Queens, and I hate it:

“… if you want to be invited to someone else’s party, sometimes you have to dress the part. Is that a form of appeasement? Maybe. It’s not that gay men and women should pretend to be straight, or file down all their fabulously spiky edges. But even Rachel Maddow wears lipstick on TV. The key is balance. There’s so much more to the gay community than the people on TV (or at a gay-pride parade). We just want a chance to live and love like everybody else. Unfortunately, at the rate we’re going, we won’t get there until the post-post-gay generation.”

– All that stuff you heard about there not being enough ladies in Hollywood? What’s that you heard? Only 7% of the top 250 grossing films were directed by women? Only 8% written by women? Only 17% included female executive prouducers? WELL Ramin is singing a different tune in this pre-Oscars article: Hollywood might be a boy’s club, but the Oscars are all about the girls.” Who knew? I love trend pieces based on one or two examples, projection and opinions stated as facts.

–  In which he likens the critics who disliked Sex and the City: The Movie’s overly commercialized product-placement-heavy boy-crazy regressive overpriced love story to the critics who disliked Hillary Clinton and her campaign:  Sexism in the City: What’s up with this vicious bashing of the “Sex and the City” movie?. Ramin loved SATC: The Movie, he found it to be a great uplifting film for women that made women queens of the box office.

–  In Taking the Wonder out of Wonderland, Ramin explains why he hated Alice in Wonderland. See, Alice’s character has “unfortunately” changed with the times; he preferred 1903’s “children should be seen and not heard” Alice or “perky Shirley Temple” Alice from the 30s. His primary concern with Tim Burton‘s film (which we loved! See Alice in Lesboland: A Wonderland for Feminists, Revolutionaries & Your Mom!) echoed in the review’s intro and conclusion, is as follows, and really doesn’t make much sense (and utilizes the strange condescending misogynistic tone he can’t seem to get enough of):

INTRO: “One of the best running gags in [the original] is that our little ingénue is constantly eating. When Alice falls through the rabbit hole, the first thing she does is drink a cherry-tart liquid and devour an entire cake labeled EAT ME. When she meets the hookah-smoking caterpillar, he offers her a mushroom and she nibbles on it for quite some time. No wonder she gets the munchies. But food is really just a setup….”

CONCLUSION: … Alice [in Tim Burton’s movie] is beginning to look malnourished, just like all the teen starlets you see on magazine covers. In Burton’s film, she doesn’t eat very much at all. She bites into what looks like an Atkins-size cupcake and drinks a few potions, but she’s apparently lost her sweet tooth on the way down the rabbit hole. Alice is starving, despite the fact that the movie is a feast for your eyes.”

I don’t even know. It’s like he thinks he’s being sensitive to women for mentioning “the teen starlets on magazine covers” who wound our egos while simultaneously judging our female lead entirely based on her body size and food consumption, ignoring virtually every other aspect of the movie?

Basically Ramin takes his opinion, changes the “I thinks” to declarative statements of facts, and turns them in as articles, and then your parents read these articles at the dentist.

After going through several archives of consistently offensive work to compile my special comment, I googled Ramin’s name, seeking hexes or curses perhaps placed in his honor, and I found something just as good: AfterElton has been hating on this dude forever and they didn’t like the article this week either. (@newsweek)


Baby Girrrrrrrrrrrl, did you know that Kit Porter has written her memoirs? She talked about it with Dani Campbell in her Autostraddle Interview! Apparently, there is some pretty crazy shit in there, including the revelation that she and Richard Pryor broke up in part because his cocaine use had led to a dangerous buildup of the drug in her vagina. Really, Papi. (@jezebel)


Melissa Etheridge finally opens up a bit about her breakup from Tammy Lynn Michaels: “It’s been a long time coming. It’s hard, as any of these things are. It’s hard to do it in public because there’s no easy sound bite to say, this is what happened and so this is what’s going on. And even if I did, the perspectives would always be different so there’s a lot of sadness. And yet, she’ll always be in my life because we have two children.” (@okmagazine)


Johnny Weir appeared on The Wendy Williams Show and responded to Evan Lysacek’s claims that Stars on Ice didn’t invite Weir to participate in the tour because he’s not good enough. “Even if they asked me today, I wouldn’t do it,” Weir said. And Evan… he’s a slore.” Get it? A combination of “slut” and “whore.” That’s so fetch! (@advocate)


Chris Colfer (Kurt) talks to The New York Post about the future which he loves!

PW: One of the big plans for season two is introducing a boyfriend for Kurt, any idea if you’ll have a say in casting?
Chris: I have no idea…. hopefully I have no input, because I’m very vain and the only input I really want to give is that I need to be the better looking half of the couple. I don’t want to be the weak link or have people think, “What’s he doing with Kurt?”

PW: Are you excited to portray the next step in an emerging gay’s journey?
Chris: I really am and I get more and more excited every day. I know it’s going to bring up so much more great stuff with Kurt & Burt – I live for the father/son scenes. It’s so special. And I think there’s going to be a lot of good comedy stuff that’s going to come out of it as well, which is good because I feel like so much of what I’ve done has been dramatic. I want to stretch my comedy legs as well.


Last week, Ellen talked about a mystery animal that Portia saw outside their home, and she’s determined to figure out what it was. Today she brought Portia on the show to talk to a sketch artist and a mammalogist.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Jess is a pop culture junkie living in New York City. She enjoys endless debates about The L Word, Howard Stern, new techy gadgets, DVR, exploring the labyrinth of the Lesbian Internet, memoirs, working out, sushi, making lists, artsy things, anything Lady Gaga touches, traveling, puppies, and nyc in the fall. Find her on Twitter @jessxnyc or via email.

Jess has written 240 articles for us.


  1. Dear Ramin Setoodeh, what about Neil Fucking Patrick Harris? Seriously, have you even seen How I Met Your Mother? :P

    • “De Rossi and Harris do that on TV, but they also inhabit broad caricatures, not realistic characters.” – Ramin

      Nice, right? As opposed to Groff on Glee and really any character that spends a good majority of the show SINGING AND DANCING, like any Broadway show, OH I DON’T KNOW FOR EXAMPLE Promises Promises

      • But then we have his performance in Dr. Horrible… come on, who couldn’t say his character’s love for Penny wasn’t heartfelt?!

      • it’s true that NPH plays a stock character, but he does it SO well and so convincingly that if you didn’t know he was gay, you probably wouldn’t believe it. I actually think NPH is a good example of how a gay actor can play straight roles and still appeal to the mainstream.

  2. There is a world of imagination of stories that have not been written yet. Of course a gay man can be believeable in a heterosexual role. It has to be a well written script with a well developed character – which is all any actor wants anyway. Anyone that says it is impossible to believe, in my opinion, is living in a box of his/her own making.

  3. If I hear “even Rachel Maddow wears lipstick on TV!” one more time, so help me God, someone is going down. Yes, she wears lipstick on TV! Because that is what you do when on camera to kill the glare from the lights! Hey!

    The rest of the article is so offensive that this is the only thing I can focus on without having a conniption fit in public. :(

    • yeah exactly everyone wears makeup on tv! even men! except you know, obviously adam lambert shouldn’t be, according to that guy. i love adam lambert’s makeup. just for the record.

  4. I’m not gay, and I’m offended by this Ramin guy’s statements. Well, until I calmed down and recognized them as opinions, which of course is all they are. Now I just think he’s confused and a bit stupid.

    Actors portray characters that are somebody other than themselves. Hello? It’s attitudes like his own that must be keeping all the gay men in Hollywood in their closets.* (Don’t even get me started on the concept of the closet. I wish the fucking closets would just vanish into the ether. Why is there such a thing as “coming out” or “being out”? Did I ever “come out” as a straight person? Why is there this double-standard about honesty?)

    And if he honestly thinks Adam should eschew the eyeliner, or Rachel Maddow puts on lipstick for his comfort, he really ought to consider therapy. No one should change such innocuous, innocent bits of self-expression just to make their existence easier for phobic idiots to stomach. The ‘phobes are the ones with the problem.

    *The intarweb keeps telling me this is practically a crisis situation, but what do I know?

    • the closet is definitely a weird construct. i can’t say i’ve read this in its entirety, or that i understand more than a few paragraphs of it, but if you’re feeling bored/kind of intellectually masochistic, it’s good reading!

    • “Actors portray characters that are somebody other than themselves. Hello?”

      agree. am i dumb, or does his argument basically boil down to “gay men are bad actors?” that’s just wrong and also mean.

      • That maybe what he is trying to say or maybe the actor he is referring to was just bad. I have seen straight men and women seem very stiff and forced in there on-screen relationships. Regardless of your actual talent to create magic on screen or stage you need chemistry. He may not have clicked with the actress, which impaired his performance.

        As far as people being out and portraying their opposites. I think it boils down to capturing the audience. If the actor is an out gay he may not pull in the women audience who is the largest consumers of everything. You want to build a fantasy and make that person wanted if he is gay then you loose that pull. I don;t care I’ll lust after whomever. Tom Welling could come out this second and I will still marry him but for the majority of women it is different. And for women, as someone said, sexuality is viewed as being more fluid for women. A gay woman is a possibility. A gay man is no.

  5. I just read all of the Sedooteh guy’s articles in one after the other and my brain now hurts from all the ridiculousness. I was under the impression journalists had to, you know, research and provide evidence to their wildly offensive and irresponsible claims. How does this twat even get published? This is a totally serious question. If someone can tell me how I can get paid to share my many feelings and opinions in a rambly, nonsensical manner, i would really appreciate it. I’d be better at it than he is.

    One a happy note, Portia and Ellen actually couldn’t be any cuter.

    • Yeah um, as the editor of a website that is errr, not nearly as popular as Newsweek, I was BAFFLED. Like seriously if someone handed that in to me with the claims he made, they would’ve gotten it back with about 40 questions. Any writer here can attest to that. You can’t make a statement like “Sean Hayes is unconvincing in his role because he’s gay” without giving me at least two examples from major publications that share the same opinion and make cases for it. I would’ve written (BUT HE PLAYED STRAIGHT IN SPRING AWAKENING, WHY IS THAT DIFFERENT? I DON’T THINK THIS EXAMPLE WORKS) in parentheses next to the Groff dig, and then (REALLY PAPI?) at the end of that sentence.

      He totally writes off NPH and Portia’s roles in one sentence saying that their parts are “broad” and therefore not relevant to the discussion; I would’ve cut that sentence or forced him to explain why.

      SERIOUSLY THIS BAFFLES ME. He can have his opinions, but he states these opinions as facts, and it makes me so confused.

      • Maybe this is where you’re going wrong, Riese. Wasting all your time and energy on fact-checking and constructing logical arguments so that Autostraddle content is both entertaining and informative. No need, anymore! Just make up some stuff, publish it, and you too can be as popular as Newsweek. This is my opinion. Therefore it is FACT.

  6. “Weird, right, that an out gay man would be such a ‘phobe? Setoodeh has a serious job at a respected newsmagazine and he is talking the conservative crazy.”

    I know you know this, but I just wanted to state it outright:
    He HAS the serious job BECAUSE he is ready and willing to throw us under the bus.

    He’s using the master’s tools to tear down our little gay house, and the master gives him treats in exchange.

    • treats! agreed. just read a ton of his stuff too. maybe this is a case where, as a gay dude, he was a sufficient expert in lieu of an actual gender/sexuality scholar. or like an actual features writer. kind of like how all black people should be consulted as experts in africana studies? that’s not offensive or off-base at all, I don’t think.

    • Shit, you’re totally right. Isn’t Newsweek supposed to be the liberal newsmagazine? I have so many questions for them!

      • See, I’ve heard that and that is what the internet tells me, but I don’t find Newsweek liberal at all. I actually buy Newsweek specifically to balance out all of the crazy-left propaganda I read, just to make sure I am as informed as I can be when found in disagreement with others. That is why I buy it!

        I generally find Newsweek frustrating and FULL of opinion-based articles presented as fact-based articles. And apparently it’s liberal, who knew? Either it’s not at all, or my scale is way off balance, which would make sense seeing as liberal Americans (and I say this with so much love for and experience with Americans, true story!) are akin for the most part to moderate-conservative Canadians, and I am a fucking LIBERAL Canadian. Either way not loving Newsweek ever and especially not loving it right now.

        • yeah it’s gotten to the point in Newsweek where it’s like when i was dating an alcoholic who insisted she never had more than one glass of wine with dinner, and I believed her ’cause she said it so often, and said it to so many people ‘i just have a glass of wine with dinner sometimes, that’s it’, even though I kept seeing her drink a bottle of wine and a glass of gin every night.

  7. I’ll just skip my thoughts/feelings on most of this, it’s already expressed eloquently somewhere on this page, and comment on another side of this. Let’s make a fictional graph for the male population. Put feminine traits on the y-axis and gayness on the x-axis. You’d get a scatter diagram with a quite large standard deviation, not a straight line. Creating gender/sexuality stereotypes based on positive correlations is not only offensive, it creates bad television.

  8. It baffles you Riese? He’s probably fucking (giving up the ass, taking, what have you) the editor of NW. What else would explain this? I loathe this fuckermother. It’s doubly embarrassing to me that he’s an Iranian-American–but this explains it a little. He’s got so much internalized homophobia inside his low IQed brain that only shit oozes out of it.

  9. i’m going to skip yelling about how insane this man is to bring up that Pam Grier “and Richard Pryor broke up in part because his cocaine use had led to a dangerous BUILDUP OF THE DRUG IN HER VAGINA.”

  10. Ellen and Portia are so full of cute. I like everything about every time Portia goes on Ellen’s show. Including this time, crazy Alf-like animal and all.

    Btw, isn’t it great that Ellen showed a picture of Alf on her show? Like Alf for for fuck’s sake, from when I was really little and he was on TV and he ate cats! AWESOME.

  11. I just made up an elaborate explanation where Ramin Setoodeh is actually a double-agent provocateur, writing offensive drivel on purpose to provoke a massive rebuttal and galvanize all the gay actors to come out! It’s either that, or believe that this guy is doing his best to fuck everything up just when actors are finally starting to come out in larger numbers. Rainbows and puppies la-la-la!

    On a different note I especially love that clip from Ellen, because when I was a kid my grandfather was on a radio show identifying people’s weird animal-sightings. I swear I remember hearing someone describing a snake with red frills around its neck like a renaissance collar.

  12. wth, if they’re not acting well, it just means they’re bad actors!

    What about Neil Patrick Harris? T.R Knight? Heck, even that elf king in LOTR.

  13. Thanks for including Ellen and Portia at the end of the article after all that Ramin Setoodeh bullshit. They’re the perfect unicorn chaser for that madness.

  14. No one’s mentioned what is probably the worst, most homophobic article by this guy: <a href=" cover story on the Lawrence King murders, in which he describes King as a “flamboyant” troublemaker who “flaunted his sexuality.” (It’s funny how only gay people can flaunt our sexuality.)

  15. Please keep up the coverage of the Ellen and Portia mystery animal. I love it! And them. So cute.

  16. Bullshit. Gay men have been playing straight characters since the beginning of time. It’s called acting. Or not. Perhaps they are naturally masculine and not ‘overly effeminate.’ If they choose not to tell us, we never know. Rock Hudson, anyone? I’m ashamed at society for shaming wonderful human beings into pretending to be something they’re not. Come On Out!

  17. O.k I dont know where this guy is coming from, I had no idea Jonathan Groff was gay (now that i do im a little heartbroken. he is hot! haha). This may be in part because I live in Australia so I’d never actually heard of him before seeing him in Glee. Nevertheless i think this proves he can pull off playing a straight character.

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